Indiana football: Mistakes continue to plague Hoosiers as season slips away
It’s a repeating storyline for Indiana, one that is causing the season to slip away: The Hoosiers can’ t avoid the kinds of mistakes that lead to losses.
And it was evident again Saturday afternoon in a 38-33 loss to Maryland in Memorial Stadium. Quarterback Connor Bazelak threw 2 interceptions, including one on the very 1st play of the game, with the 2 turnovers leading to 10 Terrapins points. A 3rd turnover, on a fumble by receiver Andison Coby with about 5 minutes left, severely inhibited the Hoosiers’ chance for a comeback victory.
A season that started promisingly enough — although the 3-0 start was still marred by mistakes, or at least by woeful inconsistencies from one half to the next, it had IU sitting undefeated — is looking more and more like it’ll be a 2nd straight sub-.500 campaign.
And what does that mean for a Hoosiers team hoping that it could bounce back from the 2-10 record of last season? Before this year’s opener, coach Tom Allen stated out loud what many were thinking: that his program needed to prove that ’21 was the outlier, not the season before, when Indiana was a national darling, even threatening Ohio State for supremacy in the Big Ten after it had won 6-of-7 league games.
But, unfortunately, the answer looks evident. Indiana is heading in the wrong direction. Maybe there’ll be some reprieve next week, when the Hoosiers travel to Rutgers, but even then IU is likely to be at least a slight underdog. After that comes a much-needed bye, before back-to-back games vs. East powers Penn State and Ohio State, the latter in Columbus when the Buckeyes will be eyeing an undefeated season and chance at the College Football Playoff (provided they can get past Michigan). Maybe IU can gain a bit of momentum vs. Michigan State in East Lansing the following week, although the Spartans showed at least a faint pulse with an overtime home win vs. Wisconsin on Saturday. Purdue, which has won 4 straight, comes to Bloomington in the final week of the season in a battle for the Old Oaken Bucket.
Point being, there might not be a lot of Ws left, which makes the failures against Maryland even more acutely felt. The win was there for the taking, but the Hoosiers couldn’t take it. IU had rallied from an early 11-point deficit to take a 27-24 lead early in the 4th quarter. When Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa was injured on the next series, IU had to feel the game was trending in its favor.
But after backup Billy Edwards Jr. rallied the Terps into the lead, the Hoosiers committed their final mistake only 2 plays later, when Coby put the ball on the turf.
Allen is running low on answers. After last season, he made an almost immediate change at offensive coordinator, hoping that would boost what had been an anemic offense. He’s taken on more of the defensive responsibilities again, like early in his tenure, after holes there the last couple years. He tried plugging the holes in Indiana’s personnel during the offseason via the transfer portal. And when the Hoosiers’ offensive line showed to be ineffective in the 1st half of this season, he made a coaching change there, too.
But none, nor the combination of all, has proven to be an elixir. Maybe only a win is the solvent, but those will be hard to come by. Indiana hasn’t won a non-September game since beating Wisconsin in December, 2020, a streak of 11 games.
If it reaches a dirty dozen next week in Piscataway, then the questions for Allen get even more difficult.