What remains of the IU offense played one of its best games of the season against Maryland, and looked pretty darn competent through 1.5 quarters against Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the game lasted a little longer than that.
- How about a little continuity on the offensive line?? After half a season of patching together an offensive line due to various injuries, the offense has had two straight weeks with the line we pretty much expected heading into the season. The results haven’t quite been there yet, but hopefully a little break in the schedule and the benefit of consistently playing together will lead to improvement down the stretch.
- Unfortunately, the injury bug passed from the offensive line to the running backs. Morgan Ellison and Mike Majette missed the Maryland game. Cole Gest, forced into starting duty, went down in the 2nd half against Maryland with what appeared to be a concussion. He missed the Wisconsin game, as did Majette.
- More injury talk! Somebody said this about J’Shun Harris a couple weeks ago:
As far as I’m concerned, he has to be on the field more. He provides top-end speed and playmaking for an offense in dire need of both. If concern about his health and preserving him for punt return duties is keeping him on the sideline, I get it to a degree. Still, getting him 20 plays a game on offense seems perfectly reasonable and could make a significant impact.
Ugh. So the coaching staff apparently had a similar thought heading into the Maryland game. Harris started (his 1st this season) and played in 3 of IU’s first 4 possessions. Then he left the game with another torn ACL, in all likelihood ending his career at IU.1 Just brutal.
- The staff’s handling of Ian Thomas has been interesting. In each of the last two games, Thomas has played the majority of the snaps in the 1st quarter, a little in the 2nd quarter, and not at all in the 2nd half. It could be that he just can’t get loosened back up after cooling down at halftime, but that’s just a guess. Whatever the issue, this offense could really use something approaching a full game of production from Mr. Thomas.
- I strongly suspect that Thomas’ limited availability directly impacts the personnel groupings employed by the Hoosiers, as shown below. Without Thomas and his receiving ability from the tight end position, IU needs to deploy a 4th wide receiver if it really wants to throw the ball. And when DeBord goes 4 wide, he REALLY wants to pass, to the tune of 88% passes from that personnel grouping in the last two games.
Also, as those charts show (and as you’ll see throughout this post), there’s a comical difference in the number of offensive plays between these two games. A few factors contributed to this disparity: (1) IU was fairly efficient and methodical against Maryland, which led to several long sustained drives; (2) Wisconsin is a much better, much more run-oriented version of what IU was against Maryland. They simply don’t let their opponent have the ball; and (3) half of the 4th quarter against Wisconsin was garbage time.
On the bright side, at least IU tried to run the ball outside the tackles against Wisconsin and Maryland. It didn’t work, but hey, A for effort. The Wisconsin gameplan was a return to the Ohio State “we know we can’t run it against this front 7 so we might as well throw it almost every play.” And I get it. This offense simply cannot line up and run the ball against the top tier of the B1G. That is especially true without the threat of the keep by Ramsey.
It wasn’t technically part of the rushing offense, but man, the offense made some people miss against Maryland. Cole Gest broke a tackle on his TD catch and run. Ricky Brookins ran through an arm tackle to turn a dump off into a big gain. And Whop was making Terrapins look foolish all afternoon. Wisconsin, to no one’s surprise, tackled better than Maryland. Nevertheless, Devonte Williams came out of nowhere to break 4 tackles – 2 each on one run and one reception.
Ramsey and Lagow flipped the script a little bit against Maryland. Ramsey was effective on deep passes, putting up nearly 16 per attempt over 20 yards with 2 TDs. Lagow didn’t even attempt a pass beyond 20 yards in his quarter-plus of action. But for 2 drops (one by Cobbs and one soul-crusher by Whop), however, Lagow would have been 4 for 4 on intermediate passes. On the other hand, the normally conservative Ramsey tried to force a pass into coverage and instead tossed a costly pick.
In total, IU threw 41 PASSES between 1 and 10 yards downfield. There are several B1G teams that won’t throw that many short passes in a month.
Not Big Coy’s best day. His 6 pressures allowed against Maryland equal his total for the other 8 games this season. While giving up 16 total pressures isn’t ideal, a pressure rate of 25% isn’t terrible – it’s just not what you would expect against a defense that had struggled to generate pressure all season.
A mixed bag here for Rich. Coach Allen was quick to come to his senior QB’s defense during his weekly radio show, pointing out that Lagow’s two INTs came from a receiver running the wrong route and from a ball that hit the receiver’s hands. The second point is unquestionably true. The pass, although not perfectly located, hit Luke Timian’s hands and popped into the air. Hard to blame Lagow for that. The first INT is a little more complicated. It’s certainly possible Whop ran the wrong route, but even if he did, I’m still not sure Lagow should have thrown the ball where he did. Either way, Richard was pretty much Richard throughout. He had several absolute dimes that very few college QBs could match. He also forced a few passes, especially to Simmie. And he was a sitting duck in the pocket. All that said, assuming Ramsey doesn’t come back, if IU gets mostly good Richard, it can absolutely score enough points to sweep its last three games.2
That’s right kids. Wisconsin brought 4 rushers on all 34 dropbacks. Wisconsin is not interested in your new-fangled blitzes – or, more likely, UW defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard didn’t feel like showcasing his best blitz packages when he could generate a 26% pressure rate from the most vanilla pass rush possible.
**One last point that has nothing to do with the IU offense or charts: the current replay system in college football is an effing disaster. If my current rage holds, I’ll probably dig a little deeper on this topic in the offseason, but suffice to say, there is no world in which Wisconsin should have been awarded the ball after Ellison’s fumble. The impact on this particular game is a secondary point (in my heart of hearts, I know it wouldn’t have changed the outcome). The more important point is that replay has completely jumped the shark. At this point, we are so far from the original purpose of replay – correcting egregious errors – that the real damage caused by poorly executed replay is outweighing the benefit.**
Carry on. Please don’t make me write about another loss next week.