The Hoosiers offense played well enough for IU to win this game. They had more opportunities to score (especially early), but against a defense that could be the best in the country 28 should be enough to win a game. Its also the most that MSU has given up all season.
Defensively, the Hoosiers continued what looks to be another season of poor tackling and disappointment. IU struggled against the Spartans on a fundamental level.
Here’s our thoughts on the game:
- Game Plan? I swear coach Kevin Wilson didn’t do his research before this game. IU called far too many screens and flat plays against a defense known for its lateral speed. Quick slants, crossing routes, and fades are called for against a team like this. Save the screens for when they blitz (and hope Nate Sudfeld can handle the pressure). Wilson needs to call higher percentage plays against this caliber of defense.
- Wide Receivers. IU’s receivers were often in man-to-man situations, but failed to get open. While the Hoosiers have a good receiving corps, often times they simply can’t shake their defenders. While MSU has great corners, they should still be able to get open on at least a few plays.
- Blitz Pickup. IU has never had a dominant offensive line, but they looked especially terrible against MSU. Blitz pickup was truly awful and Sudfeld did little to compensate for it. Its clear that IU runs a “check-with-me” offense, but Sudfeld should still be able to call audibles and make adjustments at the line to compensate for blitzers. That didn’t happen, and he’s was running for his life most of the day. Sudfeld career is going to be defined by how he deals with pressure. If he can manage the blitz, he certainly has the arm to make it to the NFL (if Curtis Painter can do it, anyone can).
- Penalties. Specifically, penalties on IU’s third drive of the game. IU scored on its first drive, then forced back-to-back three-and-out’s. They had a chance to take a big lead early in a road game, but when the Hoosiers got to midfield on their third drive it all fell apart. First it was a 15-yard penalty for hands to the face by an IU lineman, a careless penalty that always gets called (it would have been better if he had held his man). That was followed immediately by a 5-yard delay of game, against careless and inexcusable. At this point, IU was facing first-and-25. Two plays later, IU is hit with a false start on third-and-17. It smacked of this team being unprepared and that is how coaches get fired.
- Fire Mallory. Doug Mallory has no clue how to coach a defense. None. He’s had his chance and its very clear its him and not the players. The guys on the field can’t tackle properly, are always out of position, and the communication is awful. That all starts at the top with the coach. His players don’t wrap up and try to make tackles against Big Ten running backs with their arms. It doesn’t work that way, tackling isn’t hard and Mallory should be making them do drills every week. Its clear he doesn’t and his game planning is horrible. I don’t know why Wilson has been so loyal to a guy who could likely cost Wilson his job.
- The offense doesn’t help, either. While IU has a prolific offense that can score a lot of points and put opponents on their heels, it also fails at a fast pace. The Hoosiers go three-and-out fairly often, and that puts a lot of pressure on the defense. It seems like Wilson believes that certain plays will work because they work in practice, against IU’s defense.
- 42 Points. That’s the second highest point total for an offense that has struggled mightily all season. They also had far more yards than their season average. IU should have been better against this mediocre offense. Its clear the Hoosiers need better talent on the defensive side of the ball, but the players they have are not very well coached. Yes, a lot of times an IU defender was in the right place to make a play, but failed to wrap up or take the correct angle. What is Mallory doing during film study? Is he telling these guys where they should have been, what angle to take? Is he making them do tackling drills at the next practice? It sure doesn’t look like it.
With better execution, the Hoosiers could have won this game.
Up next, the IU will face Michigan. The Wolverines lost in quadruple overtime to Penn State (a team IU has beaten) on Saturday night. Michigan’s defense isn’t all that stellar and IU should be able to keep it interesting.
Don’t forget to follow us on twitter, @InkOnIndy.