Live chat transcript

QUESTION: MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome to today’s IU sports chat. Hope everyone is doing well. Thanks for being here.
And if you don’t already have the Hoosier Scoop app or blog now’s as a good time.
How are you today? Are you ready to get started?

JEREMY: Ready, willing and able to get this chat going.
MIKE: Doing well. Ready for a weekend in Missouri. Let’s chat.
ANDY: Am watching the excellent Ken Burns series on the Roosevelts this week and recall that FDR liked to “fireside” chat. In that spirit, we shall chat with gusto.

QUESTION: I dont want to keep hearing that ‘the goals are gonna come” from IU.
First the conitnued good is this is the best defensive team IU has had in many years. Grant Lillard is the best defender IU has had since Caleb Konstanski, Billy Mcconnell has improved 100% this year, Derek Creviston is also very good and Patrick Doody continues to be solid. Biggest difference is Kerel Bradford who I have never been a fan of riding the bench.
Now If IU doesnt want to waste this great defense Andrew Oliver needs to go to the bench with Bradford and not come off it. I dont know if Jay Mcintosh, Brad Shaw or even Kyle Sparks is the answer up front but they need to try it for a couple games and see what happens. This team is doing everything except taking the right shots in the final 3rd and much of it (but far from all of it) is Oliver.
Either way IU can squeak into the tourney even playing like this but first goal wins every game is a dangerous way to play and its a shame to waste such a good defense right now. I dont want to keep hearing “the goals will come”. IU needs to prove it.
IU Soccer Fan, Bloomfield

JEREMY: IU Soccer Fan,
The defense is certainly much improved this year, a process that seemed to start when Colin Webb moved into goal late last season. However, I’m going to disagree with you on Kerel Bradford, who was on the All-College Cup team, being the problem last year. The problem was that you had Dylan Lax or Jacob Bushue, guys who were more suited to defensive midfield roles trying to play center back alongside Bradford. Lillard solved that problem in quite literally a big way. McConnell played like a freshman last year, and right back never got settled. I’m not sure how healthy Bradford is, since he hasn’t played since Dartmouth, and Yeagley used him earlier this year at midfield.
As for offense, Yeagley has been preaching that this team has to be able to win 1-0 games since the preseason. They did just that early, but those kind of games have such a razor-thin margin for error that it’s not always going to go in the Hoosiers’ favor. It sounds like the offense has been getting its chances, just failing to convert. There is no Will Bruin or Eriq Zavaleta on the roster, so Indiana is going to have to make do.
MIKE: Soccer fellas, I’ll let you take this one.
ANDY: IUSF:
Agree for the most part. Not sure Oliver is the sole or primary source of frustration in the final third, by any means. He is a gifted technical player who creates well for others, I think, but like a lot of Hoosiers seems to have issues with choice and pace on the finish, and you probably noted that Femi started in his stead against Butler. (Not that it helped produce a goal.) But you’re right in saying that this team will have to prove it can score. It hasn’t made that case as of yet. It would undoubtedly have helped to have had Tommy Thompson running around out there, but I think the lack of a true target striker seems problematic at this point. But let’s see how things develop. The lack of scoring certainly doesn’t derive from lack of chances. The opportunities were there in the past two matches, especially after halftime. Still pretty amazed that rebound in the first minute of OT against Butler didn’t go in.

QUESTION: Its time for Fred Glass to do some soul searching. RIght now he is presiding over an athletic department that has so many struggling programs (volleyball, football, Women’s soccer, both genders golf are all possibly going to finish last place in conference in there sports) and many more that are playing average at best. I love Fred Glass but he needs to do some soul searching and evaluation and realize along with Purdue he’s not fielding enough competitive programs right now. it STARTS WITH FOOTBALL. I don’t know what the fix is but something needs to be done because right now it is not fun to be a Hoosier fan.
Darren, Martinsville

JEREMY: Darren,
Grab IU Soccer Fan and step back from the ledge. I’m sure there are teams that Fred Glass and everyone else wishes were doing better, but that’s the life of a collegiate athletic director.
The jury’s still out on football, but field hockey is unbeaten and off to the best start in program history, and men’s soccer is back ranked in the top 25 nationally.
Now golf is a fair issue, but what the answer is I’m not sure. Playing on arguably the worst course in the Big Ten certainly doesn’t help.
All in all, what it comes down to is that the status of football and men’s basketball tend to set the tone for how fans such as yourself feel about the school. Right now, that means a lot of question marks.

MIKE: I don’t know that it’s time to sound any alarms just yet. It’s the third week of September. Obviously, there has been a ton of success in the department over the last couple years. Is it important to sustain that across the board? Yes, of course. But I just don’t think it’s prudent for anyone to be in a panic right now, not the least of which is the athletic director. Football needs to get better. This is a pretty obvious and widely accepted statement. The Bowling Green loss was bad, make no mistake, and they’re probably going to lose another one this weekend in Missouri, but the season isn’t over. Now, if they do lose this weekend, wins against Maryland and North Texas are absolutely necessary to keep bowl dreams alive. Just stay calm and reel it in a little bit. Again, we’re in the third week of September.

ANDY: Darren:
I’ve lived long enough (60 years in October) to learn these things tend to be cyclical. IU was on the upswing in terms of on-field and on-court results a couple of years ago. And what exactly would you have Fred Glass do, short-term? It’s always best to take the long view. A lot of fans don’t have the patience for that in our instant-gratification society. The key is having the right people to lead the programs. That needs long-term, not short-term, evaluation — and I’m sure Glass is evaluating and analyzing along those lines. That doesn’t mean he won’t make changes. He has shown that he will. But he’s not going to make knee-jerk decisions based upon one month in a fall sports season. He probably wishes he was having more fun right now, too, but since you mention Purdue, it isn’t as if IU’s two flagship revenue-producing programs (football and men’s basketball) finished last in the league last year as did those emanating from West Lafayette.

QUESTION: Good morning guys, I hope all is well. As always, thanks for your great work, it’s appreciated! Last week’s loss at Bowling Green was a kick in the gut (it’s frustrating that I don’t think anyone thought IU was going to get a stop on that last drive…everyone knew what was coming and everyone was right). However, IU’s season is far from over and I still have hope because I have watched the rest of the Big Ten try to play football. I should probably just give up hope but I just can’t. On to the questions…
1. I think we saw where Tre Roberson is going to be missed most. Those 4th down play calls were head scratchers (loved going for it, just not the play calls) and I really don’t like not having the ball in Sudfeld or Coleman’s hands on such important plays. Do you think they will continue to try the “Chris Covington Experiment” or will that be scrapped in favor of keeping Sudfeld and Coleman involved?
2. I was really happy to see Hamilton County kid J-Shun Harris breakout (good call by you guys), he was great in high school and I think he can be really good at IU. Now, the defense clearly needs some breakout guys…I know Coach Wilson mentioned Nile Sykes has practiced well so maybe he gets some time. Anyway, do you think IU has anyone that can generate some pass rush (besides Mangieri/Richardson)?
I think IU can and will score on Missouri. Tevin Coleman can play with anybody and I think the Hoosiers should ride him as much as possible on Saturday. Of course, IU’s going to have to score on every possession because I doubt the defense can slow the Tigers down. Expectations are very low and I am just hoping to see some progress before two must-win home games. Have a great week guys, enjoy this weather, God bless and go Hoosiers.
TJ, Noblesville

JEREMY: TJ,
1. First, the offensive line simply wasn’t getting the job done in short-yardage situations last week, whether it was handing off to Coleman or Covington on the keeper. Second, I think the Covington experiment will continue, but Covington is going to have to prove he can throw to keep defenses honest. Maybe that means running a bootleg or straight rollout with a run-pass option, maybe it’s pure play-action on the zone read and throwing deep. Also, Covington is still a freshman and will take time to read the play, which was where Roberson was so good at finding a crease and getting positive yardage.
2. Good call by Mike, although technically he cheated by picking both Harris and Stoner as one breakout receiver. I just went with Stoner, which turned out OK. Defensively, I thought a guy like Tegray Scales showed his potential and athleticism last week. Not sure the pass rush will be generated so much individually as by successfully disguising blitzes and bringing pressure from different places.
IU did put up 28 points against Missouri last year, but the offense has to avoid the kind of turnovers that aided the Tigers last year and that proved costly against Bowling Green. Ultimately, that’s the only way IU enjoys any kind of success in this game � forcing turnovers and not giving up any.

MIKE: Hey TJ,
I’m not sure that we won’t see the Covington package again. I’m just curious if they’ll let him throw the ball a little bit. That, I think is the key to getting him to work in that current role. It was pretty obvious what they were trying to do both times he stepped onto the field last week. I agree with you that going for it was the right call, but you have arguably the best quarterback and running back in the league. Give it to them, not the freshman quarterback-turned linebacker-turned quarterback. Earlier this week, Kevin Johns was defensive of Covington’s ability to throw it around. Maybe we’ll see that this weekend.
I think Indiana has a lot of talent on its defensive line. Guys like Richardson and Latham, especially, should be able to hang with plenty of guys at their positions in the Big Ten. Like the rest of the defense, I think it comes down to coaching. Brian Knorr and Larry McDaniel have only been here a short time, and there’s always a learning curve that comes with adapting to new coaches and philosophies. After the BG game, it just looks like they need to get a little more creative with some of the stunts, blitz packages, etc. Again, I think the talent is there. It just needs a little coaching and guidance. We’ll see if we can spot anything different on Saturday.

ANDY: TJ:
Indeed. The Big Ten hasn’t exactly covered itself in football glory this fall.
1. I think they actually really like Covington, and think he can throw, but those calls were “head scratchers,” as you say. Coach Wilson said one of the plays was just a bad call, and the other ran right into the teeth of a blitz. But I think the “experiment” needs to be conducted in a far less predictable manner if it is to continue. And it might continue.
2. I see no reason why guys such as Shaw (at Bandit), Scales (at LB) and Allen (at S) can’t get involved in the pass rush with at least occasional effectiveness. I think IU can get better push from its interior defensive linemen, and we saw that for much of the first half Saturday, but not down the stretch. Guys such as Latham, Green, Rayner and Cormier are reasonably athletic. Don’t know if personnel was rotated enough, but one element of the BG (and IU) approach to offense is to tire the defense out. But I also saw more frequent and creative stunting from BG’s defensive interior than I did from IU’s.
I think the Hoosiers need to stay aggressive, even against clubs such as Missouri that are really likely to exploit that. I think good teams WANT you to blitz them. But I feel strongly that Indiana needs to get its defenders playing downhill instead of on their heels. This week, as you note, is a matter of seeing progress more than necessarily seeing victory (in part because a victory seems unlikely.) IU, among other things, will have to deal with a Mizzou defensive front full of guys headed to the NFL. Both defensive ends are pretty much locks to be plahing on Sundays. They’ll pose a real pass-rushing challenge for IU’s veteran offensive line. A key for the Hoosier offense might well be if it can get the running game going or not.

QUESTION: While I saw plenty of typical “first loss” posts on blogs, I still don’t see the “jumping off the ledge”. When a new system is in place, (it IS only the second game for the defense.) mistakes happen. It certainly wasn’t the defensive set to cause two pass interference calls. Losing by three in the last seconds will happen. I’m trying to keep my Crimson colored glasses on.
So, what will the sign of this team improving against Missouri. Improvement? Beating the spread?? (I don’t dare anticipate a victory…)
Steve, Indianapolis

JEREMY: Steve,
I think there’s a balancing act between jumping off the ledge and wearing crimson-colored glasses. I suppose you could easily make a good case for both, but there’s a lot of season left and plenty of time for things to play out one way or the other. I think improvement is Indiana looking like it belongs on the field with Missouri in the same way Bowling Green did against the Hoosiers last weekend.

MIKE: Steve,
That’s a good question. Like you, I’m not expecting a win in Columbia, but I think it’s important to see progress. The buzz word of the week over at the North End Zone turned out to be “aggression.” I agree that IU needs to be more aggressive defensively — I thought as much while watching the BG game fall apart — but I’ve heard that word so many times this week that I’m not sure what it even means in this context now. I think it’s pretty basic, but IU has to find ways to start flying around the field. It has to attack on defense, whether through blitzing or gambling a little bit. Tim Bennett is a good example. Yes, he gets burned every once in a while, and when it happens it doesn’t really look too good. But at least he’s trying. He’s trying to make a big play. IU’s defense needs more of a Tim Bennett mentality. It’s OK if you get burned every so often. That’s forgivable. Just show people you want to make a play instead of playing reactive all the time. That’s just a little thing to keep an eye on, defensively, this weekend, but something that I think at least a few people could take solace in should it happen.

ANDY: Steve:
You, sir, seem a refreshing voice of reason.
I don’t blame the fans for reacting badly to the BG loss, though. Some defeats are more damaging than others, and in that case it wasn’t just the loss, but the manner of the loss. Fans have seen that sort of soft, supine defense displayed after halftime far too often over the years. To me, there was a lack of aggressive posture from the defense and it was an issue well before that final drive. IU did actually play a lot of man defense on that drive (which lent itself to the PIs, to a degree, perhaps, but is still something I would generally favor) and tried to disguise it by playing “off” the wideouts at the snap. But what I thought we would see and didn’t was more creative stunting from the front seven once BG got rolling after halftime. I know the Hoosiers have some of that in their arsenal, but didn’t see it deployed.
Good teams and quarterbacks can and often do feast on blitzes, so blitzing isn’t the sole answer here and isn’t the only way aggression can be achieved. But if I’m an IU fan, I’d like to see IU’s defense play with it hair on fire against Mizzou, come what may. Maty Mauk might have a field day, but I think a lot of Hoosier fans would accept that if the defense really came after him and the rest of the Tigers. Indiana could show progress if its defense shows more aggression, regardless of the final score, because the defenders need to get used to playing that way. Also, Indiana’s running game bogging down in the first half against BG was a factor. Can the Hoosiers get the running game going earlier against the very talented Tigers? That, too would be a sign of progress. I wouldn’t necessarily expect the Hoosiers to beat the spread, but I would expect them to play very aggressively on both sides of the ball in terms of strategy and tactics.

QUESTION: Do you think IU playing Indiana State, then taking a bye week, set IU up for the debacle at Bowling Green? I would like to also ask, a lot of people think the biggest improvement on a football team comes between weeks 1 & 2, why in the world would IU schedule a bye after the first game? Then the next two games on the road against quality opponents. Just move the ISU game up a week…I guess just another head scratcher about IU football…
Mike, B-Town

JEREMY: Mike,
I don’t think the early bye week did Indiana any favors. Consider the Hoosiers were playing just their second game, while Bowling Green was playing for the third week in a row.
Not sure how much say IU had about that schedule depending on what other teams had lined up, and fair to say Kevin Wilson probably won’t be real keen on doing like-wise in the future.

MIKE: Hi Mike,
Fair points all around. Kevin Wilson was as diplomatic as he could be while discussing the early bye. He didn’t like it and I’d be willing to be we won’t see another like it if he has his way moving forward. As far as actually scheduling, I think a lot also depends on opponents, too. Not sure how much control IU really had over this. But again, you raise fair questions.

ANDY: Mike:
Your points are well-taken. The overall non-conference schedule isn’t optimal, and Fred Glass and Kevin Wilson have acknowledged as much, but moving contracted games around in this television-dictated age probably isn’t as easy as we think. And it’s hard to say exactly how much the bye week affected IU’s play at Bowling Green. If the axiom about teams improving the most from game one to game two is true, then having two weeks to work on what is learned from game one doesn’t necessarily seem a bad thing. Part of the issue in the particular case for Indiana is that I’m not sure how much the Hoosiers could learn from the Indiana State game (though I duly note the Trees got themselves a big win Saturday at Ball State.) One might have thought the Hoosiers would come out rested and sharp against the Falcons. Were they rested but rusty? Maybe a bit.

QUESTION: MODERATOR: That will do it for this week’s chat. Anything else we need to know for the weekend guys?

JEREMY: Mike and Andy will journey to Columbia for some football this weekend, and we’ll have everything else you need to know on the Hoosier Scoop. Thanks for joining us.

MIKE: We’ll be live from Columbia, Missouri in the next 24 hours, so stay plugged in to the Scoop and follow along with us on Twitter. Busy weekend of travel and coverage planned, so hand with us. Thanks for checking in, everybody. See you next week.

ANDY: Having mentioned the Roosevelts, I now note Mike and I are headed to the home state of FDR’s successor, Harry Truman’s Missouri. (I could mention here that, based on an interesting conversation conducted 14 years ago, I recall that Truman was one of Bob Knight’s favorite presidents. But I digress.) A major SEC challenge awaits the Hoosiers. We shall report the results with alacrity, whatever the outcome. Thanks, as always, to the chatters and chatees.