IU defense shined vs Penn State, but offense failed to produce

Football is a team sport. It takes all three units – offense, defense, and special teams – and a successful plan to come out ahead with the clock reads 00:00. Though football is a team sport through and through, a weakness at quarterback can truly do a team in.

That, in part, is what we’re witnessing with the current Indiana football team. I have attended every home game this season, and even made the trek to Ann Arbor a couple weeks ago to see the Big House for the first time. With a quality quarterback, IU (3-6) perhaps would have a couple more wins to their name.

That’s unfortunate, and one reason I believe head coach Kevin Wilson deserves another year.

The most intriguing thing out of Saturday’s 13-7 loss to Penn State was the defensive play. IU, wearing their favorite chrome helmets, was energized from the start. I haven’t watched the Nittany Lions all year so maybe their offense is just horrific, but for this defense, which is under new leadership this season, to play the way they did and hold Penn State to just one touchdown and 13 total points was a big step in the right direction.

Zander Diamond hands the ball off to Tevin Coleman, one of the country’s best backs. (Photo by DEFRO/BGH)

The offense, however, was challenged. They chalked up just 68 passing yards and were 3-of-17 on third down. Star running back was limited to 71 yards, the first time in 10 games he didn’t reach triple digits. And, if not for him, who knows how many TDs IU would have on the year. Coleman has over 1,300 yards and 11 — yes, eleven — scores this season with three games to play.

For so many years, going back to Ben Chappell, Kellen Lewis and such, offense was never the problem. They could put 35 points on the board with one of the best receiving corps, but the defense couldn’t stop, well, anybody. Especially Wisconsin…

I mean, they didn’t even score an offensive touchdown. Mark Murphy picked off Christian Hackenberg and ran it in 47 yards for the Hoosiers’ lone touchdown.

There is reasons to worry about the future at the position. Nate Sudfeld and Chris Covington, who were promoted to the first and second team during camp after Tre Roberson and Cam Coffman transferred, are both done for the year with injuries. All that now has true freshman Zander Diamont starting. He’s green, thin, and does not yet possess the skill set for the situation. But thrust into the role, he’s admirably fought, it’s just not good enough. That doesn’t mean it’s not for him a few years later. This experience will be a blessing for him as an individual.

To compound their injury problems at quarterback, Decatur Central’s Tommy Stevens announced Monday night that he was backing out of Indiana and had verbally committed to Penn State.

High school kids are young and rarely thinking beyond their homework assignment or Friday’s game. What I don’t like is how he went about it and, at least from the outside, seemed to mislead folks.

When you commit to something, you follow through. That’s how I was brought up and continue to believe. (I also knew where I wanted to go to school in middle school and only applied there. Yes, I got in!)

More to that, I believe Fred Glass will follow through with coach Wilson to see this program soon. If substantial progress has not been made in December 2015, then yes, it’s time to go in a different direction.

The stands thin out in the second half of games. The team needs to give fans a reason to stay till the end. (Photo by DEFRO/BGH)

One of these times, IU is sure to get it right. There’s no reason Duke and Northwestern, for example, have legitimate football teams and IU is struggling to even qualify for a bowl game. (It requires six wins.) Since 2007, in fact.

Back to the original point, which was that the defense – at least for one game – looked full of life as they strung together stop after stop. There were two interceptions, holding Penn State to 24 percent conversation rate on third down, and giving up just 13 points. If you told me  at the beginning of the season, with a couple strong options at QB, that they give up just 13 points to Penn State in Bloomington, I would have checked that off as a win and quickly recalculated how they might get to six wins.

It’s going to happen. Eventually.

But sometimes, you just need a little luck. (Ask the Pacers.)

Winning cures all, and it’s hard not to imagine the stands will fill and money will pour into the athletic department once that happens, which will then boost all 24 sports. That’s when everyone truly wins. A team effort.

One Response to IU defense shined vs Penn State, but offense failed to produce
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