4 things we learned from IU’s loss to Iowa

1. Missed tackles were a major problem
Too often on Saturday, Indiana defenders were in position to make a stop, yet failed to do so.

The Hoosiers missed 20 total tackles against Iowa, including 13 during the first half. Three defenders whiffed when trying to stop Hawkeyes return man Ihmir Smith-Marsette, only to watch him sprint 60 yards — and hurdle over IU kickoff specialist Jared Smolar — to set up a four-play touchdown drive that featured three more missed tackles.

Another miss, this one by safety Juwan Burgess, allowed Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson to score his second touchdown of the day on a 54-yard reception early in the second half.

Generally, IU’s tackling has been very good during the Tom Allen era. Saturday, it was very much not.

2. A sloppy day of football started at the top
The coaching staff was flagged twice and warned another time on an afternoon when IU was penalized a season-high 10 times for 99 yards.

That just can’t happen.

Tom Allen’s energy and enthusiasm represent an admirable approach to coaching, and IU’s long-middling football program needs all the life it can get.

But Allen also has to recognize that his emotional style has officiating crews on high alert. The coach, himself, said after Saturday’s game that one official was watching Indiana’s sideline “like a hawk.”

In the weeks ahead, Allen will have to find a balance with his vigor. If Indiana coaches can’t be disciplined in their approach, it will become hard to expect discipline from the players in theirs.

3. There wasn’t enough offensive development.
For the most part, IU’s offense performed well at Ohio State. But it didn’t carry over against Iowa.

Peyton Ramsey threw for 263 yards, but the bulk of that work didn’t lead anywhere, or materialize into points. While trying to make something happen on a pair of fourth-quarter red zone trips, Ramsey forced balls into coverage and had them picked off

He completed the few downfield throws he was asked to make, including a 33-yard touchdown pass to Ty Fryfogle in the second quarter. But in sum, IU was inconsistent and entirely too one-dimensional. The running game that surfaced in early September has been abandoned during games against Big Ten opposition, with IU averaging merely 85.7 yards per game and 2.8 yards per carry against league teams.

4. Indiana’s season is headed in the wrong direction
While IU’s program has cultivated optimism by playing up to the level of the Big Ten’s best teams in recent years, the sign of sustainable progress will come when Indiana is beating the teams in the next tier — Iowa and Michigan State among them.

IU laid an egg against the Spartans to open the conference schedule, then failed to even be competitive against a Hawkeyes squad built with comparable talent. Has the past month been a harbinger of where things are headed? Either way, Saturday was concerning.

Homecoming could’ve been an opportunity for IU to create some wiggle room in the second half. Instead, it looks like the Hoosiers will once again try to secure bowl eligibility by the skin of their teeth.

Games against Maryland, Purdue and at Minnesota provide IU with winnable opportunities, though the Terps have shown they haven’t been derailed by coach D.J. Durkin’s suspension. Purdue has gotten its act together after a rough start and no road game is a sure thing for Indiana.

Saturday was just another huge opportunity that the Hoosiers missed.

WHAT’S NEXT: No. 18 Penn State, Memorial Stadium, Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ABC.

Any hope of a College Football Playoff appearance for the Nittany Lions was flushed on Saturday, when Penn State blew its second straight home game in the final moments. It’s more of the same for the Lions, who lost back-to-back games against Ohio State and Michigan State last season to ruin hopes of a title pursuit. How angry will they be upon arriving in Bloomington? Penn State opened the week as a 14-point favorite at IU.

18 comments

  1. 4. Indiana’s season is headed in the wrong direction

    Sort of dispute that entire premise…The only thing heading in a positive direction was hype. What gets you to your premise is the same year after year.
    -We get the “breakthrough” BS….
    -Then we get the usual crop of softer/cupcake teams posing no real challenge or reliable observations/data(e.g. Many were talking of Stevie Scott as if he were the next Jim Brown because of his great numbers in a monsoon against Virginia) to determine inroads/improvement/”direction” across individual talent…and, the team, collectively.
    -One conference win against the worst team in the conference(East or West).
    -Pretty much manhandled by OSU, MSU, and Iowa.

    There was never any positive or “right” direction. There were only false indicators used to build empty hype. Once anything of real competition starts marching into our schedule, it’s the same repeat movie. Terms like “breakthrough” are put to bed. If our football program was a transmission, it would only have reverse, neutral, and a very rickety first gear.
    All those soft wins in the early stanza are sold as third or fourth gear, but you know damn well nothing “up to speed” was found. In all honesty, I’m not even sure if the program has an engine….nor anyone who truly wants to salvage a true clunker.

  2. I guess what I mean to say is that a statement proclaiming “Indiana’s season is headed in the wrong direction” can be damaging in its inherent deceptiveness(knowingly, innocently, or ignorantly).

    A “wrong direction” implies a right direction was obtained. Do wins against almost always lowly competition ever suggest a “right” or positive direction?
    Ineptitude in the conference is a o.k. if one or two wins against the lowest bars of BigTen competition padded atop cupcakes gets you to a meaningless bowl? That’s a right direction? Until we begin to play as if we somewhat belong in the BigTen East, there is no wrong direction. There is only absence from the track….and the longest pit stop in college football history.

    1. H4H, I would point out that one of the “cupcakes” just beat a ranked Miami team and FIU is 4-2. I agree the team got too of us buying into them being a better team than they are. You can’t play as many freshman as IU does and expect to excel in the B1G. Playing exceptional freshman is normal in the B1G but IU playing so many shows the shortcomings of the roster. With early games, the come back against MSU, and the game against OSU I was hopeful the team was growing up faster than normal. Realistic projections for the team were 5 or 6 wins and it looks like that may be what it accomplishes this year. The team could recover and pull out three or four wins to win far more than they should.

      1. But didn’t you just comment about the strange upsets of late? Even ranked teams have lulls(even against cupcakes) unless they are playing IU.

        IU Football is a guaranteed cupcake. We are Betty Crocker full tilt.
        We are Cream and Big Red Velvet. We are guaranteed to lose against a substantially superior opponent. Some cupcakes, once in a blue moon, rise above expectations and empty hype. We do not. We are never shaking up the order. We are never a danger to a highly ranked opponent possibly suffering a letdown Saturday afternoon.

        Surprised that some of our early season cupcakes have caught a few strong teams in lulls? Not at all. What would be earth-shatteringly surprising is if IU ever did…or could.

  3. Your #2: Maybe the coaching staff and players should play with expectations and when they are achieved they don’t act surprised about it.

    Your #4: It is the only way we can get to 4, 5, or 6 wins. We have to win the pre-conference bunnies because we can only beat the very worst of the conference (most of the time).

    We have lost more football games than any other college team. Northwestern is close but they stopped the bleeding years ago.

  4. If IU has losing seasons in 2018 and 2019, Fred Glass must be fired. How can any AD for a Power-five conference school keep his job when, throughout his entire tenure, the school’s football team has never produced one winning season? Fred’s responsible, and he should be held accountable. But he won’t be, because IU is still being run by incompetent buffoons who think that as long as we’re good in basketball, everything is fine.

    1. As soon as we saw cue cards at McCracken, Fred should have been immediately fired with Crean. If massive average turnovers, year after year of sloppy defense …and massive failings to play to the level of our roster talent in the NCAA tournament wasn’t enough, cue cards should have been the last insult.

      Good in basketball?
      a. Cody Zeller
      b. 2010-18: 25 collective Elite Eights by nine Midwestern programs not Indiana U. Indiana = zero Elite Eights.

      Loyola of Chicago is “good in basketball.” They have a very good coach and they’ve played above their talent to get to the biggest stage in college hoops. IU hasn’t played above their talent for a decade. Occasionally “good” at recruiting at a program still clinging to old banner traditions and great fan attendance doesn’t mean you’re good at basketball.

    2. Your premise is wrong. IU athletics is ALL about Basketball! Where have you been for the last 60 years? If Archie has a great season, Fred can stroll through life as IU AD!

      1. He’s already been strolling….That’s why Indiana Basketball has seen ZERO Elite Eight trips while 9 other Midwestern programs have gone to a collective 25 Elite Eights (and numerous Final Fours).

        2010-2018 Elite Eight trips:

        Nine Programs from Conference Midwest Elite: 25
        Indiana: 0

        Fred certainly puts the ‘0’ into str0lling. He does have some common ground with the number 9. It only took him nine years to figure out that the numbnut who hired him in a committee room couldn’t coach.

        Fortunately, Fred & Tom took a lot of pressure off Archie. The NCAA tournament bar has been set very low. We party like it’s 1999 just to appear in a Sweet 16.

        BeatPurdue? Sounds to me you’re developing Purdue basketball standards. Maybe you should change your screen name to ‘ModelPurdue’….?…BecomePurdue…?….HitPauseforPurdue…?
        StrollasidePurdue?

  5. Po, despite the optimism the team built up heading into midseason the truth is that this team is part of the declining class ranking groups. If IU gets everyone back that has eligibility then I agree that 2019 better be a winning season. They will have a good core of experienced seniors with exprienced young players to add to that group. QB will still be a weak group that should produce a red-shirt QB as the starter. I hope coach Allen sits down and figures out the offensive line issues – is it poor blocking schemes that requires a new OC to come in or poor coaching from coach Hiller. I have to think coach Hiller has had enough success at other stops to think it is more about the offense DeBord is trying to run. As Kentucky has shown, given time to get their players in to fill the roster the team can be successful. I hope IU takes the same approach and sees the same success.

  6. Last year as the season came to its same old conclusion against Purdue, usually speaking. Though Purdue won by a touchdown to me the game wasn’t that close. Purdue let off the gas a little but was always in charge of the game. There was to much disparity in physicality favoring Purdue plus Purdue played on another (higher) level than IU. To me it was alarming regarding IU football then. The same has continued this season.

  7. Is IU getting any better recruit than they got in the 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s relative speaking as compared to other big ten teams or is it pretty much the same. Were stars given like today to rate players. Are the star rating systems today watered down to give false hopes?
    I have said time and again 4 star and high 3 star vs low 3 stars do make a difference in today’s ratings. Differences in speed, size, ability, physicality even though not much does make a difference if one team has that little advantage at most positions.
    Example: 3 star lineman vs 4 star lineman.
    As far as young players I remember Cam Cameron during his tenure regarding IU football say that they had a young team and they were going to get better and better. They got good enough to win 5 games in one season. That was it. A young team does improve but it is fools gold as is things like trying to run faster and strength and conditioning program. Everybody else is trying to do the same thing and their young players are wanting to improve as well. So if opponents recruits are higher rated players to begin with and continue to keep edge in recruiting then the results wins and losses stay the same.

    1. I was lucky enough to be given 2 tickets on the 50 yard line 3rd row for that game. It was a fantastic experience. One of the few good memories of IU football in the past 20 years unfortunately.

  8. BeatPurdue, you are right of course, and that’s the problem. IU can’t afford to be just “a basketball school.” And to say that makes Hoosier fans sound like losers making excuses. We need IU’s top administrators to provide the support necessary for all IU Varsity Athletic programs to strive for success, but especially football and basketball. We don’t have to win NCAA Championships in every varsity sport every year, but we should have a University Administration that pursues such lofty goals. And they simply don’t. As evidenced by my own personal experience when choosing to attend IU (as an out-of-state student) and more recently by Alabama’s success in football, when a University’s major varsity athletic program wins championships, it enhances the schools’s image and attracts quality students from across the country. If you don’t believe me, you can Google recent articles that describe the impact that Alabama Football has had on enrollment of out-of-state students.

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