Hoosiers hold on for 34-32 win over Maryland

Tom Allen doesn’t typically talk in such terms.

He’s like a lot of college football coaches, operating in an acute world where all that matters — all that’s discussed — is that week’s game. There’s no looking ahead, there are no macro observations or big picture projections. Just the task at hand.

But this week was different.

Allen walked into Monday morning’s team meeting and didn’t merely discus Saturday’s matchup with Maryland. He talked about bowl eligibility and extending the season into December, winning at least six games and doing things this program seldom does.

“I didn’t really do that last year at this time,” Allen said. “I chose not to. I didn’t want to talk about going to bowl games, but I just said, you know what, forget all that, I’m talking about bowl games. Because they’re big.”

Saturday’s 34-32 victory over Maryland at chilly Memorial Stadium was the next step toward getting to one. The Hoosiers (5-5, 2-5) still need one more win to clinch a trip, with remaining games at No. 4 Michigan and an Old Oaken Bucket rematch at home with Purdue still on deck.

Nothing, of course, is easy to project with this IU team — especially after it played so unevenly throughout the course of its win over the Terrapins. But Saturday ensured that the Hoosiers will continue on to the regular season’s final stretch with something more than a rivalry trophy to play for.

“We talked very openly to our team about what was at stake,” Allen said. “… We have been to 11 (bowl games) in this program’s history, and so our objective is to get to No. 12. So I’m going to call it what it is.

“I’m going to call these guys out on it and say that’s what we’re playing for. So bottom line was that’s how we approached our team meeting on Monday morning, and that’s how I set the tone.”

That Allen even felt the need to stray from his normal course of operation and broach the subject of bowl games suggests this team needed a kick.

It’s understandable, given that the Hoosiers entered Saturday’s game on a four-game losing skid. In other words, they hadn’t experienced the crest of victory since a topsy-turvy road win at Rutgers on Sept. 29.

“You’ve just got to be blunt sometimes,” receiver Nick Westbrook said. “… You have to just understand what we’re playing for, fighting to have one more month with each other, practicing and being a family and just developing as a team. He definitely laid it out there.”

Maybe Allen had no choice.

After all, this is an Indiana team that hasn’t consistently handled games such as Saturday’s with urgency. The Hoosiers have struggled to beat teams with comparable talent in recent years, like last season’s losses to Maryland and Purdue, and this season’s defeats against Michigan State and Minnesota, among others.

“I think last year, there were so many opportunities for us to win games down the stretch,” quarterback Peyton Ramsey said. “We were in so many close games, as we (have been) this year. I think when you have that motivation throughout the course of a week of practice, I think preparation is a little bit better. … We know we’re all in this together. When the coaches openly verbalize their want and their will to get to a bowl game, it makes it infectious throughout the team.”

All three phases, while at times hit-and-miss, had a hand in Saturday’s victory.

The Hoosiers produced four takeaways, scored 17 points off those turnovers and produced the kinds of explosive plays this team needs to win games against Big Ten competition.

Yet, it was also the kind of performance that feeds doubts over whether Indiana is composed and consistent enough to topple its two remaining opponents.

After going ahead 31-15 midway through the third quarter, Indiana yielded 17 straight points to Maryland, which took a one-point lead on Jeshaun Jones’ 15-yard touchdown with five minutes left in regulation.

Jones never should’ve scored on the play, but linebacker TD Roof and corner Andre Brown both missed tackles to bring him down at the 5.

Indiana’s offense moved quickly after the score, advancing as far as the Maryland 24 after a 27-yard run by Stevie Scott. That set up Logan Justus’ 42-yard field goal, which proved to be the game-winner. But there were still more than two minutes left on the clock when the kick passed through the uprights, giving Maryland plenty of time to answer.

The Terps marched as far as the IU 48-yard line. There, the Hoosiers pressured Maryland backup quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome, who replaced injured starter Kasim Hill during the second quarter. With less than a minute remaining in regulation, Pigrome took the shotgun snap and saw nothing downfield. As he started his scramble, Roof forced him left — square into the pursuit of defensive tackle Kayton Samuels.

Samuels swatted at the ball and knocked it loose for defensive end Nile Sykes, who pounced on the loose ball for the takeaway and the game-saving play.

“I just saw the ball come out, I scooped it up and everybody was jumping around celebrating,” Sykes said. “Once I got to the sideline, I was messing with him, joking around, telling him he was the reason why (we won).”

Indeed, that Maryland fumble was the reason Indiana could chalk this one up as a victory and, at least partially, move on from the many lapses inside of the game.

The Terps tallied 542 total yards, including 353 on the ground.

“We chose to go with a plan to play a lot of zone and to keep everything in front of us,” Allen said. “It led to some more yards than you want to give up, more time of possession than you want to give up, but because of that it was really critical for our offense to score touchdowns.”

The offense followed through, getting aggressive with the kinds of downfield throws the Hoosiers have seemed unwilling or unable to make throughout the year.

The Hoosiers finished with eight explosive plays, including five passes of at least 15 yards and three runs of at least 15 yards. Three of those chunk gains went for touchdowns — Ramsey’s 35-yard juke-and-dash in the second quarter, his 37-yard dart to Donavan Hale and Nick Westbrook’s athletic, 19-yard grab in the third quarter.

Altogether, those plays and more helped Indiana answer Allen’s call and keep that elusive sixth victory within reach.

“We knew what we had to do,” Hale said. “We are pretty good at digging ourselves into holes. So we just had to climb up out of it this time.”

44 comments

  1. Given that Maryland came all the way back from a 31 – 15 deficit in the second half and scored 17 unanswered points, it looks like IU’s coaches and players still don’t understand what T.A. means by “finish”! Because in spite of the, getting the win, that’s not how you finish a team when you’re that far ahead in the second half. Did they take their foot off the gas and start trying to burn clock too soon? Did they think Maryland was whipped and didn’t want to run up the score? Did T.A. empty the bench too soon? How does a team give up a lead like that on their home field?

    We were fortunate that the Maryland player fumbled. Otherwise, this might have been the first nail in T.A.’s head-coaching coffin.

    1. PO, people seem to ignore MD has had top 25 recruiting classes the last three years so their talent exceeds their play. Much of the problem with tackling today was due to the speed of MD’s players which is why coach Allen is focusing on recruiting more speed at IU.

      The idea that IUFB is going downhill is a perception not based on facts. Look t coach Wilson’s offenses without Sudfeld in 2014 and 2016. Also look at the wins those seasons realizing the wins against PU came before Brohm was their coach and PU was terrible. IU under coach Allen has won a minimum of 5 games [at worst one game less than 2016 and 2015]. I am willing to wait for this staff to bring their own players in to fill the roster before deciding if they have what it takes or not. If PU plays like they have today then IU will win 6 and go bowling this year. I have no idea how PU will play the final two games this year but they are stinking up the field that IU cought back to have a chance to win.

  2. I once knew an ex-coach turned fisherman from Nantucket…
    Coached IU Football without much luck at it,
    Secured another lackluster year in an Old Oaken Bucket,
    Basketball kicked in, and to football all Hoosiers yelled ____ it.

  3. Ramsey effectively went downfield. Plus IU played with authority scoring tds (not hesitant). Then, again just a little bit of hesitation execution having confidence going downfield to keep running game going towards later in game almost cost them again. Keep going downfield gain confidence to allow running game to operate.

    1. IU has 5 wins and plays Purdue in Bloomington for W #6! Play hard vs MI, but rest any players during that game that you can. The season comes down to BeatPurdue in Bloomington! Do it IU! Then exhale and prepare for the Bowl Game! The future can be NOW!

  4. Nobody would be happier if IU were to beat Purdue. Since the game is in B-town (although I’m not sure that’s an advantage anymore), since it is a rivalry game, and since it will determine if IU plays 13, we have a chance to beat Purdue for a 6 – 6 season. I’d take that.

    1. Purdue playing in West Lafayette is a considerable advantage for Purdue! So playingbin Bloomington is an advantage for IU. The games I have attended, all in the alum section, show great spirit! BeatPurdue!

  5. TA is not going anywhere. He is winning at a 5 game per year clip. Another win or two per year and a couple 7or 8 + season wins in the future he will become a legend at IU.

  6. Its notable that Oklahoma and particularly Minnesota weren’t afraid to dump DC’s during season. The Gophers looked liked MSU on defense vs P Saturday. Even Allen said he’s been frustrated by team not throwing deeper patterns. Well. TA you might look to do something about that! Hint! While he’s at it, he might want to have some remedial sessions on tackleing.

    1. Indeed. In college ball, players can’t be fired, but coaches can. Two weeks ago Minn. gave up fifty-five to U. Ill, but the DC gets canned and the following week holds the Under-skin Pus Collections to ten. Yeah, the Boils offense may have just had a bad week, but I did wonder: Did the Gopher D squad have a twinge of conscience about costing a grown man his job? Felt guilty and played hard to purge the shame? Or maybe they had come to hate the guy and were so happy that he was gone they played with joyful spirit? Whatever it was, I can’t imagine that the DLine coach now promoted to temporary DC found some magic formula yesterday.

  7. Oklahoma’s defense sure was stellar against Okie State, giving up a 47 (should’ve been 49) points and a ton of yards. The week before: gave up 46 points to Texas Tech. And one good game for Minny does not provide enough of a sample size to know how they are going to do. Mid-season fixes may or may not work….. A lot of it depends on what is going on behind the curtain, especially with morale. The head coaches at those two programs obviously felt a huge need to shake it up. In my humble opinion (which doesn’t mean jack, but I’m putting it out there), IU is better to have stuck with their offensive coordinator De-Bored, who I do NOT approve of….. Who would’ve taken over? Hart? Moreover, IU’s woes are not simply on the offensive side of the ball. Poor defense and horrible special teams were major factors in the losses to Mich St., Penn St., and Minnesota. Also: if TA doesn’t approve of the play calling, then he should veto calls and insert ones he would like to see. HE’S the head coach for crying out loud! The buck stops with him. It’s not as though he doesn’t know IU’s playbook. This season has been what is has been. I sure as heck hope TA cleans house and hires a new OC AND a DC in the off season. Being a head coach and DC is just plain stupid, especially for someone who is new at being the head honcho.

    1. Indeed again. Who would take over for Debord? But it shouldn’t be that hard to replace a special teams coach; some good assistant is sitting home somewhere or would take an instant,big raise from MAC or similar pay levels to show up in Bloomington tomorrow. But TA certainly has to know that his staff is a disaster right now- and I would hope that such realization includes himself as dual DC/HC. If he’s not mature enough (if that’s the right word) to realize he’s gotta give up being the DC to be the head honcho, or just can’t imagine that anyone else could do as good a job as him as a DC, then he’s not HC material.

  8. OkieHoosier, I see that you agree with many others about our pathetic offensive coordinator! I have said all year long that DeBoard has got to go! He cost us 3 times this year in his conservative play calling with wanting to run the ball when we are struggling running. I listened to Allen’s postgame interview on the radio and he even stated that the conservative play calling on the last drive before the field goal bothered him! I was sitting in my car listening to the game and on that last drive I was yelling “Don’t settle for a plus 40 yard field goal!” Now I realize they got it but, the 3 consecutive runs prior to the field goal just burns my ass, not even trying to go for a TD! This is not the first time this year (Minnesota) that this has occurred. And that decision in that game cost them big time!! That decision in that game will probably cost us the opportunity to play 13. I can see no way we will beat PU, as someone stated earlier, there will undoubtedly be more PU fans that IU fans in the seats! Yesterday’s attendance in a “must win” game was weak at best. I certainly don’t see any “home field advantage” in that game. If CTA wants to maintain his job, he needs to find a new offensive coordinator!

  9. Very interesting listening to Mike Miller & Jeremy discuss IU”s reluctance to throw the ball down field and settle for running in their “Scoop talk” after the game post. referring to the Minnesota game and wondering why we ‘just discovered” that we have big wide receivers that can stretch the field?? Their observations are like many others questioning our play calling? Who knew we had big guys that could catch the ball?? Oh my……….

  10. You know FFI (Functional Football Illiteracy) is a terrible malady affecting certain quarters of this forum. Maybe Doctor V13, or some of the rest can take upon themselves to treat such problems. When one looks at a weak armed QB with less than B1G caliber skills and blames the OC for not throwing downfield or opening up the offense more often, FFI might be the diagnosis. Yes, this week the QB managed to get a few downfield “jump balls,” to work, but that’s not exactly throwing it over the D’s head. You can’t blame a tough and good QB for doing the best he can with the skills he has, but you neither can you blame the OC for the QB not having any more skills than he has unless you have FFI.

    IUFB has played in 6 games it should have won and managed to get 5 of them. Maryland’s D while holding a rather lofty ranking so far has yet to play 2 of the 3 toughest teams on it’s schedule, OSU and PSU. Don’t expect their D to look so good afterwards. As for Maryland, the UT win is no wonder, the Big 12 never met a defense it could play. Not to mention it was the first game of the year and Maryland was still playing with their QB starter.

    Gang, DeBord is not the greatest OC out there, but he is what IU could get. Unless he was solely responsible for the decision to go with PR from the beginning over MP, then he is getting a bum rap. I will repeat again, ad nauseam, if you didn’t see the first half of the PSU game with MP at the controls then you wouldn’t know the major transformation the O made. If you did see it and still want to blame the OC, then you may have FFI.

  11. thinkaboutit, you are missing the point, not saying they have to go deep every time the qb drops back. Just a dink every now and then for a first down to move the chains would get the job done. Three straight running plays to settle for a plus 40 yard field goal worked yesterday…surprisingly? Point is, quit playing not to lose and play to win!! A couple of games this year were within reach with a little offensive imagination instead of attempted 3 yards and a cloud of dust……..

    1. MC,
      I understand your frustration, but remember Wilson’s comment. Didn’t particularly like some of the things he did, but he was right when he said, “you can’t call what you can’t block.” The same thing holds true now, you can’t call what you can’t execute with a reasonable amount of confidence. The problem with PR, as good a kid as he is, is there is not fear of him going downfield successfully on a regular basis. Therefore the D does not have to respect that capability, and that makes all the difference it what you can and cannot call offensively in any situation.

      The rare times PR has been able to go downfield successfully have not been due to him being able to get the ball over the secondary’s heads. It has been due either to a jump ball situation with IU’s big receivers or a secondary break down. The probabilities of either situations presenting themselves on a consistent basis are not high. Oddly enough, I believe TA made the right call on this one. Fortunately his trust in his defense was proven correct this time.

      The IU D is taking their lumps this year, but next year the experience they are gaining will be very helpful. Especially if TA doesn’t mess up again on the starting QB. Got to go with the B1G talent, PR will make a great backup and future HC/OC somewhere if want to go that route.

      1. PR threw a couple perfect touch passes downfield in key situations. He dropped the ball right into the hands of a running receiver just inches above the defenders hands. He also tossed a perfect strike for a score to a receiver running out of the end zone with zero margin for error. Those were no jump balls.

        Let’s not act like that didn’t happen

      2. I don’t know what you’re not seeing but my eyes have seen some very nice passes completed this season for more than 25 30 yards. Those are considered down the field and some of them were touchdowns. Don’t forget Ramsey threw them. PR isn’t at fault a lackluster OC is.

  12. So many blame the OC for lack of deep passes but I am not sure it isn’t more a decision that Ramsey was making. Now running the same running play three times in a row is different. Ramsey was checking down too fast instead of putting the ball downfield in good situations. In this past game one that really stood out was the check down while Harris was wide open over the middle. If you look at the PSU game when Penix was in the ball was thrown up the field despite ont connecting on them. The OC was the same but the QB and his mindset was different. This next Fall I hope Penix really shows the difference between him and Ramsey. I hope our two redshirt Juniors WRs come back next year to have Penix throwing them the ball and really opening up eyes about what they can do.

  13. IU pays DeBord a competitive compensation package. I’m sure, based on that amount of money, they can attract another quality OC from a mid-major program or find another re-tread. But is there anyone on DeBord’s offensive staff that is ready to step up and take over as OC if/when DeBord retires/is fired? Is DeBord mentoring his assistants? We have a young and relatively inexperienced QB coach. We have a RB coach who is a candidate for some big national honor and has done a very good job both in recruiting and coaching IU’s running backs.

    I’d like to see IU promote from within whenever possible. That’s the sign of a solid program, and it avoids the disruption associated with new Coordinators bringing in different philosophies and communication styles.

    As for the “is it DeBord or is it Ramsey” debate (the chicken or the egg), I’d say it is a little of both. If Ramsey was the guy who had all the tools, T.A. would not have put such effort into recruiting a grad-transfer last spring. Ramsey clearly does not have great arm strength. He’s accurate on short passes, has average running ability for a QB, but no defense fears Ramsey’s arm strength or deep passing ability. No defense fears Ramsey’s talent.

    DeBord’s play calls can be maddening at times. He’s clearly conservative and risk averse. One thing is for certain, he has wasted some excellent receiving talent this season. I think DeBord’s philosophy this season was based on the assumption that IU’s defense was going to be much better, therefore the offense’s job was to “not lose” games. Well, IU’s defense has not been as strong as anticipated, and DeBord has not seemed able to make the adjustment and implement more dynamic, aggressive offensive schemes.

    IU will keep T.A. for at least another year. Yesterday’s win assured that. But T.A. had better make a quantum leap through his learning curve if he wants his program to break through in 2019 and therefor keep his job beyond next season. IU simply can’t continue to produce losing seasons in football. We’ve already lost an entire generation of fans, students and alumni.

    1. Is Mike Hart the next OC? Very interesting question. Hart will likely be getting some offers from bigger programs but to what capacity, I do not know. Unless Hart is promoted in the off-season, I’d bet his days in Bloomington are coming to an end.

      1. fishspinners- I was thing the same thing about Hart. The problem is, he played for DeBord at Michigan. Don’t see him taking the OC job here over his old coach. Difficult situation.

    2. “I think DeBord’s philosophy this season was based on the assumption that IU’s defense was going to be much better, therefore the offense’s job was to “not lose” games. Well, IU’s defense has not been as strong as anticipated, and DeBord has not seemed able to make the adjustment and implement more dynamic, aggressive offensive schemes.” Good insight, especially the adjustment part.

  14. FFI ALERT!!!!
    Gang, Coach/Doctor V13 tried to administer some FB literacy to the thread but unfortunately the ravages of FFI (Functional Football Illiteracy) continue. IU was very fortunate to come out of the Maryland game with a W. Lots of things went right to offset the lots of things going wrong. Everyone knew the D was going to be suspect this year due to all the losses from last year’s team. So there can’t be any assumptions of the OC thinking the D would be stronger.

    As for the offense being able to be more explosive with Maryland, let’s wait and see how their D does with the last two opponents of their season, OSU & PSU. Right now their seasonal D numbers look pretty good nationally, but they haven’t played 2 of their 3 toughest B1G east rivals. If I am correct, IU was playing a Maryland defense not much better than the other 4 defenses resulting in W’s for 2018. PR had a good game taking what the Maryland defense gave him, but not every defense will allow that. Anyone remember the Iowa game?

    Biggest thing to be concerned about with UM this week is the injury report, especially for the O, coming out of the game. The dink and dunk with DT QB attack opens up both your receivers and your QB for injury. Remember you are playing the #1 defense in the country right now, and if they have no fear of your QB’s arm, it will show up quickly in how they defense you.

    1. v-13 is DA MAN!….though he still hasn’t admitted to the more athletic Penix being too frail to sustain an entire season in the brutal temps and brutal division of our BigTen East.

      There’s a reason Allen/De-Smorgas-Bord were limiting his play. Once I got a decent camera shot depicting the young man’s actual physique, it became rather obvious. He’s thinner and less muscular than Zander….Most of us agreed to the dangers Zander was narrowly escaping. Zander realized and thus retired from football.

      Penix needs another year to get his body ready…As was noted above(teams Maryland has yet to face), judgments about this conference don’t mean a hell of a lot until you go against the upper tier. The explosiveness, size, athleticism increases exponentially …A frail qb is in far more danger once those truly BigTen worthy opponents are busting through our line.

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