Indiana bye-week a time for self evaluation

Indiana’s two bye weeks this season come at such times as to segment the season. The first, this week, comes in between non-conference and Big Ten play four games into the season. The next comes at the end of October and sets the Hoosiers up for the November stretch run. Both serve as milestones, giving the Hoosiers an opportunity to regroup and reflect. To figure out what went right, what went wrong and what needs to be fixed, what their identity is and how other teams must be preparing for them.

“Your concentration is internally, what are we good at?” Wilson said. “What are we not good at? What can we do to help this guy? What can we do to play other players? You can really eval yourself. What are your self-scout tendencies? In this formation, are we too much run-oriented, pass-oriented? If we’re doing this blitz, is it really working or not? How do we make it better? Do we do it? This coverage, where are we getting worked at? How do we make it better? You can really self-scout on yourself.”

So far, Wilson’s self-evaluations have brought to light the same concerns he already had before the season and that he and his staff spent most of the preseason starting to fix.

“We’ve gotta play better at run defense and we’ve gotta run the ball better,” Wilson said. “Which was the whole gist of preseason. The other day, we didn’t have a run attack that worked and didn’t block well. No matter what the animals are in your blocking, you’ve still gotta find it. if you get one-dimensional, you’re going to be very easy to defend and then the same thing on the defensive side. If you allow them to be two-dimensional, you’ve gotta stop something. In the league we play in, even though we’re a spread team, we can do our tempo and be in shotgun, you’ve still gotta have the toughness and the balance on both sides of the ball. So that’s really where everything is really concentrated on right now. What can we do to get run game? What can we do to be more gap sound, structure sound, eyes where they need to be to get the guys in the gaps and get off blocks and play better run defense.”

The IU players took the blame for those shortcomings. Center Collin Rahrig took the blame on the offensive line for the running game’s struggles, especially in Saturday’s loss when the Hoosiers managed just 98 yards on 26 rushes. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld also faced near constant pressure in the game even though he was never sacked.

“It was really just our fundamentals,” Rahrig said. “They did a great job, give all the credit to Missouri for doing what they were doing. But we weren’t out there playing our ball. As an O-Line, I can say collectively, we had too many missed assignments. And just slow. Slow off the ball, crossing over in the zone game when we shouldn’t. Hand placement, hat placement, the main things with an O-Line. We weren’t doing it on a consistent basis. … We just didn’t have our eyes right. We need to self-evaluate what’s going on there.”

The defense is also taking a harsh look at itself, unsurprising considering the Hoosiers allowed 32.8 points and 463.2 yards per game in the first four contests.

“I think the execution (is the issue),” safety Greg Heban said. “I think the scheme and personnel, what we’re doing is where we need to be. Trusting the coaches, trusting the scheme is what our biggest issue is right now. Once we get everyone trusting each other, trusting where we need to be, trusting where other people need to be, I think it’s gonna be a totally different defense.”

Wilson said the week off also works as an opportunity to self-analyze coaching and play-calling, and he said that needs work as well.

“When you work good, you think it’s good calls,’ Wilson said. “But as much as anything, it’s looking at rhythm of runs, protections, hats, having answers. You don’t want to get into a checking contest, because when you check, the defense can check etc. With our tempo, being reasonably sound, we have to be sounder. and give our guys a chance. We have to find ways to always find some run game. We have to find ways to help protection. We have to find ways to defend the entire field. We’ve taken shots, short passes, the width of the field, getting balls to all the players. Same thing defensively. We need to keep looking at our alignment, structure, eyes, gap responsibilities to be cleaner and more sound against the run.”

— There was no discussion in the Indiana locker room on Saturday about wearing arm bands in support of the All Players United demonstration, because apparently no one got word to the Hoosiers that there even was such a thing.

The demonstration was spurred by the National Collegiate Players Association, an advocacy group made up by former and current college athletes that protests against various NCAA rules that they feel are detrimental to student athletes, not only in areas of athlete compensation but health and safety. Several players wore arm bands with the letters “APU.” Included among those athletes were Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee and Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter.

The demonstration received nationwide coverage over the weekend, but word didn’t reach Indiana’s players until they were asked about it by reporters on Tuesday after practice.

“I have no idea what that is,” junior wide receiver Cody Latimer said.

Said safety Greg Heban: “I haven’t even heard about it or talked about it at all.”

At least one player said he might be interested in the idea, though he also hadn’t heard about it until asked by reporters.

“What is it again?” linebacker David Cooper said. “I’ve never heard of it, but it sounds like something I would do. I would do that, but I haven’t heard of that.”

Wilson said he addressed the demonstrations briefly with the players. He said he might allow players to wear some sort of patch or arm band in demonstration, but only if the whole team would do it.

“I made a comment, ‘Your tape is not a billboard,” Wilson said. “‘If you want to put something on, you tell me, and we’ll all do it. But we’re not gonna do it individually. Because the word uniform means one form. We’re going out as one form, one family, one team. If you want to do something, let’s do it together.’ I shared that with the team post-game. … I said hey, if you want to do it, check in with me and we’ll all do it. But we’re not gonna do our own thing.’ My thing is we’ll address that as a group. No one’s talked about it.”

— Wilson said the injured players are working their way back but still being closely evaluated during the bye week. Wilson said right tackle Peyton Eckert continues to practice, but that his back injury is still nagging him and he’s not 100 percent. Because he hasn’t played at all yet, the Hoosiers are still considering a redshirt possible. He said guard Bernard Taylor is making strides as well, but wouldn’t put a timetable on his return.





  1. Just burn the stadium down and put us all out of our misery. I’ve absolutely had it with this team. It’s one thing after another and I don’t see how it will ever change.

    Coach Wilson’s decision to yank Nate and put Tre in was ridiculous. Even if Nate wasn’t being very product at the moment he was yanked, he still had established a RHYTHM in the game and is without a doubt the guy who should be throwing the football. THIS TEAM NEEDS TO THROW THE FOOTBALL.

    I’ve had it with these running plays off to the sidelines or these QB keepers leaving us with 3rd and long.

    That’s what is most frustrating about this whole thing. We have the tools on offense to have gone 7-5 this year but because of bad coaching we’ll be lucky to win 5 games. Just another year of IU football I suppose.

    Is it basketball season yet?

  2. The game was certainly frustrating to watch. The offense definitely had a setback. 9 punts gives a struggling defense zero rest and zero confidence that their successes will lead to points. The defense has not been able to get much pressure on any opposing QBs. What is interesting is the D-line executed their assignments, as evidenced by the perfect pocket that formed around James Franklin as he picked apart the 2nd and 3rd levels. There’s a lot of work to be done to prepare for Penn State.
    Venting aside, I believe this program is improving and will get better. Transforming this program from into a bowl contender requires a collective belief. Our AD and Coaching Staff have it. The student-athletes are displaying more of it. We as alumni and fans have to have it as well. I’m not here to say people shouldn’t be frustrated or angered by Saturday’s performance. But, calls for coaching changes and abandonment of this team and this season are premature.
    This team is .500, with eight more opportunities to right the ship. I am on board for the duration of this voyage and all others to come. This institution means a lot to me. It’s given me far more than I could hope to repay. Seeing IU succeed in any endeavor makes me proud. So I’m admittedly biased in my support. IU football fans deserve a winning team, likewise this team deserves winning support. I’ll see you all @ Memorial Stadium on the 5th. Go Hoosiers.

  3. Having a high powered offense is fun and exciting, but it only encompasses 1/3 of the game. Defense and special teams make up the other 2/3’s.

    I bought into the hype that our defense was improved coming into this season, but I now know it was all talk. IU is just not any good on that side of the ball. Poor fundamentals, lack of ability, being out of position are the hall marks for this team.

    Some are calling for IU to move to a 3-4 alignment, as if that will change our fate. I don’t agree. IU simply doesn’t have the type of athlete required to make a 3-4 defense viable. I wish we would go to a 3-4 and then watch IU get steamrolled, hopefully shutting up those Monday morning QB’s who have never coached a down in their lives.

    IU has not played an outstanding defensive football team yet, and I fear that when they do it will only expose our lack of athleticism to a greater degree. Missouri did a sufficient job defensively in stopping us and they are in noway a dominant defense.

    I’m also tired of hearing players say that they didn’t or weren’t playing IU football. As someone who has watched almost 55 years of IU football I can definitely say that what I am seeing now is typical of IU football. When the players quit missing assignments, being out of position, missing tackles, and win more games than they lose, only then will I agree that the players weren’t playing typical IU football.

  4. Keith, I do agree with you for the most part, particularly your last paragraph.

    It is hard not to be discouraged. But, as I and others have said many times on these posts, this is a slow, painfully slow, rebuilding job at every level.

    As I see it, there are two fundamental issues that are only going to be turned around over time. The first is lack of depth. If you are Ohio State and your starter is not performing in a game or is injured, you just tee up the next guy who is probably just as good…maybe better. If you’re IU, your next guy may not have even played at this level before…big difference! IU is not at the level where we can recruit the numbers and quality of our B1G competition though clearly we do have some people who can potentially play on Sunday and we have more of them than I can remember for a long time (and I’m old). So, we are getting better here but have a long, long way to go before we can compete with other B1G programs.

    The second issue is defensive coaching and this issue is very much tied in with the first point. It takes much longer to develop a defense than an offense and we’ve all heard the expression “defense wins games”. So, if you’re asking why we’re losing, that’s why. You just can’t outscore people in this league, that strategy does not work, though we might win a game here and there. So, while conceding that we do not have sufficient quality and depth particularly on the Dline, I’m not convinced we are optimizing the talent we do have however insufficient.

    Finally, I did not think that a bowl was realistic for IU this year though I did think it was a remote possibility given the number of home games and some B1G teams that are not as strong as in past years. Unfortunately, being even in non-conference play pretty much kills the notion of a bowl this year barring a miracle. I would like to see us beat Illinois and Purdue and, if we do, I think we are still on the right path.

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