It’s Bucket week, so it is time to talk to Crimson Quarry. This week we have Kyle Robbins stopping by to answer questions about the Indiana Hoosiers.
T-Mill: So we meet again where the winner goes to a bowl and the loser stays home. How is this year different, really?
Kyle: It isn’t different. The passage of time is something to merely distract us on our slow, long slog toward certain death. You can change the coaches, change the names, the players, the helmets, the uniforms, whatever. This is purgatory, and we’re here all together now. The gravitational pull of Indiana’s cyclical Football Hell has sucked Purdue up into it, and you’re now destined to alternate bowl appearances with us at 6-6 until the nukes roll in over the horizon line. The year is 2058. Mike DeBord runs a mesh route two yards short of the sticks on 3rd and 8. Purdue wins 26-21, and advances to the [FLORIDA TOWN STILL ABOVE SEA LEVEL] Bowl presented by [UHHH, UHH, A BANK] Congratulations.
T-Mill: You guys have famously been against Mike DeBord. Here is your chance to vent on him.
Kyle: No, no, no -- that’s unfair. These talking points are old, let’s flip the narrative. What if, in fact, Mike DeBord is good? What if, in fact, football points are scored not by performing a “Touchdown” but instead by accumulating as many Fitbit steps as possible! That’s efficiency. Mike DeBord is your elder, and he knows that 65% of Americans struggle to change their sedentary lifestyle after the age of 55. Start easy, work your way up, use your power well. Light jogs from side to side in the stadium, running into North/South headwinds are just wasted energy.
The man is a visionary, a talent-developer, a trendsetter. Entire offense stalls out after your scripted plays to start the game run out? That’s good. Builds character. REAL victories come later in life, not on this football field young man. Sheer persistence to play a Not Good quarterback over the program’s most talented signal-caller in a decade? Depth chart development for 2019. Three straight off-guard runs on a long field in critical late game situations? That’s checkers while you’re playing chess, Jeff Brohm.
Mike DeBord one of college football’s most innovative minds, he’s critical to Indiana’s success. Please light me on fire as soon as possible.
T-Mill: Both teams seem to have their share of stupid losses this year. What has gone wrong for IU in their close games?
Kyle: The same things that have been happening to Indiana football for the last decade. Full disclosure: I really thought Indiana would take a step back this year. Tom Allen lost a ton on defense, the best option for an opening day starter was a arm-limited redshirt sophomore, and thus limitations should’ve stifled Indiana’s best position group at wideout. But that hasn’t really mattered, as it does not matter “how good” a given Indiana football team is, nor does it matter what that team’s skillset is.
Good teams find ways to win big games. They make big plays, crucial catches, correct play calls, or, uh, the Awareness To Not Shove Someone In The Back at critical junctures. Indiana trailed Ohio State close late, and couldn’t come up with that breakthrough play to even things up. Indiana had the ball with a chance to beat Penn State -- and couldn’t move the ball under pressure. Indiana’s chances at Michigan ended with a dumb Simon Stepaniak penalty that negated a Stevie Scott run into the redzone -- leaving the Hoosiers just a few yards to regain the lead before the fourth quarter.
Good teams find ways to win games. Indiana somehow always finds a way to lose them.
T-Mill: The Indiana defense has given up 30 or more in six straight. Is this a concern facing a Purdue offense that can score if it is on?
Kyle: Yes, of course. Indiana’s had odd blown coverages all year in the back, and it isn’t the same experienced defensive unit Tom Allen’s had the past couple of seasons. That said, I think it’s improving here late in the season. Giving up 31 to Michigan isn’t all that bad in context -- the defense held strong in the redzone and forced a possibly-CFP-destined program to kick six field goals. It kept Indiana in the contest, at the worst.
Here’s the opposite side of the coin: Tom Allen’s always seemed to have Jim Harbaugh’s number to varying degrees -- and you certainly can’t say the same for Jeff Brohm off last season.
T-Mill: Offensively, what has been working the best for Indiana?
Kyle: Throwing the ball downfield, when Mike DeBord chooses to open up the playbook -- and Peyton Ramsey isn’t overly-afraid of mistakes. When you have a quarterback that skews conservative and an offensive coordinator who calls games in that manner, you won’t see Indiana take the chances downfield you might have been used to during the Wilson era. Problem: Indiana still has Wilson-era wideouts. Nick Westbrook is 6-3. Donovan Hale is 6-4. Both are freaks, and they haven’t gotten the necessary touches this year. If you can make that happen, you’ll profit.
Stevie Scott’s going to be very, very good in the Big Ten for the next three-plus years by the way. He’s just another of IU’s crop of true freshman talent with Mike Penix, Ronnie Walker, and Reese Taylor. Could be a great, great offense next year, pending a change in the playcalling department. As for now? Meh. It’s fine. Indiana’s offense is fine, and nothing more than fine.
T-Mill: Finally, who gets the Bucket and a bowl?
Kyle: I don’t trust this team, and frankly I haven’t all season. Purdue 31, Indiana 23. Enjoy San Francisco again, or wherever.