Sunday, October 9, 2011

Indiana Has To Get Offensive, Or Else

Kevin Wilson wants more offense. Does that surprise you? Specifically he wants more points. He’s been known as a coach who gets that done, who runs uptempo, hard-to-stop attacks that break the will of opposing defenses.

He did it at Northwestern and Oklahoma, big time. He's had the most prolific attack in the history of college football.

That ain’t happening at Indiana. At least, it ain’t happening enough.

Take Saturday’s 41-20 Illinois loss. The Hoosiers scored 20 points, but seven came on a kickoff return for a touchdown, seven on a late drive when the game was decided and the Illini had dialed back the intensity. Of the remaining six points, three were on a field goal that came after forcing a turnover that gave them the ball inside the Illini 5-yard line.

That won’t work against any team, let alone a nationally ranked one, as the Illini are.

“I think our defense is battling,” Wilson said, “but we’re still putting way too much stress on them.”

The offense even allowed Illinois to score a touchdown when a blitz forced a fumble the Illini scooped up and returned 66 yards for a touchdown.

“We had a nice drive across midfield,” Wilson said, “and we had maximum protection and they brought a blitz and one of our linemen went to pick up a guy who wasn’t his and didn’t stay on his guy. They got a sack and a scoop. A guy made an error, just messed up, shouldn’t have, but did.”

Here’s an example of IU offensive inefficiency. Defensive end Bobby Richardson, a true freshman by the way, recovered a fumble on the Illinois 3-yard line in the second quarter. The Illini led 14-10 at the time. IU ran once for a 2-yard loss, then again for a 2-yard gain. Wilson wanted to give tailback Stephen Houston another crack at it (he was planning on going for it on fourth down if Houston didn't score), but quarterback Dusty Kiel thought the defensive end was going to go at Houston, which would have left the perimeter free. So he kept the ball, the end didn’t bite and stuffed Kiel for no gain. Instead of a touchdown, IU got a field goal.

Kiel accepted the responsibility for that.

“That was frustrating. I’ve got to keep working. As a quarterback I have to get better in that area. I thought (the defensive end) was closing and he didn’t. That was all on me. I should have given it.”

Wilson did say it might not have been the “proper call,” that he was trying to go against IU’s passing nature to catch the Illini off guard. Still, he would have liked to have seen what a Houston run could have done.

“I think a little bit of our offensive issues were some guy pressing, trying a little too much, didn’t trust themselves, didn’t trust the scheme, didn’t trust the guy beside them. When you’re a little out of synch and you’re a competitor and you’re getting a little antsy, you’re playing outside the framework of the offense. It wasn’t a huge mistake. It was a guy trying to do something well.”

So now the Hoosiers are 1-5 overall, 0-2 in the Big Ten, and have to take a trip to unbeaten Wisconsin, which has the look of a national championship squad and a coach who doesn’t mind running up the score.

IU’s only chance is to hope the Badgers commit seven turnovers, and convert red-zone opportunities into touchdowns.

If not, well, it won’t be pretty.

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