The Hoosiers had an extra week to retool their offense and give Zander Diamont a fighting chance to succeed on the road. Instead the Hoosiers fell flat. Tevin Coleman fumbled twice, once out of the wildcat formation and the other on a handoff. The Hoosiers came into Michigan with the hopes that they would catch the Wolverines in a cloud of drama. They left with another injured quarterback and a demoralizing 34-10 loss. A season that started with so much promise and hope has gone off the rails and now the question is if the Hoosiers will win another game in 2014.
Opponent: Michigan Wolverines
Location: Saturday November 1st /3:30pm/ Michigan Stadium/ (Ann Arbor, MI)
Why They Played: The Hoosiers and Wolverines will now meet yearly since divisional realignment has placed both teams in the East.
What The Game Meant:
This game had plenty of meaning for a matchup featuring two teams under .500. Michigan was looking for anything positive after a week of scrutiny that saw AD Dave Brandon resign. For the Hoosiers, it was a chance to knock off the Wolverines for the first time in Ann Arbor since 1967.
Top Offensive Performers:
Drake Johnson, RB, Michigan- The third string sophomore had a career game on the ground, rushing for 122 yards on just 16 carries, highlighted by two touchdowns.
Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan- Another back up with a big day for Michigan. The sophomore receiver hauled in nine passes for 107 yards and a score.
Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan- The beleaguered quarterback had an efficient day, completing 22 of 29 passes for 220 yards and two scores. He did throw one pick and had several other passes that could have gone the other way, but he played well and more importantly only had one turnover.
Top Defensive Performers
Chase Dutra, Safety, Indiana- The freshman played well once again. He picked off a pass that set up IU’s offense at the Michigan 12-yard line. He also recorded four tackles.
Jake Ryan, LB, Michigan- The senior middle linebacker set the tone for the afternoon, forcing two fumbles and stuffed Indiana’s run game. He finished the game with 11 tackles with 2.5 of them coming for a loss.
Special Team Performance:
The Indiana Hoosiers found a return game, but cannot put together a complete game on special teams. Shane Wynn had several nice returns, averaging 13 yards on punt returns and 23 yards on kick off returns. Freshman J-Shun Harris showed he could be a game breaker averaging 31.5 yards on two kick off returns.
Indiana had a chance of gaining some momentum back before the half when safety Chase Dutra took an interception down to the Michigan 12, but Griffin Oakes’ field goal attempt hit the upright. He finished one of two on the day. Indiana continues to be plagued by inconsistent punting. Erich Toth failed to flip the field averaging just 37.7 yards on six punts.
There are several key stats. Head Coach Kevin Wilson pointed to the 14 points the Wolverines scored off of turnovers. I picked the total yards produced by the Indiana offense: 191. This was as bad of an offensive performance as there has been in a long time. The Hoosiers averaged a microscopic three yards per pass attempt and a concerning 3.7 yards per carry. It was a given the offense would take a step back when Nate Sudfeld wen’t down, but it looked totally inept Saturday.
Indiana’s defense did its job and held Michigan to a field goal on their first drive. However on the ensuing drive, the Hoosiers’ all-Big Ten caliber running back Tevin Coleman coughed up the ball and gave the Wolverines the ball at the IU 27-yard line. This turnover resulted in a Michigan touchdown and a 10-0 hole for Indiana.
I Knew it Was Over When…
The game was put out of reach when Drake Johnson found the edge and raced into the end zone for a 10-yard score to put Michigan up 24-3 with 1:39 left in the third quarter.
Players of the Game
Michigan- Jake Ryan, LB-The senior linebacker looked to be on a personal mission to stop the Indiana run game. Well, mission accomplished as Ryan recorded 11 tackles, 2.5 TFL’s and forced two fumbles.
What I took away from the game:
Could it be possible that this offense has regressed to being even worse than it was two weeks ago against Michigan State? It sure looked like it today, as the Hoosiers could only muster 200 yards of total offense. Tevin Coleman did not have the same burst of energy he had in the first seven games. It sure seems like he maybe checked out and has his mind focused on the 2015 NFL Draft. Even more concerning is the fact coach Kevin Wilson is allowing running backs coach Delland McCullough to call the shots on when Tevin is benched and when he can return to the game. Don’t get me wrong, fumbling the football is a mortal sin in this game and Coleman had put the rock on the turf twice. It would be an understandable decision for the HEAD coach to bench his star, but to have an assistant determine when the team’s best player can return to play when the game is in the balance is a head scratcher.
The Hoosiers tried the wildcat formation but it turned out to be miserable. The lone solid play out of the formation came on a 17-yard Coleman run, while everything else looked like peewee football. The Hoosiers also threw eight passes and only two in the second half. They became one-dimensional (I know, I know I called for them to run) and had zero threat down field. The 2014 campaign is becoming a lost season for IU. They really have gotten little to nothing out of it.
On a bright note, if you can call it that, the defense played well enough to win. There were some missed opportunities to get some turnovers, but they did play better. However, there is always room for improvement. IU’s corners continue to play too soft in coverage on short yardage and it continues to be a stress inducing issue for Hoosier fans everywhere.
As for where the Hoosiers go from here, all signs are pointing to a dark and dreary 3-9 or 4-8 season. With four games left, the Hoosiers still have a quarter of the season left, but the road is not easy as they host Penn State then travel to Rutgers and Ohio State, before entertaining an improved Purdue team on the last weekend of the regular season. Fans are sick of the talk, and talk is cheap at this point, but Kevin Wilson will implore them to have some more patience and he will continue to try and get this team to improve in practice and salvage the season, but for now, it is a dark path for the Hoosiers.
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*Section Photo and Featured Photo (above) credit to Leon Halip,Getty Images.