Hoosiers shoot for consistency heading into UMD

Flipping through the stats after a 35-0 win over Rutgers, Indiana defensive coordinator Kane Wommack definitely noticed the Scarlet Knights’ one passing yard.

It’s an astoundingly small number. Another former D-coordinator, Wommack’s father, Dave, tried to dissect that measly 1 just a little bit more as he visited with his son postgame.

“I guess he figured out that it’s something like 3.6 inches per pass,” Wommack said. “Anytime you can measure passing yards in inches, it’s probably a pretty good day in the passing game.”

The returns from a dominating win were overwhelmingly positive, which made looking back Monday a somewhat lighter exercise. Wommack quipped about challenging secondary coaches Brandon Shelby and Kasey Teegardin to keep opponents’ passing production at this level for the rest of the season.

But in all seriousness, the question coming out of Rutgers and leading into a road trip to Maryland is whether the Hoosiers can maintain a level of consistency. Particularly on the defensive side of the ball, they have allowed just three points in their last three wins, but Ohio State and Michigan State combined to produce 91 points in IU’s losses.

Maryland (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) has been especially mercurial, producing an average of 63.3 points per game in wins and 10.3 in defeats. That explosive potential isn’t lost on the Hoosiers.

“Just an unbelievably athletic football team that we’re about to play in all phases,” IU coach Tom Allen said, “and speed everywhere on the field.”

The discipline of IU’s defense will be tested, especially if the Terrapins continue to start quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome, who replaced injured starter Josh Jackson and rushed for 107 yards versus Purdue.

The Terrapins also have a trio of running backs, Javon Leake (341 yards), Anthony McFarland (340), and Tayon Fleet-Davis (186).

“All three of those guys are very explosive running backs who have shown they will create big plays in games if you misfit some things,” Wommack said.

Against Rutgers, the Hoosiers were sound. Wommack challenged his group to come away with eight “game-changers” during the contest, which includes three-and-outs, fourth-down stops, sacks, and takeaways. IU ended up with 16 such plays.

The first game-changer came on the very first play, a strip-sack by Demarcus Elliott and a scoop and a score by Reakwon Jones.

“I thought our guys did a really good job over the bye week and then getting ready this past week to execute at a high level to start the game,” Wommack said.

Now the Hoosiers have to do it again. It’s no secret how crucial this stretch is to the Hoosiers’ postseason aspirations. They can’t allow their momentum to be broken in College Park, Md., especially with winnable games against Nebraska (4-3) and Northwestern (1-4) looming.

Allen evoked the phrase “flush it” Monday, similar to the language he used coming out of a lopsided loss to Ohio State. Only this time, it’s about moving on in search of a similar result.

“Got to flush it and go do it again,” Allen said. “It’s very critical that we get a second one in conference in a row and try to get a third one. That’s just the progression you go through.”

Riggins out

Allen announced Monday that senior corner A’Shon Riggins is done for the season.

Riggins started five games in 2018 but just couldn’t get healthy this season.

“Just had a lot of injuries that have mounted for him. He’s an awesome young man,” Allen said. “He and I sat down and had a real heart-to-heart about it, and he’s going to continue to help the program and be with us.

“He won’t be playing anymore because of the medical situation, but he’ll graduate and just a guy that I have a lot of respect for and we’ve had a lot of goods times to really connect.”

While the Hoosiers lose some experience with Riggins, they do have depth behind veterans Andre Brown, a senior, and Raheem Layne, a junior. Sophomores Jaylin Williams and Reese Taylor, along with freshman Tiawan Mullen, will continue to see increased snaps.

Taylor, in particular, returned versus Rutgers after sitting out the Michigan State game. He was named IU’s special teams player of the week for making two tackles on one kickoff. His first tackle was voided by an offsides call. He just ran down and made the tackle again.

“I did not think he was ahead of the other guys,” Allen said after reviewing the film. “But they called it. You can’t complain about it. So he came back, jogged back and, boom, came back and made the tackle again.

“His confidence is growing.”

With the departure of Riggins, the Hoosiers have lost three players in recent days. Redshirt junior running back Cole Gest entered his name in the transfer portal, and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Juan Harris has left the team.

The defensive tackle spot has been a position with less depth, but Wommack has been encouraged by the progress of freshman Sio Nofoagatoto’a, who can step into Harris’ spot.

“Sio Nofo has done a phenomenal job of stepping up,” Wommack said. “I think he’s the dynamic player that we thought he was going to be. He’s going to continue to grow in that role, so he’s stepped up as another interior guy.”

59 comments

  1. Would this be a good year to redshirt Reese Taylor, with the injuries this year and the lack of proper use or proper development his freshman year, just think it would be a good time to redshirt Reese and give the kids time to learn his position and heal properly from the nagging injuries. Considering the hype that this young man had coming into college, have we giving the young man enough time to learn the position of defensive back. From the outside looking in just looks like a lot of talent not being utilized.

  2. Just continue to move forward with RT (high 3 star recruit from HS)…probably a little over hyped for big ten level since he was not going to play qb in big ten and would play a different position that RT would have to learn…provided he remains injury free. Then, continue to recruit at high level to replace him upon graduation.

  3. I think TA needs to use all available bodies NOW and do everything he can to produce six regular season wins this year. He really can’t afford to be thinking about next year. If players can contribute NOW, TA must to play them. His job and the future of the program is on the line and no one knows what next year will bring. Besides, the best way to learn how to play a position is to be on the field, in games that count. RT enjoyed great press and hype coming out of HS, but that became meaningless when he put on his IU uniform. College is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business.

    1. Po-I could not be stronger in support of your position! No one is guaranteed next season, including Coach Allen! He has to earn it like his players. All hands on deck! If the kid can play, then you have to play him this season! Taylor, Elliot, Nio, Bedford, all of them. Redshirting is much less important in the age of transfers! Why save a year of eligibility for a different school? Be fair but tough! If the Coach says go play and the kid says no I am redshirting, then he must lose his scholarship at that moment! He, the player, has quit the team, his teammates, the coaches, and the school. Make sure every player understands this rule. Then hold to it!

  4. IU needs to have another great defensive against MD as they are far more dangerous on offense than Rutgers ever has been this year. One good thing is our offense looks like it can get after MD’s defense to keep MD offense off the field. There are good match-ups for the MD game and our defense needs to just control their offense.

    RT needs as many plays this season as he can get. He has potential to be a very good corner, he just needs more experience.

  5. Question: since the goal of playing in a conference is to win conference titles, does IU realistically have a chance to win one?

    1. Not sure of your point.

      So, if a team doesn’t have a shot at a conference title they shouldn’t compete? I guess there goes 75% of SEC football teams.

      …and 75% of ACC basketball teams.

      What are you getting at?

      1. Wondering how many more millions of dollars IU wants to pour into a program competing for 6th place each year and a dwindling fanbase?

        1. This will probably come as a shock to you but the Big Ten is more than a collection of athletic teams.

          In 2014-2015 the Big Ten generated more than $10 billion dollars in funded research. One of the reasons Notre Dame has never been a candidate for admission is that they do not possess the capabilities for the level of graduate research that Big Ten universities require. Not a slam on them, it’s just not what they do.

          But, yeah, if IU wants to drastically cut their research capabilities, dropping out of the Big Ten would be the way to do it.

          1. Brother Chet: Are referring to membership in the American Association of Universities? That same criticism you’re putting on ND was levied against Nebraska when it was knocking on the Big Ten door eight years ago- but UN made it into the B1G anyway, and has yet to be admitted to the AAU (which, come to think of it, makes one wonder either 1) just what are the Huskers are doing with their share of the academic loot, or 2) how much, exactly, of said loot does UN actually bring in to conference total). I’d bet my particle accelerator to your donuts that ND “has never been a candidate” for admission to the B1G because it has no interest in sharing TV and bowl revenue with the likes of IU or PU or NU or RU or Mary and their half-full stadiums, and not because of its academic anemia. And I don’t even have a particle accelerator.

          2. Brother Chet. Of course UN is in the Big Ten Academic Alliance. It’s in the Big Ten. If ND were in the Big Ten, it would also be, ipso facto, in the Big Ten Academic Alliance.

            But it remains that neither UN nor ND (as you pointed out) is a top-level graduate research university, but the former is in the B1G and the latter is not. So being a second rate graduate research university is not a plausible reason for ND not being a “candidate for admission” to the Big Ten. I can’t imagine that anyone (besides sportswriters facing an August deadline on a slow news day) would imagine ND campaigning to enter the Big Ten. Aside from not wanting to share its own considerable revenue with fourteen (count ’em, fourteen) other schools, ND fancies itself a national institution. Look at its schedule lately. It used to play two or three Big Ten teams. Two years ago, except for E. Lansing, it didn’t play an away game within 800 or so miles of S. Bend. Last year it played in Texas, San Diego, Los Angeles, NYC (Syracuse), No. Carolina. It did play in Evanston, so there’s one for the huge Chgo. fan base. This year ND did play in Ann Arbor and Louisville, but otherwise it did or will play far from home.

            Pretensions to national significance are hard to maintain while trudging from Iowa City to W. Lafayette to Bloomington every year.

          3. davis, I won’t belabor the point. It’s old news you can look up and learn more about it if you choose.

            I’m certain that you’re correct about ND being reluctant to revenue share. I don’t believe the brand is what it once was. Remember when NBC only had ND home games as their college football package? Those days are gone.

            ND isn’t even the big dog of football in the conference they semi belong to. I think they are about a half step behind how they are currently perceived.

          4. BTW, I just noticed you had Syracuse in the NYC market. One of my kids went to school in upstate NY. Syracuse is to NYC as Indy is to St. Louis.

            Actually, Indy is quite a bit closer to St. Louis than Syracuse is to NYC.

  6. IU opened up as 5.5 point favorite but has settled in as 3 point favorite. Purdue was at about 4 point underdog. However, betting analysts that I have seen are predicting Maryland in upset or taking 3 points and Maryland as winning bet. It seems as though that doesn’t bode well for IU.

  7. It’s actually the other way around. IU opened up as a 3 point fav and now are a 6 point fav at some sports books. To me the matchup seems more like two teams heading in opposite directions. IU coming off a dominate performance against a dormat team in Rutgers and Maryland coming off a series of let downs after a sizzling hot start. Maybe this is Maryland’s bounce back game but I wouldn’t bet on that.

  8. It may be who is being used as resource regarding betting odds.
    It will be interesting regarding MP. Will he continue to perform at high level? Mistakes? Have a bad, good, great game? Of course it will depend to a large extent on how rest of those around him perform (rest of team). He and offense have been scouted now. MP and team reaction will be interesting. I would think MP and team will react well and perform at high level…as in turning point of season. If and big if (IU has been there before but only one time this year) IU and MP has high performance against Maryland a target win has to be Nebraska as most winnable game left on schedule followed by NW.

    1. That sounds like an object lesson on why people shouldn’t be too concerned about ranking recruiting classes.

  9. CaliHoosier, forgive me, but after reading your above posts three times, I still don’t understand the point you are trying to make. Maybe I haven’t had enough coffee yet. Are you trying to suggest that IU Football is wasting money? If so, you’re wrong. It is not. IU FB may not be making huge profits (a.k.a. surpluses) like OSU, MI and PSU, but because IU is a part of the Big Ten, the revenue IU gets from FB and the Big Ten Network is funding most of the other varsity sports IU competes in and the scholarships they provide. Not to mention the economic impact IU FB has on the community. It could be much greater, but without IU FB, Bloomington’s economy would be far worse.

    Keep in mind, that according to Fred Glass, IU BB has just been breaking even for many years now. IU BB pays for itself but does not generate surplus revenue that can be applied to other varsity sports. We can question the salary IU pays the BB coaching staff IU BB’s recruiting budget, but our basketball program is not, any time soon, going to generate enough surplus revenue to fund IU’s other non-revenue-producing varsity sports.

    Are you suggesting that IU should drop FB because we’re not a contender for Conference Championships? Do you realize that if IU dropped FB, we’d be out of the Big Ten and would then have to drop a bunch of other varsity sports, due to lack of funding, and the scholarships and jobs that they generate?

    Sincerely, I’m requesting clarification on your original question. I’m not trying to attack you, but for the life of me I can’t understand why you asked it.

  10. Good point, Chet. While I believe recruiting rankings have value serving as an indication of a program’s direction and to create excitement amongst fans, I’ve felt since Mallory was IU’s coach that when it comes to ranking FB recruiting classes, there is a bias that negatively affects IU FB’s recruiting classes. Besides, coaching has a lot to do with how a kid’s talent develops in college.

  11. My question was assuming we play to win conference titles and we never come close. Do people realistically think we have a chance to win the B10 conference title in football? I.e. catch up with OSU, MSU, PSU, WISC, etc?

    1. Cali,
      I will take this on and I am sure H4H and others will join in at some point from one side or the other. Preliminaries aside, yes, I think IUFB has the potential to win B1G championships at some point in the future. The only problem is IUFB is deficient in one important area which OSU, UM, PSU, and UW don’t seem to have. Their fan bases are far more engaged than Hoosier Nation has ever been. Even in those few good years of ancient history, Hoosier Nation was woefully lackadaisical in supporting the program. This problem filters right down through the channels to the BOT, Admin, and AD. You can’t build a long term winner without rabid fan support and IUFB has never enjoyed that one luxury, even on those rare occasions when deserving.

      1. Did you ever play “horse” in basketball…? H4H! Now let’s proceed with ‘thinkaboutit’s closing statement….

        You can’t build a long term winner without rabid fan support and IUFB has never enjoyed that one luxury, even on those rare occasions when deserving.

        I will soon be entering the ‘Life Alert’ years and I’m at a loss for remembering the “rare occasions” IU Football was “deserving” of rabid support. Come to think of it, IU Football is the Life Alert program of the BigTen. In all my memories they have always “fallen and couldn’t get up.” Hoosier Football may have shown some brief signs while we were winning national basketball championships…..but it’s hard to be critical of a fan base getting too caught up in championship caliber basketball during the 30 seconds IU Football came out of the coma.
        We probably just thought it was a ‘Life Alert’ prank call… Hell, Life Alert doesn’t even describe Hoosier Football endlessly expected to be monitored for forever falling. Falling and comatose were bright days of IU football history. The need-to-be-rabid fan base is going to have to sit next to the phone for a call from the grave during a seance….”Hoosier Football? That’s you? Did you just mumble ‘hut hut’? What brings you back …? Is there something you need to tell us? Did we buy Apple stock? No we didn’t…We bought Motorola. Yes, Memorial is still a one-and-done football funeral home dedicated to your memory. Yup, Bob Knight is still kicking…No, he’s literally still kicking…but not Hoosier basketball players. It can be any random person walking down Kirkwood or Walnut. We’re losing you, Hoosier Football…Please tell us what you’re here for. It’s a mystery you’ve taken to the grave…Can you tell us anything about the afterlife? Are you trying to forgive us….for never changing the batteries on your Life Alert?

  12. Ask Alabama, Clemson, Wisky (been a power for a quarter century now and had good years before) Oklahoma, LSU, Georgia, OSU, even Michigan ND, and after their issues Penn State and several others with consistently winning traditions if recruit rankings don’t mean very much. Elite traditional football programs with high recruiting rankings have less down years than programs at the other end of recruiting rankings spectrum have up years. I get it; when fans of teams don’t get its share of highest ranked recruits those fans try to dismiss it as not being that important.

    1. You were the one who pointed out the disparity between the ranking of recruiting classes and the results on the field.

  13. Yes, coaching and administrative personnel are very important to implement a successful program. Fans also have their role.

  14. I’ve done the math in times past, and I can tell you without a doubt, a good QB can transform a team with mediocre talent into a winning program. We almost had that scenario back when Randle El played for IU, but our head coach at the time did not know how to spell defense, let alone coach it. So a team’s recruiting class can be ranked relatively low, but a game-changing QB can make them competitive with almost anyone.

    think, with one exception. The year was 1967, and I was amongst the rabid Hoosier fans who celebrated that IU team’s incredible success.

    Cali, so your position is “since we can’t win it all, we shouldn’t even try to compete.” Is that what you’re saying? Wow, with that philosophy, Neil Armstrong would never have walked on the moon and NASA would have conceded the space race to the Soviet Union. And by the way, back when I attended IU, a bunch of my friends and I drove up to Madison and Evanston just to watch IU FB beat Wisconsin and Northwestern. I’ll bet Badger and Wildcat fans are glad those schools didn’t stop playing football back when they were the doormats of Big Ten Football!

    1. Po, get a grip. I asked a question and never made any statement about we should or should not do. You assumed my position.

      1. Cali, you made what sounded like a rather obtuse statement and question that didn’t make a lot of sense. Po politely noted that and asked if you could clarify your comment so you wouldn’t be misunderstood.

        You never did and chose to leave an obviously vague comment out there.

        Then, you complain that you were misunderstood and you tell Po that HE needs to get a grip.

        Review the first rule of holes.

        1. Chet, wrong again. Po, took my question and turned it into my philosophy. Get with Think, he seems less confused about a simple question that apparently struck a nerve. Interesting.

  15. PO. Fools Gold. Randel El as good and exciting as he was to watch (blame it on defense and lack of coaching) accomplished no more than 5 win season. More high level recruits were needed on both, offense and defense. The teams I mentioned have the talent including defense to make a little lesser qb look better. I do agree a high level qb can be a game changer. However, it is also limited as to consistency and length of time. The math is flawed. Gonso, Isenbarger, Butcher played at high level and so did defense. I remember the internal team issues not long after Rose Bowl team. Though some refuse to believe the importance of star rankings for recruits; given competent leadership and coaching the correct math show law of averages show those with the higher ranked recruits (bigger, faster, quicker, ability level) win the most.

  16. Those who fail to recognize the importance of higher ranked recruiting classes are usually fans for programs who don’t get the highest ranked recruits. If those same individuals were fans of programs who get highest rated recruiting classes they would be the first to say how important those highly ranked recruiting classes are.

  17. Lol think.
    The potential for IU winning a big ten football championship is comparable to the potential for the US to land man on a star.

  18. t and Cali, it’s the longest of shots for IUFB to win its divison, let alone the conf. title. But that could have been, indeed was said, about N’western, now at least respectable and a now-and-then contender. But truth be told, I enjoy watching IU every Saturday (OK, some of those afternoons are certainly not enjoyable) and if they can beat the alma mater of the guy who works down the hall or across the street, I’m just dandy. I give zero thought to whether IUFB ever makes the FBS playoffs. Now PO and others might jump my case here for being a prime example of what’s wrong with the Hoosier fan base (that is, low expectations), but that’s not so. I just refuse to let my fun be spoiled by the fact that IUFB is not likely to be the next college football juggernaut. I enjoy college football for what it is, entertainment, and am really looking forward to IU playing some meaningful games in November.

  19. As a life-long Cubs fan, I can tell you the payoff for remaining hopeful is enormous. I wonder how many Cubs fans over the course of 100 years asked the question “since the goal of playing in a conference is to win World Series titles, do the Cubs realistically have a chance to win one?” And the solution to IU FB’s legacy of losing is the same that the Cubs used; visionary leadership and increased investment.

    davis, at least you watch the games, pay attention and still care. You’ll get no criticism from me. If only a couple hundred thousand other alumni, students and citizens of central and southern Indiana felt the same way you did, IU FB would be in a much better position.

    Cali, IU has the lowest or second lowest FB budget in the Big Ten. Until recently, I doubted that Fred Glass could have spent less on IU FB and still field a legitimate team. But recently, we have to give Glass credit for increased investment. And it looks like it’s beginning to pay off, albeit at a slower pace than most of us would like. So as long as he’s not cutting other varsity programs or instituting student fees to pay for the FB program (like Rutgers did a few years ago), and as long a good chunk of the facilities improvements are being funded by private donations, I say continue to “pour” money into the program. And by the way, 99 out of 100 people who read your posts above would have believed that your questions were actually statements. A common technique allowing a person to deny having made a statement.

    1. Po,
      I think the bigger concern is not IUFB siphoning funds from other areas, but rather, is IUFB being given its fair share of the incoming revenues attributable to having a football program? There is no question, despite the men’s basketball and minor sports wishful thinking, that the FB program is responsible for the lion’s share of the revenues coming in. By virtue of being in the B1G, IU receives an enormous amount of revenue despite the fact that the FB program historically has done nothing to enhance B1G football. Which is the single most sport responsible for conference revenues from the lucrative TV contracts. Well, I guess we can’t say IUFB has done nothing for B1G football, it has been the guest pig at the hog roast for all the other B1G programs.

      This being said, if it can be determined that just merely having a football program is responsible for example 60% of the revenues, if you actually want to have a viable FB program, then you better be feeding that program with a commensurate amount of the overall revenue pie. Without seeing the budget numbers, I would guess that has never been the case for IUFB. In other words, I suspect IU athletics has been failing to feed the beast pulling the wagon. If this is the case, then it is no wonder that IUFB has been historically at a disadvantage.

      1. Basketball championships brought a gargantuan share of revenue to a southern Indiana local economy/city which will never be measured. It also brought immeasurable pride and legitimized the BigTen as a force beyond a few decent football programs.
        I would never discount the value of those banners….It’s why a rather middle-of-the-road coach from Marquette could wonder down to a town with no football program and still suck 30 million dollars out of the till.

        The banners were football’s sugar daddy…Now, after forty years, “pigskin pocket-picker” is being asked to stand on her own. Banners, bitches. Hang them again …for the very first time.
        The follies at Memorial will always be follies….Dollars fade as fast as gold rushes along with the mortal days. Banners live forever. They’ll outlive the BS of the BCS.

    2. For all the teams and games played regardless of money and everything else there will always be an equal ratio of wins to losses minus draws. There will be programs that will win or lose = performance top to bottom.

    3. Po, so to sum up, your answer to my question is yes, you feel IUFB Realistically has a chance to win the B10. Since we went to the moon and the Cubs won a WS. Fair enough.

  20. think, there is no question that IU FB has been chronically underfunded for decades. The real question is, who is to blame for that? IU’s BOT, former IU Presidents, IU’s ADs, or the Hoosier Nation? You could get into a “chicken or egg” debate about who to blame. But it appears that finally, a group of IU’s “leaders” have woken up and realized that without additional spending to upgrade FB facilities and get/hold good coaches, IU FB was at risk of failing to provide IU’s other varsity sports with the spending required to remain competitive.

    IU is never going to have a stadium that holds 100,000 people. The demographics and economic conditions of Monroe County and the surrounding area will never generate that kind of attendance at home games, no matter how good the FB program becomes. But with more than 48,500 students enrolled (2016), Monroe County’s population of 138,000, and Indianapolis just an hour’s drive away, we can certainly fill a stadium modified to hold 52,656 people for every home game. If that were to begin to happen, the price of FB tickets would increase, concession sales would increase, IU apparel sales would increase, and revenue from bolt games would allow IU FB to start generating a significant surplus.

    First task is to get more students to attend FB games. Given the low price of student tickets, it is a disgrace that so many students are too lazy and/or disinterested to attend home FB games. I know plenty of IU alumni in their early thirties who boast that they never went to an IU FB game in the four years they attended IU-B, as if that is something to be proud of. Those apathetic millennials grow up to become apathetic alumni. So multiply that by three or four generations, and that’s where IU FB finds itself today. And it’s not too far a reach to suggest that student apathy has started to affect attendance at IU BB games.

  21. I sort of thought living on a blog is the definition of apathy? No, never mind. I’m moving mountains one moderated comment at a time.

    My butt may not be in a Memorial seat …but the butt is in a seat while endlessly typing and talking about Memorial’s butt-challenged seats. I’m doing my part, damn it. Put more butts in blogs!

  22. And Illinois just upset the 6th ranked Wisconsin team. Biggest upset of the year in the FBS. I’ll bet the IL fans are glad their team didn’t give up because they didn’t have a realistic chance to win the conference championship.

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