The talent in wide positions for coach Todd Yeagley’s Indiana Hoosiers is special.
That isn’t to say the quality in the middle isn’t great too. Because it is. But let’s focus in on what the Hoosiers have out wide.
Starting in the back, Andrew Gutman and Rece Buckmaster could arguably be the top two full backs in college soccer. They contribute to the attack almost as much as they defend.
Moving farther up into the midfield, Cory Thomas and Spencer Glass contribute on mostly on the left while, Griffin Dorsey, Austin Panchot and even Justin Rennicks spread the field for the Hoosiers and can play on either side.
There are a lot of dangerous variables opponents have to contend with. Should opponents throw more players on the left and leave the right susceptible? Is one side more dangerous than the other? Balancing the pitch is something not only the IU attack deals with, but opponents trying to defend it too.
“We say if you want to take one side away from us, we can exploit you,” Yeagley said.
“I think teams are starting to shift a bit and put more emphasis on our left side. We talk a lot about how we can find our right side in our build up or a late switch and there’s games we use Griffin a little wider, Rece Buckmaster is only going to get more aggressive as the season goes on.”
The left flank has noticeably gotten a bit more attention. It shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise, however, when you have a left back like Gutman. He’s been one of IU’s most dangerous players. But with other left footers such as Thomas and Glass, that flank can get crowded.
“We say if you want to take one side away from us, we can exploit you”
Yeagley said when Glass is on the field, they want to keep him on the left as much as possible. Thomas was moved to the right on Sunday vs. UConn because Yeagley likes Glass on the left with Thomas being able to play anywhere across the top line.
The relationship between Glass and Gutman has been very intriguing to watch as well. Both players compliment each other being able to play overlaps. It almost creates an overload on the left when they are both on the field at the same time. The key is Gutman being able to read what is in front of him based on who is in front of him.
“When Andrew has Spencer in front of him, Spencer plays a little wider, so a lot of his space is taken by Spencer,” Yeagley said. “He plays a little simpler, his movement is more to the inside. Cory tucks a bit in and plays in the half space, which allows Andrew to go.
“Andrew has to adjust to the guys in front of him. He’s done a really good job this year and we’re getting better at him bringing the skillset because Spencer’s serve when he’s in the wide channels is different. It’s really high level and we want that… They forge a nice partnership. It’s a very different feel with Spencer wide and Cory wide or Panchot.”
While Gutman and company have been menacing on the left, Dorsey has done the same on the right. Last season we saw Dorsey switch to the left, but this year he’s almost exclusively played on the right.
Dorsey is a bit of a different than Thomas, Glass or Panchot. He’s more of a direct player and isn’t afraid to run right at defenders. He’ll take on two or three guys at once if that’s what it takes.
Yeagley said teams are concerned about IU’s left side. When Dorsey is able to balance the attack and make the weak side run, it’s a lot for opponents to deal with. He showed that once again in IU’s win over UConn Sunday.
Q: “Did you know he could jump that high?”
A: ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/50cxNkW0gF
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) September 3, 2018
“Griffin had an excellent first half, his decisions on when to take players on and read the second and third defender was good,” Yeagley said. “At times he can be too aggressive and out run our support or put himself into some tough second, third defender spots. Tonight he drew a couple fouls, got in. Second half was good, but I thought the first half was one of his better segments all season. We’re going to need him to continue to do that.”
When the Hoosiers able to balance out its attack and come at teams from both sides, they make themselves very hard to defend. Opponents almost have to pick and choose what side they want to commit more bodies to. Trevor Swartz says it basically comes down to matchups.
“Dorsey today in the first half was tearing apart their left side, they probably scouted that in film,” Swartz said. “And then on the other side, Spencer (Glass) is very good at putting balls in behind the box. So when you have players like that, you can throw a lot of different dynamics at teams and it can be tough to deal with.”
Pros from the weekend:
- IU has 270 straight shutout minutes. Also the sun still rises in the east and the sky is blue.
- The Hoosiers are making a habit of scoring on set pieces. Of the six goals IU has scored thus far, three of them are from set pieces. Todd Yeagley loves his restart goals, folks.
- Freshman center back Jack Maher looks like a stud already. His first four matches have all been against ranked opponents and he has looked like a seasoned veteran. His distribution is what stands out to me the most.
Cons from the weekend:
- There have been a few sloppy giveaways in the midfield that have turned into half chances for other teams. IU needs to be a bit more careful about giving up the ball in dangerous areas.
- Communication is something Yeagley has talked about in training and is something that I’m sure will continue to get better as the season goes along and people get more comfortable.
- The field conditions haven’t been stellar thus far. Being the second game of the doubleheader both days probably didn’t help. Yeagley said new sod was laid down this offseason and I’m sure the Bermuda will improve very soon.