There you have it, folks.
I’, writing this at half time because, frankly, I’ve seen this game before and I have better things to do than watch a second half that the coaching staff doesn’t even seem invested in.
Jack Tuttle clearly came to play today and engineered an 85 yard touchdown drive that tied the game before Tiawan Mullen intercepted Sean Clifford on the following drive.
Indiana had a chance to take the lead precisely until the offense took the field. Then things fell apart, as they have for the better part of the last two seasons. You’ve seen this before too, and at this point it’s worth asking why we all continue to watch.
Here’s Three Things:
Jack Tuttle, Starting Quarterback
Like I said, there was exactly one drive in the game that made this seem like it could move the needle. He’s more mobile than Bazelak, which paid off big time today behind the blocking he was getting, and his passing was as solid as you would have hoped. He completed nine of his 12 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown.
And then I was left scratching my head. Again.
In case you forgot, Jack Tuttle had already announced that he is entering the transfer portal following this season. One could argue that starting would be an opportunity to make him a more valuable commodity in the portal, but that of course comes at the risk of playing behind Indiana’s offensive line.
Unfortunately for Tuttle, he went down with an apparent shoulder injury after being sacked for a fifth time in the game, not to mention the hits he took after scrambling past the line of scrimmage. This is worst case scenario for he and Tom Allen, who is now once again relying on a true freshman quarterback before Ohio State.
Enter Brendan Sorsby. Like Grant Gremel before him, most Indiana fans probably learned of him when he took the field for the first time today.
Allen said Bazelak will likely be back when Indiana heads to Ohio State, but would that truly move the needle?
The Offensive Line
Today was a new low for the offensive line. Walt Bell has no answer for the blocking Indiana’s getting in either the pass or run game and losing a quarterback will not make scoring easier.
Indiana had three drives in the first half alone that lost a combined 32 yards, including a -17 yard drive immediately following Mullen’s interception that took the Hoosiers out of field goal range. There were multiple run-pass options when Penn State had enough guys in the backfield to tackle both Tuttle and the running back during the exchange.
Winning and offensive efficiency aside, this is now the fourth time a starting quarterback has gotten hurt playing behind this line in the last two seasons. It’s not fair to the players, and it’s not going to attract future talent to the program.
I wouldn’t be surprised if more offensive position players join Tuttle in the portal after the season.
Oh, and in case you don’t think the grass is greener on the other side, here’s what Mike Penix has had to work with this year.
Washington's 6 highest graded players by PFF on offense were all OL and that checks out.— De UW Dawg Pound (@UWonSBN) November 5, 2022
(In order: Hatchett, Fautanu, Mele, Luciano, Kirkland, Rosengarten)
Must be nice!
It feels like Tom Allen’s Indiana program is going nowhere fast. In a game that Indiana had no realistic chance at winning, what is the logic behind giving the starting quarterback snaps to a guy who will definitely not be here next year?
It was clear when he had to let Darren Hiller go midseason that this season would not end in bowl eligibility. Rod Carey was explicit about the fact that he is not a miracle worker and would not be able to fix all of the things wrong with the group. And yet Allen is still presumably playing to win this year by starting Tuttle in this game?
Tom Allen is a great motivator and, for a little bit, had the sauce with recruiting. It’s hard to see how he could convince anyone to come play in Bloomington right now and it’s been a long time since Indiana has played what I would call “inspired football”.
It’s difficult to see how this situation could be salvageable for Allen, so the focus now turns to new president Pam Whitten and new Athletic Director Scott Dolson. Allen’s buyout won’t be cheap, but as long as he’s the coach, Indiana seems doomed to 1-2 wins in Big Ten play in any given year and no shot at bowl eligibility.
Nobody knows how these two will navigate it, but it feels like Indiana is at a crossroads now and will have to decide what kind of long-term investment it wants to make in the football program this offseason.