4 things we learned from IU’s loss to Michigan State

1. Indiana played true to its soul.
This was yet another chance for Indiana to change the perception of its program. Instead, it was a frustratingly vintage performance for the Hoosiers.

You can talk about investing in facilities. You can talk about recruiting and strength and conditioning and virtually anything else that goes toward establishing a program of note in college football’s modern age. But the only real way you build IU’s program at this point is by winning these games.

Michigan State is a good, albeit flawed team. Playing four competitive quarters against the Spartans shouldn’t be a drastic expectation. And yet that’s what it felt like watching these Hoosiers, who were pushed around on their home field. IU countered with a sloppy, unconvincing showing.

This had nothing to do with being a young team. It had a lot to do with not making plays when presented with opportunity. Look at some of the penalties. The slew of unsportsmanlike penalties weren’t committed by rookies, but by veterans of Big Ten competition. Bad bounces and bad calls were also part of this night, but more so were the plays that IU failed to make.

The game started with two in particular. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey and athlete Reese Taylor couldn’t connect on a wheel route down the IU sideline where Taylor had his man beat for a potential touchdown. Instead, the ball fell just out of Taylor’s reach.

Then there was the hurried throw by Ramsey to Scott that caromed off the latter and directly to MSU corner Shakur Brown, who returned it for a score. That bad bounce sucked the energy out of the stadium, setting the tone for another frustrating night for IU football.

2. The offensive line was exposed.
Credit Michigan State, which has deservedly established an identity as one of the toughest, most physical fronts in college football.

Indiana’s offensive line wanted to see how it fared against such a defense after recent non-league success re-established confidence amongst that veteran group. It turned out the Hoosiers weren’t up for the test.

The ways in which IU was completely manhandled and failed to adjust is concerning. Yes, Michigan State is really, really good in that regard. But that’s life in the Big Ten East. Indiana has touted its experienced offensive line as the strength of its team. In recent weeks, the Hoosiers have backed up that sentiment. Saturday night, they weren’t close.

3. The defense wasn’t great, but it had some very good moments.
Down a key man with senior defensive tackle Jacob Robinson unavailable, Indiana’s defense kept Michigan State from jumpstarting its running game, and, at times, got pretty good pressure on quarterback Brian Lewerke. That was particularly the case on third down, where Michigan State went 2-for-13.

The pressure wasn’t there, however, when Michigan State marched 74 yards in seven plays and 1:04 to score just before halftime. The Hoosiers also had a major breakdown at the end of regulation on Jalen Nailor’s 75-yard jet sweep touchdown.

Defensively, IU had some holes on Saturday, but it’s hard to argue with the overall effort.

Cam Jones was a factor, grabbing an interception and forcing a fumble, Nile Sykes enjoyed some key moments of pressure and Marcelino Ball had his best game in recent memory, posting six solo tackles, including two sacks and three for loss.

The Hoosiers held Michigan State to merely 19 rushing yards through three quarters, and even after Nailor’s long run, the Spartans finished with only 3.3 yards per carry.

The Hoosiers will have to replace Ball for at least a half next week due to his targeting ejection during Saturday’s second half. He’ll be eligible to return for the third quarter at Rutgers. Jones, who is Ball’s backup at the hybrid safety position, left the game with an apparent injury after his second-half interception. An update on his status could come Monday.

That could provide opportunities for both Isaac James and Bryant Fitzgerald at Rutgers.

4. It didn’t feel like IU fully opened its playbook.
The offensive line had to be a factor here. In the famous words of former IU coach Kevin Wilson, you’re only as good as the plays that you can block.

At the same time, it seems like there’s a good amount of offensive potential that’s going untapped. The Hoosiers need more explosive plays, but so far appear reliant on the safer alternatives.

So while the O-line was bad on Saturday night, it still felt as though IU left a few stones unturned.

Just look at Michigan State, which used a fake field goal converted for a touchdown to go up 28-7 late in the third quarter. That was the kind of jolt that IU could’ve used in some form or fashion. Go back to the last time IU beat Michigan State in 2016, when a throw-back pass from receiver Mitchell Paige to quarterback Richard Lagow got the Hoosiers going in the third quarter.

IU is capable of beating the teams ahead of it in the Big Ten hierarchy. Doing so requires creating your own momentum, finishing drives and rising to the moment.

Instead, Saturday left much to be desired.

WHAT’S NEXT: Rutgers, Saturday, noon, at HighPoint.com Stadium, BTN.
The Hoosiers have a chance to get back on the winning track against a truly bad football team at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are a mess, having dropped three straight games to Ohio State, Kansas (!) and Buffalo by a combined score of 149-30. IU opened the week as a 14-point favorite on the road.

100 comments

  1. Mike I’m not the type to bubble much praise even when earned because I expect good results. But the exception for me is your written opinion above. No one has exuded the exact description of the anemic offense DeBord offers us as IUFB fans. You make your own breaks or luck or whatever you want to call it. Mike DeBord hasn’t at this stage of his career figured out that is what is needed to change the fortunes of IUFB. I do think Tom Allen does understand that. Allen has stated he wanted DeBord to be the HC of the of the offense. I’ll bet that changes this week and he dictates in more descriptive details to his OC to expand his play calling. Hiller will also not be left out of the stronger directive from Allen. It is the only way to stoke the offensive engine. Again some solid thinking before writing a fine piece I really enjoyed.
    HC

  2. This sums up IU Football. Very well written. Point #4 is so true. I think this team needs to treat every game like it’s the most important game. For whatever reason, they never seem too. Under Coach Wilson, it was probably the closest. Too bad he abused the players. I think he was the right HC and TA would be perfect Def Coord.

    1. JH,
      Interesting wishful thinking, but there are a few realities to be faced. #1 Assuming Wilson hadn’t gone off the rails, IU was not going to be able to keep TA at DC for very long. Know of at least one SEC school prepared to make him an offer he couldn’t refuse. #2 Wilson has not done as well as expected at OSU. Had duties stripped from him and was passed over as interim for HC on suspension. #3 The criticism of the OC makes the assumption of there being the necessary talent at QB to open up the offense. DeBord had no problem opening up the offense at UT, but then again he had a reasonably talented QB. Not the best, but adequate. Not sure IU has an adequate B1G level starting QB right now. Maybe a good backup, or possibly starter at a non P5 school, but at this point doesn’t appear to be B1G level.

    2. Wilson was old school. So am I. Hence I think he was tough to deal with. I’ll never believe he abused anyone.

  3. Everything went wrong for IU in the first half. Yet, we were still able to pull within 7 in the 4th quarter. Ramsey just isn’t explosive enough. He is a good, tough kid but if we can’t push the ball downfield defenses will play 11 guys right up on the LOS. We have too many play makers at WR to be limited to 5-10 yard passes. The defense actually played really good. Take away the pick six and the fake FG and this game is completely different. Pass outs must end immediately. If you leave early, FU! When we were within one score in the 4th quarter, half the “fans” had already left. The 12th man is a real thing and too many IU fans just don’t get that. Those kids are working their butts off and deserve the fans support no matter how you feel about the play calling or coaching staff.
    IU just needs to keep winning the games we are favored in and the upset will come.

  4. Juan Blanco – Why did everything go wrong in the first half??? Was the team/players not prepared/ready to play MSU (previous ranked team). Indiana pulled within 7 in the fourth quarter because MSU believe they had the game won (21 point lead) which they did. MSU basically called the dogs off after the Indiana offense could not get the football into the end-zone from MSU 10 yard line and had to settled for a field goal.
    The University is not worried about pass outs, they have already received their financial rewards (purchase tickets). An the only way a fan can express their displeasure with a product is by not purchasing that product. Not that I am saying Indiana football is a bad product…its just that Indiana football fan has seen the previous (Saturday night football game/results) scenario before.

  5. We have a nice stadium, ample tailgaiting opportunities, a few good or even great players and excellent sports writers like Mike Miller to codify our thoughts. But in the end, we just never get to see the team win a game of consequence. The most disappointing part (this time) was how thoroughly out-coached IU seemed to be. MSU came into a hostile environment with a highly flawed team and managed to expose and exploit IU’s weaknesses. Our team played like their coach spent the week kicking trash cans. I don’t know how long Charlie Brown will be sitting alone in the pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive, but this year he can wait with my donated IU Football sweatshirt. I know your pain my long-suffering brother, I know your pain….

  6. IU big ten qb still needed. P.R. looks anything but a major league college level qb. He would be a adequate backup at IU or adequate starter on some Mac conference level teams and not the best even in that league but maybe one of the better ones. It is not his fault. It just P.R. ability level. Last year when he replaced Lagow T.A. rode P.R. seemed like forever before Lagow played again. May as well go through the growing pains with Penix and R.T. and assign P.R. a new role as reliever. He may play a lot and soon in a game depending on how starter is doing. Now, teams just have to keep P.R. in his sandbox (P.R. looks so inadequate) to beat IU…as league level of competition has elevated. IU has to go downfield with pass game to make other things work. 20 to 25 points a game is not good enough against most big ten teams as IU defense is good enough to keep IU in most games but the offense is going to have to score more. Creative play calling needed to utilize IU athletic ability. Yes, IU offensive line had problems against Mich State but P.R. downfield miss to R.T. and downfield game was over. Soon afterward P.R. floats ill advised pick 6. Yes, he was pressured. However, Penix or R.T. could do at least that good. The T.D. pass to Scott was because made a good turn move into end zone. P.R. does not throw into end zone very well at all. It really neutralizes IU receivers for game changing plays. Everything is contained in P.R. sandbox by good opposing teams and not much damage done by P.R. and IU offense. Yes, Debord is really boring and uncreative at play calling but some of it is lack of athletic ability at qb. That is why assign P.R. as a reliever qb and put best athletes on the field in Penix and R.T. This week IU would get beat by the likes of Purdue. IU defense will keep IU in most games only for an ineffective qb and offense. Play Penix and try R.T. if needed against Rutgers. P.R. will start against Rutgers but unless P.R. is having a really good game change qb. Get another qb ready to start after Ohio State game and assign P.R. more than backup, rather releiver role.

  7. The things that went wrong were the pick 6 (part of football), the missed OPI called on the MSU TD and the missed targeting call on Ramsey. IU pulled within 7 because the young men on the field fought their tails off. The kids didn’t give up so neither should the fans. There is nothing we can do about the current staff but we can support the young men out there giving their all. I don’t know where some of the lofty expectations of this program come from. Fact is we are sitting at 3-1 and our only loss is to a ranked team yet everyone is already bailing in the team. The fans need to do their part yet they keep doing the same thing. Giving up and bashing the staff. Its sad really.
    The university needs to be worried about pass outs. The alumni are the worst for leaving in the middle of the second quarter not to return until the middle of the 3rd. The team sees it. The coaches see it. The national TV audience sees it and the recruits on visits see it. The pass outs are a major problem for the game day atmosphere. They need to end.

    1. I attended the AL v TX A&M game at 2:30 PM Saturday. 101,000 were in their seats roaring for the kick-off. There are no pass-outs. 1/3rd were gone for the start of the 4th Q with Al up 45-16. The biggest empty areas were in the student sections.

      1. BP, exactly. You get it. Pass out or not, when fans want to leave, they will leave. Purchasing a ticket gives them that right.

  8. Millions of kids are working multiple jobs, work their butts of going to school and will end up with a degree and a load of debt. They don’t ask for anyone to applaud their sacrifices. These athletes get a degree and most all of their costs covered. If they need people applauding them to work hard, they have the problem, not the fans. Get over it.

  9. The problem is the gods of the gridiron are still delivering retribution for defiling the temple with Knothole Park. We need to burn Gerry DiNardo at the stake on the 50 yard line as a sacrificial offering. Even if it doesn’t work, we’ll all feel a little better. Plus it would probably bring BTN’ s Game Day back to Bloomington. #Win/Win

  10. CaliHoosier, that comment is ridiculous. Idiotic even. Without the fans there is no sport. Folks with your mentality are the cancer that plagues IU football.

  11. J B – Totally agree with you on the pass outs. Not only does it encourage fans to leave early and not come back, it also encourages fans that might be planning on coming back in to be late or to wait around to hear if IU scores on the first drive of the second half. It also cuts the concession stand sales significantly. Makes no sense and that is why the majority of major college programs do no allow pass outs.

    One thing that really bothered me about PR is that he slid short of the 1st down marker on a number of scrambles. Yes, I know we are short on QB’s and the coaches have probably told him to slide and not get hurt, but it makes it much easier for the opposing defensive backs if they know there is no chance the QB is going to make them tackle him. If the QB is successful on the scrambles and gets first down, it slows up the pass rush and gives the QB more time to throw, including long balls.

    I remember the last time Iowa came to Bloomington. Their QB had been hurt for a couple of weeks, but continued to play. IU was typically holding its own, but right before halftime Iowa mounted a drive. It was like 3rd or 4th and goal and the Iowa QB was chased out of the pocket. He was met by several defenders just short of the goal line and he leaped in the air and cartwheeled into the end zone. I remember thinking at the time, this is the type of determined QB we needed to have. He wasn’t the greatest athlete in the world, but he had the will to win and was going to do whatever he needed to score and the hell with his body!

    PR has increased speed, but it is straight line speed. He does not have the ability to make people miss him. We have heard that MP has the speed and athleticism to make people miss. If that is true, he will be this teams only hope in beating teams like Iowa, Maryland, Purdue, and even Northwestern, let alone having a chance to upset the likes of the remaining big 3 on our schedule. We should be able to beat Rutgers no matter who is the QB, but we will be the underdog in the other 7 games remaining on our schedule unless the offense becomes more explosive.

  12. I agree. IU is playing too safe and predictable with Ramsey. It’s time to open things up on offense and if that means playing Pentix to see what he can do, then so be it. We need to be able to stretch the field and Ramsey just isn’t getting the job done. If Pentix is truly the future QB for IU, then it makes no sense leaving him on the bench. Top teams like OSU, PSU, Michigan, Alabama……. can hold players back, but teams like IU need to have their best players on the field now, not later.

  13. Plus as challenging as it may be IU has to recruit or has the time to recruit another 2 high 3 at 78 per espn star or 4 star qb over the next 1, 2,or 3 years and if they can’ they will never be much good in win loss column against decent competition.

    1. t,
      You hit on something else, recruiting. If the perception out there is that Penix is the better talent and you’re sitting him on the bench, try recruiting with that hanging over your head. Would you rather hold the clipboard at IU or Penn State? Can I hear a Tommy Stevens out there?

      When you are recruiting out there the kids have to believe if they are good enough, they’ll play even if they are a true Freshman. When they get into camp they will figure out quickly if they are as good as the starter or not. If they think they are better or there’s no chance to play for a couple years they’ll hit the road. I understand the loyalty issues, but the college players these days have become just as mercenary as the coaches.

      Perception is reality when it comes to recruiting and if the perception is you’ll play a lesser talent over greater talent, then you’re going to have major recruiting problems. As if IUFB didn’t have enough recruiting difficulties already.

  14. Looking at the photo above….makes me wonder in irony if IU will ever be a “dreaded” opponent.

    But the only real way you build IU’s program at this point is by winning these games.

    Very true, Mr. Miller. But what is most true of Indiana Football’s soul is the buck does not stop at the top. You need to look into the real heart and soul of current Hoosier athletics and tell me how the AD at the top gained his position. Look at where our two major sports programs have been since our AD’s hiring….in terms of “winning” big games(deeper NCAA tournament games and “signature” football wins). Look at our basketball program compared to ‘Conference Midwest Elite'( 9 teams from the Midwest with a collective 25 Elite Eights while Indiana had zero over the same time period of our new AD). Empty marketing in football….while no real corners have been turned.
    Average in our major sports seems to be just fine with our university president….I’m often saddened that anyone shows up for an IU Football game…because the only way to truly see change is to simply boycott the place. Since our AD never sees one ounce of heat for such substandard results, it proves the fans are content with the ‘soul’ of the place….as it gets closer and closer to soullessness and resignation to the fact that winning isn’t synonymous with ‘Hoosier.’

    1. H4H,
      Knowing your wit & witticisms, would you say that the IUAD is majoring on the minors and minoring on the majors when it comes the overall program?

      1. I think he majors in fixes…He fixed many things to get the AD job while of no minor importance to Indiana. Many incompetent people seized their opportunity to get their mitts on the millions that were coming available after the Sampson witch hunt.

  15. It’s all rather stunning…..I remember rabbit ear antenna on my black and white television…I remember wrapping pieces of aluminum foil around the rabbit ears in an attempt to get better reception for a Cubs game or some other favorite program I was trying to watch without lines and graininess across the screen. I recall messing with the “vertical hold” and “horizontal hold” knobs on the back of the boxed-shaped TV to steady a picture.

    Now we have 65″ flat screen televisions that you can talk to get one of your 1000 available stations.

    I wonder if the beer can my old man threw at the rabbit eared television 45 years ago in disgust of IU Football was simply the same can of Bud I threw at the high definition 65″ variety on Saturday night? …..Maybe it wasn’t a beer can at all? Maybe it was a rocket module full of earthlings using the only constant they knew to travel through space and time? And maybe that constant is IU losing football games. There are many parallel universes…Is my beer can in flight traveling at the speed of light full of passengers who signed up for an Elon Musk field trip? All things possible. Point of reference: IU Football. The only thing that stands still in all dimensions of intersects and parallels.
    I knew them damn rabbit ears had powers.

  16. I’d hardly call Indiana’s O line being exposed when playing against one of the best D lines in the country, thats no secret at all. If the O line could’ve held up at least a little better and allow a few sustained drives the D wouldn’t have had to have been constantly holding the line. Both D lines won the battles barring the 75 yd TD run in the 4th quarter, but I chalk that up more to just exhaustion. Indiana did win the turnover battle (though making some ugly mistakes of their own) and usually thats a strong indication of winning football, but the offense has to do its part! Ramsey needs to make better throws, and I wish he had longer range. Don’t panic yet, its only one loss. Just keep making improvements is all I ask and the results will come. Allen is not a happy camper about this I promise you that. He will get them straightened out and quite frankly I expect Indiana to come out charged up and trample Rutgers.

  17. Ramsey made some good throws in the backfield and a few yards across the line of scrimmage. It is the dinks, dunks, running as if it’s sandlot fb, eventually leads to a mistake if playing a decent team. As bad as Rutgers is if IU doesn’t go more downfield and get more potent and creative on offense this game may not be a stroll in the park. P.R. resembles Lagow in that he will make some good plays but he is going to struggle over the course of a whole game by lack of providing potency to offensive because he is just a little short on ability. (He plays hard but just a little short on passing and scrambling and running).

  18. P.R. role needs to be a reliever for Penix and even R.T. as needed. Both, are more athletic. This could still provide P.R. A lot of opportunity to play. I just think he could fit that type of role well in IU ‘s situation.

  19. I have waited to comment wanting to look at the video and run back plays to see what is going on at each position. It reminded me that as a coach I was very critical breaking down films and had to temper how I approached players after watching the film.

    In my breakdown of the film I saw why I thought in the game that I wanted to see Penix on the field. Ramsey is a good steady QB under most circumstances and is accurate most of the time, yet he threw 2 INTs in a critical game with one TD pass. Many times the OL “issue” really was Ramsey not staying in the pocket and destroying blocking angles. Yes he was pressure more than he had been in previous games but blockers need to know where the QB is while blocking.

    The running game issue was more on the TE not blocking correctly or passing up a defensive player. Now because I don’t know the play call and some times it was the read by the QB some of the missed blocks weren’t the TE but the read by QB that was wrong. Even when Ramsey made the right read he isn’t athletic enough to hurt the defense and they can recover on the play.

    Based on coach Allen’s comments I agree the offense was too constricted. I don’t mean by play calling, although that is part of it, but by the tight formations they continually ran. Utah State showed when MSU is spread out they have problems. Too many crossing routes were called instead of attacking the defense with upfield routes IE seam routes, post, corner routes, or go routes. That may be due to Ramsey’s limitations or just a decision looking at films MSU wouldn’t get beaten by those routes. I would point out that Whop’s TD was a seam route.

    I understand that Penix may not be the answer this year but I would sure like to see him start and see if he can run the show. If he can, his ability will stress defense more than Ramsey can I just hope we get to find out if Penix can start. Where the team’s talent is right now, IU needs a difference maker at QB and I don’t see Ramsey as the difference maker. If the talent level was comparable to B1G East top teams Ramsey would be a good QB that could let others utilize their talent but a more gifted athlete would still be a better choice at QB.

    Defensively our DL isn’t very good but adequate, the LBs aren’t play makers but we knew that after losing Scales and Covington, and our DBs are young in several positions but doing a good job especially Crawford.

    The sky hasn’t fallen but IU will have to improve to win 7 games with the possibility of 8 wins. Can the offense get there, in my opinion only if Penix becomes the starter.

    1. V13,
      Yup, Yup, and Yup.

      Your comments regarding crossing routes, dink & dunk, etc . . ., are indicative of exactly the problem foreseen in PR since last year. You have to attack a defense and unless the QB can make the throws downfield that are necessary, it won’t happen. It is past time to find out if Penix is the guy who can do this or not. He should have been put in for the 2nd half of MSU. Going forward it is all on TA now, as it has been thoroughly demonstrated his starter has limitations which will severely diminish what could be a decent year. Either Penix is what we all thought we got when he signed or he is not, time to find out.

    2. V13,
      Here’s another little point which should not be lost in this discussion. Dabo Swinney at Clemson is making a QB change this week. He is replacing his returning starter from last year who led them to the BCS with a Freshman. Granted he was the number 2 recruit, but it shows regardless the level you are at, the top coaches make the tough calls. Freshmen will make Freshman mistakes, but you have a supposedly experienced returning starter doing the same things.

      1. Penix may not have been the #2 recruit but, by IU standards, it is the same situation. Penix appears to be pretty good. The current offense allows a team like Michigan State to stay comfortable on defense.

        That’s fine with Ball State where were are more talented pretty much across the board.

        If you have a talented, mobile quarterback you think highly of you need to find out if he can change the status quo. I can think of few oppnents better than Rutgers to try to shake things up.

        All that being said…maybe Penix has been a train wreck in practice.

        1. Some guys play bigger in games than in practice….Moxie. Practice is where a lot of mediocre guys excel because of ability to relate inside certain groups/circles….and, let’s face it, brown nose a coach. Practices can become very political…A freshman won’t have those political advantages. Sometime those advantages don’t come until his teammates and his coach witness how he performs under the big lights.
          The steady experienced guy with his fraternity of teammates may look great in practice…but then become the “train wreck” in a game.
          The less experienced guy with little fraternity of teammates may display lower confidence/train wreck tendencies in practice…but then become a the true game-changer when the stadium is noisiest and lights are brightest.
          I can’t see Penix being so insufficient in practice to keep him off the field. Everyone has a different personality meshed into their talents. Sometimes those traits aren’t fully exhibited until they feel the true pressures.

  20. Does Penix or Taylor complete a pass like Ramsey overthrew (or did Taylor not run fast enough) to Taylor downfield? Can Penix or Taylor drill the ball confidently to a receiver in end zone without messing around where offense can get bogged down inside the ten yard line? Can Penix or Taylor make plays? IU has in Ramsey a third string quarterback starting as the starting quarterback and playing the whole game? Play the best athletic quarterbacks and throw redshirts away at quarterback position now. I still think Ramsey could operate as reliever at qb position as needed in game situations as needed. Plus he could support the frost qb’s. They seem to be supporting him. I am disappointed with Taylor thus far and his lack of impact on game. Purdue coach and staff knows how to use Rondel Jones and has qb to get him the ball so he can be successful plus change things for the better. Can T.A. and staff do the same for Penix and Taylor in big east?

  21. sorry if this was covered as I did not have time to read everything. They have tailored the game to fit a qb that cannot throw down field and has a weak arm. I think Ramsey averaged less than 6 yards a throw if I read that right. It is damn hard to come back on a team when you have a QB that cannot throw downfield. Also, is it just me or did he look completely rattled and nervous in the face during the 3rd and 4th quarter? The O line was terribly exposed and so was the running game. I know now that yes…we absolutely do miss Ellison. If I am coach…I completely shake up the O line with backups and maybe positions. I make my playbook smaller between the tackles and rep it all week so they can freakin run block. I start Penix vs Rutgers so he is ready for Iowa at home…it is time!

  22. vesuvius 13 – never thought I would agree with you (too often), but your above blog (information) was excellent and very informative (Thanks).

  23. You can change any piece on the chessboard you like but as long as the man up in the booth calling plays has the initials of Mike DeBord not much will change. Ramsey and Taylor’s skills are suppressed by a guy who is used to having higher ranked talent make up for his less than vanilla play calling. Wonder why TE’s saw so little action Saturday? Play calling maybe? The change needed is upstairs in the booth and his OL buddy on the sideline.

    1. The old boys club. I don’t get some coaches being rehired again and again. I have long followed the Broncos, Panthers, and Colts. Everyone in Charlotte was so relieved when they finally parted wys with nice guy John Fox.

      When the Broncos hired him I was sick.

      Mike Shula has a successful offense once every blue moon. He was terrible for Carolina with an incredible stable of talent. I think he has coached for everyone.

      He will always have a job.

      For every Wade Phillips, whose defenses were always great, there are a dozen John Foxes.

      1. Chet,
        I would pose two challenges to your statements. The first is very similar to the age old head coach problem, who is going to be willing to take the career risk of coming to IU, especially at the current pay scale and general perception of all things IUFB? The criticisms of DeBord may or may not be justified, but exactly who is out there willing to come to IU in his place? I learned a long time ago to never say, “It can’t be any worse that what it is now.” The Nebraska follies since Tom Osborne are the perfect show and tell regarding “best be care what you wish for, you just might get it!”

        The second issue is something you and I agree on regarding the need to see Penix on the field. Can we accurately assess the situation on offense until this occurs? I’m not sure if PR was recruited by DeBord or not, but Penix definitely was. I want to see a QB on the field which is definitively a DeBord guy. Until that occurs, the staff is still working with a great number of players not recruited to play their style of game.

        Depending on the system you are installing, there are situations where you can only do so much with what you inherit. We saw that very clearly with Lagow, no knock on him, he just didn’t fit the system being installed.

  24. HC,
    The “everyone in the parade is out of step except my Johnny,” routine is getting a little old. It almost sounds like you have a personal involvement in this. Do you?

    If not, it sure is strange that you blame everyone and everything except that which most everyone else can see is obvious, PR’s skills are not be “suppressed.” If anything is being “suppressed,” it is the play calling being “suppressed,” down to PR’s skill level.

    1. By no means do I have to make any kind of accounting to you. If you don’t like the routine then restrict your reading.

      1. Looks like I struck the anticipated nerve. Figured it was something personal and the response tells me all I need to know. No way this much blind support for mediocre talent can be anything other.

  25. Let me push this a little bit further, because I’m somewhat upset by this can’t replace PR stuff. We’ve already got Timian and Whop banged up with this dink and dunk nonsense, if we ever get Penix on the field to see if he can do it, he won’t have anyone to throw to because they’ll all be on the sidelines in street clothes due to injuries. Right now we do not have a starting QB with whom you can open up the playbook and the field because he hasn’t shown he can do it. This junk about DeBord not being able to coach down to the talent level is just that, junk. V13 can tell you from his coaching experience, you call what your players have the capability to execute. You can’t call what they can’t do.

    I saw up close what DeBord was able to do at UT, he didn’t have the greatest QB UT ever had. Probably wasn’t even their top 20, but he was adequate. The problem is if the closest thing IU has to an adequate QB is PR, then we were sold a bill of goods on Penix and RT’s capabilities, and add Dawkins to that list.

  26. Penix will not start against Rutgers…Many weeks ago, I mentioned how the early choice for starting qb was critical.
    After only glimpses of Penix, I advocated strongly for him to be the choice going forward.
    To this date, I can’t understand naming Ramsey as the starting qb one week prior to the opening game kickoff. I would have left it up for grabs and named my starter Saturday morning against FIU.
    There have been plenty of opportunities to get Penix into action (even if not in a starting role).
    This is what IU Football does…..This is attempting to get to six wins. It’s attempting to play as conservatively as possible…and as mistake-free as possible. It’s playing low bar football to get to a low bar bowl. It’s job saving management rather than taking more risk with less experienced talent. Penix comes with more risk.
    Urinal Cake bowl games are simply too important to unsteady a sinking ship.
    Wilson may have had equal trouble getting to six wins…but we must understand he had a far inferior product and much more rebuilding when he arrived. But he got to “six” wins differently via more risk and more exciting football….(more fourth down attempts, more downfield passing, very high quality power running backs).
    Not only is it frustrating watching a qb with a weaker arm, it’s boring.

    Allen is banking on a defense to make up for a safe/conservative offense and a limited(steadier/safer/experienced) qb. It’s all about getting to six wins and protecting a job. Getting to a crap bowl is how IU football coaches meet their “Glass” ceilings.

  27. Have any of you ever considered how the Big Ten Network feeds into the complacency and risk aversion that has always been the signature/mission of IU Football? Do we really have to care that much about football when we are propped up by network dollars….? Now the BTN product can deliver games when ESPN or a major network doesn’t feel the competition levels/overall quality of teams are fit for higher viewership ratings.
    And think how many fans have lowered their standards in what they’ll watch…? If it’s televised, they’ll watch. If it’s hyped, they’ll watch more…If it’s sold as a big game, it must be a big game.
    Do we really need to fill our stadium every Saturday. With BTN, we are now subsidized by OSU, Michigan, PSU, etc. IU Football is retired and taking in Social Security checks from our hoops heyday. OSU, Michigan, Penn State…go out and earn it for the Big Ten….and Big Ten Network.

  28. Yes indeed let us push farther and more than a little bit. The play-calling this year is in a mirror to the play calling of last year. DeBord is inept and the sample size is now large enough that disputing is blind. I for sure and for certain hope Penix gets playing time. The learning curve starts over. The Frosh will produce good and bad very similar to Peyton. Because the play calling that led up to the 4th and goal won’t change(just as stupid as the Meatchicken debacle last year). MSU front 7 was surgical and merciless. Ask the Frosh RB’s their opinions. Penix if he’d played would only have supported those opinions.
    MD had a pro-worthy QB at Tennessee and his offense was slightly above average. If he hadn’t left for IU the following year would have fallen short of that. So the fortunes of IUFB doesn’t change much till DeBord goes fishing. That day is not far off. Last year is married to this year pertaining to play calling.
    By the way Dawkins was a joke when he arrived in Bloomington. I properly stated so. Everyone else anointed him the white robed savior of IUFB. He was nothing more than Fall Camp arm fodder.

  29. thinkaboutit, didn’t you get the memo? HC is NEVER wrong! He is the omnipotent and final authority on everything that is IU football. He formed his opinion about DeBord very early in last year’s season, and that is the final word. IU could win all the remaining games this season and break all of IU’s offensive records, and HC would still be calling for DeBord to retire.

    1. Yup, I knew it, but got the nerve I expected. No way you continue to support PR with the results over the 1st 4 games. It is way past time to make a QB change. We saw this coming last year and all the way through camp. Can’t win in the B1G with mediocre QB talent.

  30. How about redshirt Penix. Let him get more muscle on him to take bigger hits. Work on OL protection for next year when Penix is your starter. Just concerned Penix would try to run too much this year and get injured. If you wanted to go with him and drive to a 7 or 8 win season, he needed the chance against MSU. Ready……fire!

    1. Cali,
      I understand your logic, but in other words you are suggesting IU write off the season and accept a 4, 5, or 6 win season at best. Are you prepared for the recruiting hit you will take? IUFB has enough trouble recruiting now. The message you are sending to recruits out there is, it doesn’t matter how talented you are. This is the way they look at it and they see this other Freshmen playing at elite schools across the country.

      It goes back to the question I asked earlier, aka Tommy Stevens, do you want to hold the clipboard on the sidelines at IU or Penn State? The answer is obvious, and if you can’t prove to these guys they will play even as Freshmen, expect the Tommy Stevens’ of the world to continue to go to the Penn State’s of the world.

    2. I think that is kinda it. Are you willing to accept what we have offensively this season?

      I think redshirting Penix is being given a lot of thought. If we don’t see a big dose of him against Rutgers then I think that neans they would like to redshirt him barring injury to PR.

  31. Yes Penix could gain 20 lbs by next year and be even more of a B1G QB but IU needs his talents now to get a winning season. Based on press conferences it sure sounds as if coach is going to red-shrt Penix. Just like Clemson has made the move, I think IU needs to make the same move. I understand I don’t see practices but I know we need to see Penix on the field and find out if he is good enough if IU wants a winning season. Nothing says coaches have to stick with Penix if he lays an egg but it sure would be nice to see how the offense looks with him at the helm.

    This is like a situation I had in State Championship team that went 4-7 the year before. I had a very talented TB and very good OL but no QB. I could have gone with the safe move and put a very good TE at QB that coud play the position. Or I could choose the soph. extremely athletic player to learn QB. I went with the soph because I knew his athletic ability would bail us out at times through out the year which he did. This isn’t to say we couldn’t have done well with the TE playing QB but we would have lost a key player position and he couldn’t make the extremely athletic plays the soph did.

    1. V13,
      I think if TA red shirts Penix and doesn’t start him quickly, he can kiss his career at IU good-bye. Hopefully someone who he respects out there will get through to him. This has all the appearances of a bone-headed rookie coach mistake. One of those decisions years later you wish you could go back and do over, but you can’t and the damage is done. If he does this, every other coach out there will use this against TA on the next QB he tries to recruit. Sending a terrible message. Either that or we were mislead as to Penix’s capabilities at this point.

  32. You both make good points. My fear is ok Penix we want to see what ya got. Here is Rutgers and they will be along the lines of FIU. Good game, now let me show you the horseshoe and follow that up with Iowa. You think that was tough, wait until you see Penn State and Mich. I just think if TA saw something in him he wouldn’t have waited to OSU the guy.

  33. In terms of recruiting we say, see that RB he is a FR, see those DL and Ol and DB? They are FR. if you are worried about recruiting another star QB, why do you need one if you have Penix another four years an PR another couple of years?

    1. Cali,
      You always need more QBs if you are going to run a dual threat QB offense. The thing some are missing in this discussion is this is all about recruiting perception. I can guarantee you what the perception most of us on this board have is reflected in many other places. TA needs to put Penix out there and let him show whether he is as good or better than PR or not. Otherwise TA is going to get hammered in the recruiting wars like you cannot believe.

      The perception is already out there that PR is a mediocre QB and Penix may be better, whether HC likes it or not. The problem this presents is Penix is still an unknown quantity. If he stays an unknown quantity for the rest of the year, then the perception that he is a highly skilled QB being held back by TA will persist and will be costly in recruiting. If you put him out there and he cannot handle it at this level yet, then you mute the noise in social media and your recruiting can be preserved.

      1. BP,
        Not talking about the lines, usually a different can of worms. Talking about the skill positions and in particular QB. It is happening all across the country with Freshmen being inserted into the starting QB position, even at elite programs. I am speculating that the football camps and other locations are propelling the development of QBs at a much faster rate each year.

        These kids are coming out of HS with the expectation of starting in college. Every one of them with the expectation of being the next “Johnny Football.” Realistic or not that is the perception out there and your elite college program feed that perception with their recruiting practices. They promise the moon to a host of 5* QBs and then let the reality of camp sort it out. Explains the defectors moving out for the next wave of 5* at the program.

        Problem for IU is you have to recruit against that based on your level in the recruiting pecking order. IU hopes to get lower level 4* and higher level 3* recruits, but you are up against the lower tier elite programs and next level down. If you have a high 3* or lower 4* recruit who is coming to an IU level of program, there is an expectation to play immediately, especially for a QB. If IU were a little higher up the food chain it would be more palatable to the recruit, but with IU at the bottom of the bottom feeders, then you’re creating a major recruiting perception problem if you don’t handle the Penix situation correctly.

        When you are trying to build a program up from rock bottom, you can’t afford recruiting perception problems.

  34. Well Rutgers will appreciate any QB we throw out there. Whatever we throw at them will be a major relief from what they faced last Saturday. 6’7” 245 lbs with an arm and precision. I am all for giving Penix a shot. This OL is going to give up some hits. That is my fear.

  35. Cali, I understand your fear but every freshman QB in the country takes hits. Penix isn’t a Zander sized QB and has the feet to make hits not so devastating. He is over 200 lbs and has talent, so like you, I want to see him more on the field and see how the numbers stand up between the two. That is what Clemson has done this season. If Ramsey is better this year he will show it but if Penix is better he will show that with a half of playing time. IU needs a more dynamic QB than Ramsey to have a shot at a winning season. I like Ramsey his demeanor, toughness, and caring about his teammates but we need to see more of Penix because right now his 80% completion rate with his scoring drives gives him a higher rating than Ramsey.

    1. V, will see if TA gives him a shot. I understand your Clemson comparison, but IU doesn’t have their OL which is part of my concern. I know MSU D is tops but jeebus, PR had about 2 seconds before a white jersey was in his grill.

    2. Yup really worked out for Dabo. QB Kelly Bryant is transferring. You play games with some people and you get burned. Although I’ll bet Clemson has a room full of underclass QB’s. I think Allen is testing the waters just about right for Indiana’s situation.

  36. Regardless of recruiting, Penix over Ramsey and R.T. over Ramsey. With Ramsey at QB IU is a boring offense and is torture to watch. Offense works hard for minimal results = a struggle for a 5 or 6 win season including a loss to Purdue only because defense might keep an inept big ten level qb in a game. Penix or R.T. would be at least as effective as P.R. because P.R. effectiveness is over with first three games. IU is treading thin water against Rutgers if Ramsey is simply going to play the whole game. Earlier T.A. was going to play Penix. Then the rain game. Then, MSU defense. For IU is it going to be Ramsey for two more years as a qb transfer happens and no qb recruits coming in? The next year story is (except for a # of seasons you could count on less than two hands) at least 50 years old. The time is now. Or will there be a change of guard in the coaching staff in 4 or 5 years?

  37. If I have to watch Ramsey and DeBord dink and dunk passing and QB gets four or five yard on a play where you could drive a truck through the hole, I may lose all faith in Allen. And I like Allen. But you can try this conservative, control the clock, hope the D keeps you in it all you want. We just don’t have the D and talent to try that with a game manager. And this game manager still throws his share of picks. Just, please, let’s give Penix a shot.

  38. OK, I pretty much agree with the majority of guys but consider this. On another thread is a story about Ramsey checking off from the called play and calling an audible and tossing a 65 yard score.

    Maybe Ramsey could do just fine and Penix would do no better if they are both handed the same $hit sandwich. Ramsey might not be the the problem.

    1. Chet,
      Don’t let the total distance of the play deceive you. PR did a great job of picking up what the defense gave him on that play. The question is how many yards did the ball travel in the air? The reason for the air distance is important is how that affects what you are doing to the defense. Did it travel 15, 20, or 30 yards in the air. The differences have a significant impact on the defense, just as a ball accurately thrown 40, 45, or 50 yards changes everything in a defensive mindset.

      V13 can probably do a much better job of explaining why all this is so important from a technical aspect when challenging a defense. You have to stretch a defense everyway imaginable in order to keep them off balance and successfully defeat them throughout the game. Everything your QB can’t do is one less thing the D has to worry about and makes their task easier.

      1. My point being, we really don’t have much of a sample to accurately assess what throws PR can make. He is running the plays he is given to run.

        By the same token, we also don’t know that Debord would not call the same plays if Penix were in the game. Does that mean he can’t make the throws?

        I want to see Penix play, too, but a lot of assumptions ate being made with no evidence to support their validity.

        1. Chet,
          I think you have hit squarely on our problem. We don’t have enough evidence to make a judgment as to whether it is DeBord’s play calling or PR’s lack of capabilities. I agree with you, I want to see Penix in for a sufficient amount of time to make that determination. Depending upon what happens on the field, we will have our answers. Keeping Penix off the field is only fueling speculations, which serve only to damage the already difficult situation which IUFB. The only answer is to put Penix in long enough to find out.

  39. I do recall one big throw Penix made(FIU game?)….I believe he overshot the receiver on a deep sideline route. But the sample set is small….and that’s why most of us would like more before we hit the ‘Murderer’s Row’ of the BigTen East.

    At minimum, it seems a certain interchangeability would be possible so to prepare Penix in the event he must be thrown into the fires(big hit on Ramsey, concussion, or injury situation). Do we really have that much to lose by not playing Penix?
    I believe freshmen are far more prepared to play(partly due to advances in strength, weight training, and conditioning) than in years past. If Reese Taylor and other freshmen can see action, why not Penix? It’s not like Ramsey is functioning in a wonderfully tuned offensive machine.

  40. Good discussion, gentlemen. But my perspective is very simple. You start Penix against Rutgers to give him experience and to see how the offense responds/changes with him at QB. If he does really well, he remains the starting QB. If he does not do well, Ramsey returns to being the starter and Penix is still eligible to be red-shirted. But either way, Penix gets a great learning experience and is even more ready to lead the offense if Ramsey gets injured during the remainder of the season. And, by giving Penix a start, you satisfy his desire to play now, minimize the risk of Penix becoming disgruntled (hey, we gave you an opportunity and you weren’t quite ready), and eliminate the risk of competitive coaches using the negative narrative to affect future recruiting classes, especially with quarterbacks.

    And I agree that IU will need multiple (at least three) quarterbacks for an offense that relies on a dual-threat quarterback as T.A. has said he wants to run.

    Ramsey is a good quarterback for a team that can dominate the line-of-scrimmage and has a strong running game. Against most Big Ten teams (Rutgers may be the exception), IU will not dominate the line-of-scrimmage or produce potent rushing attacks. If you want to beat any of the good Big Ten teams we play, you have to have a quarterback that can change the game. Ramsey is simply not that guy. I don’t he has the arm strength to do that, or he has been conditioned to throw dink and dunk passes, or both.

  41. P.R. Is at best a second string qb for middle of pack and below big ten teams. Penix or Ramsey or Reese Taylor should look good against Rutgers. It’s a watered down test. Offensive line should look better against Rutgers also. Again, watered down test. The only thing that may surprisingly give Rutgers a chance is a scouted IU conservative running game plus dink and dunk passing gets Rutgers excited and Rutgers gains confidence and momentum that IU is not able to adjust with a longer pass offense.

  42. McSorely good enough to keep Tommy Stevens on bench ex IU commit who is better than P. R. also. McSorely last I checked (not sure about update) doubling P.R. for every pass completion @ about 11.6 per completion (good enough for a first down) vs 6+ yards per completion by P.R. Of course it’s Penn State talent vs IU talent… Plus competition and weather conditions through 4 games. Lot of room for improvement for McSorely and P.R. However, the frustrating thing with P.R. I think the improvement ceiling is very low. Now, scouted and big ten east frustration will mount for IU offense and frustration will transfer to IU defense if passing game does not make a breakthrough downfield. IU is a shovel pass or forward lateral team with P.R. IU receivers will get frustrated also. Lack of reward for hard work that eventually something goes wrong on drives and gets bogged down will cause offense frustration. Lack of reward for IU defense when they play well will cause defense frustrations and eventually defense breakdowns. Results will equal another struggling frustrating 4, 5, maybe 6 win season with losing big ten record including loss to Purdue.

  43. t, good point about the difference between McSorley and Ramsey. If the offense doesn’t open up this week and doesn’t give Penix major reps in the game then coach Allen needs to make changes on the offense. IU pulled Lagow for throwing picks and Ramsey has thrown bad INTs 2 outg of 4 games that lead to opponents scores putting IU in the hole. Do the same thing this season if it occurs again and find out which QB runs the offense best. This season the offense needs to be much better than last year’s offense and so far it is just a bit better.

  44. Ramsey’s yards per completion is very low. Which means IU has no room for error. And with no explosive plays, they basically run 3-4 series until Ramsey has an incompletion and are then forced to punt. I’d give Penix at least a half in the Rutgers game. The only attribute he doesn’t have is experience. Ramsey could be a star at a place like Alabama where all they need is a game manager. But IU needs a guy that can break down a defense by himself. That’s either Penix or Reese Taylor and Taylor is too small to take the hits. Penix is the best QB prospect IU has had since Antwaan Randle El or Trent Green. This isn’t a case of the backup is most popular because the starter is failing. This is a case of the backup having obvious talent advantages that aren’t going to improve or be utilized by sitting on the bench.

    1. 123,
      Don’t kid yourself, the QBs at Alabama are no game managers. With the competition level Alabama is playing at, you can’t afford a game manager. Saban had a few of them over the last few years and they came up empty more times than not both in conference and BCS.

        1. FS,
          If you and your friend HC want to call Jalen Hurts a game manager because he was basically a running QB, then we have to call every Wishbone QB that played the game a game manager as well. By that logic you would have to call Peyton Manning or Dan Marino game managers as well because they were not running QBs and could only pass. The question is not whether a QB can run or pass, but how dynamic their abilities affect the game.

          That so called game manager ran through defenses to the tune of 25-2 as a starter. Tell me which of your so called non game managers at any elite school had that kind of record during the same period of time? Funny thing, we call PR a game manager, but I’d think anyone on this board would give anything to have Jalen Hurts as the IU “game manager.” Matter of fact, I don’t know too many schools in the entire country that wouldn’t want Mr. Hurts game managing for them. May find that out sooner rather than later as I wouldn’t be surprised if Hurts follows the former Clemson starter Kelly Bryant and look for a new school. The Bryant sweepstakes ought to be interesting, even if you only get him for one year.

          1. Yes both of them have great records as starters. There’s no denying that. Both Clemson and Alabama can win most games with their defense and running the ball. But when Hurts and Bryant were forced to actually put the team on their shoulders and pass the ball against elite defenses (Hurts vs Georgia and Bryant vs Bama) they failed miserably.

            No doubt that Hurts and Bryant will be in high demand. Coaches love QBs who don’t make a lot of mistakes and protect the football. However, both of them lost their jobs to play making pass first QBs who take full advantage of the offensive weaponary. They’re both game managers. Albeit game managers who can use their legs for big plays, but game managers non the less.

            I could see Coach Allen going after both of these guys because they fit what he wants in a QB. He wants to win with defense and running the ball and that’s the way he’s building his team.

          2. FS,
            I see a few problems with your arguments. First, please tell me what QB in college FB last year wouldn’t have experienced significant difficulties with either of those defenses. Saban caught Kirby Smart flatfooted in the championship when he put Tua in for the 2nd half. As well as Smart knew Saban, he didn’t anticipate him making such a change. The master taught the pupil one last lesson.

            Second problem is you had better pray that Hurst doesn’t decide to transfer and either he or Bryant comes to the B1G for IU to play. You’ll see their game manager cleat marks all over your opinions and probably the rest of the B1G as well.

            Finally, your third and biggest problem. If IU were so fortunate as to get either player, you would have a big problem with HC if you wanted to start them over his boy PR. I don’t know how you would work it out with him, but I’ll leave that problem to you.

          3. 1. You answered your own question there with Tua. There were talks of playing Tua against Clemson in the semi finals if Hurts couldn’t get the offense moving. Turned out that Saban didn’t have to use his trump card because the Alabama defense shut Kelly Bryant down and Hurts wasn’t asked to win the game with his arm. Kirby Smart knew that there was a good chance Tua would see the field if Hurts was ineffective and I’m sure he game planned for that situation. I don’t think Kirby Smart was caught flat footed, I think Tua is just that good.

            2. I have no doubts that Hurts and/or Bryant can be successful in the B1G. I think Hurts would be the more successful of the two because I believe he’ll be a solid RB in the NFL.

            3. Although I think it’s unlikely that either end up at IU, it would be a predicament if either did come to Bloomington. Ramsey would probably transfer IMO.

  45. 123, goood point about this not being about the back-up being the favorite until we see him as the starter. Not many are saying Penix can replace Ramsey; we and Penix haven’t had a chance to see if Penix is better. The little time he has been in there he protects the ball and moves the offense to score points while forcing the defense to defend more of the field. I hope this is the game we see a lot of Penix and see the offense open up.

  46. Against Rutgers, P.R., Penix, and R.T. should shine. Now, if it’s the same old P.R. it could set up a trap game for IU by trying to make P.R. beat you with passing distance downfield.

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