For the second time in the last three weeks, Indiana failed to gain 200 total yards of offense. Not that they’ve been able to establish a real running game all season, but in fairness, it’s worth mentioning that the Hoosiers were mostly without Stephen Carr this week after he left the game with an injury. Prior to the injury, he had only carried the ball three times for twelve yards. As a team, Indiana rushed for just 107 yards on 35 attempts. The passing game wasn’t any better, with Donaven McCulley completing 10 of his 24 passes for 88 yards.
As has been the case most of the year, the offensive woes were mostly attributable to poor line play. In just the second start of his career, McCulley was hurried nine times and sacked twice. That McCulley was still able to move the ball down the field for even one touchdown drive is a huge testament to the talent and potential he has, especially considering how impressive the drive was. Early in the drive he hit Peyton Hendershot on consecutive plays for 13 and 20 yards respectively before he broke off a 24-yard run on 3rd and four to set up Ervin-Poindexter’s one yard touchdown run.
That touchdown drive was the only time the Hoosiers gained more than 30 yards on a drive for the entire game, but it was a promising glimpse into Indiana’s future with Donaven McCulley. While his inexperience is still apparent, he’s already made huge leaps in his development from a couple of weeks ago, when he was still trying to outrun and overpower Division I football players like they were Carmel’s junior varsity team. With an entire offseason to improve, he should end up being a pretty special player.
A lot of his future will probably depend on how Coach Tom Allen navigates this upcoming offseason. It’s clear that, even before the injuries, this offense wasn’t working. Allen will have to decide both how many coaches to let go and who to replace them with. Hiller has to go, but it’s getting harder to tell how to evaluate Sheridan’s season given the injuries and the offensive line issues. Either way, McCulley’s emergence this season makes the coaching staff changes even more urgent since he will, eventually, need people who can block for him to reach his potential. It still seems unlikely that Allen makes any moves before the end of the year at this point, with just three games remaining.
Michigan was not terribly impressive, though it should come as no surprise that a Jim Harbaugh team is still overrated in early November before their yearly matchup with the Buckeyes. Indiana’s defense played alright, containing Hassan Haskins for most of the game outside of one 62-yard run in the second quarter that set up Michigan’s second touchdown. Haskins accounted for 168 of the 188 rushing yards that the Hoosiers allowed, with over one third of them coming on that one play. Frankly, forcing four punts and three field goals reflects a surprising amount of effort considering what the defense has been asked to do this season.
Luckily, things do get easier this week with rutger coming to Bloomington. If there is a good shot at a win left on the schedule, it’s probably that game now that Purdue seems to be playing some decent football (I think it’s more likely that the Big Ten is just Bad this year).