Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, November 26, 2014
It can be difficult for running backs to get attention in the Big Ten. It?s a loaded field of good runners paced by Wisconsin?s Melvin Gordon, a leading Heisman contender who is No. 1 in the county in rushing with 2,109 yards.
There?s also Nebraska?s Ameer Abdullah, Minnesota?s David Cobb, Michigan State?s Jeremy Langford and Ohio State?s Ezekiel Elliott.
Often lost amid the hype is Indiana?s Tevin Coleman. How good has this guy been in 2014? Great. Coleman is No. 2 in the nation in rushing with 1,906 yards, trailing only Gordon (2,109). Coleman, a junior with 15 rushing scores who averages 7.9 yards per carry, figures to shatter the 2,000-yard barrier this Saturday when Purdue visits in a battle for the Old Oaken Bucket.
The 6-1, 210-pound native of Tinley Park, Ill., has rushed for over 100 yards in all but one game this season (71 yards vs. Penn State). Coleman has rushed for over 200 yards four times this year, including the last two games. Against Rutgers two weeks ago, he set a school single-game standard with 307 yards. He followed that by burning Ohio State for 228, including a 90-yard touchdown jaunt. Add it up, and Coleman has eased past Hoosier great Anthony Thompson (1986-89) for numerous school records, including single-season and single-game rushing standards.
I caught up with Coleman as he prepped to play the Boilermakers in what could be his last collegiate game if he opts to turn pro. Coleman and the Hoosiers would love to end the season with the Bucket for a second season in a row while getting IU?s first Big Ten win of 2014. The last time 3-8 Indiana won the Bucket in consecutive years? It was 1993-94.
Q: Are you the best back in the Big Ten?
A: I think it?s a great competition between me, Melvin (Gordon) and Ameer (Abdullah). There are a lot of good backs in the Big Ten. They are very good, too.
Q: What would it mean to get to 2,000 yards?
A: It would mean a lot because I have been working hard. I wanted to get to 1,000 last year but came up short (958). It would mean a lot to me to get 2,000 this year.
Q: How many yards do you think you?ll rush for vs. Purdue? 300?
A: Yes, hopefully I can rush for over 300. That would be pretty great. But I am taking it a step and a practice at a time and working hard. We?ll see from there.
Q: Did Coach Wilson say if he was going to let you run as many times as you want?
A: I?m not sure. I don?t know what he?s thinking yet. Hopefully he?ll let me run as much as I can.
Q: What is your favorite play?
A: I like an inside-zone play called ?Dallas.? There also is an outside-zone play that I like which is called ?Split.? Those plays play to my strengths and allow me to hit holes and get up field.
Q: What has been your most favorite play of the year?
A: It probably was the 90-yard touchdown run vs. Ohio State. That was one of my greatest runs. I ran past all of those guys and scored.
Q: How would you describe your style of running?
A: I am all over the place. I am fast, physical ? it?s a little bit of everything.
Q: Do many opponents talk trash to you in hopes of getting you off your game?
A: Some have. But some have given me respect. It?s sorta 50-50.
Q: Is there anyone in the NFL who you would compare yourself to?
A: DeMarco Murray of Dallas. He?s about my size and reminds me of myself when I see him running.
Q: What?s the most sore you have been after a game this year?
A: Penn State. Those guys had a tough, physical defense. They have a great defense.
Q: How do you recover?
A: I stretch a lot. I get in the cold and hot tubs to get my legs back.
Q: Who offered you scholarships coming out of high school?
A: Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue, Syracuse, West Virginia.
Q: Why Indiana?
A: I had a good relationship with the staff. It?s a beautiful campus and is great academically. They had what I wanted to major in. I also had a good connection with the players. And I wanted to get onto the field as a freshman. So this was a good fit for me.
Q: Any pregame routine?
A: I pray a lot, on the field and before I get on the field. I also listen to music, guys from Chicago like Lil Herb, Little Dibby.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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