Pretty much the worst that could have happen, happened on Saturday night. An amped crowd showed up ready for a show. Everyone was enthused and looking forward to the prospects of the season and then the Hoosiers did what they do every time they get some cultural momentum. They crap the bed. Seriously, it's going to take a year to earn back what was lost in a single night. Coach Wilson wants to know why the culture around Indiana football is pretty terrible? This is it. We all buy in, start to believe and then are mocked mercilessly by the rest of the world when this night inevitably occurs. But enough with the ranting, let's get to the ugly details.
Honestly there were plenty of positive things to take away from yesterday. If we're desperate for silver linings to last night's game, they're there to be found. We now know who our starting quarterback is going forward and you could argue that he's got it in him to play at an all conference level. Nate Sudfeld is the guy going forward. He has to be. Tre Roberson started and generated all of 26 yards in two drives. Sudfeld steps in and immediately takes the offense 63 yards before throwing a pick on a busted route inside the 5 yard line. If not for that, what turned out to be catastrophic mistake, Sudfeld would have put up a touchdown on every drive he played. Sudfeld ended 31-42 with 363 yards and 4 touchdowns. He was lethal, precise and smart. All you can ask for in a quarterback and more.
On the rest of the offense, Ted Bolser continued to look like an NFL tight end, Kofi Hughes abused his defenders and 9 other receivers caught at least one pass. Sudfeld led the team in rushing but that isn't really a commentary on the rushers. Tevin Coleman had 35 yards on 4.2 yards a carry. He was effective, it's just that the Hoosiers were sprinting to catch up and did it all through the air. It didn't keep Coleman out of the endzone though as he still scampered untouched for a 7 yd TD run late. The offense was only a problem for two drives to start the game and then they were unstoppable thereafter. Hooray.
Defensively, Indiana was an utter disaster. From the first whistle to the final buzzer, Indiana was completely outclassed. Not one stop, not even once. I refuse to count a missed field goal at the end of the half to count as a stop. That was the clock's doing, not the defense's. Navy ran the ball 70 times last night for a 6.3 yards per carry average. Our defensive line got absolutely zero push to blow anything up in the backfield. Which is where you have to stop Navy.
Let's say right up front, the Navy triple option is damn near impossible to defend effectively when given the chance to develop. Superior technique from a smaller offensive line was still able to hold our d-line to complete ineffectiveness. Navy's stable of backs were able to play like there were traffic cones out there to run around. Every play was able to develop fully and the secondary was made to look foolish because of it.
That isn't to say that the secondary doesn't bear any responsibility for giving up 467 rushing yards as well. Navy cut blocks, we know they cut block, they've always cut blocked. The linebackers and safeties didn't seem to be aware of that in the slightest. If a Navy runner got to the second level they were going for 15 yards more likely than they were going to be run down for 4. I just don't know how the defense doesn't figure out how to counter a cut block. You know Navy is going to be diving at your knees. Do something about it.
Impressively, for Indiana they were still in this game. They were a mere one stop away from winning this game. They even had said stop until a crippling pass interference call on third and long. I guess if you want the silver lining for the defense tonight, the fact that they were very effective at stopping all 10 or so traditional plays that Navy ran gives some hope that this may just be a fluke of getting beat by a very unique offense we won't ever see again. But don't hold your breath.
In the end, it is only one game and there still is an offense we're running out there that will keep us from getting blown out. The Hoosiers will always have a shot and against a more normal scheme we may be able to hold up. Luckily the rest of the Big Ten outside of the top dogs look terrible too. Even with last night's performance, I'm still considering moving the Michigan State game this year into the win column. Their offense is terrible. Illinois, is a little better than expected, but should be manageable. Purdue is quite easily the worst team in the conference this year after their 6 point victory over Indiana State. Penn State and Minnesota appear to be who we thought they were. So, the preseason expectations for that game still hold.
I'm just going to focus on looking forward and never ever ever looking back at last night's game. If you ask me about it, I'll say I don't know what you're talking about. This blog is now going with the policy that games against Navy don't exist. If I had my druthers we'd never play them again. Just not worth the headache of completely changing your defense for one week in the middle of the schedule. So, next up we have a Bowling Green team that has looked pretty decent, but nothing that should have us worried. Then again, I thought something similar about that one team. I forgot their name.