I haven't posted much this year, but figured this might be a good time to start...
- Friends, you could see this one coming a mile away. And I am not talking about IU losing to MSU. I'm talking about fans upset/baffled that their team plays well one week and not so much the next. This isn't just an IU thing. This happens a LOT in college sports. Inconsistencies. Unless you are one of the 3-4 best teams in the nation, this happens. You play really well one week. You're feeling good. Then next week happens and you struggle. College football does not operate through the transitive property. Every week can be/usually is something different. One week does not define a team. But a series of games can. And what that has shown us is that IU is a 3-1 team. Not a great team. But not bad, either. Decent. Doubtful we contend for the Big Ten. Probable we can contend for a bowl.
- Now... back to the game (as Coach Knight would say.) Yes, I was disappointed. Particularly because MSU didn't play that well, IMO. That is, except their defensive front seven (more on that in a minute.) They turned it over 4 times. They struggled running the ball. Lewerke wasn't particularly sharp. If we played well, we could have won this one. But we didn't. So why didn't we play well?
- Let's start with the typical "bad break" for IU. The INT return for TD in the first quarter. Yes, we've seen this too many times before in our history... and it stinks! We were driving and that absolutely killed momentum. It put us behind the 8-ball early and we could never fully recover. Throw in a few other deals like the fake FG TD and those are plays we need to go our way in a game like this. They didn't and we lost by 14.
- We heard about how good their D-Line was. And they lived up to the hype. 4 sacks. 9 TFLs. Countless QB hurries. And they held us to 29 yards on 32 carries... that's a 0.9 avg. for those who are interested. Quote simply, our O-Line was thoroughly beaten. They played a bad game and that really hurt us. I saw some people say, "Welcome to the Big Ten, Stevie Scott." Well, yeah. But where was he supposed to go? Just a tough night.
- Peyton Ramsey. Friends, he what he is. I said this last year against Michigan and MSU and I'll say it again this season. When he runs the offense, we rely on dinks and dunks. We just do. And against mediocre defenses, that may be enough to win. But against good defenses, we'll struggle to score points. As Wayne said above, the offense is tailored around his strengths. We rely on guys like Philyor, Timian, Harris and Taylor to catch short passes and create yards after catch. Notice how many targets they get compared to our outside receivers with Hale and Westbrook? Those are two great talents at WR, but we can't get them the ball. That's frustrating. Is that a QB problem? Maybe.
- Does that mean I was clamoring for Penix? Not exactly. He wouldn't have had time to throw. It's not like our O-Line was suddenly going to pass protect better for Penix. And I dunno if that would have been the best growing opportunity to throw Penix out there in that mess anyway. My hope is that I hope our O-Line gets back on the right track with pass protection (and run blocking) and that we start throwing the ball downfield a bit more. I'm not asking for 20+ yard throws. I''d just like to see a few more 10-15 yd. out routes to Hale and Westbrook. I don't feel they've been utilized well and they're legitimate weapons. Can Ramsey do that? Is Penix ready for it? Evidently, the answer was "no" last night.
- I really can't blame our defense. They kept it from getting ugly. Ball had himself a night before his ejection. They were getting some good pressure in the backfield. Had 4 takeaways. But again, we got beat on that last 75 yard run that sealed the game. Just tough. But all in all, I am still very impressed with Allen's defense. He knows how to coach it and with him in charge, we've seen three of the best defenses we've had in decades. I think some forget how impressive that is at IU.
- So where do we go from here? Thankfully, we get Rutgers next. Fortunately for us, they have looked downright pathetic this year. However, as fans of IU, we know that we can never take anyone for granted and we are capable of losing on any given night. BUT! I think/hope that the Hoosiers are going to have a mad/rejuvenating week of practice this week. I think you'll see us click and get back on the right track and come out of Piscataway with a win. While I don't believe our offense as-is can lead us to victories against Ohio State, Penn State or Michigan, I do believe we're capable of beating the likes of Minnesota, Maryland and Purdue. I think if our O-Line gels better the Iowa game is a possibility as well. Long story short... I still think 6-6 and a bowl game is entirely possible and we're right there in the thick of things. But for those expecting an 8-9 win season, I am afraid you're going to be disappointed. But that's just my opinion.