Saturday’s game between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Penn State Nittany Lions was downright ugly. It saw as many punts as points scored, highlighted by a Hoosier offense that was shut out at home. So before Indiana sets its sights on the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers, let’s take a 20/20 look at the Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly from Saturday’s 13-7 Hoosier loss.
The Good – The Indiana defense looked very good on Saturday as they sacked Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg five times and recorded a season high 11 tackles for a loss. They also helped themselves out when safety Mark Murphy took an interception 47 yards for the Hoosiers’ lone touchdown. The defense held Penn State to just 13 points and was burned only by a 92-yard Bill Belton touchdown run. If Hoosier fans want to hang their hat on something in 2014, it is that the defense is playing much better and the coaching on that side of the ball is very improved.
The Bad – Where to start here…How about with the offense? The Indiana offense has regressed in the last three weeks going from 17 points to 10 to 0. The Hoosiers just do not seem to have a clue on how to attack a defense with Diamont under center. Time after time they ran Tevin Coleman either up the middle against a very stout front, or tried an ill-advised option play that was blown up for a loss. Add in the fact that Indiana has zero passing game and therein lies the reason they have scored one touchdown in two games. However, the blame does not all fall on offensive coordinator Kevin Johns and quarterback Zander Diamont. The Hoosier receivers need to step up their game as well and help out the freshman quarterback who had several passes dropped that could have led to a Hoosier win, most noticeably the pass to Simmie Cobbs over the middle that would have led to an easier field goal or maybe more.
The Ugly- The mental errors that the Hoosiers made against the Nittany Lions, especially those on special teams, are very concerning. Add in the fact that Indiana committed 10 penalties and you have a very ugly game. Indiana had negative yardage on punt returns by senior Shane Wynn and freshman J-Shun Harris. When the offense is struggling to move the ball past mid-field the last thing a team needs is a loss of yards on special teams. Another mental error came on a kickoff when Damon Graham fielded a bouncing kick while on his knee. This set up the Hoosiers at their 12-yard line. These are mistakes that should not occur nine games into the year.
*Section Photo credit to Robert Scheer, IndyStar; Featured Photo (above) credit to Sara Riche, Associated Press