Hoosiers can’t complete comeback, fall 38-31

MINNEAPOLIS — Indiana’s worst performance of the season was briefly interrupted by an unforeseen comeback.

Ultimately, Friday’s game at Minnesota ended much like it started.

Poorly.

IU scored 22 straight points during a frenetic fourth-quarter rally and forced a tie with four minutes remaining. But Gophers receiver Rashon Bateman beat Hoosier safety Juwan Burgess on a double move in the waning moments, racing 67 yards for the game-winning score in Minnesota’s 38-31 victory over Indiana on a rainy night at TCF Bank Stadium.

“This one really hurts,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “Really proud of our guys for battling back and overcoming a big deficit that we created.”

Even so, the late comeback wasn’t enough to overshadow what was, in sum, an ugly effort by Indiana (4-5, 1-5).

While the Hoosiers’ offense squandered prosperity throughout the first half, their defense mostly disappointed from start to finish. In a hugely-important game for Indiana’s postseason chances, IU failed to rise to the moment and prove itself worthy of even being in the conversation for a bowl berth.

IU’s hopes remain alive with two wins needed across the final three games. But if Indiana couldn’t handle a middling, reeling Minnesota program, one that committed four turnovers and begged IU to steal a win from its grasp, it’s not really clear where those two wins will come from.

The Hoosiers have a long-awaited bye next weekend before closing the regular season with home games against Maryland and Purdue sandwiched around a trip to Michigan.

For three quarters, this may have been the worst all-around effort by an Indiana team in Allen’s two seasons at the helm. The Hoosiers couldn’t cover a Minnesota offense that was led by its backup quarterback, getting exposed all night on routine slant routes that went for chunk gains.

While IU’s offense settled for a series of three early field goals by Logan Justus, Minnesota’s offense hummed. The Gophers didn’t have to punt for the first time until the end of the third quarter.

Minnesota largely took what it wanted, particularly over the middle, and used a 99-yard scoring drive at the end of the first half to build a 21-9 lead by halftime.

Although it was merely a two-possession deficit, the gulf between the two teams felt much wider.

“Defensively, we didn’t play well overall,” Allen said. “Had some of our better players who I didn’t feel like played well today and lost several, which is unfortunate, then had to go with several young guys at the end. Bottom line is guys got to step up and make plays.”

Minnesota backup quarterback Tanner Morgan did.

He helped the Gophers out-gain the Hoosiers 482-385, with the home team averaging 7.5 yards per play.

Morgan, filling in for injured starter Zack Annexstad, completed 17 of his 24 passes for 302 yards, and he threw a pair of touchdown passes to top receiver Tyler Johnson, who frustrated IU defensive backs all night.

For the Hoosiers, defending slants and posts were a problem they struggled to solve altogether.

“They hit some of those slant routes off the RPO runs,” Allen said. “We knew that’s what they do, so we worked a lot on different things to throw at them. We were losing the one-on-ones, which is frustrating because that’s the fundamentals of how you defend that.”

After an IU punt by Haydon Whitehead pinned Minnesota at its 1-yard line late in the first half, Johnson helped the Gophers quickly return to Hoosier territory. He slipped through coverage on another slant, running 52 yards to the IU 45. Six plays later, he was in the end zone on an 18-yard reception that gave Minnesota all the momentum entering the intermission.

After Minnesota opened the second half with a field goal, going ahead 24-9, Indiana went three-and-out and had the ensuing punt blocked. It turned into a quick 3-play, 28-yard scoring drive for the Gophers, who opened a 22-point lead.

Then, Indiana showed some life.

Back-to-back touchdown passes by Peyton Ramsey — a 43-yard strike to Donavan Hale and a 37-yard connection with Ty Fryfogle — cut IU’s deficit to 31-23 with 10 minutes remaining in regulation.

“I just think we started completing passes and saw the chains moving,” Ramsey said. “That first one to Donavan kind of got everything rolling. From there, we didn’t look back. We knew we needed touchdowns.”

Altogether, Indiana produced three touchdowns during the fourth quarter, with Ramsey completing 11 of his 16 throws in that span. Ramsey helped IU to its third score of the period with a key 29-yard run on fourth-and-nine at the Minnesota 32. That allowed Stevie Scott to punch it in from three yards out on the following snap.

“At first, I didn’t see how much green grass was down there,” Ramsey said. “I had my eyes downfield. As soon as I got out of the pocket, it was a no-brainer to take off and run and try to score a touchdown.”

Indiana got the ball back with 3:25 to go, but three straight runs went nowhere. Scott gained seven on the first play of the drive, then picked up two more to set up third-and-one.

On that pivotal play, he was knocked back for a loss of two and the Hoosiers paid the price for going conservative.

“Our offensive coaches felt like our offensive line could get us a first down, as well as we were running the ball,” Allen said. “You’re kind of dealing with the clock and you want to take the ball down and get that last possession and kick the field goal and go win the game.

“Obviously, because it didn’t work, it doesn’t look like a very good idea. But had it worked and had we run the ball like we ran the ball most of the game, you feel like you’re doing the right thing. I understand why it would be second-guessed.”

On the first play of the ensuing drive, Morgan found Bateman with a step on Burgess for the game-winning score.

The comeback went for naught, spoiled by one more breakdown in an evening full of them.

“That’s part of the growth process for some of these young guys,” Allen said.

But right now, with Indiana entering the bye with four straight losses, it’s hard to see that growth taking hold at all.

19 comments

  1. Second week in a row that an opponent served up a win on a silver platter by their poor play. Yet we are so completely incompetent that we just can’t capitalize. We had all the momentum in the world, but you knew we’d find a way to fail. Take advantage of good fortune that the opposition gift wraps you the last two weeks and you’d have 6 wins. Sure we’d be the worst 6 win team in the the country, but at least we wouldn’t be completely inept. Alas…

  2. Uh, IU defense, you Shouldn’t let receivers run behind you when the game is up for grabs. You’re welcome.

  3. If Tom Allen doesn’t clean house this upcoming off season (which will begin after Purdue annihilates IU) and hire bonafide coordinators on both sides of the ball, and a bonafide special teams coach, he deserves to be fired. IU is a BigTen big zero in all three facets of the game. His team gives Penn State a game, albeit a sloppy one, and then a week later doesn’t show up for a must win against Minnesota? To be lousy in offense, defense, and special teams is endemic of problems throughout the entire coaching staff. It all starts with the coach at the top. Coach TA needs to get his act together. He not only needs to hold himself accountable, he should be pounding on the desk of Mr. Glass on Monday morning demanding a budget for a decent coaching staff. The state of IU football continues to be a sub-par joke in the BigTen. With the state of the art facilities IU has along with the BigTen television revenues, the status of the football is sad and unacceptable. No wonder IU has fair weather fans who leave the home games. Why stay for more of the same ol’ results? Yet another disheartening year of IU football.

    1. Okie, Exactly!
      So far, I have yet to hear TA take direct responsibility for this regressing, porous defense. After this Minny meltdown, he’s probably scared to go near the AD’s office.

      As for 6 wins, these people are beyond polyannas. IU had its signature win, Virginia. Maryland will win by 18, Michigan by 27 and Purdue by 35.

  4. Why is everyone giving T.A, a pass? Time to fire the Glass and the entire football coaching staff and start over. This was a pathetic performance, and there are no excuses.

  5. Anyone think there is improvement over last year? If the B1G West is inferior to the East then Allen and staff just got out classed by a West bottom feeder. During any game and the team needs solid coaching it gets impersonators in IU attire. So many players delivering negative results through performances of lower quality than from a year ago. …and people on here bitch about IUFB fans…

  6. The problems were visible last year and have gotten much more glaring. The lowest paid coaching staff in the Big 10 has again performed like the lowest paid coaching staff in the Big 10. Real breakthroughs will only happen with a competent head coach and staff.

  7. Lets see, 55 years an IU fan and this is what I get? Same ol, same ol, again and again they rip your hear out. It never gets better. OKieHoosier is right on, everything he said is accurate! AD Glass has got to offer a big name coach enough money to get here and turn this thing around. Continuing to hire coordinators to the head coaching job is obviously not working! if the IU administration wants to have a competitive football team they must throw money at a “Big time coach” who people have heard of. Its great that we have poured all this money into Memorial Stadium to make it look like an actual football stadium but, actually paying a competitive salary for a big time football coaching staff would probably reap actual results. CTA is not the answer and that group of assistants is pathetic to say the least! DeBord’s play calling this year when the game is on the line is so conservative it is pathetic! When we got the ball back after tying the score with a little over 3 minutes to go was Woody Hayes like (three yards and a cloud of dust), how did that work out, three and out, I was throwing things at my TV set. He has had the same type of play calling in two other winnable games this year, Good grief!!
    We go to Minnesota who is obviously the worst team in the conference (Rutgers?), and we make them look like an offensive power house! Outgained 482 yards to 385? Their offense averaged 7.5 yards a play. They did not punt until late in the 3rd quarter. Oh yes, and our head coach is our defensive coordinator? Three trips into the “red zone” in the first half and we have 3 field goals to show for it, they have three touch downs to show for their “red zone” efforts, that’s all you need to know! Oh, one other thing, their QB was a red shirt freshman who was starting his first game? We made him look like Dan Marino.
    It’s time for Fred Glass to put his big boy pants on and hire a real coaching staff. And one other thing, I was waiting for CTA to say in his post game about how proud he was of the guys come back after being down so far, it would have made me want to puke!

  8. TA has won 2 big ten games during his tenure. If not for Rutgers, we would be 0-for. This team has some pieces but the coaching at all levels needs to go. TA is a defensive coordinator. He is good at that but not more than that. The real issue is that when we had some momentum, they fired Wilson over player mistreatment and then quickly promoted Allen to head coach. Then they lose to Utah in Bowl game. Since that moment we really haven’t had much on field success. We have picked up better recruits but they still aren’t being coached up.

    I really believe they need to start over and it needs to begin with Glass. He needs to take ownership of this mess and realize that he needs to take another role within the university. They need to hire someone like a Barry Alverez that can build a program. They need to hire a proven coach and very seasoned coordinators. I think they should keep tom Allen as director of recruiting to keep the pipeline going in Florida. It needs to be a whole culture change instead of just improving facilities and hope it will change. Otherwise, this will never happen and we will keep agonizing over this broken program. We are not close like some posters continue to state. That big breakthrough is a broken promise.

  9. One other thing, I agree with Jeff H, CTA has done a nice recruiting job while he has been here. We have three 4 star recruits that have verbally committed so far this year with a couple of more 4 stars from within the state considering us but, after last nights performance, I could see those kids possibly de-committing before to long. What kid in their right mind would want to come here after last nights debacle? The point is, we NEVER get 4 star recruits to even consider IU let alone commit? I don’t see us winning another game this year. Come of Fred, pour some money into coaching salaries and get us a real coaching staff!!!

  10. I agree with the above posts, Fred Glass won’t make a major move, he’s looking at the Maryland Football mess and he realizes I U doesn’t have a toxic situation with Tom Allen. Allen may be forced to cut some of the present staff to be able to promote the new slogan, “Next season we will be better”. The only way the I U Athletic Department will make a major move happens when the fan support demands it. The I U Football program has already drained the big money from the big donors for their new South End Zone and the new locker room so the football has all their goodies. Men’s basketball better come through in a big way to keep the donor fans satisfied for this year.

  11. Fred Glass is the disease, Tom Allen is just a symptom. That old saying “you get what you pay for” has been proven true for IU Football. Fred Glass must be fired and a person who knows football must be hired to take his place. And if Glass is not fired this year, McRobbie and/or the Board of Trustees is telling The Hoosier Nation, “we don’t really care about the football program.” No other AD in any power-five conference school in the country would still have their job after overseeing/creating the debacle that is IU Football. 11 consecutive losing seasons on Fred’s watch. There are no excuses.

  12. Fred Glass isn’t going to be fired,he has the political connections and raises big money for I U. The football program has been a loser for so long, that few people are going to get enraged about the football record. I U has soccer for its fall season team and what will be an improved women’s volleyball playing in a new arena next season that Fred Glass helped got the funding for and Fred’s hire of the new volleyball coach will keep the fans at bay. Also, the women’s basketball is on an up tick and then there’s the most important jewel men’s basketball with Fred’s hire of Archie Miller and major improvement for the future. Po, I don’t think your friend Fred is going away because of a losing I U Football program. Maybe I U can schedule a football game with Kansas another school with a losing football tradition, that is big time men’s basketball school.

  13. Just a dumpster fire.

    The only things to hang his hat on is the recruiting appears improved and every other new coach bombed too.

    No excuse. The Hoosiers have better players than in the past but, as a team, they are a clown car.

  14. Today I met up with a friend who played DI football at the University of Miami under Butch Davis in the mid-late 90s. I asked him who he would point the finger at when IU lays an egg like it did against Minnesota. He said unless the team was simply out-manned, which in my opinion it wasn’t (Minnesota? Seriously?), it’s on the head coach. The HC oversees everything. He said the coach may have over-worked the players during the practice week; “smoked them” as he put it. If not, he just did a poor job of getting them ready to play. As my bud put it, no one knows what Tom Allen is like behind the scenes. The players might hate him; he might be a raving lunatic. My friend was also recruited by Lou Holtz when he was coach at Notre Dame. He said Holtz was one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, but inside the lines at practice, he was a complete and merciless tyrant. I also brought up how IU seems to play up to the good teams (Ohio State, Penn State), and down to the low teams (Rutgers, Minnesota). Without hesitation, he said that’s on the head coach. Also, he pointed out that being a head coach and defensive coordinator will not work. Those are both full time positions, with neither job being something one can do 50% of the time. I like Tom Allen’s public persona, even though he doesn’t use pronouns when he speaks. He seems genuine, and I think he really cares about the state of Indiana and IU. He also seems to be a pretty fair recruiter at this point. I’ll give TA the benefit of the doubt, but he darn well better right the ship pronto, especially if he’s still calling the shots next year. And as I wrote earlier, hire some decent coaches for both coordinator positions and special teams. IU football does hold promise and can rise above it’s seemingly terminal fair to mediocre at best status. Hopefully TA is the man for the job. Unless there is serious dissension among the ranks or player abuse, Glass is obviously not going to cut bait after this season. Time will tell…..

  15. Okie. That is pretty good insight from a top notch program former player on the position of HC. To me, what is utterly frustrating this year is that we have better players but our results keep dropping off.

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