Indiana defeated on fumbled lateral

WHAT HAPPENED: After rallying back from a 35-13 deficit with 26 unanswered points, Indiana lost to Minnesota 42-39 in front of 44,625 at Memorial Stadium when tailback Tevin Coleman failed to catch a backward lateral pass from Nate Sudfeld and Minnesota linebacker Aaron Hill recovered the fumble to clinch the victory.

After four straight touchdowns by Indiana, Minnesota took the lead back on a 50-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Phillip Nelson to tight end Maxx Williams with 3:06 remaining. The Hoosiers moved quickly down the field and had the ball at the Minnesota 9 with 25 seconds left and three timeouts remaining, plenty of time to take two more shots at the end zone before trying a game-tying field goal. However, Sudfeld’s pass to Coleman was 2 yards backward, cornerback Brock Vereen read the screen and nailed Coleman when the ball bounced off his shoulder pads and Hill was there to scoop it up.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Minnesota quarterback Phillip Nelson, who had thrown for four touchdowns all season coming into the game, threw for four in this one alone to go with 298 yards, helping a Minnesota team that was 11th in the Big Ten in total offense with 366.4 yards per game to pile up 573 yards of total offense. The Golden Gophers more than doubled their passing average in the game.

Running back David Cobb also rushed for 188 yards and a score, wide receiver Derrick Engel caught four passes for 97 yards an two touchdowns and Williams caught four passes for 78 yards, including his 50 yard score.

Indiana had two tailbacks over 100 yards for the second game this season. Senior Stephen Houston rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries and Coleman rushed for 108 yards and a score. Sudfeld threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns in just one half after coming on in replacement of starter Tre Roberson.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Indiana coach Kevin Wilson took the blame for the loss after the game, saying that his team had battled hard to get back in the game when it could have easily “given up the ghost,” and that he as a coach hadn’t put them in the right positions to win the game. he was right on both counts.

Wilson’s slow recognition of the fact that Tre Roberson was simply out of whack — which Roberson admitted afterwards — was a big part of the reason the Hoosiers had such a huge hole to dig out of. Indiana’s defense obviously played a part, but it’s reached the point that the Hoosiers have to go into games knowing that the defense will probably give up a lot of yards and points. When the IU defense does get stops, the offense has to take advantage. It made four straight stops in the first half, setting Indiana up for one of its touchdowns with a fumble recovery at the Minnesota 20. IU only managed a 13-7 lead out of that early period and when Minnesota started scoring, the Hoosiers didn’t have answers.

Roberson was 8-for-18 for just 80 yards in the half . Five of his drives were three-and-outs, and his throws and reads were simply off. Wilson said he started Roberson because he thought the Hoosiers would be able to use the zone read option and quarterback run game to take advantage of man-to-man coverage, but Sudfeld could have taken advantage of it just as easily through the air and he did once he got in the game. Wilson didn’t mention it, but it certainly also had to do with the fact that Roberson outperformed Sudfeld in the Michigan game and also over the past two weeks in practice. However, it  was evident once the Hoosiers fell behind by two touchdowns that they needed relief quickly and someone who could throw them back into the game. Wilson said he was still considering putting Roberson back in to start the second half. The Hoosiers were fortunate that he didn’t try to push it further.

Going for a two-point conversion when the Hoosiers took a 39-35 lead also proved costly. Wilson said the percentages said it was an “either-or” call and there was certainly some logic to going for it, but if the Hoosiers had taken the extra point, they would have trailed by just two points rather than three. Instead of trying that fateful swing pass to Coleman, the Hoosiers would have likely been playing the ball to the middle of the field for a a game-winning field goal.

Wilson also admitted that the final play call itself wasn’t the smartest move. The Hoosiers had been extremely effective in running the ball throughout the game, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and even more if you take out some of the fluke plays for loss. The swing pass was certainly supposed to be a forward one, but even calling a play that could turn into that becomes a dangerous call. Obviously, a hindsight 20-20 decision but still, as he put it, not ideal.

The defense certainly contributed to the loss once again, allowing a Minnesota team that was averaging a Big Ten-low 122.9 yards per game to throw for 325 yards and four touchdowns. The Golden Gophers rank 11th in the Big Ten in total offense with 340.6 yards per game and went far beyond that with 573. However, the Hoosiers got four straight stops in the first half and stops on four of Minnesota’s six drives in the second half to allow the offense to get back into it. For a defense that is the Big Ten’s worst in every statistical category, it was actually a performance that was good enough to win the game.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: In and of itself, this is an emotionally devastating loss. The Hoosiers tried to put a smiling face on it afterward, saying they felt heartened that they battled back from a 35-13 deficit when the Memorial Stadium stands had cleared out, but they will be continually sickened every time they see the replay and how heart-wrenchingly close they were to a season-defining win.

More to the point, it puts the Hoosiers behind the eight-ball in terms of bowl hopes. They are 3-5 with four games to go, so it’s still possible, but the two most daunting games on their schedule still remain. After playing Illinois this week, they have to go on the road to play two Top 25 teams in Wisconsin and Ohio State before finishing the season at home against Purdue in the Old Oaken Bucket game.

Illinois looks increasingly beatable after falling to Penn State in overtime on Saturday and Purdue clearly holds the mantle as the Big Ten’s worst team. Had the Hoosiers defeated Minnesota, a bowl trip would have actually become a likelihood. But the Hoosiers haven’t beaten Ohio State in Columbus since 1987, and an upset doesn’t seem likely with Urban Meyer still being undefeated as Ohio State’s coach. The Hoosiers last beat Wisconsin in Madison in 2001, but the Badgers have outscored the Hoosiers 204-41 in their last three meetings and 175-30 in the last three meetings in Camp Randall.

WHO SAID WHAT: Kevin Wilson

“That was a tough loss. Our guys really didn’t play well early, but man they battled and really hung in there. We had a lot of chances, but I made a poor call and we did not execute the play at the end. We left three scoring opportunities empty, we got down to the goal line there at the end but turned it over and that was the difference of the game. Defense gave us some big plays so we tried to be more aggressive at the end. There was a stretch at the end where we were really playing well together and had a lot of momentum. I thought we had the best chance to win that game and I’m really disappointed for our players. As coaches we have to help them out at the end and make the right plays, and the last one was not the right call.”

On the swing call

“It was a swing play, so there is always a chance for a lateral. It just didn’t get executed right. We didn’t get on the ball like we should have either. When it’s a close game, those fundamentals like always giving the ball to the referee and never leaving it on the field are so important. Don’t just assume anything. Always grab the ball just in case. It was poor execution and really not an ideal call at that time in the game, and because of it, we lost the game.

On going for two twice in the game

“We had talked about different scenarios like that. our that was that if we kick and make it a five-point lead, they could kick two field goals and win. If we made the two and we were up six, we knew that if they got two field goals, we would be tied, and if they scored a TD, we would be tied as well They would still have to kick the extra point to go ahead if they scored and we have blocked several kicks thisyear. We almost got in the end zone on that two-point conversion with Nate (Sudfeld) scrambling) maybe we were being a little bit overaggressive in hindsight.”

On why he waited to put Sudfeld in the game

“With the way their defense was setup, we felt like we needed the ball because of their man coverages. Our backs did well today and we thought Tre would take part in that. Tre was just a little bit off in the first half as was the rest of the offense. We just felt cold at the end of the second quarter. We talked about it and we almost put Tre back out there again to start the third, but we decided to give Nate a shot. We are not trying to play it by half, we just play who’s doing a better job. Tre didn’t play poorly. He was just a little bit off and the way the running game was going, Nate came in and gave them a boost.”





  1. In today’s world, failure is often seen as something dreadfully wrong, something which can’t be tolerated, or a huge mistake. It must be stamped out. For many Hoosiers, Saturday’s loss to Minnesota was just that, an absolute failure. So CKW must be fired to banish failure from our lives. That’s a common mind-set about failure, but is it the only mind-set? I don’t think so.

    Failure need not be looked upon harshly but rather embraced. Failure is our teacher It provides us with important information for understanding what we need to do differently to be more productive and creative. It’s a vital component for constructing a foundation to build success. From our mistakes, failure can spark us to succeed if we have the courage and tenacity to deal with failure.

    What can we learn from Saturday’s “failure?” Our special teams played very well. Our defense made some major stops in the 2nd half. Sudfeld needs to be our #1 QB with Roberson contributing from time to time. Above all, unlike prior teams, we know this team doesn’t quit in the face of adversity. Their fans might. But not this team. They stormed back from a 35-13 deficit.

    Successful people, as you know have a different mind-set, a mind-set which embraces failure. They recognize failure is all part of a process which leads to success. Take Michael Jordan, for example, who said: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Hopefully, our fans, our players, our coach and staff will see Saturday’s game as just another step in the process of failure, a process which will enable our team to accelerate its move forward to Big Ten football success.

  2. Perfect! You are a very smart and wise man, Walt D.

    I wonder how many will remember the failures of the 2013 as the fundamental, though painful, steps that teach us to win.

    I actually thought about your comment earlier today as I watched my 2 1/2 year old grandson stumble and weave, while he had his arms out trying to bump into furniture and recover from the challenges of balance and the laws of gravity.

    Well done, great and appreciated comment.

  3. Tsao TsuG,

    Thank you for your kind words and insightful observation re: your grandson. Thankfully, I’ve had some good mentors in life who taught me this. And I owe this understanding to them.

    Like your grandson too, I’ve also had lots of experience in picking myself off the floor to learn from the best teacher in life, “failure.” I’m confident CKW and the IU players will likewise learn from this as they experience more steps in failure before they achieve Big Ten football success. I hope, while our team is going through this process, IU fans will likewise understand the process and change their mind-set about “failure” too.

    In the meantime, enjoy your grandson as he takes one step after another in dealing with “failure.” And have fun with him as you watch him build a strong foundation for achieving success in his life by using mistakes, not avoiding them, to succeed in life.

  4. WaltD, I too appreciated your comments in #1. I agree with your comments about what we learned about IU’s football team from Saturday’s game. I do not support anyone who is suggesting that Wilson be fired any time soon. And philosophically, I agree with your statements about learning from failure. Failure is the best teacher. However, as I’m sure you know, in the real world, none of us have the luxury of unlimited amounts of time in which we can continue to learn from our mistakes. Time is the essential element, and everyone has a finite amount of it. In our society, expectations are always relative to time. As children, teenagers and young adults in school, we must demonstrate that we have learned certain things in a finite amount of time if we are to be allowed to move forward to the next level of our education. In our occupations, we must demonstrate that we can produce a certain amount of value in a finite amount of time. In order to have the luxury of learning from our failures, we must also demonstrate a certain amount of success in order to earn the additional time needed to implement the lessons we’ve learned. Like it or not, anyone who continues to fail more than they succeed over a specific amount of time, no matter how much they learn from their experiences, will be deemed a failure and will not be entrusted to maintain their level of responsibility or allowed to continue failing indefinitely. Everything is relative to expectations, and in our society, those expectations include finite amounts of time.

  5. PO and Walt- I certainly don’t think Wilson is/should be done at IU. The players didn’t quit, and that’s to their (and the staff’s) credit. But my FIRE MALLORY NOW position is that the IUD players need a reason to continue fighting hard. Firing Mallory is certainly no magic bullet, but maybe giving the players a chance to show the new boss of what they are capable is the thing that can at least start to get the defense on the right track.

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