The Hoosiers finished off an improving Illinois team, but it wasn't exactly pretty. The Hoosiers walked away from the game with a 17 point victory but it didn't feel that easy. Fortunately enough, the Hoosiers are still tied with Penn State for 3rd in the division despite dropping the ball last week. Still, You can't help but continuing to live in a world of ifs with this team. The Hoosiers are a "meh" defense away from being 7-2. Instead we're struggle to put away the second worst team in the conference.
The Hoosiers started the game off well enough on offense which has been a bit of an issue in the recent past. After getting the ball back from a defensive stop (because of a WEIRD coaching decision by Illinois) Tevin Coleman took the ball 64 yards on his first touch of the afternoon. That run was just a bevy of big runs for Coleman on the day as he tried to remind everyone that it is still football season and no matter how impressed you are with Noah Vonleh, he's still the better cousin. After running for 215 yards on 15 carries, I'm not sure I can argue with him yet.
Along with Coleman, Stephen Houston carried the ball 17 times for 150 yards. So for the second week in a row, the Hoosiers run game outshone the passing game. This game took Coleman to just a few yards shy of 1000 and Houston over 500. Bring this season to the most successful running back tandem at Indiana since 2001's huge Antwaan Randle El year.
Sudfeld, continued his second week of strong play too by completing 20 of 27 passes for 267 yards and 3 touchdowns. Of course he had his weekly facepalm of an interception by throwing it right to the defender, but other than that he was pretty well flawless. Can't be too upset about the passing game. Like normal, Nate's biggest target was Cody Latimer who caught 11 passes for 189 yds and 3 TDs. Latimer is now up over 880 yards receiving on the season and should be able to break the 1000 yard barrier by the end of the year. Once again, that will be a huge landmark in offensive prowess for the Hoosiers.
On defense, we saw an even larger dose of true freshmen than we have been seeing. It's starting to sound like the coaches are somewhat throwing in the towel on the upper-classmen stop gaps and just getting the young guys with some promise as many reps as possible. True freshman Clyde Newton got the start at LB. David Kenney received probably double the reps he's been getting all year. Darius Latham was on the field most of the day and TJ Simmons continued his strong play. If not for Antonio Allen's torn ACL he would have been on the field as well. Making it half the starting defense being freshmen.
Still they were out there taking lumps along with everyone else. It wasn't pretty but in the end they got their job done. Giving up a ton of big plays was incredibly discouraging but it is something we're just going to have to live with for the rest of the season. It isn't getting better this year, so there's no reason to keep harping on it. I'm just encouraged see the coaches trying something different.
In the end, I still don't see us beating Ohio State or Wisconsin to get us bowl eligible, but you never know. With this offense, we're never truly out of a game. If the defense can find a way to lock in for a full game, there's always a chance. We'll just keep plodding along and hope that just maybe, we can get some results next week when we head to Wisconsin.