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Interview with the Enemy - Crimson Quarry

The folks from the IU SB Nation blog stopped by for a chat.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Michigan State
Hopefully the only trophy they will have after tomorrow.
Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

Between 2019-2020 Indiana football went 14-7 almost an unprecedented level of success for them. Since then they’ve gone 6-17. How did things go so wrong so quickly?

Lots of reasons, honestly. Indiana had a capable offensive system with a very, very good quarterback in both of those years. Former offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan’s playcalling left much to be desired in 2021 as the injuries piled up and the losses kept coming while the deterioration of the offensive line, which had been happening since Allen’s hiring, truly caught up to the program.

Indiana pivoted to a new offensive system this year under Walt Bell, but it was and is largely unfit for the Hoosiers’ current roster and incoming recruits. Players and position groups meant to be strengths have fallen off. It’s not just one thing, but multiple factors that haven’t been solved.

It’s been a strange year for IU with them starting the season beating Big Ten West contender Illinois and then winning their next two. However after that 3-0 start they didn’t win another game until this past Saturday against a depleted Michigan State. Did IU just hit Illinois at the right time or is there a better team hidden underneath that 4-7 record?

I do not, for the life of me, understand how Indiana won the Illinois game. Bell put together a well-called drive and quarterback Connor Bazelak feasted on underneath routes thanks to soft coverage late in the fourth quarter before Allen did what he does best (sometimes at least) and called a game sealing defensive stop.

The “better team” argument has some merit with Indiana having chances to win in the fourth quarter against both Maryland and Rutgers, but this is still a team that consistently makes game-sealing mistakes and unforced errors that allow an opponent to make winning plays.

For those of us who maybe haven’t watched many IU games this season, who are the stars on offense and defense this year? Who could give Purdue trouble?

On offense, the run game is coming off of its best performance of the year against Michigan State behind running backs Shaun Shivers and Josh Henderson while quarterback Dexter Williams II added a scrambling ability and willingness Indiana hasn’t truly had since Peyton Ramsey in 2019, who I will now note is the last Hoosier quarterback to bring the bucket back to Bloomington.

On defense, watch out for a potential return from star linebacker Cam Jones and star freshman do-it-all man Dasan McCullough. Tiawan Mullen, while definitely not perfect this year, is still capable of making plays for Indiana in the secondary.

Somehow Indiana beat Michigan State despite Dexter Williams II going 2/7 passing for just 31 yards. What is going on at the QB position? IU still scored 39 points in this double overtime game. The team ran for 257 yards. Can Purdue expect more of the same this week?

Yes, Dexter Williams II is likely Indiana’s guy at quarterback for the foreseeable future. He has speed and a strong arm so if the run game gives Purdue enough fits that the Boilermakers start to stack the box, Bell maybe, might, possibly look to have Williams II throw the ball deep.

While Purdue is currently a favorite to win this game us Purdue fans know that Purdue in a must win game can be a dangerous position. If Saturday night you are writing the story of the IU victory what went right for the Hoosiers?

Indiana would have kept the ball out of Aidan O’Connell’s hands with a strong ground game and forced fits on defense when it absolutely needed to. O’Connell has always performed well under Brohm’s offense in this game and Indiana is well aware of that.

It’s a rivalry game so it’s hard to pick your rival, but what do you think will be the outcome of this one including a score?

As fun as it would be to knock off Purdue and for Indiana to recapture *some* momentum, I just don’t see it happening.

I think Purdue is vulnerable and isn’t a sure bet, but I’d still favor them to win knowing how Brohm’s scheme has given Allen trouble in the past. Something like 24-10 feels fitting.