This weekend Wake Forest comes to town, IU football’s first power five opponent of the season. But even though the ACC is A Real Conference, we’ve had this game pencilled in as a probable Hoosier win ever since Wake beat Tulane 7-3 in the season’s first week (that’s a four-quarter game, folks, not a rainout). This week’s SlackChat question, then: SHOULD WE BE AFRAID OF WAKE FOREST?
Ben Raphel: Let me preface this by saying: it's IU football. I'll be afraid of any opponent that doesn't start with P and ends in Urdue
Kyle Swick: I was not afraid of Wake Forest until I found out the backup QB was starting. That news triggered terrifying flashbacks of James Knapke and Bowling Green.
Kyle Robbins: Wake isn’t as assy as first thought. The Duke win was at least, like, something. Dave Clawson’s program has made some slow progress in Year 3, and I don’t think Wake’s offense is quite as anemic as last year.
Thomas Wachtel: I’m at least mildly afraid of every opponent, but I’m afraid of everything.
Kyle Robbins: Counterpoint: Kendall Hinton’s hurt.
Kyle Swick: Sounds like they'll be down a good running back as well.
Kyle Robbins: HELLO JOHN WOLFORD
Ben Raphel: It will be a good test of how good this IU secondary is
Kyle Robbins: Well
Ben Raphel: We already know Marcelino Ball can make plays. And he's a true freshman
Kyle Robbins: Not sure about that. Wolford’s track record would say’s very prolific at throwing the ball to the other team. Indiana’s been great at taking the ball away. The result? PICK PARTY.
Ben Raphel: Rashard Fant and Jonathan Crawford have already shown things too
Thomas Wachtel: I bounce back and forth between extremes. "They’re not good." "True, but that hasn’t mattered in the past." "This IU team is different, though." "You’ve said that before."
I may be losing my mind. Slightly.
Ben Raphel: PICK PARTY is also what Jim Harbaugh does to his nose late in the blowout of a 4th quarter
Thomas Wachtel: FLIP FLOPPER
Kyle Swick: I think Wake is a little better than they were last year, but that's assuming they're healthy.
[Ron Howard narrator voice] They're not.
Also count me among those that think Indiana's defensive improvement makes up for the rickety offense and with this game in B-Town, it's hard to be too concerned about Wake.
Kyle Robbins: Let’s roll this back a bit: Is Wake the best team Indiana’s played to date?
Because I think we didn’t believe that was going to be the case a few weeks ago.
Ben Raphel: Before the season I would have said no. But after 3 weeks, I think so.
Kyle Swick: That's what statistics would have you believe, but given their current injury report I think Ball State will be the tougher opponent based on when we played them.
Ben Raphel: They're a bad P5 team but they're also a P5 team
Thomas Wachtel: I think we’ve also said this every week. I feel like our opponents are getting their act together a bit as they get ready to face us.
Kyle Swick: I know Hinton hasn't shown much as a passer, and James Knapke jokes aside, hard to claim a team will be better without their starting QB.
Thomas Wachtel: [insert Drew Bledsoe joke here]
Kyle Swick: FIU nabbed that third quarter lead against IU and then has flat-lined since.
Wake has beaten Duke, something Northwestern has also managed to do!
Thomas Wachtel: Can’t wait for Bobby Capobianco or whatever the hell that guy’s name is to out-Brady Tom Brady, fam.
Kyle Robbins: Here’s John Wolford’s line against DELAWARE in relief of Kendall Hinton:
13-24, 155 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Kyle Swick: That's decidedly Not Good!
Thomas Wachtel: I hope that all-caps "DELAWARE" wasn’t intended to disparage the Blue Hens, sir.
Joe Flacco may not be elite, but still
Ben Raphel: Wasn't Wolford the starter last year, then he got hurt?
Kyle Robbins: He was! Got hurt just before the Indiana game last year, if I recall. So full circle.
Kyle Swick: Yeah Hinton came on in relief the week before and then basically stole the job with his legs IIRC.
Neither was particularly adept at throwing the ball, so Hinton gave Wake a functioning plan B.
Thomas Wachtel: I keep going back to the fact that Wake only managed seven points against Tulane, who lost to Navy in their last game. Who loses to Navy?
Ben Raphel: uhh
Thomas Wachtel: (does Jim Halpert face)
Ben Raphel: Navy is going to ruin Houston's playoff chances do not @ me
Kyle Swick: @benraphel nope
Thomas Wachtel: If we ever schedule Navy again I am going to send Fred Glass a strongly worded letter
Ben Raphel: Here's a question: how many wins do Wake's first 3 opponents have against FBS teams thus far?
Kyle Swick: Zero?
Ben Raphel: Correct
Thomas Wachtel: Tulane boatraced Southern, if that helps.
They also gave up 21 points to Southern.
They gave up 7 to Wake Forest.
Make of that what you will.
Kyle Swick: Hinton's line against IU last season was horrific. He was responsible for three touchdowns but threw a pick-six and completed 19 of 45 (!!!) passes for 245 yards.
Thomas Wachtel: 19 of 45 is extremely bad, imo.
I think I could have completed 19 passes against last year’s IU defens-[is yanked off-stage by comically large vaudeville cane]
Kyle Robbins: Wake's D, unlike yours, is pretty nice though.
Ben Raphel: He did lead them back into that game late
Kyle Swick: And that was not a good IU defense!
Kyle Robbins: Hinton can't throw and doesn't. Wolford can enough to be bad at it. Indiana's secondary is the strength of the defense maybe. Net plus.
Kyle Swick: That's still weird to read.
Kyle Swick: And I almost disagreed out of muscle memory but it's hard to argue. The secondary is talented.
Which is a good thing for a 4-2-5 defense.
David Siegel: I still refuse to believe that IU has a good or even average defense. Been hurt too many times.
Ben Raphel: They were the group I was most worried about before the season. Especially going to a system where we'd play 5 at once
But, I like what future Indiana governor Tom Allen has done with them
Thomas Wachtel: I am a little worried about a shoe dropping, but I don’t know. For now I’m okay trusting them to at least be markedly better than last year.
Is that better enough to make Wake Forest look bad? Maybe?
David Siegel: Setting the bar real high there
Kyle Swick: I'm not even worried about whether they're good or bad. I just want to see them improve. And I think we have – through two games.
Kyle Robbins: I'm still not positive we're going to know if Indiana's defense is good or bad until mid-October.
Wake's offense is bad. I'm an MSU skeptic. Ohio State will shred everyone. Nebraska on 10/15 will be the first normalish offense.
Thomas Wachtel: Again, Wake Forest scored once against Tulane.
Ben Raphel: Nah fam MSU is good
Kyle Robbins: I'm not calling a Tyler O'Connor led offense good yet. No.
Thomas Wachtel: "Is Michigan State Good?" might be next week’s roundtable. Sneak preview.
Kyle Swick: I think what the IU faithful really want to see out of this game is a dominant showing from Lagow.
Ben Raphel: Or maybe Brian Van Gorder is just a terrible DC
Kyle Robbins: Concur.
Thomas Wachtel: I’d like to see Lagow hit Wake with a laser show, yeah.
David Siegel: I said the same thing about both Connor Cook and Kirk Cousins because I am a terrible judge of college football talent.
Kyle Swick: He's been mostly mistake-free but coming up short on the play-making. Seems like the passing offense comes and goes from drive-to-drive
Ben Raphel: I'll take mistake-free playing for 4 quarters vs Wake. That should be enough to seal a victory.
Kyle Swick: If you put Cook, Cousins, and O'Connor in the same room I wouldn't be able to tell them apart.
Mark Dantonio's Large White Quarterbacks
Ben Raphel: Kirk Cook, Tyler Cousins, and Connor O'Connor
David Siegel: That's because they aren't different people
Kyle Robbins: Thinking about Lagow/IU's defense, how many real shootouts is this team gonna be in this year?
Kyle Swick: Nebraska sure looks like it could be one.
Ben Raphel: Nebraska
Thomas Wachtel: Ohio State, if by "shootout" you mean "firing squad."
Kyle Robbins: Consider the schedule after Nebraska, though.
Northwestern! Maryland! Rutgers!
Kyle Swick: Nebraska again in the Big Ten Championship
Ben Raphel: Maryland might have something. Rutger will be a weird game because it's always a weird game
Kyle Robbins: psssssssst
the best offensive team that indiana might play this year not named Ohio State is Penn State
Ben Raphel: the most offensive team that Indiana plays this year is Penn State
Kyle Swick: rack'em
Kyle Robbins: Joe Knew.
Thomas Wachtel: They have committed a number of offenses, yes.
We’re now in the part where we all talk ourselves into IU being Actually Good, which is skewing my Wake Forest fear quotient.
Kyle Swick: Also Michigan is a good offense, I know that gets a couple people around here riled up.
Ben Raphel: "Jim Harbaugh likes mayonnaise on his bagel" (story gets 100,000 clicks)
Thomas Wachtel: I WANT LASER SHOW, DAMMIT
How’s Wake’s special teams? Will they be testing our punt protection like Ball State did?
Or are we expecting more Good Kicks
Kyle Swick: Everyone is going to be testing punt protection until Gedeon gets the ball off his foot faster.
Thomas Wachtel: I’m not sure whether Wilson talked about that at all today (I doubt it) but I hope to God that they’ve been working on that for the last week and a half.
Ben Raphel: He waited much too long to punt that one but it was blown protection
Kyle Swick: Yes, true. But Ball State was hunting that all day. They had already come close a few times.
Ben Raphel: Ideally, we don't punt the ball
But will this be the week where Wilson calls the fake punt with a guy who can run a 4.4 40?
Or is he saving that for the MSU/OSU/Nebraska gauntlet?
Kyle Swick: I highly doubt he puts that on tape prior to the conference season.
Indiana didn't do anything funky on offense or special teams until OSU last year.
Thomas Wachtel: I have a feeling if that happens, it’s against a good team in a desperate spot. Or against Rutger.
David Siegel: When we are down in the 4th.
Thomas Wachtel: Yeah.
Kyle Swick: I'm wondering if we see Camion Patrick, however.
Ben Raphel: Wilson seemed unclear about that in his presser today.
Thomas Wachtel: I still think we’d save him until B1G season, if that’s what we’re doing.
Maybe some snaps against Sparty, then unleash him against OSU? I don’t know.
Ben Raphel: Another question is, do we see Dan Feeney?
Thomas Wachtel: Wilson was also noncommittal about that today.
Ben Raphel: And what effect does that have on the game?
Thomas Wachtel: Which gives me a bad feeling about it.
Kyle Swick: If I had to guess today I would say yes we see Feeney and no we don't see Patrick.
Thomas Wachtel: Clearly, priority one is Dan’s brain. I’m just hoping he’s okay.
Don’t rush him back, but hopefully he’s healthy enough to play.
The positive thing is that I don’t get any sense that this staff is into rushing guys back from concussions. They’re not the Mets.
Rest in peace, Ryan Church’s career.
Ben Raphel: Or Roger Goodell
Kyle Swick: Or Manchester United
Who didn't want to acknowledge an obviously concussed player until his symptoms caused him to surrender a goal.
"Oh well if you're gonna cost us goals then yeah get out of here."
Thomas Wachtel: I think what I might do is start with Feeney dressed but on the bench, if he’s healthy, and see whether we need him.
If we can handle Wake’s defensive front without him, give him the extra week.
Kyle Swick: I think if he dresses but doesn't play, that'll be a nod to the fans that he's close. Wilson did that with both Suds and Howard last season.
David Siegel: Except Howard never really came back, did he?
Thomas Wachtel: He came back a number of times! The problem was that he kept subsequently leaving again.
Ben Raphel: I think this was after his injury against OSU.
Kyle Swick: Both Suds and Howard dressed for the Penn State game and IIRC they warmed up but neither played.
Thomas Wachtel: So what about Patrick? We think he waits another week?
Ben Raphel: I think so.
Kyle Swick: The Cobbs injury might have accelerated his timeline but Westbrook looked great against Ball State.
Also Ricky Jones has yet to really impact a game, which is odd.
Thomas Wachtel: It might be good to give Westbrook and Lagow another game to build rapport as well, or something.
Not like they just met last week, but you know what I mean.
Kyle Swick: I think Ricky is the kind of player you force the issue with. Try and get him the ball early.
Thomas Wachtel: That wouldn’t be a bad idea, and especially with this opponent at home.
Man, I think I may have thought my way out of being scared of Wake Forest. Final verdict from the crew: how scared are you after half an hour of hashing it out?
David Siegel: IU wins, but only because they will let me down later.
Kyle Swick: Not too scared. Indiana can't afford hiccups in the non-con if they want bowl eligibility. They've got more leeway in the conference this year with the bottom basically falling out of the Big Ten but this is a must-have to keep the hope of a "Dream Season" alive.
In this case a "Dream Season" is 9-3.
Ben Raphel: With two weeks rest, I'm definitely less scared
Kevin Wilson hasn't lost a non-con game in over two years now, starting with the Mizzou victory. I feel better
Kyle Swick: The 4th quarter against Ball State gives the staff plenty of ammo to go into the bye week with as well. I think we'll see a focused Hoosier squad putting forth their best effort to date.
Thomas Wachtel: We’ll all probably go back and forth between confident and terrified between now and when this gets posted, anyway.
Ben Raphel: Final thought: it could always be worse.
Since FCS games don't have a betting line, when was the last time Purdue was favored in football?— #VolleyballSchool (@HammerAndRails) September 19, 2016