4 things we learned from IU’s loss to Minnesota

1. IU had few answers for crossing routes.

Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan, making his first career start, spent a chunk of his night throwing into the middle of the field.

That was for good reason. Indiana had no answer for it.

On the night, Morgan finished 17-for-24 for 302 yards and three touchdowns, with 51 percent of his total production coming on crossing routes.

The Gophers’ quarterback completed eight of his 12 passes to receivers slanting across the field, totaling 154 yards and one touchdown on those throws.

Minnesota wasn’t merely dinking and dunking on these slants, either. Six of those eight receptions went for explosive gains of at least 15 yards.

2. Bryant Fitzgerald is living up to the hype.

Tom Allen has said it multiple times. During the 2017 recruiting cycle, few prospects inside the state of Indiana looked as complete as Fitzgerald. The Avon product is backing that up as the season continues.

Fitzgerald picked off a pass and forced a fumble at Minnesota, giving him a team-best six takeaways this season. Three of those have been interceptions, two more have been forced fumbles and one has been a fumble recovery.

Freshmen have had a hand in 14 of IU’s Big Ten-leading 20 takeaways this season, and Fitzgerald has been at the front of the class in that regard.

3. Special teams continue to be a letdown.

Major errors on special teams have been a theme inside of IU’s past three losses.

Against Iowa and Penn State, it was poor kickoff coverage. This week at Minnesota, it was a blocked punt. That block gave the Gophers a short field at the IU 28, where it took Minnesota merely three plays to score on a 17-yard run by Shannon Brooks.

When the NCAA allowed teams to add a 10th on-field assistant to their staff prior to the season, Tom Allen dedicated that role to special teams.

Even with the extra attention, Indiana’s struggles in that area are glaring.

4. Indiana needs this bye week.

The Hoosiers have waited longer than any other Big Ten team to get a bye week.

The way this month has progressed, it’s clear that Indiana needs it.

Amid a four-game losing skid, which has included frustrating losses to Iowa, Penn State and Minnesota, IU looks to be headed off the rails. Nine games in, Indiana has no offensive identity. Its defense, while young, lacks consistency and its special teams units continue to regress.

There’s not much reason for optimism with this team right now, and while one bye week alone won’t solve the myriad issues IU faces, stepping away and flushing the month of October could serve just about everybody well.

WHAT’S NEXT: Nov. 10, vs. Maryland, Memorial Stadium, Time/TV TBA.

The Terrapins, led by IU graduate and former offensive coordinator Matt Canada, have been all over the place this season. They’re 5-3 with a win over Texas and a confounding home loss to Temple. Coming up, they have a tough November schedule featuring games against Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State. For Maryland, a trip to Bloomington looks like its best opportunity to clinch bowl eligibility. The Hoosiers need to be ready.

47 comments

    1. That’ll never happen. If they refused to play Penix for as long as they did, they aren’t going to play RT unless PR gets injured. What really sucks is RT will now have reduced snaps at his other positions. The issue is DeBord.

  1. Kevin johns never called plays buddy Kevin Wilson was the primary playcaller he doesn’t call them at texas tech neither why would you want him?

  2. for $1-1.2 M and have length match TA’s contract. If he’s good, maybe he’s the next HC. If not, you clean house at the same time

  3. IU needs a new head coach. Otherwise, all we’d be doing is re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    Tom Allen is a very good man, and probably an excellent DC. And I’m sure he has worked his butt off trying to lead IU to a “break through.” But in watching the team closely and carefully listening to T.A. this season, I’m convinced he is not qualified to be a head coach for a Power-five conference team. And Iu football can’t wait to discover if he can grow into the job! It’s not T.A.’s fault that he was not ready for the job when it was handed to him. It’s the fault of Fred Glass, and unless a miracle occurs, Fred should be fired the day after the IU – Purdue game. It’s not going to happen, but we’re allowed to dream!

  4. Just watched the game on replay. Woof.

    Ramsey is terrible. Even his completions were poor throws. In the first 3 drives Indiana had, he made “completions” that were wild throws behind, over, under receivers. These were just on the short passes, too. If he hit those receivers in stride, they would have gotten more yardage. Instead, they catch those passes off-balance giving defenders the chance to catch-up. Forget even looking at throwing the ball down field. It’s hard for me to believe this kid is starting for any major college program. Oh wait, it’s Indiana.

    I have no idea what Debord is doing. The offense from a scheme perspective is a jumbled mess. They have some talent out there. A lot. Even with an iffy line and a bad QB. Indiana claws their way back, ties the game, gets Minnesota to punt and then proceeds to call three straight up the gut running plays. On the road. After mounting a comeback by opening up the offense. It might have been the most quintessentially Indiana Football Thing of all Indiana Football Things.

    3rd and long is death for the Hoosiers. Even when they throw the ball, they throw 3 – 4 yds short of the sticks.

    I know the defense has taken a step back this year, but we knew they would. There’s just too much youth out there. I do think we have the foundation for a solid defense in the next couple years.

    I get that this is the youngest team in the B1G. 7 wins were going to be tough. HOWEVER, it is how they are losing. We’ll see if Tom Allen loves his program and team more than the employment security of his severely deficient assistant coaches. If he doesn’t make moves in the off-season, they’re all going to be in the unemployment line eventually.

    Allen has been able to recruit though. Hard to tell what he’s selling, but at this stage, he’s bringing more talent in than I’ve seen in 25 years in BTown. We’ll see what happens at signing day.

    And Allen isn’t going to get fired after this year. So I’m not even going there. Would rather be constructive about what to do with what we have for 3 more games this year and next.

      1. Lemme add, “One of the…”

        There’s some really solid talent coming back next year. Sans any transfers, of course.

        As I said, youth is just a fraction of the reasons why we aren’t good this year. Coaching looks like it has been the biggest reason. The scheming, the in-game decisions (who on earth taught TA when to go for 2?), the play-calling, player development and the insane choice to start PR at QB.

        I really hate to have to type this. Personally was rooting for a total unknown in TA. Seems like a great fella. But he’s gotta dial the spaz factor down a bit. When I hear about them talking about what went wrong, I’m hearing a bunch of Crean in the answers, “We didn’t match their intensity…Didn’t have the energy…” This team isn’t lacking energy or talent. It is lacking in cohesion, leadership and XOs.

        1. The 2 things IU lacks are competent coaching and execution. It’s like they are an intramural team that isn’t allowed to practice once school starts. They look ok at the start of the season, but seem to get sloppier as the year goes on. Happened last year with more of the same this season. Teams with good coaching get better as the year goes on. Bad coaching leads to, well, this.

  5. Good post DD. I agree with almost everything you’ve said. Only one point that I disagree with. It’s too early to know whether T.A. is “bringing more talent in than I’ve seen in 25 years in BTown.” Hep and Wilson both had some quality recruiting classes. As you know, it takes years before anyone will know how good a recruiting class turns out. But even if he has improved recruiting, that exposes the fact that the product on the field is not performing as well as past IU teams with arguably less talent. The only thing that matters is the number of wins his teams generate. And up to this point, T.A.’s teams have not generated enough wins.

  6. Think about if starting last spring and fall if IU football would have focused on this offense strategy: Dawkins and or Penix (with Ramsey as support and backup), Reese Taylor, Stevie Scott, Ronnie Walker with a downfield open offense. Where would IU offense be now? Passing downfield with more speed and athleticism in skill positions. Then, how much more productive would other receivers be? The potential was their to improve offense vs. really no improvement as Ramsey at quarterback and play calling catering to his limited ability has neutralized the whole offense.

  7. Agree we knew the D would regress some. But the offense could be so much better. Or at least could have been had PR not been trotted out there to start since day 1. We knew, or we should have known, that the offense would have to carry us more this year, but we took the ultraconservative approach. The HC and the OC both have to answer for that.

  8. Double Down-agree with your points above. The most telling was comparing TA answers to Crean. Agree 100%. Just go in and say we need to fix things that continue to be broken. Own the problem like Archie. Don’t cheerlead like Crean. If you start spray tanning, the transformation will be complete.

    DD. Sorry you had to watch that again. Watching it the first time was brutal enough

    1. Oh heavens, there’s no way I would watch that disaster twice! I didn’t see it live. Just caught it afterwards on the interwebs replay.

      On the note of Crean vs Allen. I do see Allen as a much more humble guy, who doesn’t run away from criticism. Hopefully this is just part of the learning process for him. Obviously, we’ll see and I have no idea how it’ll turn out. Crean never had thick enough skin to take feedback and own problems, so he was hopeless. I think we’re stuck with Allen for a bit, so I’m trying to see if there’s any hope moving forward.

      Let’s also remember, Wilson had a pretty major adjustment as a head coach. Jeremy wasn’t doing football then, but he was around. He could probably share his thoughts. Dustin had some pretty telling comments about early vs then current Wilson in his exit interview with Chronic Hoosier. Wilson was abrasive and too arrogant. I liked his public swagger, but he was a little too strident with his staff and players. He had crazy amounts of turnover in his staff the first couple of years. Not good turnover, either. But he settled in and became a true leader. And that took a few years.

      Again, I don’t know what will happen with Allen. So far, he’s under what I had hoped AND expected. But I’ve kind of given up screaming about things in my life that I can’t control, so I’m just going to be an observant fan and hope for the best. Call it like I see it and realize my opinions are usually wrong!

  9. Well, the only good thing about T.A.’s low-compensation-contract is that it would not break IU’s Athletic budget to buy T.A. out of his contract. So he may not be around for as long as we think. T.A. is a very “good fella,” and I love that he wants to be in Indiana, but if he doesn’t “break through” in the 2020 season, the program will start to backslide into Big Ten’s football basement, and none of us want to see the program go back sown there again.

  10. The Circus is coming to Bloomington Nov 10, 2018, the name of the circus is the “Maryland Football Program” The President of Maryland wanted to dismiss (fire) the coach and the athletic director but the Maryland Trustees overrode the President, now the Maryland President is the one that’s leaving. Also at issue is the report about the death of a Maryland Football player. from a heat stroke and the issues of the football program at Maryland, and some of the current players and their parents wanted the coach retained and some didn’t and are on record in the report. It could be very interesting to see on November 10th to see what left of the team and will I U be the needed 6th victory for the Circus to be Bowl Bound.

  11. Podunker, have you ever had a face to face conversation with Tom Allen, have a chance to meet his wife ? I have had several conversations with Tom Allen over the time that he has lived in Bloomington, as an assistant coach and as head coach and have met and talked to his wife. Tom Allen is a decent man and has family values, I am sorry that his I U Football doesn’t, meet your expectations.

    1. IU South- Good to know that Tom Allen’s private and public persona are the same. Also nice to know he a pleasant wife. But no one questions his character or family. What is questioned is his ability to competently coach the team. Is there another Big Ten football coaching position where being nice insulates you from having to meet expectations? I had hoped after back-to-back bowls under Kevin Wilson that the bar had been raised a little bit higher.

  12. I guess you’ll have to be sorry for me, too, IU South. Low expectations have made IUFB what it is and has always been. I’m with DD (“Allen has been able to recruit though. Hard to tell what he’s selling . . . .”). What has he been selling? My guess is big talk, but the vibe he gives off is Mr. Nice Guy, and we know where nice guys finish. You can still be a decent man and have family values while demanding ruthless preparation and execution. Allen’s goofy, uber-exuberance after routine successful plays is telling, at least to my way of thinking. Three and out for the IUD? Set off some fireworks!!! It’s hard to motivate when everybody gets an attaboy for fastening his chin strap correctly.

  13. I U South, your question raises an interesting issue. But first, let me answer your question. No, I have never met either T.A. or his wife. But I have no doubt that T.A. is a fine man and that his wife is also a wonderful person. I believe they’re both great people. But that is totally irrelevant. My next door neighbor is one of the finest people who has ever walked on this planet, but she is not qualified to be a Big Ten Football coach. And as the evidence mounts, I don’t believe T.A. is either.

    But let’s talk about Bob Knight as a means of contrasting your question and statement about T.A. I met Coach Knight on three separate occasions. I liked him a lot. He was funny and very engaging. But Bob Knight, through much of his career, was not considered by many people outside The Hoosier Nation, to be “a decent man.” And if you ever heard what and how Knight screamed at his players, or if you ever heard one of his players tell you their first-hand accounts of some of his behavior, as I have, it would be impossible for any reasonable person to conclude that Bob Knight was a “decent” man. On the contrary, Bob Knight was often totally indecent and generally not considered to be a nice guy. Nor was he known for having strong family values. But I didn’t care if Bob Knight was a “decent” man with strong family values; I cared about him being an excellent college basketball coach and leading his teams to win basketball games. And by definition, an excellent college coach doesn’t cheat and helps prepare young men/women to succeed as adults in the real world. From what I witnessed, Bob Knight did all that exceptionally well.

    T.A.’s job is to lead IU’s Football team to win games and produce winning seasons. That’s what he gets paid over $2 million per year to do. If he does not do that, he will eventually be terminated, regardless of whether he is a decent man with strong family values. I don’t know Tom Allen personally, and I have nothing against him as a man. I just don’t like the job he’s doing coaching IU Football and I don’t like the outcome of most of the games he has coached at IU.

  14. Po, I also met Bob Knight and his great basketball success helped cover for his behavior. Tom Allen has not finished his second season at I U and I had a chance to talk with parents on I U senior day last year and asked the parents how Allen compared to Wilson and the parents were more supportive of Allen’s approach to their sons. I want to see a winning football program at I U, however I won’t support a win at all costs approach at I U, just look at the Maryland Football Program for what the “hard ass ” approach produces. I U is an renowned academic institution that can’t risk its high standards for the sake of a winning football program run by a win at all cost coach mentality . I don’t know if Tom Allen will ever become your answer or vision of what the I U Football Program needs to become, but another year won’t hurt the cause. We gave the last basketball coach 9 seasons. I am a I U Varsity Club member and football season ticket holder that drives two hours each way to attend the games and I would also like better results for my money and effort to drive to Bloomington for the game, sometimes our family wonders if it would be better to watch the games on TV than make the trip.

  15. “I U is an renowned academic institution that can’t risk its high standards for the sake of a winning football program . . . .” Really? High academic standards sure haven’t stopped Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and a lot of other schools from cranking out winning football teams. Utter nonsense unless you think IU’s academic standards are different from these other renowned academic institutions. Nobody said anything about hiring a “win at all costs mentality.”

  16. There was and is a coach that after 3 seasons many wanted to fire because of barely a first year winning record, and losing records in years two and three. His name is basketball coach K @ Duke

    1. I’m not real clear on your point. Are you saying we should sit back and see how things play out?

      I guess I don’t get the Coach K reference.

  17. Just because one coach in one sport in one era was successful in their third year does not justify a third season for Tom Allen. Just because he’s an amiable guy with a nice family does not justify a third season. But a sizable buyout to an administration that does not value football and has invested the lowest of any Big Ten school to retain competent coaches preordains that we will see a third season of the Tom Allen era- another desk slamming, trashcan kicking, “breakthrough” shouting year.

  18. Wrong. Read. Coach K started his success after 3rd year. He started having success 4th year.
    However, K was head coach at Army (not a big winner) for 5years.

    1. Wrong. Comprehend. Whether he started winning in 3 year or 4 years is not germane. Your example is anecdotal and doesn’t apply.

  19. Davis, my comment on the academic university was in reference to the Maryland Football situation and how the coaching situation caused big problem for University. A point for all to consider, when you “Fire” a coach you have to “Hire” a coach. If you were a coach looking to advance yourself would you consider a program that fired a coach for not winning after two years on the job? Also the old slogan, “Ready, Fire and Aim” might apply to some of the thinking on this site. I would like to read your possible the names of possible Head Coaching replacements for the I U job, that has to be a highly sought position after you dump a coach after two years.

    1. IU South, it’s not MY job to find staff for IU sports programs. There’s a guy for that. People kibbitz here; maybe some of ’em read every scouting magazine and get the latest email updates on who the hot new offensive coordinators (or whatever) are, so let them opine (for whatever its worth), but kibbitzers we are nonetheless. “[H]ow the coaching situation caused big problem for University.” Indeed. Exhibit A was Kevin Wilson, or least it looked like that to the guy who IS responsible for that sort of thing. Was it you that wrote on another post that Glass is too instrumental in raising money for all the other (non-football) aspects of IU sports, massaging the trustees, too political, to get fired? Someone wrote something like that, and I tend to agree. No IU athletic director is judged by how an historically awful football program performs. And that’s the truth.

      1. I looked it up, IU South, and you did write something like that, but did not use “political,” or mention neck rubs for trustees, so I apologize if I gave offense. But successfully balancing all the competing fiefdoms within, and external pressures against, a large organization as these forces have an impact on your sub-organization is what people in Fred Glass-like jobs do (and I think it’s fair to call that “politics”), and that’s how they are judged. You did write “few people are going to get enraged about the football record.” I concur. But please lay off the few people here who ARE enraged about the football record. Even if we are calling for the head of a really nice guy.

  20. I U South, there is a very wide gap between a football coach that can produce winning seasons and a coach who embraces a “win at all costs” approach. You’ve used a classic straw-man argument. Bob Knight was neither a “decent” man with strong family values or a “win at all costs” type of coach. He was something in between. I was not interested in having Bob Knight serve as my spiritual advisor or a babysitter to my children, I wanted him to win basketball games, follow the rules, and graduate his players. I wanted him to produce basketball teams that were fun to watch and create excitement on campus. As long as he wasn’t committing criminal acts or violating rules, I really didn’t care if he was a potty-mouth to his players, assistants and administrators.

    And I’ve said before, it’s not Tom Allen’s fault that he was not ready to be a head football coach in the Big Ten when he got the job. It’s not his fault that he was offered the job. This is all on Fred Glass! And of course a lot of his players say nice things about what a great guy T.A. is! Ironically, most of Bob Knight’s players hated his guts with a passion while they were playing for him. It wasn’t until after they graduated that they began to appreciate the true value of his coaching methods and the toughness he instilled in them. He lead a bunch of them to be national champions, something no one can ever take from them.

    Who do you think is the better coach, Bob Knight or Tom Allen? I’ll take a scoundrel with indecent language and crude methods who wins like Bob Knight, over a really nice family man like Tom Allen any day. But who knows, maybe T.A. will evolve into a really nice family man who can produce winning seasons at IU. I hope he does! But from what I’ve seen this season, that seems to be less and less likely. IU Football is going in the wrong direction.

  21. Everyone needs to revisit how Tom Allen became I U’s Head Football Coach, the first season Tom Allen turning the I U defense around and persons that have knowledge of the I U Football Program were very concerned that Tom would be offered a defensive job at a school that would pay him far more than I U could pay Tom. Then the reports of Wilson’s handling of injured players and the Athletic department wanted to end this reported problem with the handling of the injured players and part way with Wilson. The timing of the coaching was right after the season’s last game, and a bowl game to be played and having a coach on staff to help fill the position, so Allen gets the Head Coach position and is retained and not lost to another university. Maybe Allen got a battlefield promotion and accepted the position. If Tom Allen hadn’t accepted the I U position he would be a defensive coach with a nice salary at some other major football program and not in Bloomington to be dissed on. Po, I don’t have an ax to grind with anyone in the I U Athletic Department, we make our Varsity Club Contributions and buy our I U Football and Men’s Basketball tickets and support I U. The Bob Knight did a lot for I U Basketball and that’s all in the past. we all need to move on, its 2018 and the last national banner was 1987 that’s history. I looking forward to Archie Miller and his chances to hang a new banner and living in the present. I U Football will have to struggle on and somewhere in the future it will have success.

    1. While there are many differences there are some similarities with the Mike Davis hire. It was absolutely a ‘battlefield promotion’ to hand the reins to Davis as most of the staff was gone.

      Then he went to the NCAA title game.

      IU had to hire him. They had to assume he might be a phenom…going to the big game on his first try.

      In retrospect, everyone, including Mike Davis, realized he was in over his head.

      Tom Allen was the latest hot commodity as a DC. As stated above, IU could hire him as HC or offer him a huge salary increase as a DC…something IU has always been loathe to do.

      Had it been as simple as a housecleaning and hiring a new staff we might have a different (albeit underpaid) coach.

  22. A few points: 1) I’m not saying Bob Knight was a bad guy. And I agree that he did a lot of wonderful things for IU. In many ways, he was a great guy, and one of the best coaches of all time, college or pro, regardless of the sport. It’s just that few people would choose the word “decent” in describing Bob Knight, certainly not if you’d ever heard what and how he screamed at his players, or heard the stories they told about their coach’s behavior, which I experienced on more than one occasion.

    2) Before he arrived, IU’s defense had no where to go but up. Yes, I think T.A. deserves credit for making a vast improvement in the performance of IU’s defense, but let’s keep that in perspective. Before he arrived, they were horrible. And two year’s experience as a DC, no matter how good a job you did, does not qualify you to be a head coach in the Big Ten.

    3) Chet, once Glass fired Wilson, it was either promote T.A. or lose him. T.A. was the quick fix to the problem Glass had and he was an inexpensive solution to the problem. Glass didn’t want to have to begin the search for a new head coach, and as he said at the time, he was not confident that he could get anyone better than T.A. to take the job. I remember thinking, our AD has a loser’s attitude and doesn’t even have confidence in his ability to attract a quality coach. So when your AD approaches a problem with such a defeatist attitude, no wonder the program struggles. Something is fundamentally wrong with the collective mindset of IU’s Administration regarding the football program.

    1. Yep. That about sums it up.

      I used to run into Coach Knight on an almost daily basis at the athletic department. He was always pleasant and thoughtful. He knew my name and he remembered the classes I had previously mentioned in conversation. For a kid in 1976 I was in awe.

      Let’s face it. He went off the rails. Perhaps if someone had taken action when he was still a young (but successful) head coach things might have gone differently.

      But, that didn’t happen.

      So it goes.

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