We could write just another game story. Surely a dozen of them will be written. You might even read one of them.
But here’s the real story.
You can excuse Tom Allen and this Indiana football program for not being physically and athletically ready yet for the titans of the Big Ten. Minnesota is not a titan of the Big Ten, and for what happened on Friday night — there are no excuses.
Having a young defense is no excuse. Minnesota’s offense is younger, and without their starting quarterback and running back.
Having an offense that doesn’t make big plays is no excuse. Minnesota had given up 43.3 points and 503.8 yards per game in Big Ten play.
There are no excuses for the special teams either. Last week the kickoff coverage literally cost them the game. This time they gave up a blocked punt which led to the touchdown that effectively put the game away. Sort of.
By the way, if a punter like Haydon Whitehead wants to go to his left before every punt, why wouldn’t you send all of your punt rush to that side? That’s the second time he has had a punt blocked in just that manner.
Never mind that though, we aren’t writing a game story here.
Playing on the road in the Big Ten is no excuse either. There was no one even at the game in Minnesota except a really annoying band that seemed to be playing well beyond when they should be allowed to between plays when IU had the football. Never mind that either.
The bottom line here — there are just no excuses for the current state of this IU football program.
Indiana has lost four games in a row after a once promising 4-1 start. We now know that start was fool’s gold. We probably should have known that before the season ever got started.
You know what else was fool’s gold? That rally by IU from down 31-9 to tied at 31. Fully on brand, they gave up the big play late to give it away, 38-31. Of course they did. Please don’t try to sugarcoat things with a rah rah story about the rally — they lost. And they lost because of what got them in the hole to begin with.
There is going to be a cloud of negativity surrounding this program now, with finger pointing at the man in charge, the athletic director and everyone else involved. It’s still early in the Tom Allen era, but undeniably, it just got harder to defend him.
The crowd in two weeks for Maryland is likely to be an embarrassment. The crowd at home against Purdue could end up feeling like a neutral site.
We want to believe in Allen, but something has to change. Outside of the current losing streak, there is a larger disturbing trend emerging with this program, and it goes back to last year’s Bucket game.
Counting last year against Purdue, the second half against Rutgers, Iowa, and the first 45 minutes against Minnesota, IU has shown a propensity to lack energy, playing passive, and on their heels.
One constant with all of those games (and others) is a dormant offense. Peyton Ramsey showed what he is capable of when he takes shots down the field in the fourth quarter at Minnesota, but frankly, where has that been? Under Mike DeBord, this IU offense has consistently lacked imagination. The game plan every week seems to be predictable, vanilla, dink and dunk, and anything but dynamic.
DeBord’s offense may have worked in the 90’s, but in today’s game of college football, your offense is either dynamic, or it is a liability.
To be sure, the defense through three quarters against Minnesota was disastrous, but Allen has done enough to earn the benefit of the doubt on that side of the ball.
With dynamic skill position players like Michael Penix, Reese Taylor, Stevie Scott, Ronnie Walker, Whop Philyor, Ty Fryfogle, Peyton Hendershot and others slated to be at IU for a long time, it’s time to give them an offensive coordinator worthy of their talent.
IU is fortunate to have this kind of skill position talent on their team — but will they keep coming to play for an offense that looks like this?
IU went up and down the field in the first half on Friday night, and the result? Three field goals. That was effectively the ball game. The book on how to defend IU has been out for weeks — keep everything in front of you and wait for the drive to stall out.
If you are compelled by the big fourth quarter from the IU offense and think it is a sign of things to come, then by all means, dream that dream. Maybe it is. There is no reason for a mid-season firing of anyone here. Let it play out.
But if things don’t change, and Indiana ends up no better or worse than last year’s 5-7 record with the Old Oaken Bucket still in West Lafayette, then there truly are no excuses.
Something has to change. Tom Allen needs to get this done and go out and find the right person this time. If not he runs the risk of legitimate calls for his job this time next year.
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