Updated: Sep 17, 2019
Bloomington, IN - Tom Allen said after watching the film he was "very, very disappointed" in what he saw in last Saturday's 51-10 shellacking by Ohio State. There couldn't have been much to like, which is why no offensive or defensive players of the week were even selected. There were a lot of phrases thrown around like "not playing to the standard we've created." And there's truth to that. Yes, IU football hasn't exactly established the highest of standards, but in recent years the Hoosiers have at least been competitive in the way they played the games. Not so much Saturday against the #6 Buckeyes.
The offense was simply bad, and the fact that Indiana was without starting quarterback Michael Penix was only part of the problem. Even the short passes to the flats or short yardage pass plays that have helped inflate Peyton Ramsey's effectiveness were negated by a fast and determined Ohio State defense. Then there's IU's rushing 'attack'. Unfortunately, it's looked more like a 'heart-attack' so far this season. Seven Hoosier runners accounted for a whopping 42 yards. Stevie Scott, who had a breakout freshman season with over 1100 yards rushing, was limited to 6 carries and 9 yards. Ramsey gained 14 yards on 14 attempts. Sampson James was the 'leading' rusher with 14 yards on 3 carries. Ouch.
When asked how the team would deal with such a humbling defeat 5th year senior wide receiver Nick Westbrook said "learn today, today's the day, that last hour of film, watch it, find the mistakes, understand where we need to get better and flush it 'cause we can't let this, this game affect us for the rest of the season. We can't let them beat us twice." And he's right. The Hoosiers can't let this play define their season and I don't think they will. But don't forget this team has as many freshman and sophomores as the world has water. Of the 113 players on this team, 80 are underclassmen. That's a young team. While it's not an excuse, it has to be taken into consideration. But some of these players have enough experience that some of the silly mistakes are inexcusable. Tom Allen will tell you getting a punt blocked because of a missed assignment is simply inexcusable.
Then there is the running game which has surprisingly been MIA all season. And with a stable of good backs like Stevie Scott, Sampson James, Cole Gest and Ronnie Walker, it can only lead to one place - the O line. We knew Indiana wasn't very deep there but most thought they had the talent to open some holes rather than stepping in them. Maybe they can quickly get there, there's a lot of season left. But as of right now there's a search party looking for the running game. Concerning? "It is for me" was coach Allen's response when I asked him about it immediately after the game Saturday. Unfortunately, that's not the only concern for the 3rd year head coach.
What happened to the turn-around we saw in the Indiana defense under Tom Allen? The pride in take-away's was so good the Hoosiers led the country in that category at 19 straight games, until 2 games ago. None sense. What happened to simple things like tackling, completing your assignment, being focused, not being complacent? These are all things that were said by players and coaches over the last few days. Having some of these things happen in a game like Ohio State isn't unheard of, the Buckeyes are simply damn good. But not being focused, having multiple missed assignments, complacency...those are a little harder to accept.
This led defensive coordinator Kane Wommack to say "enough is enough." Besides the widespread disappointment, that seemed to be a common thread today from everyone, "enough is enough". Wommack said that more than once. Tom Allen said he "is excited to see how this team responds." It's certainly a gut check for this young Indiana team, one that I hope they pass.
While the loss to Ohio State absolutely doesn't have to determine the fate of the Hoosiers 2019 season, the next two weeks will. They play an undermanned Connecticut team this week that sees the Hoosiers as a 28 point favorite. They need to play like a 28 point favorite. Then they'll get a truer test of their capabilities for the remainder of the season. Indiana should be 3-1 as they travel to East Lansing to take take on a Spartan team that just lost at home to Herm Edwards' Arizona State squad, mainly because they couldn't produce on offense. It won't be an easy challenge, but winning this one will cure a lot of ills. Because nothing cures like winning. And winning will flush this loss in a hurry.