Hoosier Scoop Sage Take of the Day, Nov. 19, 2012


Were not necessarily going to win it.
But should have been in it.
That’s the quick take on Indiana’s football fate Saturday at Penn State. Instead of 45-22, it maybe should have been about 45-35.
Cam Coffman threw for 454 yards and a pair of TDs and wasn’t good enough, as strange as it seems to say that in the context of such gaudy numbers.
It’s one thing to miss on a couple of short passes, when receivers are open and a first down is hanging in the balance — such as the series early on when the Hoosiers had a 10-7 lead, the ball, decent field position and a chance for some serious momentum.
That can happen to even veteran, proven quarterbacks, and nobody is expecting Coffman to be Joe Montana. Everybody’s human. Nobody’s perfect. Sometimes the biorhythms just aren’t right.
Even so, what shouldn’t happen is to have eight or 10 crucial plays like that, with open receivers missed inexplicably on “completable” short throws, the sort that are virtual handoffs in coach Kevin Wilson’s system.
Coffman completed 33 of 59 passes Saturday for a .559 percentage when it should probably have been around .669. And that’s the sort of thing that can not only get this particular team beat, but can make it non-competitive.
It is unfair to solely single Coffman out, and especially not to also acknowledge that he made several really fine plays, too, sometimes under pressure and sometimes in crucial situations. And he has generally dealt well with a very daunting situation this fall. But I think Coffman, who seems like a really admirable guy, would also acknowledge that he wasn’t good enough Saturday — and that, as the quarterback, he’s almost always going to get more than his share of either credit or blame, anyhow.
There was also almost no running game. And the other, even larger, element of Indiana’s game that proved fatal Saturday was, of course, the defense. The linebacking play, especially, seemed subpar. When your linebacker can’t tackle their wideout (even one who will play on Sunday) despite having a clear shot, and what should have been no-gain or a loss turns into a 53-yard TD to give PSU the lead for good, it ain’t good.
And that sort of thing happened repeatedly for the second straight week.
Have the still-youthful Hoosiers hit a bit of a wall? Maybe. They gave such admirable effort during the first couple of months this season but, again, they’re human. Some things aren’t always sustainable, no matter how much desire is applied.
They really didn’t play all that great against Illinois and Iowa in recent weeks, even when they won. And they played better than some folks might think earlier in the season during some losses (Navy and Ball State come to mind).
But the defense frankly looked tired at times, or even a lot of the time, against Wisconsin and again on Saturday.
Other elements play into all this, of course, not the least of which is the opposition. Wisconsin and Penn State are pretty doggone good, big, experienced, mature, physical, solid football teams.
Be that as it may, Coffman is capable of better. So is the defense. They showed that earlier in the season.
They need to show it again this week. Because the Old Oaken Bucket is always worth playing for, especially when capturing it would supply some further validation to some of the progress the IU program has shown this fall.
More easy completions made. More tackles made. More plays made. One more valiant effort. Not too much to ask of the Hoosiers. Or of the Hoosiers to ask of themselves.
And while Purdue will be slightly favored by the oddsmakers, and will have a bowl bid and perhaps coach Danny Hope’s job to play for, Hoosier fans have every right to view this week’s game this way for their team:
Should be in it.
Go ahead and win it.


  1. Good thoughts, I agree that if we can’t/don’t win the bucket game that it will certainly put a damper on the progress made this year. It seems to me that this defense might just be one of the worst squads (stat wise) of the last 10-15 years.

  2. It says a lot of good things about the offense schemes that Cam cold miss that many easy throws and still wind up with 450 yards,

  3. I don’t think it puts a damper on it or even places it in neutral. Good recruits still are going to see opportunities for their talents to be showcased early on in their careers and will commit. they like the toughness and fight they see the staff have instilled. Winning the Bucket is the cherry for the season as usual.

  4. The last two weeks the defense looks as if it has lost its arms. They’re just “bumping” ball carriers, hoping they will go down, or just whiffing because of tired legs.

    They also seem to have lost its linebackers. Casper would fit in well with that unit.

  5. I don’t know that we have to win the bucket, but we definitely don’t need another debacle like the last two. Wouldn’t necessarily kill our momentum completely, but would definitely put a damper on some of the positives from this season.

    The issue for me with the defense is whether or not some of the decent (notice I don’t say good, because this D is far from good) performances could indicate hope for improvement, even if slow, next year toward an acceptable D (by IU standards I’m talking here).

    My fear is what we’ve seen last week is more indicative of what this defense truly is, which would be just the same as any other IU unit from, arguably, the post-Mallory era. If this is true, even with a few top recruits, having a potent offense won’t mean a whole lot.

    Who’s going to replace Replogle and Black, for example? Our DEs have a little experience, but are already rather meh. Lots of work to be done. Probably another 2-3 year project minimum if done well and successfully.

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