You’d never know it by his body language, but Connor Bazelak was upset with himself as he left the field for the final time on Saturday.
But he wasn’t thinking about himself, his stats didn’t matter. What mattered to Bazelak was Charles Campbell, putting him in the best position to win the game with a 51-yard field goal attempt.
Campbell’s mere presence gives confidence to Bazelak and the rest of Indiana’s offense, the latter said in a press conference Monday. Bazelak knows that, thanks to Campbell, Indiana has points if the offense can get to the opposing 30-yardline.
Memorial Stadium was bursting with energy as Campbell’s kick, which both Bazelak and head coach Tom Allen said would’ve been good from 60 yards, sailed through the uprights. Fans leapt to their feet while the Hoosiers’ coaches and players ran to Campbell, who accepted hug after hug before ultimately being lifted into the air by a sea of red and white jerseys.
Everyone, from teammates to fans, wants a hug or a picture with the hero of the day. But what’s Campbell thinking about?
He’s just won the game and inched ever closer to Hoosier legend Pete Stoyanovich’s program record of six 50-yarders. But as Campbell embraces his teammates, he’s not thinking about any of that.
Campbell needed help from each and every one to get here in the first place.
He isn’t making that kick if Bazelak and the offense don’t drive down the field to tie the game in the closing minutes. He’s not on the field if Donaven McCulley doesn’t make a play for a 2-point conversion.
He doesn’t get here if the defense doesn’t keep Western Kentucky from reaching the endzone on the ensuing drive, and he doesn’t have a chance to win the game once and for all if the Hoosiers don’t block the Hilltoppers’ kicker, Brayden Narveson, from putting points on the board during Western Kentucky’s chance in overtime.
The kick wouldn’t have sailed through the uprights without a precise snap from Sean Wracher, the Hoosiers’ long snapper. It’s not reaching the air at all without a proper hold from James Evans, Indiana’s punter.
Nobody knows that more than Chuck Campbell.
“I couldn’t win without them,” Campbell said Monday. “They got me in a position for me to go out there and succeed and I couldn’t be more proud of this team.
The postgame wave of words of praise included those from his Hilltopper counterpart in Narveson, whose encouragement was returned by Campbell, who told Narveson to keep his head up through adversity.
“He’s one of the best kickers in the country,” Campbell said.
One of the few people who could claim to know that more than Campbell is Tom Allen himself, who’s worked to build the LEO culture in Bloomington since he first stepped foot on campus as a member of the Hoosiers’ coaching staff.
Allen makes sure his players get the credit they’re due in his opening statement at Indiana’s weekly press conference. He mentioned Campbell, of course, but made sure to recognize players like Wracher and Caleb Murphy both internally during team meetings and with the media.
“Without that snap there would be no kick,” Allen said of Wracher.
There aren’t guys just thinking about themselves at Indiana, Allen said, and that’s by design.
“So I just think it’s a whole team full of guys and coaches that don’t care who gets the credit,” Allen said. “Because why? Because it’s not about me.”