Indiana football is a disappointment even if it doesn’t lose anymore

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BLOOMINGTON – To move on from Indiana’s 54-7 loss to Ohio State on Saturday night, Hoosiers coach Tom Allen used similar rhetoric to what baseball managers say when their teams suffer losses double digits, but must play the next day and pretend the previous loss never happened.

He described the loss as a night when everything that could go wrong went wrong and there was not much to say beyond that. The Hoosiers lost their quarterback in the game’s first practice against a hit as he let go of a touchdown pass and had to go through the rest of the game with a real freshman and a split crash in a storm pouring rain. And while they scrambled to figure out what exactly to do under such an unfortunate circumstance, the defense was busy dealing with what could be the country’s most comprehensive offense.

Things are happening. Spit on this one. Pass.

“We obviously watched it,” Allen said at his press conference on Monday. “We wrote it down and stuff. But we really chose to dump it and continue with our guys. That was the goal (Sunday). And we really focused more on them and their state of mind. and where we are physically and mentally, the guys clashed in that regard. And really – that was the focus and what we want to be able to do and prepare our guys for the next one. And that’s the goal. “

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Following:Indiana football: five things I’m watching against Maryland on Saturday

The only problem with this approach, however, is that some of the circumstances they faced last week could carry over into this week before Saturday’s noon game in Maryland and then into the four games beyond. The Hoosiers (2-5, 0-4 in the Big Ten) might be past the worst part of their schedule and they certainly won’t face another opponent with the amount of NFL-caliber attacking talent that Ohio State had. . However, Saturday’s game against the Terrapins (4-3, 1-3 in the Big Ten) does not represent a fresh start as much as the Hoosiers would like.

After an 8-5 season and a Gator Bowl spot in 2019, a 6-2 season and a top 15 in 2020 and a preseason ranking No.17 this year, Indiana’s 2021 season has already reached the point of being seen. like a bummer even though the Hoosiers lead the table in their last five games. A Top 25 ranking might not even be achievable in this case, and a bowling spot at the level of the Gator and Outback Bowl games they’ve played in the past two seasons is probably already out of the window.

A bowl berth of any kind is the last achievable goal, and it is an important one. There is already a feeling that Indiana’s trajectory under Allen has flattened out this season and not reaching a bowl game would be evidence of a return to what might be considered “typical Indiana” for. a program that has played only 13 bowl games in its history and only one between 1993 and 2015. However, reaching the playoffs this year means winning at least four of the last five games.

The remaining schedule is not the glove that the first seven games were. The Hoosiers have previously faced four teams currently ranked in the top 10 and five in the top 20. The five teams they lost to have a combined 31-4 record. However Rutgers (3-4, 0-4) is Indiana’s only remaining opponent with a losing record. They still face a top 10 foe in Michigan No.6 (7-0, 4-0) on November 6 and Minnesota (5-2, 3-1) and Purdue (4-3, 2-2 ) have won. bowl records and aspirations.

“Every week is a big week,” Allen said. “Every week is important. And our guys have to understand, and they do.”

IU’s quarterback situation

Understanding may be half the battle, but it won’t heal Michael Penix Jr.’s shoulder or Jack Tuttle’s foot. Both quarterbacks stay “week to week,” and while neither have had to undergo surgery for their injuries, the Hoosiers are also unsure of when they’ll get the back. either. Allen said Thursday the two “rehabilitated very strongly” and even threw some during practice this week, but said most of the reps in training this week went to rookie Donaven McCulley and Grant. Gremel, who shared the duties of the quarterback after Tuttle’s injury in the first quarter against Ohio State.

Allen said the focus this week has dramatically accelerated the development of McCulley, who is, so far, the only healthy stock quarterback on the list with redshirt rookie Dexter Williams for the year with a tear of the LCA.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound former Lawrence North star has more speed than any other Hoosiers quarterback and just as much talent for the arms, but he’s only been on the program since l was and was getting most of his reps training. with the Boy Scout team until Penix was injured on Oct. 2 at Penn State. Even once that happened, he still took second-team reps while Tuttle was pushed into more action and the coaching staff prepared him a limited set of games. He only threw six passes and completed one for 30 yards. He must have extended that dramatically this week while avoiding being overwhelmed by the moment.

“I just think of the calm of letting your talent be what it is and not trying to rush and feel that you have to go out there and put it all on your shoulders,” Allen said when asked. the most important development he hoped for from McCulley this week. “Relax and play soccer. Do your readings. It’s just ease for him with the system, whether it’s the running game, the throwing game, whatever it is. they do. All things. Just play the position. ”

Anyone who plays quarterback this week and every week afterwards clearly needs to be better protected than Indiana’s quarterbacks so far, and the Hoosiers could use better production on the field as well. The Indiana quarterbacks have been sacked 17 times in seven games this season after the Hoosiers allowed just 10 in eight games last season, and the Hoosiers struggled to create lanes for the running backs. Indiana ranks 13th in the Big Ten, ahead of Purdue only, in rushing yards per game (111.3) and rushing yards per attempt (3.1).

UI offensive line issues

Until this week, IU coaches have insisted their starting fives of Luke Haggard on left tackle, Mike Katic on left guard, Dylan Powell in center, Matthew Bedford on right guard and Caleb Jones on tackle. right were their best combination. However, Allen hinted on Monday and said on Thursday that there would be “adjustments” to this lineup, although he did not say who would be and who would be absent. He said he saw communication issues and inconsistency, but also linemen simply losing their one-on-one battles.

“It starts up front,” Allen said. “It hasn’t been at our level. We need to be able to keep working on it. It’s been the focus of this whole week.… Each guy needs to have his area of ​​responsibility, his technique, his tenacity, his execution, working. together in the combinations we do. ”

The fact that the Hoosiers are making moves to the quarterback and offensive line, whether by circumstance or by choice, as they approach their eighth game of the season doesn’t make it easy to turn things around. But the Hoosiers have no choice but to try, and they are running out of opportunities to fail.

“There’s no question this team has been through a lot,” Allen said. “And we’re going to stay together, keep fighting, keep fighting, and keep staying focused on the job at hand, which is to beat Maryland.”

Follow Herald-Times IU Insider Dustin Dopirak on Twitter at @DustinDopirak or email him at [email protected]


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