Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
The Hoosiers stood tall with just over four minutes left in the first half when their true freshman quarterback Zander Diamont plunged into the end zone for a 17-14 lead. The crowd was buzzing, the players were jumping around on the sideline, and there was some hope that the season was not all lost, but then came the next 34 and a half minutes that saw all that hope disappear. The Hoosiers ended up on the losing end of a 56-17 thrashing at the hands of the number six ranked Michigan State Spartans that had the Hoosier faithful running for their heated cars before the start of the fourth quarter. For one more year at least the Old Brass Spittoon will spend its year in East Lansing.
Opponent: Michigan State Spartans
Location: Saturday October 18th /3:30pm/ Memorial Stadium/ (Bloomington, IN)
Why They Played: The Hoosiers and Spartans will now meet every year and battle for the Old Brass Spittoon, which should really help this trophy game gain some traction at the two schools.
What The Game Meant:
In the span of less than a week the narrative of this game went from maybe the Hoosiers can give them a game at home to hoping the Hoosiers may score a touchdown. After the injury to Nate Sudfeld and the announcement that his back up Chris Covington partially tore his ACL, the Hoosiers looked like they did in 2011.
Top Offensive Performers:
Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana- Coleman became the first rusher to gain 100 yards on this vaunted Michigan State running defense. He totaled 132 yards on just 15 carries (we’ll get to this later). He extended his streak to nine straight games with at least 100 rushing yards, but his touchdown streak came crashing to a halt. He is still the nation’s leading rusher through this weekend, but his Heisman hopes still go under the radar.
Tony Lippett, WR, Michigan State- The wide receiver corps for Michigan State was their most impressive unit, and it was not even close. Tony Lippett led that unit with seven catches and 123 yards, including several circus catches that just frustrated the Hoosier defense.
Nick Hill, RB, Michigan State- The senior running back set a career high with 178 yards and a score for the Spartans. While Jeremy Langford gets the spot light, Hill has gone somewhat unnoticed as another solid runner for the Spartans offense. His day was highlighted by a 76-yard score that made the score 56-17 with 1:24 left in the game.
Top Defensive Performers
T.J. Simmons, LB, Indiana- Indiana’s defense as a whole did not play particularly well, but TJ Simmons had a nice game recording nine tackles and a sack. He is only a sophomore and will get better.
Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State- The big Spartan defensive end was a handful to deal with as he had four total tackles, 2.5 TFL’s and a sack. He and the rest of the Spartan defensive line was a major reason why the Hoosier offense could not get any rhythm going.
Special Team Performance:
Now more than ever, Indiana needs to find something in the return game. It still baffles me to as why Laray Smith, a four year high school all-American track star has not seen the field as a kick returner this year. On Saturday the Hoosier returners had four kick returns for a total of 85 yards, including a long of 26 yards from J-Shun Harris. The return game has been non-existent all season and now more than ever the Hoosiers need it to come through. Griffin Oakes continued his good play, connecting on a field goal and hitting two of his four kickoffs for touchbacks on a blustery fall day. Erich Toth punted 10 times and averaged 39.9 yards per kick. He has been solid, but not the weapon that IU could use right now to flip the field on opponents.
There are tons of numbers to go over in this game, and I’ll do a piece later in the week about that, but I want to emphasize the number 15 here. This is the number of carries that Indiana running back had in a game where the Hoosiers were starting a true freshman quarterback. If you want to add in his receptions, fine, that brings Coleman’s touches up to a whole 17. It is really mind boggling that the nation’s leading rusher cannot carry the ball more than 20 times a game.
The game turned when Connor Cook found Macgarrett Kings in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown with 1:14 left in the half. The Hoosiers were trailing 21-17 and holding the Spartans to a field goal would have been huge, but IU could not get the stop. So instead of being down just seven points, the Hoosiers trailed by 11 and had lost what ever momentum they had.
I Knew it Was Over When…
Jeremy Langford ran it in for a score with 3:59 left in the third quarter to make the score 35-17. Indiana had done a decent job stopping this offense early, but could not take advantage of that opportunity.
Players of the Game
Indiana– Tevin Coleman- What can I say other than he had a really nice day against a very good defense. Rushing for 132 yards against the Spartans is quite a feat, but still begs the question as to why he is only getting 15 carries.
Michigan State- Receivers and Tight Ends- Let me start off by saying Conner Cook had the least impressive 332-yard passing performance of all-time. His pass catchers bailed him out poor throw after poor throw. Led by Tony Lippett with 123 yards, the Spartans receivers just caught everything. They are a really impressive group.
What I took away from the game
This is quickly becoming the 2008 and 2011 versions of the Hoosiers. In 2008 IU was forced to play a young Ben Chappell due to injuries to Kellen Lewis and crawled to a 3-9 final record. In 2011, Wilson’s first year, they had two quarterbacks who could not hit water if they fell out of a boat and were forced to play a freshman named Tre Roberson in route to a dreadful 1-11 campaign. This season, the Hoosiers’ quarterback issues started even before fall camp, when both Cam Coffman and Tre Roberson left the program for more playing time and left junior Nate Sudfeld and a handful of unproven signal callers. Well, you know the rest. Saturday’s game was never one that was circled as a win for IU. Could the Hoosiers be competitive against this Spartans team if they were healthy? Probably, but let’s remember, it was not as if Nate Sudfeld was lighting the world on fire this season either.
There is a cloud of negativity hanging over this IU football program and some fans are frothing at the mouth to see someone’s head on a silver platter. One cannot blame true freshman Zander Diamont for his performance yesterday, yes he was in for spring ball, but the coaches have to have a game plan in place to set him up for success. Running the ball with the best back in the nation only 15 times does not do that.
Personally, I cannot wrap my head around as to why Tevin Coleman has only ran the ball 30 times in the last two games. I do not buy that he needs a rest every other series. Now, I am not saying he does not play hard, because he goes hard every down. I just cannot believe that a man in his physical condition, who the coaches said was a beast just cannot touch the ball more than 17 times a game. A lot of reasons have gone through my head about this. Some are disturbing and some just do not make sense. Could the coaching staff be putting Coleman on some sort of “pitch count” to save him for later in the season? If this is the case, it is absolutely asinine. Or could it be that the coaches are intentionally not giving him the ball to some how make sure Coleman returns to Bloomington for his senior season. Both of these ideas are NOT accusations, and I only bring them up because I cannot make any sense as to why this terrific player is getting the ball less than 20 times a game.
Hoosier Nation has to hope that this game was not a preview of what is to come for the rest of the season. Indiana has an open week before traveling to the Big House to take on Michigan. It is a chance to slow things down and regroup. Right now though, Indiana is staring a 3-9 overall record and a winless Big Ten record straight in the face. If the season goes the way Saturday went, head coach Kevin Wilson’s seat starts getting very hot.