4 things we learned from IU’s loss to Michigan

1. Indiana wasn’t sharp enough to beat a ranked team.
Early in the second quarter, with Michigan facing third-and-seven at its own 36, IU’s defense was in position for a third-down stop. The Hoosiers had Wolverines quarterback John O’Korn under pressure, but just when it seemed that they could get to O’Korn and kill the drive, they whiffed. First, it was linebacker Chris Covington who missed the sack, then Tegray Scales similarly fell short. O’Korn responded by slinging the ball downfield for a 17-yard gain. Three plays later, the Wolverines were in the end zone. Indiana missed far too many tackles on Saturday, letting a rather poor Michigan offense off the hook. The Hoosiers also had at least a couple opportunities to intercept O’Korn, but failed to deliver. One of the most egregious IU plays of the day came on special teams, when Devonte Williams made the puzzling decision to catch a kickoff along the boundary at the 13-yard line, helping Michigan avoid a flag. In a game where IU’s margin for error was slim, the Hoosiers did themselves few favors.

2. The final goal line series left much to be desired.
For an Indiana offense that got virtually no push up front all afternoon, opting for a pair of runs up the middle with the game on the line was absolutely puzzling. That’s to say nothing about twice asking right-handed quarterback Peyton Ramsey to roll left and throw across his body, including on the final play. Indiana wanted to move the pocket to counteract the downhill pressure coming from Michigan’s defensive front. But Ramsey had already demonstrated that he couldn’t make that throw on second down, when he rolled out and missed an open J-Shun Harris in the end zone. It was a tough throw, but it needed to be made. Ramsey’s toss wasn’t close. After an impressive late-game comeback by the IU offense, losing in head-scratching fashion was another gut punch to a program and fan base that has endured an ungodly amount of them. A real shame, indeed.

3. Griffin Oakes is a bona fide weapon once again.
The senior kicker took another step Saturday toward putting a forgettable 2016 season far in the past. Oakes deserves a ton of credit for the bounce-back season he’s enjoying during his final year of eligibility. The 2015 Big Ten Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year Award winner is now 7-for-8 on the season, his lone miss a result of absent protection leading to a blocked attempt during Saturday’s first half. Not only was his 46-yard shot to force overtime a clutch performance, it was a kick Oakes had to boot into the wind. He did so with aplomb.

4. The season is halfway over and IU still has a good shot at seven wins.
Through six games, the ledger is still in Indiana’s favor. The Hoosiers essentially won the games they needed to get and dropped the contests they were penciled to lose. Even so, seven wins remain realistically within reach for this team, with Maryland, Illinois, Rutgers and Purdue all left on the schedule. Indiana should be better than each of those opponents, though the Old Oaken Bucket game in West Lafayette will be a battle. The Hoosiers are more or less who we thought they’d be — strong on defense, OK on offense and improved on special teams. With Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan now out of the way, the Hoosiers are now poised for a favorable run during the second half.

WHAT’S NEXT: At No. 18 Michigan State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Spartan Stadium, ABC.
The Spartans rode their running attack to a 30-27 win at Minnesota on Saturday night, totaling 245 yards on the ground. Quarterback Brian Lewerke, who had been MSU’s leading rusher entering the weekend, finished with merely nine yards on four carries, while completing only nine of his 18 passes for 120 yards with one interception. Michigan State will be looking for revenge after IU claimed the Old Brass Spittoon for the first time since 2006 in last year’s 24-21 overtime win in Bloomington.

8 comments

  1. Pretty accurate except for the “OK on offense”. The poor play calling makes that quote indefensible. DeBord needs more instruction and practice than the team. I hope he can’t sleep a wink this week.

    1. HC,

      I am not exactly sure what you are complaining about regarding the offense. As of yesterday’s NCAA updates through October 15th, Michigan still has the number one ranked defense in the country. Secondly, IU’s 20 points on Saturday represent the most points scored against Michigan so far this year. That includes games against Florida, ranked number 17 at the time and Michigan State now ranked number 18. Granted IU missed several opportunities but quite frankly the complaining about DeBord’s offense are not backed up by number of points IU scored Saturday against the number one defense in the country. Not to mention as has previously been said in other article postings, 10 points in the 4th quarter which nobody so far had even scored. Let alone while the game was still on the line.

      Until I see more evidence, at this point I don’t think the problem is DeBord’s approach as it is current roster familiarity with it. Remember they only have 6 games under their belts with a new system and 2 games with a new quarterback. DeBord is not going to approach things the way Wilson did and that is neither good or bad. Wouldn’t make any judgement calls until end of season and really until several games into next year. Got to give the new offense time to adjust current players and recruit or develop personnel more suited to this style.

      1. The excuses you listed you view as reasons for mediocrity. I do not . The man hired to own the offense and his staff are making piss poor evaluations of player talent, consequently related to poor schemes and not identifying obvious match up advantages for IU. Proved by the results exactly described above by Mike Miller about the last IU offensive series of the game. Sitting in the stands after 2 doomed runs into the middle and then as soon as I saw PR roll left I knew it was another L. It no longer is puzzling but inept, stupid and illogical play calling. The level of offensive coaching being delivered is mediocrity. The wrong RB’s starting and getting major minutes. WR’s not schooled to neutralize physical coverage. Shallow focus featuring our game changing playmakers. I do not have to allow time for nothing. In 6 games nothing has changed except QB and he alone can’t make much difference with the feeble play calling he is asked to execute. I have no confidence the last 1/2 of the season will be approached by MD differently than the 1st 1/2. I am certain Allen views it as unacceptable too.

        1. HC,

          Nothing I said should be construed as an excuse for mediocrity. To the contrary, they were offered as a realistic assessment of IU’s current state to this point in the season. By your criteria, IU’s record would be either 6-0 or 5-1 at the worst. With such a record it would be IU in the top 15, possibly in the top 10. I do not believe under any realistic assessment this year’s team would be considered talented enough to justify such a ranking.

          At this point IU’s offense is neither as bad as some would have us to believe nor has it performed as efficiently as it should have or could have. To say that an offense which scored more points on the number one defense in the country (when it mattered) than has been done thus far is inept, is to deny reality. The question is will this offense when not playing top 20 teams break out and perform at a much higher level? If it plays down to the level of competition and does not excel when playing against lower level competition, then there is a problem.

          The last half of the season presents a much better opportunity to see the true capabilities of this year’s team and coaching staff. If they perform at the top of their abilities, 7 or 8 wins with good fortune is not unrealistic. If they do not, then winning 6 will be challenging.

          1. 1st paragraph is fiction that you certainly would love to believe. The offense is wholly lacking. Penalties kept IU in the game by adjusting field position and offering opportunities. The offense had absolutely nothing to do with that. The spread in flag throwing was 11 favoring IU. 16 – 5. Lets say it had been a little more equitable, like 12 – 5. How good does that DeBord offense look from there? There would have been no close, almost game, saved by a tying FG. No OT. No feeble last offensive series generating disoriented feelings the offense is in good hands. Mediocrity is what you are praising.

          2. I think it’s natural for many Hoosier fans to rally around this new offense in the typical unnatural sort of way….as part of a justification in the vilification of Kevin Wilson.
            The same thing happened with the rallying around Crean. When you have a labeled villain leave the program, everyone wants to tear down and water down the previous coach’s coaching ability.
            It’s obvious that the Hoosier offense lost a very unique mind for the game…..OSU has seized on our fumble.

  2. I disagree with Chronic’s general complaint. But I do agree with his critique of the Hoosier OT offensive play calling. A major college football program has to practice and plan at least 10 plays to use in OT and designate some staff member to rank these plays against this specific opponent. What we saw last Saturday was ill-prepared, poorly executed, and hap-hazard. IU can do better!

  3. Hey, let’s not forget, playing Charleston Southern and Georgia Southern did very little to help IU’s offensive players prepare for the level of competition they faced against Michigan’s defense. The difference was night and day. As for IU’s offense, the overtime possession not withstanding, one could argue that in relative terms, they played better against Michigan than IU’s defense did. And IU was the first team this year to score any points against Michigan during the fourth quarter. While they need to improve, they’re not as terrible as HC would have people believe. As for DeBord getting fired, that’s not likely until after his second year is complete.

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