Hoosiers hope aspects of rushing success carry over to Big Ten

Mike DeBord views football season as a series of chapters, each one with a different twist.

Indiana’s season opener against Ohio State told the tale of a pass-happy offense, while the next game at Virginia featured a somewhat more balanced, two-quarterback attack.

“Every game has a different story,” said DeBord, Indiana’s offensive coordinator. “We’re doing different things every week.”

Most recently, last Saturday’s contest against Georgia Southern featured a run-heavy storyline, one that included the emergence of freshman running back Morgan Ellison as a central character. Although there was plenty to like about Indiana’s ground attack after two sub-par performances to begin the season, it came against a program that looked like one of the worst in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

So what will the next chapter hold against No. 4 Penn State? Was the lively running game that Indiana leaned upon Saturday a mirage? Or a sign of things to come?

Given the full scope of IU’s first month of action, it’s likely somewhere in between. Even so, there were aspects of the performance that the Hoosiers believe can carry over against Big Ten opponents.

Now, Indiana is looking to put its running game to the test.

“I mean, I understand who we’re playing (last week),” IU coach Tom Allen said Monday, “but at the same time, that hasn’t always been the case. You go into some of those games — I’ve been a lot of places where I leave very frustrated because you didn’t have the focus, you didn’t have the execution that you want in several different areas. I was on edge with our guys about making sure the little things were not being overlooked. We wanted to run the football well. We did, and that definitely is a positive moving forward.”

Penn State, of course, will feature better, quicker athletes in its front seven, dialing up Indiana’s degree of difficulty on the ground this week.

The Nittany Lions, however, haven’t necessarily shut down opposing backfields. After allowing 73 yards to Akron in the opener, Penn State yielded 155 yards on 45 carries to Pittsburgh, then gave up 150 yards on 49 carries to Georgia State.

In last week’s thrilling victory at Iowa, the Lions allowed 82 yards on 23 carries to the Hawkeyes.

Statistics aside, Indiana’s rushing success last Saturday may have helped wipe away the frustration from the first two weeks. Paving the way for Ellison, who demonstrated the qualities you want in a featured back, was an offensive line that had little trouble getting a push against Georgia Southern’s defensive front.

No matter the caliber of the competition, that was a welcome development for a group that could likely use an uptick in confidence.

The Hoosiers’ O-line played well with a new-look right side, inserting established right tackle Brandon Knight ahead of Delroy Baker and giving right guard Mackenzie Nworah his first start in place of the injured Simon Stepaniak.

“We’ve always known Brandon’s a great player from his experience last year and what we saw in spring football and training camp, et cetera,” DeBord said. “You know, it’s amazing whenever you bring a player back, you think they’re just gonna be where they were and they’re not. So he had a few things he will get corrected from last week, but he had a good football game. He really did.

“I thought the surprise was Mackenzie. Just thought he played really well. He really did some things. They were moving all the time. They were moving their front, they were twisting, they were bringing backers and I really thought the game slowed down for him a little bit. I thought that was really good.”

Even better for the Hoosiers will be if they can continue paving the way for backs like Ellison to produce. They’ll need sustained drives, among a list of other factors, to have any chance of pulling an upset in a difficult road environment this weekend.

But more consistent rushing results could lead to some of the most interesting chapters yet.

“It wasn’t a Big Ten opponent (last week), so you can’t say that it’s equal,” Allen said, “but it’s what you want to see. You go into the game saying, ‘Hey, we need to run the football and want to establish that,’ and we did it.”

40 comments

  1. The OL looked much better in the GS game and I am eager to see how they look against PSU. The style of play and blocking is much different than last year so it has taken some game time to develop as an OL. I hope that develoment continues this week as it will give our passing game an added burst.

  2. Dunno where else to put this comment, but the FBI just threw down on college basketball today.

    Wow, Louisville. They are toast.

    If there is one thing to thank Tom Crean for, is that anyone associated with IU isn’t found anywhere on that list.

      1. Think of all the hookers they could have bought for $100k. Man, cracking down on the hooker scandal brought the wrath of the FBI. They are screwed. Pitino is done. So is the AD.

        1. Pat Forde has a good handle on it. I would also think the resignations will happen fast at the Ville and beyond. With Miller in place it is a great time to be a Hoosier as pUKe, Duke and UNC can’t get em all.

  3. When is the NCAA going to give UNC the death penalty for the decades of fake classes…? I find UNC’s scandal far more despicable.
    Crean got on ESPN and acted like UNC was as pure as holy water.

    There is more than enough hypocrisy to go around. These latest scandals evolve around the potential for very seedy characters working within the AAU system. We paid for getting Cody in a uniform…We paid by accepting a slew of A-Hope recruits who never belonged on the floor. Handing away those scholarships to secure one recruit is seedy behavior.

  4. How does Double Down break this huge college basketball story before anyone at HT?

    I’m hearing mostly assistant coaches being implicated…..along with some seedy characters for Adidas and AAU programs.

    It’s not like paying to play is anything new. It comes in all forms….hookers on the heels of sleazy donors…and shoe company deals..and everything imaginable.
    Anyone hear of the Fab Five?
    And IU was a place that had values long before ‘The Pure One’ came to town with a tanker truck for the burning of a witch on twig pile investigation.
    Let’s please stop acting like this beyond horrible basketball coach was the only person in the game with any values.

  5. Values? How about every fully competent coach who ever coached at Butler? You can get to Final Fours with Indiana kids and values. It’s already been proven from generation to generation.

  6. I agree about N.C. I am sure you can find many of these individuals at the Saturday evening or Sunday morning church service Probably silently asking forgiveness exercising their salvation rights. Cheating and corruption has always accompanied sports at different levels throughout their existence. I wonder what the next creative cheating corruption scandal will be. What will be the next great cheating corruption scandal invention after this latest one? Just to much money involved.

  7. Hail! to the Tony Hinkle way. Maybe, the greatest educator and coach on the college level or any level ever. He lived such a rich life and though I am sure he lived comfortably he did it without what you see and have seen for many years now. That includes without all the money etc. I am sure there are other Tony Hinkle quality people. It is all about keeping things in perspective and perspective has been lost long ago. It is greed in every way even just for the hell of it. How great art thou ego?

  8. It is all about keeping things in perspective and perspective has been lost long ago. It is greed in every way even just for the hell of it. How great art thou ego?

    Couldn’t agree more.
    $100,000 unveiled after a 2-year FBI investigation? Peanuts compared to the money thrown around like Monopoly game paper in the college and pro games. We are worried about that low level of corruption compared to the millions squandered at public institutions on sports(along with grotesque salaries) while tuition and expenses straps nearly every student seeking higher education? Collusion and corruption at every corner…Everyone is getting a slice of the pie except the average student who gets berated because they don’t want to throw $40 away on a game ….while already borrowing out their ass to go to college.

    1. Heh, very true. Buried for the rest of their lives in debt, and we judge them for not wanting to pay to watch another butt-kicking from a blue blood football school.

  9. This latest case of corruption in college basketball is another reason that the NCAA should insist that the NBA eliminate the one-and-done rule. And if they can’t convince the NBA to do that, then they should implement rules that base recruits on the number of student-athletes that graduate within five years. This crap would not have been so widespread if the best athletes coming out of HS were allowed to go directly into the NBA, or if one-and-donees cost schools future scholarships. As for the scumbag that is Louisville’s head coach, I would not be surprised if he somehow survives this latest scandal, and either keeps his job at Louisville, or gets another one at another University. Remember, this is a man who confessed to having sex with his subordinate’s wife, and nothing happened to him. This is a man whose assistant’s paid prostitutes to “entertain” star recruits during a recruiting function, and he’s still the coach! Louisville hired a football coach who admitted to having an extramarital affair with a former employee while he was the head coach at Arkansas. When a University has no standards, when nothing matters aside from winning, why should they fire a coach just because he’s a scumbag? Morals, honor, integrity and setting good examples for young adults obviously don’t matter to the people running University of Louisville.

  10. One and done isn’t the problem. There’s a black market. College athletics (men’s football and basketball) is a mullti-billion dollar enterprise, and its main assets, don’t see a dime. This isn’t about morals. It is about reality. These players are worth far more than their piddly scholarships and agents who show up with suitcases full of cash, home loans for parents, and brand new cars are the manifestations of it. Until these athletes can realize their market potential, all the financial transaction will happen underground. And they eventually destroy the very institutions that benefit from their free labor.

    This isn’t debatable. What to do about it, is. Very, very much so. Let’s get these agents into the open marketplace and allow these kids to realize their market value out in the open. Ultimately, this is the most moral thing that can be done.

    1. Seems like things began to get really crazy when Rivals and Scout made athletes appear as stock market picks. I’ve often wondered just how protected these organizations are from corrupt practices.

      There is far too much questionable talent getting elevated/promoted/marketed in a manner not aligned with the reality of their talent.

      Not sure if there is any easy fix. I’m not for paying players at the college level…anymore than I was ever in favor of pro NBA players going to the Olympics. Money destroys the heart and soul of amateur athletics. Why should somebody’s selected “best” always get our attention. It’s all rather subjective as to the contribution every guy makes to a team. Some of the best and most memorable..and clutch college performances come from kids who will never sniff a day in an NBA/NFL uniform. Where will it stop?

      1. I agree with you. But, the point is the money is already there. It’s been there for decades. There’s been a black market that can’t be “banned.” How’s that “drug war” going? There’s never been more drugs or easier access to them and cartels are as powerful as the banana republics they reside in. No one is going to arrest a Nike, Adidas or Under Armour CEO. They’ll bust the “rogue employee”, make them do the perp walk, then someone will replace them and find another way to continue their influence. As in Colombia, cutting off the head (ala Pablo Escobar) will only create another to pop up in their wake.

        The moral thing to do is to bring this money flow into the open. Make it legal so rules can be created. People ultimately want this and assets on all sides can be protected under the rule of law. The revelation here is not that Rick Pitino is evil and some rogue actor. The revelation here is that this is the tip of the iceberg and the money is EVERYWHERE.

        Anyone want to discuss that brand new Lincoln Navigator that Michael Lewis drove around campus under Bob Knight’s tenure? Not even “The General” was immune to this reality.

  11. All the money, extra money, high salaries, thoughts of paying athletes etc. should be be distributed across the board to every student who attends each school….in the form of lowering cost to attend college (if you want to put a guideline such as maintaining passing grades could be debated etc.). If that lesser cost for each student is just a hundred bucks so be it. It is their school. Besides lower costs to attend college it would also have a positive effect of not allowing costs to rise in the future in relationship to the money distribution to lower cost to attend college for every student. Sounds inclusive to me.

  12. First lets understand the money in sports programs does nothing to increase the cost of college. Profs not teaching classes, extravagant buiding projets, federal dollars to send students to school, and many other things do. The cost of athletics is separate from the money to run the universities. Using the millions to lower cost only works if universities decide athletics are a profit making enterprise; many schools don’t make a profit. The best answer is to get quality moral coaches and reject coaches that have shown themselves corruptible. Unfortunately ADs and schools are corruptable too along with fans that only care about winning.

  13. Per reports in Louisville media the U of L president has fired the AD and maybe Pinto also, as both had meeting with the U of L President, that lasted less than 10 minutes for the AD and 5 minutes for Pinto. I U should cancel any basketball games with U of L , might be a moot point, if U of L gets the death penalty.

      1. If it wasn’t for cheating there would be no college championships in the state of Kentucky. Continual smoke and fire. Heartily ROTFLMAO!

  14. V. It depends on how you look at it as is always the case. In every economy in every instance if you back the money out of where it ends up far enough even all the way to its origination it is a question of distribution as to where it ends up. The forces and there are many ( one being hard work and labor) determine where money and wealth end up, what it is, who gets it, why they get it, and when they get it. Yes, indeed college sports programs does impact the cost of college.
    Pro sports industry goes even farther by claiming how great they are for communities, towns and cities across this nation. The only problem is statistics by these organizations and their political including interest groups in so many areas make a distortion of reality… as compared to the flock of Jim Jones in Guyana drinking his kool-Aid he concocted for them.

  15. V. I also 100% agree profs not teaching classes, all kinds of projects, fed dollars, salaries, corruption or whatever you may call it is about everywhere.

  16. v13-

    Not totally buying that argument. If the sports programs are run as if they are totally interdependent entities, then make them such. The big alumni donations that go to many of these programs could be used in far more equitable ways than to simply build bigger and better sports complexes/practice facilities and to jack up coaching salaries to the moon.
    I see the sports programs not functioning independently because they lift their programs up via the university’s academic reputation, professional programs/degrees offered, the quality of the campus, the geographic location, the community, the diverse/international student opportunities, etc.. If they don’t profit from those many relationship, then see how well the sports programs exist without such ties. Build your IU stadiums in Martinsville. It’s closer to Indy…You should fill them up.

    I think you are beginning to see a backlash….Maybe some of that backlash is coming in the form of less TV ratings and less fan attendance. Many average Americans(though I hate that term because “average” implies earning power to be the only separating factor between an average person and one not-so-average) tiring of the borrowing it takes to send their children to “quality” schools while their own household incomes have not maintained anything near the same pace alongside the skyrocketing costs of education/food/clothing/rents/autos/healthcare/living.
    Many are tiring of witnessing the arrogance from those in sports that use the backdrop of public universities while watching the explosion of dollars that can’t be printed fast enough to make coaches and athletes amounts that are simply staggering.
    Maybe the major sports do need to be handled differently…There is nothing amateur about them anymore. The crazy money along with the crazy obsessions over draft nights/draft status has has tainted the entire college product. I honestly don’t think the jersey means a hill of beans to a large segment of the basketball/football population. It’s what coach will kiss their butt the most…and what stage provides the most cameras for their own individual talents to be displayed.
    The arrogance in the “me world” of sports will kill the games long before Swiss cheese on the brain. You can’t blame financially strapped fans/students not flocking to the Memorial seats. Jaded feelings in your lovely “separation” existence between sports programs and the universities they supposedly represent go far beyond just the lack of winning games.

    In other news, I hear many kindergarteners are taking knees for the Pledge of Allegiance.

  17. Also, we might want to dial it back on dancing on Louisville’s grave until we are clear.

    These indictments are just the beginning.

  18. Anyone remember Kenny Johnson? The recruiter extraordinaire under Crean?

    On Pitino’s staff. The FBI has his computer.

  19. We don’t wear our names on the back of our Indiana jerseys…but we certainly plaster ‘Adidas’ all over it.
    Maybe IU should be the first major basketball program to stop advertising for giant apparel/shoe companies? It’s all made in China sweatshops anyway…I’m ready to take a knee for the China sweatshop worker.

  20. Yes, DD, I was thinking about Kenny Johnson. I remember thinking at the time that it was strange that Louisville was able to double his salary in order to lure him to Louisville.

    The “analysts” on ESPN and Fox Sports keep suggesting that Tom Crean is one of the candidates to replace Pitino, at least as an interim head coach, because a) he’s had experience turning around a program “destroyed” by scandal, b) “he’s got a squeaky clean reputation” and c) he’s had success at a major basketball program. How ironic would that be if Crean got the Louisville job?

    This scandal puts a different spin on the reputations of coaches like Crean and Thad Matta, who were recently terminated because their teams did not win enough. Well, maybe they were not winning enough because they were effective in preventing corruption to be a part of their program and would not tolerate cheating in the recruitment of top talent, and therefore were unable to get the talent necessary to win! It’s because coaches who behave with integrity suffer when corrupt coaches cheat that coaches found guilty of corruption and cheating should be banned for life from ever coaching in college again, at any level. We may never be able to eliminate all the corruption associated with the money in college basketball, but we can make the penalty for such corruption so severe that it will make coaches tempted to cheat think twice before crossing the line. And if Adidas executives end up going to jail and the Feds fine the shoe companies in a big way, they’ll be forced to modify their corrupt behavior. These four assistant coaches may go to prison for their crimes. At the very least, they will have lost high paying jobs and will be spending large sums of their own money paying for their legal defense. That has to make all but the dumbest future college coaches hesitate before agreeing to participate in future corruption.

    1. How does this solve the black market problem? Again, over and over again, more laws and stricter enforcement has never stopped a black market from happening. The solution is to get the money flowing out in the open in a system that regulated and within the bounds of the law.

      Zero of these apparel companies execs are going to jail. They’ll pin their actions on rogue employees, just the way the scandals at the big banks and financial institutions worked. The cycle starts again. Except this the dubious creatures who keep the money flowing throughout this black market, continue to do so in a much more sophisticated way, learning from the predecessors about how to avoid getting caught.

      Watch “The Wire.” Same ‘ole game.

      1. AD’s need to be more astute and business minded about the real, harsh world they have to patrol. I just can’t bye paying $ to kids for an education. They receive tuition, housing, meals and dietary needs, books, medical, coaching, personal training, academic advisors, tutors and many other scholastic services, counseling, branded school attire, tickets-passes-privileges, entertainment areas and more I have no handle on. If this isn’t a clear picture ask a walk-on in any sport what needs he struggles to fill. Be much cheaper and beneficial to have a certified audit of the AD’s office every 12 months. As many have stated on here $ corrupts. Watch what happens when kids have it doled out to them.

  21. I could see the US youth basketball market going the way of Europe, where the best talent gets signed as young as 15, and are paid to play for “farm teams” while also continuing their education. I could see the NBA modifying their rules regarding the eligibility of 18 year olds going directly into the NBA draft or the Developmental league (but they’re going to have to pay them a lot more $). Young men whose dream it is to play pro ball should have the right to pursue that, as soon as their body and skills will allow it. Kids that want to get an education and play college basketball should be able to do that. There are ways to significantly reduce or eliminate this “black market” problem, and one part of the solution is to significantly increase the penalties for coaches who cheat. One way or the other, I think this is the beginning of the end of the NCAA as we know it. It’s either going to become more powerful or be replaced with an agency that has real power.

    1. “Get tough on crime” has done nothing to stop crime. All it has done is increase the size of our prisons and fuel a justice system which is nothing but a turnstile, big business fed by the poor.

      Show me an example of when “getting tough” and “harsher penalties” ended a black market anywhere. It just doesn’t happen. We didn’t end prohibition in the country because it was about letting people drink. We ended it because it was just a simple acknowledgement of reality. No amount of enforcement was going to stop people from drinking.

      1. BTW, this is a tough issue. I’m not entirely sure what to make of everything. Just thinking things through. I’m not necessarily disagreeing, I just think that if we’re going to save the sports we love so much, we should be willing to look at this from all angles.

        There’s a reason Brad Steven’s left for the NBA. He wanted nothing to do with the corruption rampant in college hoops. He HATED recruiting.

  22. You’re watching too much ESPN……European models will never work here. March Madness is just too important(worth billions) to all $$$ involved.

    Any coach with sketchy arrangements tied to specific AAU programs is potentially involved in corrupt practices. Matta and Crean are far from squeaky clean. How in the hell does Matta get Oden and Conley to OSU almost as quickly as he crosses our Indiana border.
    Read up on the AAU arrangements…And many of the apparel dollars and slick deals are going on under the completely unregulated AAU system.

    None of that crap could happen under the traditional IHSAA rules. AAU attracts a lot of business suits and scum to these so-called tournaments to display the phenoms. AAU needs to be overhauled and thoroughly investigated. Everything hinged on Zeller….along with making a deal to take three A-Hope projects from Adams(Indiana Elite)who couldn’t make a Ball State team.

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