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Maryland 37, Indiana 15: Trampled By Turtles

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In their first B1G game ever, Maryland made the conference transition look easy, as the Hoosiers struggled all day on both sides of the ball.

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A visual representation of yesterday's game.
A visual representation of yesterday's game.
Michael Hickey

This wasn't supposed to happen. After a week of celebration, excitement, and pure astonishment about a road victory over Missouri (who themselves had a nice come-from-behind road win yesterday at South Carolina), this was a supposed to be a new Indiana football team. The narratives had changed in the aftermath of that game - Indiana's offense was humming like we expected, the defense had greatly improved, and this team could compete with anyone, and maybe even win our division in the Big Ten.

On Saturday, those delusions of grandeur were put to rest. Aside from an even first quarter, Indiana's 37-15 loss to Maryland was never even close. With the loss, the Hoosiers fell to 2-2 on the season and 0-1 in the Big Ten.

I took the backroads up through Southern Indiana on my way to Bloomington yesterday morning, and the bright blue skies and changing of the leaves made for a beautiful drive. As I caught up with some old IU friends at the tailgate, some of them told tales of their trip to Columbia last weekend, claiming it had been a "top-5" sporting event experience of their lives. Going into Memorial Stadium, the chrome helmets glistened and a larger than average crowd was fired up. It was a perfect Indian Summer day for football, even if the temperature was a little on the warmer side.

And then the game itself actually started.

Throughout the game, Maryland found a way to exploit our pass defense, as quarterbacks C.J. Brown and Caleb Rowe combined for 361 passing yards. On the other side of the ball, the Terps' defense, which had been a disappointment all season, found a way to stop the Hoosier offense time after time this week, keeping them out of the end zone completely until the fourth quarter started. Despite having only a small group of visiting fans with them, the Terps looked extremely comfortable playing in Memorial Stadium all afternoon. Meanwhile, Indiana looked like the shellshocked opponent in an uncomfortable venue, even though they were playing in front of the home crowd. Even though the Terps' rush defense was maligned coming into the game, they held Tevin Coleman in check for most of the game, as most of his 122 yards came after the game was long decided. Maryland came in with the better game plan, and completely outplayed the Hoosiers all afternoon. All in all, this was a very disappointing start to conference play, and once again this season, Indiana finds itself wondering where to go from here.

The easy route to take after this loss would be to say that this team will never be anything other than mediocre under Wilson, and call for his head. While this defeat was troubling, we have yet to approach Brady Hoke levels of disappointment here. Another easy and even more dangerous approach would be apathy. It's the one I took for the rest of last season after the Minnesota game, and it's easy now to say WELP ONLY A MONTH TILL HOOSIER HYSTERIA. But come on, it is only one-third of the way through the season, and there's a lot more football left to play. If we beat North Texas next week, we're 3-2 and right in the mix. Future opponents like Michigan, Penn State, and Purdue were also unimpressive yesterday. The Hoosiers were resilient last week and hopefully will be again. So it's not over by any means, and we can still be hopeful as we enter the second month of the season.

The Pivotal Play

Down 20-9 in the third quarter, the Hoosier defense had held Maryland to a third-and-16. If the Hoosiers could get a stop here and then score, it could be a one-possession game and the momentum could swing. All of the sudden, quarterback Caleb Rowe, who had replaced the injured C.J. Brown in the second half, threw a 17-yard completion to Deon Long that was enough for the first. The Terps then promptly scored a touchdown on the next play, as Rowe found Brandon Ross on a short pass that turned into a 36-yard play.

The Game Ball Goes To...

Griffin Oakes. The 58-yard field goal he made to end the first half was pretty sweet. He missed a field goal in the second half, but the three on the day that he made weren't chip shots.

Important Statistic of the Week

All of these are rough calculations, but I looked at the box score of yesterday's game and decided to break down the individual plays in terms of Success Rate. Success Rate for college football offense is defined as getting 50 percent of necessary yards on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth downs. Let's take a look at the success rate for Indiana offense:

Down

Success Rate

First

10-for-33 (30.3%)

Second

13-for-31 (41.9%)

Third/Fourth

9-for-20 (45%)

Success rate can further be broken down into standard downs and "passing downs," which are defined as second-and-eight or more, third-and-five or more, or fourth-and-five or more. Let's talk a look at the success rates between standard and passing downs:

Down

Success Rate, Standard Downs

Success Rate, Passing Downs

First

10-for-33 (30.3%)

N/A

Second

9-for-13 (69.2%)

4-for-18 (22.2%)

Third/Fourth

6-for-12 (50%)

3-for-8 (37.5%)

Total

25-for-58 (43.1%)

7-for-26  (26.9%)

Finally, there is the concept of Leverage Rate, which is defined as the number of standard downs to total plays. Against Maryland, the Hoosiers had 58 standard downs out of 84, which comes to 69 percent of all plays. In his book Study Hall, which I highly recommend, Bill Connelly says that in 2012, teams won less than half of the time (47.9 percent) when their leverage rate is between 65 and 69 percent. Thus, these are not great odds if you want to win a football game, and the Success Rates for both standard and passing downs are below the national average in 2012 as well, according to the book (47.9 percent for standard downs, and 30.8 percent for passing downs).

Unit Grades

Offense: D-. Maryland gave up almost 600 yards to Syracuse last weekend, but we barely got the ball rolling all day, we didn't make any halftime adjustments to our game plan, and on the rare instances when Sudfeld didn't overthrow the ball, the receivers just dropped the passes anyway. But hey, at least Tevin Coleman's TD streak is in tact, right? (Late addendum: I just now went through yesterday's gamethread, and I agree that the playcalling yesterday just seemed so vanilla.)

Defense: C-. A very mediocre performance from the defense, only a week after they stepped up in the Mizzou game. Regardless of who the quarterback was for Maryland, the Terps found a way to get past us and wide open on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, the habits and woes of the old Doug Mallory defense haven't fully disappeared from this unit.

Special Teams: A-. Well at least we have an accurate placekicker!

Overall: D. The Hoosiers were outplayed and outcoached all afternoon, and the team seemed uninspired and almost uninterested at times. Not the way we wanted to come off one of the biggest victories in program history.

Song For This Game

Trampled by Turtles-Wait So Long (via Justin Gustavison)

The Terps waited so long for their first B1G game, and appropriately, they trampled us. The sadness and disappointment in this singer's voice accurately describes how our fanbase is feeling right now.

Next Week

North Texas. Revenge game for what they did to us at their place a few years ago? God I hope so. The Mean Green are coming off a 77-3 victory and a bye, so they will be well-rested for this showdown. Hopefully, the Hoosiers will be hungry for a win after yesterday, and take care of North Texas at home, because a victory would get things back on track for this team.

Quick Thoughts, Game Links, and Other Miscellany

  • It was another Typical Hoosier Letdown Game. I don't know if this is a thing just with IU teams or if it happens at every school, but we've fallen victims to letdowns after huge, important victories quite a few times over the past couple years. Cases in point:
    • Losing to Northwestern at home four days after breaking the Wisconsin jinx in basketball last year.
    • Going on the road and losing on a last-second dunk to Illinois after regaining the #1 ranking in 2013 with our home victory over Michigan.
    • After beating Iowa at home in football two years ago, we let Wisconsin walk over us a week later, even though we still had an outside chance to run the table and win the B1G Leaders division.
  • Griffin Oakes' 58-yard field goal set a school record for the Hoosiers.
  • Box Score
  • Stereotypes about IU football were reinforced yesterday, according to David Woods of the Star
  • Kevin Wilson Postgame Presser (courtesy of the H-T)