What’s up everyone. First off, happy homecoming. I hope it’s been a nice weekend. Football usually gets weird in Bloomington when homecoming rolls around, and that has been the case for Indiana-Iowa today. A few thoughts:
I generally thought Indiana was a disciplined football team through the season’s first six weeks. That’s, uh, changed today. Indiana has six penalties for 65 yards, easily a season-high for the Hoosiers this season. Tom Allen has two of them, for 30 yards, as today’s Big Ten officials have not appreciated Allen’s common outbursts after no-calls, or calls going against Indiana. The way I see it, it’s Allen simply being himself. But the officials don’t see it that way. Allen is another penalty away from being ejected from this game. Wouldn’t that be something?
It goes far past IU’s head coach. Indiana is having its worst tackling performance of the season, and it’s not really close. There have been at least four instances where IU defenders haven’t been able to bring Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley down for possible sacks. The botched kickoff return by the Hawkeyes could have forced Iowa to start inside its own 5-yard line. Instead, Indiana couldn’t make the tackle, and Stanley started that drive in IU territory. The Hawkeyes scored.
There have also been key penalties against Indiana’s players, most notably the early defensive pass interference on Raheem Layne that wiped out an IU interception. I thought it was an unfortunate, unlucky call. The receiver halted, and there was nothing Layne could do but make contact. That’s how movement works.
But I think we can all agree that Indiana has shot itself in the foot many times today. It just hasn’t executed, either. The Hoosiers botched a 3rd-and-1 by sending Ramsey on a quarterback read. It lost four yards and the Hoosiers had to punt. And then instead of going for a field goal, Indiana went for it on 4th-and-short. Ramsey ran from the pocket, didn’t see an open Peyton Hendershot, and the attempt failed. Iowa is always known as the most fundamentally sound football around, and that’s why the Hawkeyes lead 21-10. It should be, at the very least, a 21-13, or 21-17 game. But that’s football for you.
It also hasn’t been the best half for Marcelino Ball. He was burned on two Iowa touchdowns, first in coverage on a nice throw from Stanley, and then Ball whiffed on bringing down Stanley for a sack. Other than those two plays, he’s been solid. But Indiana’s defense, at least in the last two weeks, have played a takeaway-or-touchdown brand of football. It can’t continue if the Hoosiers want to beat a fundamentally sound program in Iowa.
Where does the second half take us?
Oh boy, I have no clue. Indiana needs some sort of message at halftime, and quite honestly, the Hoosiers need to play an entirely different brand of football in the second half. Stanley has comfort in the pocket. The Hawkeyes are marching down the field, and have only punted once. That interception from Thomas Allen was massive, and resulted in a beautiful throw and catch from Ramsey to Ty Fryfogle. Indiana will need more takeaways. It will need to execute on short, critical downs. And man, it can’t afford giving the Hawkeyes 15-yards time and time again.
Talk to you on Twitter, @ByTeddyBailey, and at the end of this one.