Hoosiers defenseless in 59-38 loss to Northwestern

It was the most points Indiana had scored against an FBS opponent all season long. Quarterback Tre Roberson had thrown for 169 yards and a touchdown and added 121 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Running back Stephen Houston even rumbled for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

But without a semblance of a defense, the Hoosiers allowed 616 yards and 59 points — both at least tied for season highs — losing to Northwestern, 59-38.

A whole lot of those 616 yards came in the first half, as Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa absolutely sliced and diced the Indiana secondary. Thirty minutes into the game, Persa already was 12-of-15 for 230 yards with three touchdowns. He added 31 more yards through the air in the second half.

It was a disappointing effort for the defense, especially in light of the offense’s season-best performance. On several occasions, defenders were simply out of position or made crucial mental mistakes that led to big plays.

And once again, many of those big plays were from one target on offense — this time, it was Northwestern tight end Drake Dunsmore, who set the Wildcat single-game touchdown record with four touchdown catches. He also added 112 yards.

The Hoosiers will return to Memorial Stadium only one more time this season — in the season finale against Purdue. That means the Indiana defense will need to make adjustments in a hurry, considering their next two opponents are two of the Big Ten’s best in Ohio State and Michigan State.

And if Indiana looks as defenseless in those games as it did Saturday against Northwestern, well, it’s not going to be a pretty end to coach Kevin Wilson’s first season at the helm.

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson

AUDIO: Greg Heban

AUDIO: Larry Black Jr.

AUDIO: Stephen Houston

AUDIO: Leon Beckum

AUDIO: Tre Roberson

90 comments

  1. Has there ever been a more disappointing first year start for a newly hired coach? John Pont? I’m just sayin!

  2. Nothing in life is certain.

    Maybe this is the start of great things for IU football, but so far I am extremely disappointed.

  3. In 1984 IU was 0-11 with a coach that many think was IU’s best Bill Mallory so yes there has been a worst starts. Coach is playing IU’S kids mostly and the offense look great. Now
    the younger Mallory needs to get a defense that works next year and beyond. We can be disappointed but we have been bad for over 40 years! He is going to need 2-4 years before we see results we want. He is building a program from the ground up and we do have many bright points on offense. However, it would be nice to beat PU this year.

  4. Assuming we have about 25 scholarships available this year the solution is to give 15-18 to defensive positions and 7-10 to offensive lineman. Wilson will get this straighten out but it will take time. Go IU!!!!

  5. Considering the fact that our guys are just getting pushed around by bigger, stronger players I can’t imagine that the outcomes would be any better if Coach Lynch were still on the sidelines. At least we can hope things will get better instead of watching the team get progressively worse every season.

  6. You don’t have to watch. These freshmen are getting valuable experience and will have a chip on their shoulder down the road.
    I played on a team in high school that went 1-9. We came back the next year and went 9-1 (the only loss came on a 48 yard field goal on the last play on the game). We relished every butt kicking we handed out along the way.
    It’s not about the falling down. It’s about the getting up afterward.

  7. First off I just want to say I went to the game and I disappointed with the fans that were behind me. I know most of us are upset with how this team is playing but to be booed and name calling just say was not family oriented. I bite my tongue the whole game. I am more disappointed in the fans then the team, they have played there hearts out all season. I would have to say offense we have found or QB and we have a running game again which is nice to see…I think booing a college player that you are rooting for is wrong. If your not happy give up your seat to someone that will be there through thick and thin. Go Hoosiers..

  8. Old Sports Dude…no, but you can avoid being an embarrassment to the entire of the Hoosier community.

  9. This record has been playing the same tune since at least 1970- different coaches,different players but same results. A 6-5 record at IU is like going undefeated at most BCS schools.Let’s be honest, NW could have gone for 80 if they wanted to. No apparent answer.

  10. We are all disappointed in the results. Offensively we have improved. Defensively, I would suspect everyone is aware that the program can not improve without great improvement on defense.

    I continue to believe it is best if we leave the matter in the hands of Coach Wilson and his staff. No one should be surprised about these results. This will just take time.

  11. Could we please not throw out the “Mallory lost every game his first year” line as if this is a plan? Mallory had been successful at Miami, turned around CSU and Northern Illinois. He had a clear plan, and a proven staff. What’s the Wilson way? His strength was supposed to be that he wasn’t married to any system, but changed to fit his personnel. The defense was terrible last year, and is way worse this year. We’re supposed to wait 2-4 years like this? How many times have assignments been missed for long passes? That won’t be fixed in the weight room…

  12. It will be a start over next year with a few players that are playing now + new recruits for the next couple of years….The recruits have to have big time ability….If you are thinking that freshman with limited ability are going to improve enough to be a winning program is just FOOLS GOLD….that is what MACIU’s unsuccess has been for the past 50+ years except for 7 or 8 seasons.

  13. To TsaoTsuG: ME an embarrassment? Where od you get off attacking me? I stated my opinion which is what this is all about. I never comment on others or tell them what to say or not say. You need to lay off the OSD. I am the one who said at the start of the season we would continue to be bad and we ARE! Obviously my comment about disbanding the team was not serious. We may be better next year but I am talking about this year.

    Keep on the topic Tsao and make your comments about the team and not ME!

  14. I believe the “Mallory Example” can be used at IU with a coach who follows it. It’s not 0-11…It’s that bad times with someone else’s players can turn into good times with a coach who knows what he is doing. I think Wilson is that type of coach. As for the same tune playing since 1970, that’s pretty accurate except for moments with Corso and Mallory. I’m an IU Football Fan (and I am also aware that there are very few of us) and I think Wilson knows what he’s doing. He can create another moment.

  15. To OSD and TTG:

    Timeout or whatever it takes, enough carping at each other. We all want IU to be better, I assume, and some are more frustrated than others, or less patient, and not everyone approaches arguing about it the same way. Civility must rule here.

    Seriously, what IU needs to worry about, more than its lack of defense (bring in some Juco defenders for a short term fix and recruit, recruit, recruit…), along with Minnesota and to a lesser extent Northwestern and Purdue, in this money-grabbing frenzy of conference expansion, is that some day the big boys — Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin — the ones who just hold their basket out and the money falls in — may try to dictate terms to the schools with lesser programs that can’t fill their stadiums, and divide the football pie up so they get the lion’s share and IU and MInnesota and Northwestern get less. Right now, as I understand it, the pie is divided up evenly throughout the Big Ten, regardless of attendance and revenue factors. The BTN has helped with that, no doubt.

    But you will see the big schools try to make a money grab before it’s over and the conference commissioner and ADs of the smaller schools will have to fight against that. Forty years ago, Don Canham, Michigan’s AD, tried to get IU and Northwestern to agree to play all of their football games against Michigan in Ann Arbor, with no games in Bloomington or Evanston. Thank God the IU and NW ADs told Canham to stick it. But that kind of arrogant thinking will come round again, mark my words, as part of all this expansion movement, to create a super division in the Big Ten, that has nothing to do with leaders or legends.

  16. A couple of thoughts about this season and yesterdays game.

    1. I believe that when Mallory went to Colorado, the team had 35 players leave, in the first year.
    2. I agree that the offense has improved. The encouraging thing is that the improvement has come against arguably better competition. Yes, you have to consider the impact that Roberson has made.
    3. IU started 7 freshman on defense yesterday. That’s a lot at any level of play. Defense today has changed quite a bit from the past. The days of widest and deepest coverage responsibility in your zone are gone. NU ran some plays that would be confusing to any defense with a lack of experience. Throw in a lack of speed and you have a problem.
    4. This is just an question, spawned by what appears to be happening. Is it just possible that Lynch and his staff just had an approach that would not lead to unrest? You red-shirt as a freshman, play a little the next year and so on. Everyone knows how it works, so there is no turmoil. Sure there were exceptions but it appears that Wilson’s way has upset some players. So often, the word “entitlement” is thrown around and that may be what happened at IU, the players felt they were assured a starting position, playing time, whatever.
    5. It will be interesting to learn what Wilson has to say regarding Belcher’s suspension.
    6. If Dedmond had Bolser’s physical talents, he’d be an all-conference candidate. Did Bolser feel “entitled”?
    7. Fans in the stands are just that. They paid their way in, ignore it. I don’t how many of you have sat in the press box during the game but it is a different world. There are very few distractions, certainly little to no booing, almost boring. But the people in the press box/coaches box are working, they are not fans.

    I read almost every football related post on this blog because I really am interested in the success of the IU football team. I am also very interested in college football as a whole. Sorry that this is so long. Most of my college term papers weren’t as long. Have a good Sunday and whether you think Wilson is the guy, or not, you have that right.

  17. Jay Gregg, Good post. My one comment is about the fans in the stands. Sure, they paid their way in as fans do at all levels. If they have behaved that way at a high school game, though, someone would, to the delight of surrounding parents and fans, come over and punch them in the face. There’s something to be said for accountability.

  18. Earlier this year, some of us on this site expressed our opinion that IU football was going to get worse before it got better. We were criticized for offering that pessimistic opinion. While IU’s young players may have learned systems and plays by this point in the season, they have also been physically, mentally and emotionally beat up. When other Big Ten teams are coming together, IU’s young and inexperienced players, especially those on defense are discovering how long a losing season can be. The young defensive players are demoralized right now.

    At the end of this painful year, many IU players will either decide to get better or they will decide to quit/transfer. Those that remain will be stronger and tougher, both physically and mentally, and my guess is that they will extremely determined to improve the results.

    This is not unusual for a team going through a complete overhaul. But clearly, IU needs a large and immediate infusion of talent on defense.

  19. Jay Gregg, I agree with every point you’ve made.

    I’ll add one. I have a lot of confidence in Wilson. I am not surprised by anything he’s doing nor what I’ve seen. I trust that he is both looking at the short range actions he may take, but more important he is evaluating medium and longer range actions to change the program.

    The only surprise is the numbers of fans who actually believed returns would be immediate. They either did not understand the depth of the problem that was IU football, the process that is absolutely necessary we labor through if indeed we hope to join the universe of good football or don’t know much about the sport to begin with.

  20. Chet- Don’t know what you heard at the game. Ad hominem attacks are uncalled for and profanity is even worse, but if a fan jumps up and yells “How could you blow another coverage, you guys stink! Boo!” it’s hardly the end of Western Civ. I recall reading an interview with the IU AD several years ago after IU lost in football to Indiana St. The AD said that the difference between IU hoops fans and football fans was that when the cagers lost to a team that they “shouldn’t have,” he would be bombarded with angry phone calls and emails. But when the footballers lost to Ind. St., not a single call. Booing can be caring!

    I was on a h.s. team that was 2-9 my soph. year. There were boos in the stands (but no face punching, as far as I know) and we heard it. Our coach said he didn’t blame the boo-birds ’cause, in fact, we were indeed lousy. Oh, the insensitivity of the man! But we had a winning season my senior year, the first in a long time at that school where, like IU, the culture was dominated by another sport.

  21. @Davis…. I’m going to assume you meant Ball St. during the 2008-2009 season and not Indiana St. I know for a fact there wasn’t a loss to Indiana St. IU has only played them twice in the last 11 years with IU winning both games 33-3 and 55-7.

    Anyway, as I stated on one of these blogs earlier this year, I said then this was the worst defense I can remember IU ever having in recent memory… It’s bad, very bad… I understand a lot of young players, etc…so, I’m really not as concerned because the cupboard for Wilson was bare in a lot of ways. I only hope that we get A LOT of JUCO players on D next year. We need to have bigger, stronger bodies out there than we have now. This will give the staff a couple years to recruit and develop their own players. The offense is young and showing promise with the right QB. So, that doesn’t seem to be as urgent as the D, next year. When a team puts up 38 points you’d expect that to be a win in almost any game. Unfortunately for IU that just isn’t the case and hasn’t been the last few years to various degrees.

  22. I am encouraged by the improvement in the offense, particularly the run game and the offensive line play, though both will need to get much better to consistantly compete at the B10 level. I think Tre has the potential to be a good QB in the next few years, but he’ll need some help. Our running backs are adequate and will get better. I think Houston will be effective against most B10 defenses.

    Our defense is a big problem. No doubt we are undersized, not fast enough and inexpereinced, but why are we out of position on so many plays? We seem disorganized and our guys don’t seem to know their assignments. I have to wonder if we need some improvment in practices as in better scout team drills and the like.

    By and large, I still think we are on a positive trajectory with this program, but like everyone else, I am dissapointed that the progress has been so very slow. I watched Minnesota against Iowa and note that Minnesota is trying to turn their program around and right now, does not have a lot of talent either. However, they seem further along than IU and I have to wonder why.

  23. iufan23, I wouldn’t say Minnesota is that much further along, they just played a good game against Minny. They’ve looked just as bad if not worse than IU for much of the season, they just happened to play a good game against their rival Iowa.

  24. Minn had a lot more talent on their roster than IU this year. But I believe they lost to a DII team earlier this year, also.

    It takes time and a little good luck. Clearly Wilson has chosen to build for the future as evidenced by starting seven freshman on an already weak defense. I think I read that no other DI team has ever started that many true freshman on offense or defense in many years.

    Hoosier fans, get prepared for a significant number of players to announce their transfers at the end of the year. It will be painful to see in the press, but I believe it will be in the best interests of the individual players and IU football in the long term. In order for IU football to become competitive, the new coaching staff must have players that buy in to their philosophy and performance standards.

  25. One day, there will be a movie made about the Hoosier Scoop.

    The role of Chris Korman will be played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

    The role of Hugh Kellenberger will be played by John Goodman.

    Hoosier Clarion will be played by Dick Clark.

    JPat will be played by Macaulay Culkin.

    Dustin Dopirak will be played by Neil Patrick Harris.

    Tsao will be played by Barbara Streisand.

  26. Podunker, I think you are probably right but that isn’t even my biggest fear because I agree with you that if the guys aren’t buying in, they need to go another situation. My concern is the morale of the coaching staff under KW. If we see significant defections in those ranks, that would be more alarming to me. I look at other successful programs and in most instances, there is strong cohesiveness within the coaching staff. Now obviously, people move on for various other opportunities and that’s fine; but if we see a wholesale exodus, that would not be good.

  27. ACK! Apology to Chet, my comments about booing were in respones to theo. Another apology- Mike W., I was thinking of Ill. State- my bad. Will promptly go soak my head- twice.

  28. @Movie Night at the Scoop,

    Jonah Hill is a better choice for Hugh Kellenberger.

    John Goodman would be a good choice to play myself. 🙂

  29. I’d love to see some bad a$$ JUCO defenders come in next year. Let’s face it, we’re only gonna get a little better with KW recruits as freshmen. Without JUCO studs I’m not sure how much better the D will be. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t have a lot a faith in the defensive players BL brought in. Maybe they can be ‘coached up’.

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