IU can’t close in 26-24 bowl loss to Utah

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — After the final play of Indiana’s season, his last-second heave deflected and rolling along the turf, Richard Lagow lay prone on the field at Levi’s Stadium, his face staring into the ground.

Fittingly, IU’s season finale progressed much like its season at large, with a stop-and-start offense and a defense that supplied the Hoosiers with their edge.

But once again, the kinds of shortcomings and sloppiness that delivered frustration to a season of promise ultimately spoiled Indiana’s second consecutive postseason appearance.

Utah kicker Andy Phillips kicked a 27-yard field goal with 1:24 remaining to lift the No. 19 Utes to a 26-24 victory over Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl on Wednesday, making sure IU’s 25-year bowl victory drought didn’t end here.

“I’ve coached 25 years now and usually the things that happen during the season, they often bite you at the end,” said IU coach Tom Allen, who was coaching his first game as a college head coach. “Whatever challenges you have during the season, they have a way of showing up at critical times.”

IU (6-7) recorded a season-best five sacks, including two by linebacker Tegray Scales, who was recognized as the bowl’s defensive player of the game. It was strong pressure put on Utah’s offensive line, which entered the postseason having allowed 1.8 sacks per game.

The Indiana special teams unit, too, gave the Hoosiers a boost to start the game when Greg Gooch forced a fumble on the opening kickoff and Donavan Hale recovered it at the Utah 11. It was a jolt of momentum for IU, which found the end zone three plays later on a seven-yard strike from Richard Lagow to Mitchell Paige.

Lagow had his moments, both good and bad. He was intercepted once when he underthrew a deep ball intended for Ricky Jones into double coverage early in the second half. He completed merely 14 of his 39 throws, though he was not always served well by his receivers, who were responsible for a handful of drops.

It was Zander Diamont who helped supply IU’s second touchdown, making a cameo on a drive late in the second quarter. At that point, IU was trailing 17-10, falling behind after a strip sack of Lagow and a fumble by running back Devine Redding led to touchdowns for the Utes (9-4).

Diamont entered and, after handing off to Ricky Brookins and keeping one for himself, threw a 36-yard touchdown to Nick Westbrook to tie the game entering the halftime intermission.

It was a major jolt delivered by Diamont, who strutted his way down the field to celebrate the score with his teammates. Allen said he considered inserting Diamont again at times during the second half, but after conversing with his assistants, declined to make the move.

“They were playing so much zero coverage and when he’s in the game, they’re going to add the extra hat on him,” Allen said. “It really kind of took it away. Actually, that’s why I believe we scored with him because we took a chance and threw the ball deep and got a one-on-one matchup on the perimeter because they were doing that. They were numerically outnumbering you at the point of attack, which was making it tough. We did discuss it, but we chose to obviously not go with him the second half.”

Utah used field goals of 48 and 41 yards to take a 23-17 lead by the end of the third quarter. Just as the Utes were driving for more points early in the final period, the Hoosiers’ defense came up big.

Cornerback Tyler Green stripped a ball from running back Zack Moss and safety Chase Dutra recovered, giving IU the ball at its own 40-yard line. 11 plays and 60 yards later, the Hoosiers were in the end zone on a three-yard carry by Redding that put them ahead 24-23.

All told, IU forced four fumbles and intercepted a pass.

“They were ripping at the ball and doing everything a good defense is coached to do,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.

IU’s closed the season with another solid effort — doing so without second-leading tackler Marcus Oliver, who did not dress for the season finale. He wasn’t the only missing Hoosier, either. Boundary corner A’Shon Riggins also did not dress. Dameon Willis made his first career start for Oliver, while Green started in place of Riggins.

“(Oliver) had an injury,” Allen said. “We were trying to get him back. It’s kind of one that nagged the whole season. He battled through it and tried to get it fixed, but we really didn’t have a choice. The hope was to get him ready to play and couldn’t do that. It was in his best interest for his future not to risk it. That was a huge void, but it’s part of it and other guys have to step up.”

That’s what happened late in the fourth quarter, when the Hoosiers had a chance to extend their advantage to four points.

Safety Jonathan Crawford forced and recovered a fumble at the IU 29, and the Hoosiers pushed as far as the Utah 23. That’s where Griffin Oakes attempted a 40-yard field goal, but missed the mark.

On the ensuing drive, Utah running back Joe Williams picked up 64 of the drive’s 68 total yards, setting up Phillips for the game-winning 27-yard kick.

Williams earned offensive most valuable player options after rushing for 222 yards and a score, while averaging 8.5 yards per carry.

“It sucks, honestly,” right tackle Dan Feeney said. “… It was just tough. You don’t want to go out on a loss, but unfortunately that’s how it goes.”

34 comments

  1. Another “banner” day for Indiana sports. It isn’t the losses. It is that this story has been written about in both sports for so long.

    Thank god that I have a 101-degree fever and wasn’t tempted to drive down Santa Clara to join 17 other people who showed up to watch Lagow hand over another game to an opponent.

    But, the downside of contracting the plague is getting to watch our hoops team turn the ball over on a quarter of their possessions while donning their matador outfits yet again.

  2. Coach Allen will find a way to change the way this team loses in 2017. Added experience and if they don’t lose players leaving early then IU will be better next year. IU needs a kicking coach that can coach another position. Our kickers need to go to kicking camps during the summer to get better. The Spring practice will have an open try for the QBs that are on the team so the best QB will be the starter next year. I hope who coaches receivers knows how to get them from dropping so many passes. Our defense did a very good job with the missed starters gone which makes it good for next year. The offense needs to have a very good OL that does even better than this OL and get back to the OL that didn’t give up sacks. IU will have Patrick, Redding, and a number of RB that are very good for them to use. Brookins looked good in this game with 53 yds in 12 carries.

    There may be a silver cloud in this Bowl, the team will be pushed [in a right way] to do even better than what they did this year. I will be looking to see which coaches stay and which ones leave and what OC Coach Allen hires. I hope on offense that coach Frey and McCollough stay along with the defensive coaches that are there. The coaches that don’t like Fred Glass need to understand that coach Wilson was told not to do what he did to players but turned around and did it again. It isn’t Glass’s problem but coach Wilson’s. Whatever coaches leave coach Allen has enough connection to replace they with very good coaches. Fred Glass needs to increase the assistant coaches incomes to match at least the upper 6 in the B1G as IU has the money from TV to do that. He also needs to cut the amount of money that BB coach has and his recruiting budget.

    I am looking for the season next year to see how the team plays under coach Allen. My guess is they will play much better than in the past and have coaches that can cutback the problems with the offense in 2017. I hope coach Allen names the OC by the weekend so the QBs waiting to see who it is can decide to come to IU.

  3. DD, as frustrating to see Lagow play don’t forget he had receivers dropping pass after pass for most of the game. Whoever coaches QB this next year will have an open mind about who the best QB is to start in 2017. The passing game will benefit from Cobbs coming back to go with the other returning receivers. IU will also have Patrick back at RB and healthy to go with the other RBs. IU returns a lot of players for next year and the new OC will have the offense looking better whoever it is. Don’t forget that Oaks missed a FG that would have kept Utah from playing for a FG to win the game.

  4. Reading the ‘comments’ in Utah paper post game…..”Utah in need of knowledgeable OC”…….”good win against a B1G powerhouse”…….”waste of time” playing IU…….”free tickets & still no one wanted them”…..

  5. IU producing a better offensive performance rushing the ball and defensively against the opponents big plays on the ground would have resulted in a 7-6 season. It would help so if DR could hang onto the ball. He’ll have far fewer carries next season in which to fumble and that will be a plus for IU.

    Competition should be fierce in the coming off season at OL, RB, TE, DL, WR, QB, ST and possibly LB. Just as Allen would want it to be. Safety won’t change much. If Fant stays CB will be firm with him and Riggins, everyone else will be fighting for rotation time. Without a doubt we’ll see fresh faces in the team 2 deep. Can’t wait.

  6. I cannot see Richard Lagow improving enough to be the starting QB next year…the reason some receivers are dropping passes is that they have no confidence in Richard Lagow getting them the football…this problem started at the very beginning last year in spring ball. Lagow has remain inconsistent all year. With Wilson gone , maybe King or Ramsey will win the starting QB position.

  7. The offense was a mess again last night. But Lagow isn’t a stabilizing presence like Nate was last year. 7 balls batted down at the line of scrimmage. Several of those drops weren’t exactly solid passes (a few were). Lagow threw a couple of wounded ducks into traffic that, fortunately, weren’t picked off. He really struggles when his first option isn’t open.

    Lagow is a mess and his leadership on the field is lacking. I certainly hope there’s competition at QB next year. If this is the best we have, we’re in a lot of trouble.

  8. Well, if neither King or Ramsey are NOT IU’s QB’s next season, that will mean that they’re not Big Ten Quarterback material. Because the bar is not set very high. Lagow was terrible last night and he was not very good throughout the regular season. So if King or Ramsey have any talent, they should win the starting job. I understand why a coach could fall in love with Lagow. He fits the mold of a top pro=style QB with his height and his gun. But in this case, Wilson’s love was blind. The guy does not get it done. And I don’t think Lagow can fix the fundamental problems that affect his performance as a passer. I give him credit for battling until the end last night, but even his resolve and determination could not overcome his flaws. He’s just not good enough to lead a Big Ten team to a winning season, and if we assume he’ll have a new OC or QB coach, my guess is that will make things worse. Best to start over assuming either King or Ramsey have any skills at all.

  9. Those bringing up attendance, all bowl games have had down attendance. We are vacationing in the St. Pete beach area and there was a guy walking up the beach on Christmas day handing out free tickets to the St. Pete Bowl between Miss St. and Miami of Ohio. He had a stack of at least 1,000 tickets and he said there were 5 guys like him walking around trying to give away tickets. I got two for me and my son. If you watched that game on TV, there was no one there. We only stayed for the first half. The crowd at the Pinstripe Bowl was less than last year with better weather.

    1. Re: FF Bowl here in the Bay Area. It is an NFL stadium with NFL prices on everything from parking, to food, to beer. The ticket prices are just a cover fee to stratify those willing to pay for “bottle service” 20 rows back at the 50 yd line, versus those up above. For this reason, I don’t really like attending many live sports outside of college and baseball anymore. The insanity of the prices for garbage/Aramark food and watered down drinks just isn’t worth it to me.

      This was actually a pretty cool bowl game when they played it at AT&T Park. It was really well attended. Easy to get to. If you didn’t live in the City, there are a multitude of public transportation options. Concessions are still very expensive there, but who needs to buy their food when there are world class (and inexpensive!) restaurants within walking distance of the park. Buy a couple of beers + tickets and you’re out of there for far less than $100 bucks.

      I like watching all of these non-consequential games….on TV…in HD. Last night was nice with Gus Johnson on the mic, too. The lack of attendance at the games has less to do with those who have an interest in watching more football than it does with the the fact that the venues pick you up by your feet and shake every last nickle out of your pocket.

      I got free tickets to a Niners game earlier this year. I spent less money in a week in Argentina that I did that day. That’s probably the last NFL game I’ll ever go to live. Fine if that’s how others want to spend their hard earned cash, but I’d rather spend it elsewhere.

  10. Podunker, both King and Ramsey have talent and will challenge for the starting job. A new OC and QB coach would be good and not set things back if they are the right coaches. Excellent coaches know how to teach and motivate properly. We have seen over the past several years how coach Wilson held down the QB spot by losing top QBs and having several transfer. An passing game that quality QBs can’t step into as freshman and do well are too complex and keeps college QBs from excelling. We see other college freshman QBs come in and do the job even at Alabama. Hurts was a 4 star QB coming in not one of the leading QBs in the country. Both King and Ramsey are rated dual threat QBs coming out of high school so I am sure they meet Coach Allen’s desire for QB. PS watch Lagow’s JC films and you see a much different QB until Johns forced him to change his throwing motion. He was accurate and found open receivers without hesitating. I hope coach Allen can bring in a QB coach that can correct the mistakes and help all the QBs improve.

  11. Folks if Lagow had any potential at all he would be playing his college ball in the state of Texas. QBs with talent never have to leave the state unless of course you’re Jalen Hurts and you want to play for Alabama.

  12. Or unless the QB’s names are Brees, Stafford, Luck, Trevor Knight, J. T.Barrett or Tommie Armstrong.

    1. Came across this tidbit regarding the state of origination of college starting quarterbacks. The ‘surprisingly’ was added by the article’s author.

      » Texas has produced the most starters at “Power Five” conference schools, with 10. Florida is second with seven, while California and Georgia have produced six each.

      » Georgia has produced the fourth-most starters in the FBS ranks, with nine. Tied for fifth at six are Alabama, Ohio and — surprisingly — Indiana.

  13. I doubt if Clarion had to even look that up…..I certainly couldn’t tell you that all those QB’s were from Texas(and went to play outside the state). Funny stuff.

    Oakes has killed us in both bowls…Feel bad for the young man. And how about those curve balls and “English” coming off the foot of the Utah kicker…?

    I don’t think it was a good decision to name Allen as head coach…He should have been the interim guy. Hard to believe that before coming to Indiana our last two head coaches had only been head guys at the high school level. Maybe it’s no so uncommon. But when it comes to power conferences, I’m not sure if that’s the ideal. Maybe there just isn’t an established high quality head coach who would want the job at Indiana…? For all the claims of positive movement/turnaround in the program, that elephant in the rooms serves as the deeper harsh reality of a starting point we appear to live in dreamy denial and acceptance. And rather than seek a new starting point, our fears took over when faced with losing a quality defensive coordinator.

  14. It was sort of a ‘Lagow my Eggo’ game as both teams played tug of war for a level of toaster waffle prestige. I was not impressed with Utah. This was a team that couldn’t put away Indiana but only lost by one touchdown to U Dub? Alabama vs Washington could get very ugly….

  15. That was a very interesting game. I am upset that IU did not beat #16 Utah, a west coast team , in a bowl game, outside of San Fran. For the second year in a row Oakes missed a very makeable FG, and the Hoosiers lost. This Spring should be very interesting! A new offensive coordinator (hopefully); a real QB battle; the same at RB, the same at receiver (what happened to Patrick?); the same at OL; the defense could be great; a real battle at kicker. IU has some. very good players. Upgrade a coach or 2; get 1-2 4 star recruits; August could be fun!

  16. HC , that’s my point. I’m sure those QBs you mentioned as well as Hurts had offers to play at home in Texas. Did Lagow get offers from Texas or Texas A&M or Baylor or TCU or Texas Tech or Houston or did he get offers from schools like Connecticut and Indiana? You know,two college football powerhouses.

  17. Interesting tweet by Zander “he blamed the lost on play calling”. I think I agree with him and the coaching of WR and QBs, which is why I want Johns replaced.

    H4H, we will find out that Allen is the right guy to be IU’s HC. He motivates players the right way and players love playing for him. People that have worked with him as a coach say he is a HC that can win. As players hear from IU players what Allen is like more big time players will come. He will bring in some new coaches, one already to take Johns place [I am guessing], and any others that leave. Johns was the one that screwed up Lagow as he looks terrible compared to how he threw in JC. I am not saying he could fix every fault but Johns added to the problems.

  18. “QB’s with talent never have to leave the state”(Texas). ?????????????????
    I thought Johns called a good game and should get the full mountie as OC for next season. If RL’s foot work had not needed adjusted Wilson would not have initiated it or allowed it to happen. With Johns as OC the offense remains Wilson’s. I understand some may not like that. If the OC changes so will the offense and no doubt some staff on the offense too. From what we read of Allen prefers a QB who can pass but run to escape and extend a play.

  19. That’s right HC
    If you are a talented and highly recruited high school football player in Texas and you want to stay home the offers will be there. Of course I am talking about four and five star QBs. That’s something IU doesn’t have to worry about for awhile so don’t get yourself all worked up.(????????????????????????)

  20. HC, they changed more than Lagow’s footwork and he went from an accurate passer to an inconsistent passer; check out the films. I go by the results and years of coaching QBs, how you throw the ball isn’t nearly as important than the release. I once had a QB coach try to fix our backup QBs passing and kept saying it was his footwork but when I showed him how to change his grip on the football suddenly his passes dramatically improved. Footwork should be simple easy to teach changes not major overhauls. One criticism I have had throughout the Wilson tenure was the fact our QBs don’t drop from their shotgun position. I accepted it had to do with their philosophy and structure of the offense but it is something I think needs to change.

    IU offense does need to change in some ways as it has always done poorly in 3rd down and red zone situations. There is a reason the old saying “if you don’t change you are falling behind” is still around.

    As far as coach Johns returning or not is up to him and coach Allen. I have problems with him staying because our receivers have dropped too many passes during his tenure and even coach Wilson took over play calling during the year so he lost confidence in Johns play calling. It isn’t that Coach Johns is a terrible OC but his play calling isn’t dynamic enough and it takes him too long to figure out how to attack the defense. There are better OC out there with schemes that are fast paced and spread but more effective.

  21. Changes were made because what worked in JC was suspect in P5. Foot work being the genesis of the change and the bigger the QB the more extended that can become. Certainly 17 INT’s is not acceptable. What would be the description for 27? The announcer during the bowl game stated his foot work at times under pressure was getting him in trouble. Time and repetition are the remedy. He very well may not come out of the off season competition as the starter but he will be a better QB because of the changes made to improve his passing.
    I really like Johns tutelage under the likes of Wilson, Walker and Fitzgerald. He understands the passing game and the kind of recruiting they stressed. A handful of years ago was named B1G WR COY. Several dozen offensive records have been established by Wilson/johns. Many unfathomable at IU until that tandem arrived. Hughes, Wynn, Latimore got looks or NFL contracts and the versatile Ricky Jones may now get an opportunity. Improved raw talent in Harris, Cobbs, Paige, Timian. But I see him as a QB Coach and OC or Co-OC because he is cerebral enough to master Wilson’s offensive system and bold enough to tweak it with his own signature. He may move on or get pushed out but his identity to coaching is recognized.

  22. HC, Johns is a good coach but unless he changes the offense with some major tweaks I would rather get a new coach in that runs a spread offense. Why, the past years despite having a very good offense IU struggled at 3rd & 4th down situations. These are just to big off short comings to just do the same thing in the future. My other concern is the seasons of dropped passes that just didn’t seem to get corrected. We will see a new QB coach and hopefully he will be one that can develop more than one QB, really Nate was the only one that really developed yet still never complete more than 60% of passes for the season.

    If Johns has ideas that will correct these problems I would like him to stay but I think he has hit his limits with how good he can improve receivers and it isn’t good enough the way it has been unless we accept mediocre winning. By the way, changes from JC that needed to be made shouldn’t make the QB worse about accuracy. Announcers often just repeat platitudes and don’t really know what needs to change IE not throwing high enough – just look at successful NFL QBs over the years and tell be all them have a high release. No one can release the ball high enough to throw over a players hands that are over 7’6″ high. QBs have to be taught to throw between the players up front and have enough distance between him and the OL but our QBs never dropback after catching the snap which creates knock down passes.

    It will be interesting to see where coach staff goes and I hope many stay.

  23. Our receivers simply do not regularly get separation with the exception of the slot receiver…and that may be more a function of the defenders getting ‘picked’ (which is common on slot routes) than our receivers route running skills. Meanwhile the quarterback is standing back there looking for some place to get rid of the ball…leading to forced passes. Leaping high and outfighting a defender for the ball looks great on SportsCenter but it’s no way to design a play.

    While I understand that no team in the Big 12 plays defense worth a damn you can’t help bit admire some of the offensive looks they present. I wonder how a WFO offense would do in the Big Ten? Do the Hoosiers even have the speed for that to be a possibility?

    Probably all a moot point. It would be sacrilege to not run it into the 2 gap on 3rd and 12 for the Hoosiers. Perhaps they could build a ramp for Natee in the backfield so that he could get some speed up before lumbering to the line. Zander was the most explosive player on the team. I wish they had tried him in the slot but he probably would have been killed. Paige did a serviceable job.

    Our offensive performance this year reminds me of an old Lou Holtz line when asked about his team’s execution. He replied, “I’m in favor of it.”

  24. Chet, you are right about receivers having little separation and a lot of that is not teaching receivers how to separate from tight coverage. 2017 will make it tougher on defenses because Cobbs and Westbrook will be tough for defenses to double cover. So they really need to be taught route running as they will have one on one coverage on multiple plays.

    I don’t think we will be seeing IU offense run the B Gap on 3rd and 12 anymore if coach Allen has a say over it. I do know that the offense will have a talented offense in 2017 and needs the QB to be a solid player that protects the ball while making plays. The key will be the OL but they have talented big players to turn to.

  25. I cannot so easily write off all the offense he passing success IU has had in the past 4 years as lucky or non consequential and say that 2016 is the norm Coach Johns had much to do with that offensive passing success and should have in the future also

  26. after watching the Foster Farm bowl a couple of more times, i am convince that the Offensive line played a decent game and the running back did the best they could against an aggressive defense..IMO this game was lost by the IU defense..inability to stop Joe Williams and the Utah run game…and Lagow inability to complete a (short or long) pass (drive killer)….it easy to blame all of this years problems (loses) on the offensive cord, but the offensive carried the IU football team for the last few years…an made this a very exciting team to watch…it will be very interesting to watch which direction the IU football team goes from here.

  27. I respectfully disagree with your suggestion that IU lost this bowl game due to the defense’s inability to stop Utah’s running back. IU lost the game because, once again, IU’s offense sputtered again. Our star running back fumbled in the red zone, our kicker missed a 40-yard field goal, our receivers dropped a lot of passes, and Lagow only completed 14 of his 39 passes for a grand total of 188 yards. And a lot of the problem with his passing had to do with Utah’s pass rush, which IU’s O-line could not stop the entire game. I don’t care how good a team’s defense is. If that team’s QB completes only 35.8% of his passes, has one INT, a fumble and 7 passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage, that team is not going to win many football games. Once again, IU’s offense was the problem.

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