We will undoubtedly be discussing what exactly happened today throughout the week at Crimson Quarry. But, as always, right after the game is as good a time as any to start the conversation. Here are the three things that stood out as deserving of the initial reaction.
The run game was a disaster without Dan Feeney and Dimitric Camiel.
Devine Redding’s nation-leading six-game streak with 100 yards rushing was snapped without Feeney and Camiel paving the way and the Hoosiers failed to score 30 points in a non-conference game for the first time in nine such contests. Neither of the hosses who man the right side of the line dressed and the running game suffered the consequences. In total, the Hoosiers finished with a measly (by Indiana standards) 115 yards on 32 carries.
It’s tough to be optimistic about the upcoming game with Michigan State after today’s result, but getting a win without Feeney and Camiel seems like an impossible task. Who knows what this team is capable of if they return and the running game gets going and takes pressure off of Richard Lagow. But one thing is for sure: Kevin Wilson and all of Hoosier nation should be hoping for some good news on both guys as next Saturday approaches.
Bad breaks and bad decisions.
Look, there are going to be a lot of frank conversations about the three first half interceptions. Some, like yours truly, believe that none of the three were on Lagow. Others think that every interception in the history of football was on the quarterback who threw it.
But regardless of disagreements we’ll have about who let Lagow down in the first half (on the picks and other plays), we can all agree that the two in the second half were atrocious. (Lagow threw five in total, the most in school history for a single game. He also threw for 496 yards, also a school record, out of necessity due to the pitiful running attack.)
Plenty of things that led to Wake Forest winning this ballgame were self-inflicted on Indiana’s part. Nobody touched the defender who blocked the field goal. Four penalties on the most important Wake Forest drive of the game. Lagow losing his cool and getting a 15-yarder before 3rd down when Indiana was down 12 with 8 to go.
The bad breaks of tipped passes getting picked (leading to at least a 21-point swing in the first half) and dumb plays by the Hoosiers in the 4th quarter may just have you feeling like Indiana was the better team, making this the worst loss the team will have all year. Losing the turnover battle by five and the game by five certainly suggests they gave the game away to a lesser club.
Those bad decisions in the 4th quarter were a new, unwelcome sight. On both sides of the ball, the Hoosiers have been as disciplined as a team can be. But the lack of discipline in the 4th was disappointing, especially on that Wake Forest drive that pushed the score from 27-21 to 33-21 when the defense repeatedly shot themselves in the foot.
Two face masks, a defensive holding, and an offsides. Then they ran right past the pocket and allowed Wolford to pickup two big gains on the ground right up the middle, including the touchdown.
I have harped on this before, and it may be an unpopular opinion, but the tempo that makes the Indiana offense so successful makes weekly success nearly unattainable because of how much time the defense spends on the field. And without a bunch of able bodies (talent, not healthy) on the defensive side of the ball, that unit is going to have drives like that one that sealed the Wake Forest win.
Each of Indiana’s first four drives in the second half lasted less than two minutes. The two drives immediately prior to the Wake Forest backbreaker were a three-and-out that lasted about 45 seconds in real time and a 4-play touchdown drive that, combined with the TV timeouts, kept the defense off the field for just about 4 minutes in real time.
With a defense that goes only one-deep at most positions and no deeper than two-deep at any position, those numbers are brutal. Fatigue causes mistakes.
That said, there’s no real answer. When Redding and the other backs can’t be fed five to ten times per drive, the offense has no way to score other than tempo and/or big plays. The only potential solution is to recruit more quality defenders. But it takes wins to do that. Thus, the vicious circle goes.
As always, tune into CQ all week for more on today’s disaster and look ahead to next week against a pissed off Michigan State.