Hoosiers won’t overlook 1-6 Wildcats

Indiana coach Tom Allen admitted it’s a good feeling to have six wins banked in October, lifting the will-they-won’t-they of bowl eligibility.

“It’s actually a very good feeling,” Allen said, “because I’ve not been here when that hasn’t been the conversation.”

In Allen’s fourth year at IU, his third as head coach, there is a lot to like about where this season is going. They have strung three Big Ten wins together for the first time since 1993. That run could stretch to four if the Hoosiers beat a 1-6 Northwestern squad this coming Saturday.

But while the Hoosiers (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) have a right to feel good, they aren’t going to be overconfident.

There is still a feeling amongst the players that, if only they had executed down the stretch at Michigan State, they could be 7-1 right now. And while the Wildcats may have only one win, Allen sounded like one of their best public relations specialists as he outlined their roster.

“They’ve got one of the best defenses in the country. Their front seven is a bunch of grown men, I’ll tell you that much,” Allen said. “Very aggressive in the secondary as far as tackling and physical and big offensive linemen and backs run hard. The receivers are quick and catch the football.”

The biggest question is who gets the ball to those receivers.

One area where the Wildcats (0-5 Big Ten) have struggled has been in the passing game. After a 20-0 shutout at the hands of Iowa, Northwestern ranks last in the Big Ten in passing offense at 126 yards per game.

Whether it’s Aidan Smith or Hunter Johnson, the Wildcats have struggled to move the ball through the air. On the other hand, Allen points to the defenses they’ve faced. Three of Northwestern’s losses have come to the conference’s top teams in total defense, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Iowa.

“So to me, very dangerous football team,” Allen said. “They’re the defending West champions in our conference, and I’ve got a ton of respect for their head coach.”

In fact, Pat Fitzgerald may be one of Allen’s better friends in the coaching profession.

The 14th-year head coach is someone Allen corresponds with, texting and asking questions.

“He’s one of the guys I always confided in and things like that, for a variety of things,” Allen said. “He’s just genuine, he’s tough, and he’s just done a phenomenal job building that program.

“To me, you just throw out the record. It doesn’t matter. They’re coming, and they’re going to play their very best football, and we’d better play ours.”

Adjusting on defense

In the last two weeks, defensive coordinator Kane Wommack has found himself in some uncomfortable situations.

At Maryland, the Hoosiers ran into a team that switched up its playbook with backup Tyrrell Pigrome under center. It took some halftime adjustments for IU to sort things out, holding the Terrapins to 7 points in the final two quarters.

Nebraska, coming off of a bye week, also had some new wrinkles ready for the Hoosiers. But, again, after falling behind 21-16 at the half, IU recovered for a 38-31 win.

“With a young defense, that has been our biggest challenge. I can’t rep it all, we can’t show you everything, and they are obviously going to adjust and do some different things,” Wommack said. “On the positive, they have adjusted as the game has gone on.

“I thought Nebraska did a nice job of every series they gave us a new wrinkle that we kept having to adjust throughout the game, but when our guys saw it again, and they came back to it in those later rounds, we ended up figuring it out.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Hoosiers will get a little bit younger this week. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Thomas Allen is out for the season with a shoulder injury. It popped out of socket twice versus Nebraska.

“It really breaks my heart,” Allen said of his son. “He came back from an injury this past off-season and worked his tail off to get back. It’s his other shoulder, so it is what it is. He has a surgery next week.

“Awesome young man, obviously. I know his mom well,” Allen added, with some levity. “So it’s pretty personal. I hate it for him, but it’s like everybody else. It’s just part of life, and sometimes it’s not fair when things happen like this, but he’ll be back a year from now.”

Redshirt freshman James Miller will take his place backing up sophomore Micah McFadden.

“After we hugged and got emotional a little bit, I grabbed Thomas and I said ‘Your job is to get James ready to play,’” Allen said. “James has obviously been right there with him and played quite a bit, but his role is going to go way up. So just like I gave Coy (Cronk) the same charge to get Matt (Bedford) ready, I gave Thomas the same charge to get James ready. That’s what great teammates do.”

Penix, Stepaniak updates

Peyton Ramsey received national recognition for his 351 passing yards at Nebraska, including a mention on the Davey O’Brien “Great 8” and the Manning Award’s “Star of the Week” lists.

While the redshirt junior quarterback is playing well, Allen reiterated Monday that redshirt freshman Michael Penix Jr. is still the Hoosiers’ starting quarterback.

“Mike’s our starter,” Allen said.

The status of Penix, who missed the Nebraska game with an undisclosed injury, will be updated later in the week.

Allen also said senior guard Simon Stepaniak, who was a late scratch for Nebraska, should be back soon.

“He had some things late in the week that I didn’t know about and just kind of came up on him. He wasn’t feeling good at all on game day,” Allen said. “It kind of came down to, when in doubt … if you don’t feel like you can go.

“He’s tougher than nails and love that guy and everything. So that was really a last-minute situation.”

25 comments

  1. This is one of those trap games going into a bye week you don’t want to get caught in. Of course, IUFB will hoping the same thing the next two weeks after the bye as they hope to catch PSU and UM looking past them to OSU.

  2. Northwestern has played some good teams. Yes, they lost but I IU is not dominating anyone. NW is thinking this is a very winnable game for them. IU should have really good motivation because NW has beat them many times in recent years and IU desire to make season more successful. IU had better be focused and execute.

  3. I’m a little like Allen in the respect to some of the D units NW has tried to produce points against. Suffering a couple of blips on the radar they could get an early lead and it is another track meet again. Although I think our D plays it’s strongest, most complete game Saturday night.

  4. IU hasn’t reached the point yet they should win games just based on talent level. I think IU will handle NW it won’t be an easy game for the Hoosiers. This is a game for IU to come out and establish their game instead of letting NW set the tone. The offense needs to continue establishing their game no matter who the defense is. The defense needs to play sound football with fewer penalties. I hope there is a stadium full of fans to urge the team on to have a great game.

  5. Defeat a Top-20 and then it’s fine to act “disparaging” toward the absent fans still thinking it was the same old Hoosier Football movie. Also, how many here disparage the fans while still rarely making an effort to go to a game? Sure, you live a couple thousand miles away…Sounds like you’re all successful and comfortable…Pay a few bucks and jump on a plane if the season is so “magical” rather than beating up on all the absent non-believers. Do your part …other than typing into a box.

    I don’t expect a great crowd against Northwestern. Temps are also supposed to fall of the cliff after today. Major cold front coming in…Hopefully not major cold spell for Hoosiers as well. Ramsey’s throws will be very lively in the cold air.

    1. I’m just ‘disparaging’ toward people who run down the program and the coaches and continue to be proven wrong week after week. Then, they decide that maybe…just maybe…the Hoosiers are good enough for them to support…just as long as they don’t lose.

      Those folks should sit out the rest of the season.

      Maybe next year.

      1. Yeah, you’re one of the loyalists who couldn’t identify a charlatan basketball coach for nine seasons. Did I ever thank you enough for the billiard hall and the 30 million spent on a guy who used cue cards to coach an Indiana Hoosier basketball team?
        That ain’t support of anything. That’s plain ignorance or sabotage. I hope you do…do better at football. Play your drums, bandwagon boy of perfection in all you say and do.

        I’m wrong plenty of times…? I’m one stupid “bot.”

          1. You forgot ‘bot’…

            Blah…blah, clumsy bot. Say that ten times mistake-free real fast before turning in for the night.

  6. H4H, I don’t worry about the stadium being sold out but have to admit many students that don’t go should go for the college experience of joint expression. You seem to be missing the point of winning seasons. Before you can soar with the big boys you often have to learn how to win against your peers that doesn’t diminish your achievement of learn to win games you lost in the past. Using your standard of beating a top twenty team means anything IUFB does short of beating OSU, PSU, or UM is a failure. IU beat a top twenty Missouri team and came home the next week crapping the bed with a terrible loss. IU ended up 4-8 that year so beating a top twenty team isn’t the standard that counts.

    IU is taking a young team and winning more games than in the past or should by the time the season is over. Whether they beat a top twenty team or not it is a team more fans should come out and cheer the team on.

    1. Using your standard of beating a top twenty team means anything IUFB does short of beating OSU, PSU, or UM is a failure.

      You’re the only one here worth the effort, V13. Well, it take that back. thinkaboutit is objective, civil and honest.

      But to address the quote above….The season will not be a failure if we don’t defeat any of the ‘Big Three’ of the BigTen East. It just simply won’t be a major “breakthrough” from my perspective(especially if we’re manhandled by Michigan and PSU in the same fashion an early season OSU game).

      We can call it a “mini breakthrough.” Sure haven’t heard many fans thanking Kevin Wilson for hiring Mr. Breakthrough…What’s up with that? Gotta give some kudos to KW for identifying a real sleeper….Oops. Probably shouldn’t use “sleeper” when speaking of IU Football.

    2. I don’t know how often Missouri Football is in the top 20, V13….

      Maybe we didn’t so much “crap the bed” the following week …as get a little carried away with taking down a team top 20 not really in the league of the historically higher ranked teams….from the BigTen, SEC, etc.

      Maybe we “watered the bed”…and water found its level.

    3. Also noticed that in the same year we beat the ranked Missouri team (2014), they later lost to Alabama in the SEC East divisional title game by a score of 13-42. Sounds a lot like the disparity in the BigTen.

  7. Northwestern will be looking for pass interceptions from both, PR or MP. Northwestern besides OSU could be the best team IU has played this year though in same category as MSU and Nebraska and IU. IU needs to continue to take care of the ball.

  8. Northwestern sucks it’s okay to say it no need to make excuses the numbers speak for themselves 12.5 ppg 266 that’s at or near the bottom in the nation in both categories who in the hell are they beating with an offense like that?and the thought that other than Ohio State this is the best team they’ve faced so far this season is a ridiculous and laughable thing to say to lose this game IU would have to turn the ball over like 5 times near their own goal line to help Northwestern score because otherwise that team isn’t scoring more than 10 and that’s being kind

  9. brownbomber,
    Here is Northwestern’s schedule. Show me 4 wins you think they should have gotten.

    Stanford
    UNLV
    Michigan State
    Wisconsin
    Nebraska
    Ohio State
    Iowa
    Indiana

  10. I for one live over 2500 miles away and am NOT of comfortable means for a variety of personal reasons. All I know is that when I was a student at IU, I had football season tickets for 5 years, went to every game, and stayed through each one in its entirety. The battle cry I’ve heard for years on this site is put out a winning product, and the fans will show. Well, IU is now 6-2 and very well positioned to be 7-2. If the IU fans are not willing to support this winning team (which is also young and primed to do well in the future), when will they be willing and ready? I don’t buy into the rationale of raising the bar higher and asking that IU beat a top 20 team before expecting the fans to show up. There are 130 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams, the majority of which do not beat a top 20 team on a regular basis. If IU fans aren’t willing to support a winning team as the current team is, the fans shouldn’t expect IU to magically rise through the ranks and become a top 30 or 40 program amongst the 130 programs. However you look at the chicken and the egg scenario, it is irrefutable that IU currently has a winning football team. I hope the fans wake up and embrace this winning team and show them the support I believe they deserve to have. GO HOOSIERS!

  11. Be a little understanding…If you would have had the whole world at your internet fingertips in 1982…(or whenever), do you really think you wouldn’t have been addicted to fantasy football, blogging, Facetiming, Instagramming, Tweeting, online gambling…or internet fantasies of other addictive sorts?

    We had booze and sports. Or liquor was sports…? But now there’s far more than having a few beers with an Eagles album if one chooses to hunker down in the dorm. Different world. A lot of places are folding up…Malls are becoming ghost towns. Netflix and Amazon Prime replaces a night at the movies….Every sporting event/game available to jump back and forth on mega cable packages.
    I’ll be pleasantly amazed if any of the old simple ways to have a good time survive. We’re building very busy hermits. I should talk….

    1. H4H, you are right about the world changing and we don’t know all the ramifications yet. I developed my love of reading due to not having much else to do since I didn’t go out drinking while in the Marines. I know I would love to read any way because my mind creates the scenes so realistically I often have to wonder if I did those things or just read about them. Today the story gets painted for people and I wonder what we are doing to minds and the ability to think.

      In many way the Internet keeps people from lacking interaction with others but it at the same time reduces face to face human interaction. Just imagine when AI gets going and you don’t know if it is a person on the other end or a machine. Sex robots may quickly make shy and people with odd taste hermits not needing any other interaction in their lives but computer interaction. Society will adjust it is just a question if we can adjust fast enough to keep society from breaking up.

      1. Sex robots ….?

        It’s sort of ironic how so many are afraid of being replaced by artificial intelligence. They don’t realize all the time they spend on sites and devices is the “artificial” already into full “programming” mode. Humans now make themselves artificial far faster than the once feared replacements.

        The Zucker-garage hermits won the war against the one-of-a-kind they feared to step out and be…or go against.

  12. Chet,I’m sorry sir I know there is a point made in there somewhere by showing me Northwestern’s schedule right?

  13. IU will be challenged to score against Northwestern. Therefore, Northwestern may not have to score a lot of points itself? Though IU is favorite by about 12. It will be a good test for IU. IU May need both, MP and PR in this game. Is PR in shorter passing game susceptible to pass interceptions against Northwestern?

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