Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
Welcome to part two of this Thursday's Throwback series. This afternoon we look back at one of the uglier, but better defensive games IU has played under head coach Kevin Wilson. It is Week 11's 13-7 loss to Penn State.
The Hoosiers (3-6, 0-5) defense did not deserve their fate today. They had five sacks, forced two turnovers, scored a touchdown, and held Penn State (5-4, 2-4) to under 17 points in the 13-7 loss. The Hoosiers took a 7-0 lead with just under four minutes until half time on a Mark Murphy interception return for a touchdown, only to see Penn State come right back on the next drive to score on a 92-yard Bill Belton run. The Hoosier offense was still nowhere to be found, even though quarterback Zander Diamont was better accounting for 126 total yards. After a quick Indiana three and out to start the second half Penn State took the ensuing drive nine plays and 39 yards to set up a 28-yard Sam Ficken field goal to put the Nittany Lions up 10-7. The score would remain 10-7 until Ficken added another field goal, this one from 28 yards out to push the lead to 13-7 with 55 seconds left. IU would not make it past their 33-yard line on the game’s final drive.
Opponent: Penn State Nittany Lions
Saturday November 8th /12pm/ Memorial Stadium/ (Bloomington, IN)
Why They Played
The Hoosiers and Nittany Lions are both in the Big Ten East and play every year from now on.
What The Game Meant
In the Hoosiers second to last home game of 2014 this was a chance to build some good will with a second straight win over Penn State. The season may be lost but a win would have done wonders for the moral of this struggling program. For Penn State it was their chance to get one win closer to bowl eligibility.
Top Offensive Performers
Bill Belton, RB, Penn State- Most of his 137 yards rushing came on one 92 yard touchdown run, but that was enough to put the Nittany Lions past the Hoosiers. Belton ran the ball 16 times for 137 yards and a score.
Top Defensive Performers
Mark Murphy, Safety, Indiana- The senior safety is playing his best football of his career right now. Murphy was flying around the field and accounted for IU’s only points when he read a screen pass to perfection and took it back 47 yards for a score. He also added five tackle and a pass break up.
Linebackers and Defensive Line, Indiana- The Hoosiers racked up five sacks and 11 tackles for loss today. Flo Hardin, Antonio Allen (a safety), Bobby Richardson, Nate Hoff, and Ralph Green all had sacks. The defense as a unit played really well except for the Belton TD run. Not to mention they also picked off two passes and blocked a field goal. They should have been rewarded with a win.
Special Team Performance
Indiana special teams continue to haunt the Hoosiers. The return game was non-existent as several punt returns went for negative yards, Wynn had two returns for minus-nine yards and J-Shun Harris had one for minus-six. Erich Toth failed to flip field position, averaging 36.7 yards on what seemed like 100 punts, but was really 11. Indiana had a shot to tie the game on a Griffin Oakes 51-yard field goal, but he missed wide right. The Hoosiers need all the breaks to go their way, but get little to no help. The lone bright spot on special teams was a blocked field goal by Bobby Richardson.
The zero represents the points scored by the Indiana offense. It could also go as the point that Indiana’s offense did zero today in terms of making plays, or seeing any reason why a change shouldn’t be coming to the coaching staff.
Indiana was riding high when Mark Murphy returned an interception 47 yards for a score and the kick coverage team buried Penn State at their eight-yard line. Then it all came crashing down when Bill Belton took the first down handoff 92 yards to paydirt.
I Knew it Was Over When…
Zander Diamont threw his second interception of the game with 2:26 left in the game.
Players of the Game
Indiana– Mark Murphy, Safety- Murphy was the senior leader that this defense needed today. He had five tackles, and scored IU’s only touchdown.
Penn State- Bill Belton, Running Back- I guess if you score a touchdown today you get player of the game. Belton turned the tide when he took the ball 92 yards for a game-tying touchdown. He finished with 137 yards on the ground.
What I took away from the game
This may have been the ugliest football game I have watched since the Mark Sanchez butt-fumble, but that game had one good team. Both of the combatants today were terrible. Christian Hackenberg, who came in having been sacked 30 times this season, gets antsy whenever there is a defender in the same zip code. The Hoosiers did what they needed to do by sacking him five more times and forcing two turnovers. They did not deserve to lose this game.
The Hoosiers offense on the other hand is deserving of only a double face palm meme. They gained 221 yards on 68 plays. That is horrible. The few times Indiana did have any momentum on offense it was quelled with an idiotic play call involving running an option or a reverse that would result in a loss of yardage. Like I said something has to change in that regard. Zander Diamont finished 13 of 27 for 68 yards and two picks. However, his receivers dropped a couple balls that would have resulted in first downs. The most impactful one was a drop by freshman Simmie Cobbs over the middle that would have given IU a first down deep in Penn State territory with a little over 13 minutes left in the game. That drive resulted in a missed Griffin Oakes field goal.
Indiana running back Tevin Coleman’s streak of 100-yard games came to an end at 10. He finished with 71 yards on 20 carries, by far his worst performance of the season. The Hoosiers ran Coleman up the middle most of the game playing to Penn State’s strengths.
This was a winnable game for the Hoosiers, and it was right there for the taking if the offense was not inept. If the Hoosiers do end the season on a seven game losing streak, and that is a very strong possibility, Kevin Wilson’s seat gets very, very hot. Changes need to be made on the offensive side of the coaching staff. Either Wilson needs to find some one who can run an offense or take over the play calling himself. They cannot use Diamont as an excuse anymore, because Diamont is not the problem. The kid needs to be put in a position to succeed and the IU coaching staff just is not doing that right now.