So that turned out to be more brutal than expected. I was lucky enough to land tickets for the game on the front row right behind Missouri's bench. The only true enjoyment that came from that game was the fact that a heckler was messing with Missouri's long snapper and punter as they were taking reps in front of him all game. Other than that, it was kind of miserable to watch.
I took the day off from writing the recap yesterday, because I've always been taught that if you can't anything nice, don't say anything at all. I honestly didn't have a whole lot of nice things to say and it would have come across as crazy knee jerk the sky is falling recap. I didn't want to put you through that and I didn't want to put myself through writing it. So I took the day to gather some thoughts.
Saturday night's debacle is all on the offense. You heard that right, it's the offense's fault that Missouri was able to do what they did on Saturday. The defense pretty well did exactly what you would ask of them. They generated 6 stops in the first three quarters when the game was still in question. The offense in the mean time did squat to help the cause. Some of that is on Kevin Wilson and the coaches. Some of it was on a pretty poor performance by Nate Sudfeld and not much better by Tre Roberson and a good chunk of it was on the injury riddled offensive line. Either way, it was bad.
Indiana started the game with some solid defense. They were holding Missouri to about 4 yards a play, which isn't great, but with a big explosive offense like Missouri you like to see them have to go slow and methodical to open the game. After 9 plays and 40 yards, Indiana forced Missouri into a third and long situation where Missouri QB James Franklin opted to arm punt. Franklin overthrew a ball into the end zone where Greg Heban was the only one around to pick the ball off. Running is back to the 25 yd line the Hoosiers were ready to make some noise.
Instead, Indiana used this as an opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot. An easy 11 yard reception to Ted Bolser followed up by a clean 9 yard run by Tevin Coleman was negated by a 15 yard block in the back penalty. So instead of 1st and 10 at midfield, IU was already looking at 1st and 25. Short pass, short pass, incomplete, punt. Well there goes the chance to strike first and force Missouri to adjust. An awful punt by Eric Toth has Missouri starting with the ball just shy of midfield. 9 plays later, 7-0 Missouri.
The offense follows that up with one first down and a punt. This drive was the first time we were truly foreshadowing what the rest of the game was going to look like. Nate was very inaccurate on his passes to start the game. But that's hardly his fault when he was constantly throwing on the run. Sudfeld threw four passes on the second drive of the game and every single one he was scrambling to evade pressure. This would turn out to be a theme of the night.
Luckily for the offense, once again the defense saves them and intercepts another James Franklin arm punt on the one yard line. The Hoosiers get the ball back after stalling out on their first two drives. You know, I know and they know, that this isn't going to happen all night. The offense has to get something going. Tevin Coleman (who had a pretty good game all things considered) got Indiana out of the pressure of their own end zone behind them with 11 yards on two carries and the offense now had some space to work. Incomplete pass, forced throw to Coleman in the check down for four yards because of pressure on Sudfeld, incomplete pass, and punt. 6 plays later 14-0 Missouri.
One of the first things said in the preview was that we can't spot Missouri 17 points on offense and then try and play catch up. Well we gave them 14. Of course, Indiana responds by going 5 plays and punting on the very next drive. By the time the second quarter started things were not going good at all. You could actually praise the defense somewhat as they had stopped Missouri on two of four drives and offered resistance on their two scoring drives. It's even better considering that they were on the field for 31 plays while taking a rest for 20 from the offense. At this point Missouri had already held onto the ball for nearly ten of the first twelve minutes of the game. You can't expect a defense to hold up against a non-stop assault on offense without getting any rest. But they did. They started the second quarter by forcing a fumble at mid field to give the offense prime field position.
Finally the offense responded with a line that was actually blocking someone, a quarterback setting his feet before he threw and receivers with time to get up field. The result is a 9 play 60 yard drive that results in a Cody Latimer touchdown. Now 14-7 Indiana looks like it has some life. The defense came right back out and forced a punt after four plays to get the offense the ball right back. Cody Latimer proceeds to take a short crossing pattern for 77 yards and Tevin Coleman punched it in on the next play to lock this game back up. 14-14 felt like a brand new ballgame.
Missouri took their next drive in for a score, but no one was feeling hopeless at that point. Sure Indiana is down seven, but they have four minutes to take the ball the length of the field when it looks like the offense was clicking and then they get half time as an automatic stop. There's a real good chance of starting the second half of this game all tied up with the ball to start. Instead, Indiana does the most Indiana thing that Indiana could do. Moving the ball well on the first 5 plays of the drive, it looks like the Hoosiers have figured out the Missouri defense. At midfield, Sudfeld throws a ball that is picked off at the line and run back untouched for 49 yards. Now we have to give some credit to Kony Ealy here because the lineman made an amazingly athletic play, but the pass should have never been thrown. It wouldn't have taken much for anyone to stick their arm up and bat that down. It was a very poor decision and it completely deflated IU's momentum.
Instead of going in to half time at worst down seven and at best tied, the Hoosiers took a competitive game and put it on the brink of blowout. Indiana of course comes out of half time, runs three plays and punts. The defense, continues it's impressive play forcing a punt, field goal and punt on the next three drives while Kevin Wilson swaps in Tre Roberson for Sudfeld who continues to do nothing but take mere seconds off the clock while gaining no yardage. At this point we're at the three minute mark of the third quarter. Missouri has the ball and the Indiana defense has played very well considering their circumstance. At this point IU's D has been on the field for 27 minutes of game clock and been able to rest for 15 minutes. You absolutely cannot do that to your defense.
By the time Missouri gets the ball with three minutes to play in the third, the defense is physically over matched AND gassed. Missouri turns it into a 21 point game with a touchdown drive in which IU provided little resistance. The defense just didn't have it in them anymore. The offense returns to the field with Nate Sudfeld again at the helm and he takes 3 plays to throw an interception. At this point the fans had had enough. Before the offense could get to the sidelines on that interception 75% of the stadium had stood up and were heading out the door. The fourth quarter would be watched by those with RVs in the lot, Missouri fans or those wanting to wait out the traffic in the stadium. The defense held for a three and out and forced Missouri to kick a field which they missed, the Roberson led offense scored a useless touchdown and then put up one last "well at least it doesn't look as bad" TD with time expiring.
This one is hard to think about as a fan. So much hope, so much promise and then to be let down by the most reliable unit is a back breaker. The Indiana defense generated 6 stops when it mattered. They kept Missouri out of the end zone more than they were able to find it when the game was in reach and the offense did squat with it. Kevin Wilson got desperate and tried putting in Roberson in the third quarter because at least he could extend some play with his legs, when Indiana's line laid down and played dead. But even that was pretty futile.
There really isn't a whole lot to add to that. Unless this offensive line improves dramatically then 6 wins will be a real stretch as we head into conference play. Perhaps the upcoming bye week will save us. I'm not certain on the status of the injured linemen, but an extra week might be able to get us one or two of them back. We need them, because the guys in there right now just aren't cutting it. Sure give some credit to Missouri's line, they played very well, but you still have to offer some sort of resistance.
Next up Penn State comes to town in two weeks. We'll cover that more in another week or so, until then I have a sneaking suspicion that we're going to be seeing a lot of basketball posts this week on the site, as myself and I suspect many of you, just need a mental break from what we just witnessed. It'll be interesting to hear what the coaches say in their weekly press conference in a few hours.