4 things we learned from IU’s loss at Maryland

1. This program is still just too sloppy.
It seems fair to characterize Indiana’s performance at Maryland as a debacle. This was a game IU should have won against a rebuilding Terrapin program. Instead, the Hoosiers demonstrated again that they are not sharp enough to live up to their “breakthrough” mantra. There were failures in every facet of the game Saturday, a deflating performance that has the Hoosiers backing into a crucial month of November. Indiana has decent opportunities to beat Illinois, Rutgers and Purdue and safely clinch bowl eligibility during the final four weeks. Of those three contests, the Hoosiers will see the lowly Illini and Boilermakers on the road. Saturday illustrated that even when Indiana stacks up as the better team, the Hoosiers can’t take any matchups for granted.

2. Indiana’s special teams play still needs work.
For the second time this conference season, special teams dearly hurt IU. A month ago at Penn State, mistakes in this phase of the game buried the Hoosiers before they even had a chance to mount an upset bid. On Saturday, a flood of errors once again prevented Indiana from performing well on the road. For the most part, Indiana’s special teams play has been improved under coach Tom Allen. Punter Haydon Whitehead has been a revelation, and kicker Griffin Oakes has been outstanding. But this is twice now that the Hoosiers can point to special teams — particularly protection and focus — as one of the primary reasons for a loss. No doubt, Indiana has seen improvements in its special teams approach, but it’s not yet where it needs to be.

3. The defense failed to meet its standard.
Indiana’s defense — the unquestioned strength of this program — disappeared after recording a takeaway and a safety during the first quarter. Fourth-string Maryland quarterback Max Bortenschlager, who does deserve credit for making some well-timed throws, torched IU’s secondary with four passes that went for at least 24 yards. Indiana also got gashed on the ground, yielding six rushes of at least 11 yards. IU’s defense deserves the benefit of the doubt that it will bounce back in November, but this sure was a bad time to go silent. For a team that requires its defense to perform as one of the Big Ten’s best each week, the Maryland game illustrated IU’s small margin for error.

4. Richard Lagow performed well in relief.
Give Lagow credit. This season clearly did not develop as he or the Hoosiers had hoped, but he has admirably handled his diminished role. Lagow was ready to go when starter Peyton Ramsey got hurt in Saturday’s second half, finishing 12-for-21 with 131 yards and two touchdown throws — one of which was a shovel pass. He moved IU’s offense well despite entering cold. Decision making has been a risk with Lagow, but there’s also high reward in his ability to open the downfield passing game in ways Ramsey has not consistently succeeded. Indiana will need Lagow if a hobbled Ramsey can’t play on Saturday.

WHAT’S NEXT: Saturday, No. 4 Wisconsin, noon, at Memorial Stadium, ABC.
The Badgers continued rolling through a weak Big Ten West on Saturday, overpowering Illinois in a 24-10 victory. It wasn’t all sweet for Wisconsin, which lost starting tailback Jonathan Taylor to a left leg injury in the first half. Taylor approached the weekend averaging a Big Ten-best 168.5 yards per game. His status for Saturday will be important to watch in the days to come.

5 comments

  1. Mike Miller- here’s a good question for Debord. IU is 5th in the country in number of plays run per game because pf their hurry-up offense. And Indiana is once again suffering through an unusually high number of injuries. What role does the added plays per game play in the added number of injuries? I personally do not understand how the strategy favors a team that tends to wear out at the end of games and tends to have depth problems during the second half of the season. Seems like IU would want slow the game down and run as few plays as possible given their limited depth.

  2. I also have a question……Does ABC televise this game nationwide? e.g. If I live in Florida…or California is this the game I’ll be watching on ABC?

    I’m beginning to wonder how much audience targeting is going on these days? Maybe the network should consider blacking the game out locally(as they do with the Indy 500)…? Or, maybe not. …Maybe it should be blacked out nationally and only those in Indiana should be invited to watch. Our eyes are already conditioned …sort of speak.
    Maybe there should be a ‘parental advisory’ before the game and after each commercial break to warn of unnecessary abuse administered by one team to another?

    vs. OSU on ABC…? vs. Wisconsin on ABC…? It appears the national media adores us.

    1. A lot of these ABC games are regional with an ESPN2 mirror, so part of the country gets IU-Wisconsin on ABC and another part gets IU-Wisconsin on ESPN2 with another Big 12 or Pac-12 game in the opposite slot.

  3. Going to be really interested to see if/how the defense responds down the stretch. Also to see what, if any, role Lagow has the rest of the way. As I and others have stated ad nauseum, despite his deficiencies, given our anemic run game and Ramsey’s inability to capitalize downfield on the O’s strongest unit (WRs), Lagow offers a much-needed dimension.

    I suppose WI is Allen and Co.’s last chance to realize the much ballyhooed, but otherwise frustrated “breakthrough” campaign. At this point it’s hard to see it materializing. More realistically, can IU simply get to bowl eligibility? Sure Illinois, Rutgers, and Purdue appear winnable. But so did Maryland.

  4. What is even of more interest to me is how many current 2018 commits get peeled away by the collapse of the breakthrough season. What looks like a pretty good 2018 recruiting profile for the IU staff can turn piss poor fast. Which is proof good recruiters are not always good coaches. Pretty vicious ‘chicken and egg’.

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