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THREE DANG THINGS WE LEARNED ABOUT INDIANA AGAINST PENN STATE

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In what appeared to be a rerun from last year, Indiana struggled to stay competitive after losing two quarterbacks.

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana lost to Penn State 29-7 in Happy Valley this afternoon, but WHAT DID LEARN?

  • Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard are not healthy enough to play. Forget all you've heard Kevin Wilson say, forget all you've read about the injuries to the Hoosiers' top options at quarterback and running back: neither were healthy enough to play. Both traveled to Happy Valley and dressed for the game but neither played a single snap. And despite an in-game injury to Zander Diamont and the ineffectiveness of Devine Redding, Kevin Wilson didn't send either into the game while it was still winnable. Ultimately, you have to trust the coaching staff to have evaluated what they've heard from the trainers and the player to make the right decision, and not second-guess based on what they may or may not have said to the media. Kevin Wilson, and football coaches everywhere, get hilariously secretive and duplicitous about injuries and until we see either take the field, we can safely assume they're too hurt to play.
  • Indiana's run defense has issues in the second level. Whether it is because the safeties aren't playing deep enough, or just an issue of tackling and pursuit, Indiana is struggling to shut down running games if and when the running back clears the first level of blocking. Many of the big runs this year typically have a missed tackle by a defensive back to pair with it. Indiana's defensive line and linebackers have done a pretty decent job of controlling the line of scrimmage against the run, but are going to need help from the guys behind them limit damage when a guy does shake loose.
  • The offensive line has not looked as good as advertised. Despite coming into the season with a lot of fanfare, the big guys up front had a bad day in Happy Valley. It's hard to accurately tell who deserves what amount of blame for the multitude of sacks and tackles for loss, given that backup quarterbacks and backup tailbacks were making the decisions with the ball back there, but there seemed to be quite a few guys losing their one-on-one battles in the passing game while generating little push in the run game. I would expect the line to clean it up and get better going forward, and should probably look a lot better when and if Suds and Howard return.
Get healthy, Indiana football, there are still special things to be achieved this year.