4 Things We Learned: Indiana 44, Purdue 41

You have to have a backup plan.

If there has been any overarching lesson from this season, it’s this.

The Hoosiers haven’t been the most injury-afflicted team in college football, but their circumstances haven’t been painless, either. Many of the Hoosiers’ most important pieces on the offensive side of the ball have needed replacing at one point or another.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. went out, and Peyton Ramsey came in. Left tackle Coy Cronk got hurt, and Matthew Bedford stepped up. Saturday, it was Bedford, running back Stevie Scott and receiver Donavan Hale out.

Somehow, the Hoosiers logged their ninth game with 30-plus points, tying the 2015 squad’s program record.

Several reserves made this one possible, from freshman running back Sampson James (in place of Scott), right tackle DaVondre Love (as Caleb Jones flipped to left tackle for Bedford), and receiver Miles Marshall (starting for Hale).

Of course, it helped that James was facing the second-worst rush defense in the Big Ten, but his 118 yards showed off an ability to not only burst through creases but push piles. Marshall finished with four catches for 49 yards, including a toe-dragger on the sideline on third down.

Not to mention the Hoosiers had to turn to their backup kicker when Logan Justus’ bad day turned horrid. IU doesn’t go to overtime if not for a 41-yard field goal by redshirt freshman Charles Campbell late in the fourth quarter.

What kind of depth this team had was a question heading into the season. IU wore down late and fell flat several times in 2018. While the Hoosiers haven’t always finished — Michigan State and Penn State come to mind — they do have enough quality depth to plug holes and keep rolling.

Whop’s return was a big boost.

IU was able to overcome its missing pieces Saturday, partly because it added another one back to the puzzle.

Whop Philyor, the Hoosiers’ leading receiver, showed no ill effects from his week off, totaling a team-high eight catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns. One score was a 38-yarder where Philyor flew past the Boilermaker secondary.

Saturday’s totals brought Philyor to 1,001 yards for the season, making him one of seven IU receivers to reach the 1,000-yard plateau. He could easily jump into the Hoosiers’ top 3 for a single season with Simmie Cobbs (1,035), Courtney Roby (1,039), Thomas Lewis (1,058) and Cody Latimer (1,096) sitting between Philyor and leaders James Hardy (1,125) and Ernie Jones (1,265).

This is truly a breakout campaign for Philyor, who had 570 yards combined as a freshman and sophomore, and IU coach Tom Allen was sure glad to have him back. Allen gave his slot receiver a piggyback ride off the field after the win.

The defense continues to have lapses.

IU’s 350 yards surrendered per game isn’t an astonishing total. In fact, it ranks 38th in the nation.

But those statistics are slightly deceiving. The schedule has offered the Hoosiers some woeful offenses to smother, namely UConn (107th out of 130 FBS squads in total offense), Northwestern (124th), Rutgers (129th), and Eastern Illinois (119th in FCS).

Those four schools produced 535 yards total versus IU. Ohio State (5th nationally), Nebraska (58th), and Purdue (79th) each eclipsed 500 yards on the Hoosiers. Michigan (68th) and Michigan State (102nd) surpassed the 400-yard mark.

There have been some signs of defensive growth, especially IU’s performance on first and second downs at Penn State (67th), keeping the Nittany Lions at 371 yards. But the 1,042 yards IU has surrendered over the last two weeks rekindles worries because it’s in line with the trend.

Against lesser opponents, the Hoosiers’ improved athleticism and speed on defense has really flashed. But against teams with sufficient weapons to counter, the offense has tended to get the better of the matchup.

This is still a young unit. Many of its brightest stars are freshmen and sophomores. They have time to grow, and in the waning moments at Purdue, the Hoosiers found the stops they needed to win the game. But the Boilermakers also registered their longest pass (72 yards) and run (48 yards) of the season against IU.

The Hoosiers have to do more to eliminate big plays and costly penalties.

Tom Allen has some money coming.

For each win after No. 5, the Hoosiers’ head coach has earned a bonus of $100,000.

In his first two seasons, Allen didn’t hit those marks. But he did it three times this year — with wins No. 6, 7, and 8 — giving him a nice $300,000 bonus for the season.

According to USA Today’s database, Allen is receiving the fifth-most bonus money of FBS coaches.

After a historic year where the Hoosiers nabbed eight wins for the first time since 1993, the question probably isn’t if but when Allen gets a raise in his base salary.

Allen ranks last among Big Ten coaches at $1.8 million. His counterpart in the bucket game, Purdue’s Jeff Brohm, ranks second in the conference at $6.6 million a year.

Athletic director Fred Glass said before the season even started he expected to sign Allen, in his first stint as an FBS head coach, to a significant extension. Stay tuned.

What’s next?

Bowl game, to be determined

There have been a myriad of projections for the Hoosiers, whether it be the RedBox (Santa Clara, Calif.), Gator (Jacksonville, Fla.), Music City (Nashville, Tenn.), or the Quick Lane (Detroit, Mich.) bowls.

IU fans would probably love an SEC team like Kentucky in either the Gator or Music City contests. The RedBox would pit the Hoosiers against a Pac-12 opponent.

The earliest of those bowls would be the Quick Lane on Dec. 26. So, regardless of how it goes down, the Hoosiers will have plenty of time to get Scott, Bedford, and others ready.

24 comments

  1. What I leaned was that Zander Horvath from Mishawaka at 6’3 235lbs torched and plowed IU’s defense for trips to the end zone and 164 yds. I also have since learned that ZH committed originally to IU. Even though he was a TD machine in HS the ” IU brain trust” wanted to convert him to a linebacker and make Steve Scott, a linebacker in HS, a running back? Well, Zander wanted to run through linemen so he flipped to Purdue. Mmmmm? As a footnote: A Leslie HORVATH is listed as the Heisman Trophy winner as Ohio State’s QB in 1944. Great-great grandpa/uncle perhaps? Mmmmm. Memo to IU talent assessors: If you find a high school version of Jim Brown, Jim Taylor or Terry Cole….don’t put them on defense,…give ’em the ball.

    1. Zander played and was available in all of Purdue’s games this season. Stevie Scott was injured and didn’t play vs Purdue. They’re both sophomores. Stevie was VASTLY superior to Zandar this year. It isn’t even close.

      Zander had one good game and it was against the Hoosiers. He rushed for half of his season totals in that game, and ALL of his TDs came in that game. Stevie played against 3 of the best run defenses in the country (OSU, PSU and Michigan).

      Zandar 2019 Stats:
      Rushes:79 Yards: 377 Ave: 4.8 TDs: 2 Long: 48

      Stevie 2019 Stats:
      Rushes: 178 Yards: 845 Ave: 4.7 TDs: 10 Long: 57

      Not sure your argument is holding there. Stevie is better, as of now.

      Not to poop on your thoughts completely. I saw a pretty nice looking running back in Purdue’s backfield. It’ll be interesting to watch him develop. Still, I think we have the better player. Two more years left to see which one ends up being better over their career.

      1. DD: Your points are well taken. Scott is a stud. ZH, like others at P were given bigger roles due to injury. Your stats (thanks for looking them up) indicate statitical parity. My TWO observations are 1. Instinct. 2. Speed. SS’s typical run would be to plow behind where the `hole’ was supposed to be,..ZH appears to adjust on the fly better. Speaking of ‘fly’ ZH has flat out speed that SS doesn’t. On his 2 longest runs, ZH clearly outran, in the open field, multiple db’s. I love having SS, but in my opinion he isn’t as gifted as ZH or Sampson James for that matter. OSU must agree because as we all know, they got his verbal.

  2. Seeing that Brad mentioned Horvath’s prep team, I will take the opportunity to opine that Mishawaka H.S. has the best sports team nickname ever: the Mishawaka Cavemen. I hope that the girls’ teams are still known as the Mishawaka Cavewomen. Or have our oh-so-sensitive times brought us the “Mishawaka Cavepersons?”

  3. Brad -It will be very interesting to see how this turns out in about two-three more years…I find this very interesting that Horvath (1 star recruit) commit to Purdue in the class of 2017 and was the 3rd to 4th string running back on the team when facing Indiana this year. An he ran for a total of 164 yards against the Indiana defense…WOW!! It will be very interesting to see if Jeff Brohm can turn a recruited OLB into a legit running back….Maybe the next Mike Alstott or maybe the Indiana defense made him look like the next Mike Alstott.

  4. IU79: Good question. In general, I get the impression that TA & staff do try to find good athletes that can play different positions. He’s mentioned it for 2 years. I think in this instance not only IU, but a lot of places whiffed! But, IU had him committed!!!! Then flipped. It’s understood that IU’s defense has been less than stellar but keep in mind Purdue might have one of the smaller, younger O lines in P5 football. So, bad blocking and bad tackling…..that said, this kid, who I was totally unaware of, appeared to me to have really, really big time potential,…not just at Purdue, but the NFL. Think about it; He’s a frosh (I think) huge, powerful, fairly elusive, good balance and adequate open field speed. Far more natural ability than Alstott, Larry Csonka, Jerome Bettis, Tom Nowatzke (same region) and any other ‘big’ or ‘fullback’ I can recall since Jim Brown. Jim was about 20 lbs lighter and 2 inches shorter. He has the devastating running power and speed of former RB Christian Okaye of the KC Chiefs years ago,…’the Nigerian nightmare’. The game also showed how lucky IU is to have Sampson James. When 8 guys hang on your back for nine yards in the red zone,…that young man is strong and tough. Allen and company can now look forward to trying to stop Horvath from now on. Decisions have consequences. As for rating *’s and him being lowly regarded,…well, their Wheaton College 4th string quarterback recruit lit up Wisconsin and then doubled down for over 400 yards on IU.

  5. IU did not do a good job on defense, but one factor that may have contributed to Purdue’s success on offense were the field conditions. I don’t recall IU playing on a soggy grass field all season. I watched numerous plays where IU’s defenders slipped or fell down due to bad footing. One of those plays lead to an easy Purdue TD. Horvath was certainly built to play in those wet and muddy conditions and Purdue benefitted from it all day. Call him an effective “mudder.”

  6. I’m happy for TA and glad he earned his big bonus. But seeing in print the difference between Brohm’s salary and TA’s salary is embarrassing to any IU fan who has any pride and a competitive fiber in their body. We can all agree that Purdue paid Brohm far too much (he’s not the second best coach in the Big Ten) and that IU will not and should not come close to paying TA that much money, but that does not diminish the fact that IU now needs to step up in a big way and make a statement with TA’s new contract. And by “statement,” I mean a statement to the college FB universe, including coaches, players, fans and the college football media. Glass has an opportunity to build on the progress that has been made over the last three seasons in changing the narrative about IU FB. He has the opportunity to compliment the significant investment made to upgrade IU’s FB facilities and to change the collective opinion of so many people who have long since concluded, and may still believe that IU was a terrible destination for a FB coach. Aside from the obvious need to keep a coach that has produced the first winning season in 12 years and the first 8-win season in three decades, and give IU a chance to maintain the momentum, TA’s new contract is a “strategic” opportunity. Consider what Minnesota has done with Fleck’s contract over the last two seasons. Consider what Purdue did for Brohm after last season. Look at what Rutgers is doing with Schiano’s new contract ( average of $4 M guaranteed for eight years). And I’ll bet that OSU will give their young head coach a huge raise and new contract within the next two months.

    Performance bonuses and incentives are nice, but the base salary and duration of the contract is what conveys the University’s commitment and changes the narrative about a school’s primary revenue-producing sport. It is essential that Glass gets it right.

    1. Po,
      Here’s another issue in the Schiano hiring. Paying him 4 M is based on his earlier success at RU when they were in the Big East conference. Hardly a schedule anywhere near as tough as the B1G East. Yes, Schiano had some good wins, but not the gauntlet which will be played every year. Yet, Rutgers is willing to pay him 4 M with no history as HC in the B1G. He had good defenses at OSU, but who doesn’t at OSU?

      TA manages to pull off a winning B1G season at IU of all places. To me, that is worth a whole lot more than building a winning program in the Big East or managing a division of the biggest football factory in the B1G.

      1. Great idea. Other provisions for a new contract might include upgrading certain coaching positions, specifically DC, DB’s and special teams. Throwing $ at something without improvements, like anything else, has minimal effect.

  7. think, you make several good points. I would have no problem if IU were to give TA a new 5-year contract at $4 million per year, plus incentives. Now that kind of contract would make a statement about IU’s commitment to football.

    Will IU ever choose to pay its FB coach more than its men’s BB coach? Archie’s salary is about $3.5 per year right now, and BB does not generate a profit (i.e., extra revenue) for other IU athletic programs. Which coach is more valuable to the future of IU Athletics, the FB coach or the BB coach? Would it be considered sacrilege for IU to pay its FB coach more than its BB coach?

    IMO the biggest risk for Glass, especially for the long term good of IU FB, is to pay TA too little relative to other Big Ten coaches. It would forfeit the opportunity to demonstrate that IU is putting its money where its mouth is regarding Football. Better to make a bold statement than to perpetuate the narrative about IU’s neglect of the FB program.

  8. It is most likely going to be either the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville on January 2, or the Music City Bowl in Nashville on December 30. Both games would be against an SEC team. And given the location of either game, that would be like playing an SEC team with home field advantage.

    Personally, I’d prefer IU play in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on December 27 against a PAC-12 team. The PAC-12 is a weaker conference and it would give IU a better chance of winning a bowl game and getting the 9th win of the season. And that would do a lot to help IU market the FB program, improve recruiting, improve its notoriety among the lethargic Hoosier nation and etc. Plus, it would be the 40th anniversary of IU’s first bowl-game victory, when Corso’s team beat the 6th ranked BYU team in the Holiday Bowl.

  9. Po, you are absolutely right about IU not needing to keep the Basketball pay higher than the Football pay. IU needs to get football pay up where the Hoosier finished up this year which is in the middle of the B1G. IU doesn’t need then lowest coaching pay in the B1G.

    I watched a replay of the game and Horvath biggest runs came when LBs weren’t in the box because coach Wommack had them out on receivers. It appears coach was so concerned about the passing game and sacrificed the run that PU had used much. Why he didn’t adjust after the first run is beyond me. IU did a good job on Horvath when the LBs were in the box. I also think the players getting calls in late were due to coach Wommack trying to make sure he made the perfect defensive call for the offense. Coaches some times fall into trying to outsmart the other team and it doesn’t work out very well in most cases.

    1. v you mirrored my observations about IU LB assignments exactly. During the game IU rightfully so was in repeated pass coverage using LB. I think Wommack’s biggest bugaboos this 1st season was trying to be to perfect, to complicated and to cute.

  10. V13 – I respect your knowledge of the game being that you are and ex football coach….But I believe any team can stop the run with the LB’ers in the box…But on this particular day or game Indiana defense failed to stop the run (Horvath – 23 att and 164 yards) or the receivers (Bell 9 rec at 136 yards and Hopkins 8 rec at 142 yards) and a 4th string quarterback (O’Connell – 408 yards). From my limited knowledge of the football game, usually the defense tries to take one or the other (run or the air attack) away from the offense. Indiana won the game but Indiana defense made a 4th string quarterback and a 4th string running back look pretty good. In your opinion v13 is Wommack ready for the position he is in or is he over his head (too young) at the present time?

  11. I’m a tickled as anyone that IU won. I would just ask everyone that reads/posts on this page to consider the outcome of this game had R Moore been healthy and in the lineup? Be honest with yourself…..

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