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Know Your Enemy - Indiana Hoosiers

The folks from Crimson Quarry stop by, and there wasn’t even a fight.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The folks from Crimson Quarry, SB Nation’s Purdue representative, were kind enough to answer some questions. No punches were thrown.

IU has really struggled to find consistency in any area over a number of years. How much goodwill does Tom Allen have left with the IU fanbase?

Pretty much none at this point.

Indiana fans at large recognize that Allen is, by all public accounts, a good dude. He gave the fanbase some of its best memories we have of the program in 2019 and 2020. It’s also clear to us that they’re not getting back there and the past few years have been filled with erratic decisions, failure and, most importantly of all, losses.

The loudest voices have said it’s no longer working out. The biggest sportswriter in the state wrote a column on whether or not the program can survive another year with him in charge. There have been calls for Allen’s job since last year but things look more serious this time around.

IU has had a lot of turnover at the QB of late, this season Sorsby has started 6 games and Jackson has started 5. Sorsby appears to be the man going forward. What do Purdue fans need to know about him?

Sorsby is one of the better running quarterbacks in the Big Ten. He’s bought time for receivers with his legs and picked up yards while scrambling or just through designed runs. He loves contact and is the kind of guy who’ll try to run through a tackle, much to the chagrin of everyone involved.

He’s made strides as a passer and the massive, game-changing mistakes are few. He’s still a redshirt freshman and looks the part at times but he’s by all accounts a competent Big Ten starting quarterback.

On offense, who will the Purdue defense need to key on?

They’re gonna need to find someone to match Donaven McCulley’s size and physicality. He seems to have finally put together the pieces at the wide receiver spot since making the switch and is an extremely tough cover.

He’s dangerous because he understands what a quarterback needs from a wide receiver, having been one throughout high school and then for one season at Indiana. He’s built some chemistry with McCulley as a lob threat and was decimating Illinois’ secondary.

Aside from him, Sorsby can make plays at the quarterback position, Trent Howland is a big, bruising presence in the backfield while Josh Henderson has more patience and finesse. Jaylin Lucas hasn’t lived up to the preseason billing but his pure speed alone makes him worth considering.

What unit is the strength and what unit is the weakness of the IU offense and IU defense?

That’s actually a funny question. Ask me that in September and it’s easily the defense. Now? I’m not as sure.

Indiana’s defense was lackluster against Illinois, allowing a historic amount of passing yards to the Illini’s backup quarterback, and then pedestrian at best against Michigan State. Indiana lost the game last Saturday because the tackling just wasn’t there and Michigan State made them pay for it.

I’d hardly call the offense “good” but it was enough to hang in on the road against Illinois and almost hand Penn State a loss. For the past two weeks the offense has been outperforming the defense, which just about nobody saw coming.

IU has played a lot of close games this year despite only winning three. What is this team missing to get them over the hump?

Coaching.

Really, that’s it. Whenever Indiana has been in a position to make something happen something just goes out the window. Three straight runs in the red zone against Penn State with a chance to go up late in the fourth. Not throwing the ball in overtime against Illinois. A delayed run less than a yard away from pay dirt against Louisville.

Just the wrong decisions. Every time. At the worst possible time. Then there’s just broken fundamentals and mistakes that you’d hope would get ironed out behind the scenes but apparently you’d be wrong.

Indiana has some talent. Aaron Casey will play games in the NFL. Andre Carter is gonna get looked at by some scouts. Donaven McCulley could have a future in the league. The quarterback has been good enough. It’s not a problem with players at all.

If you wake up Sunday and find out Purdue won the game, how were they able to do it?

Hudson Card (who I read is expected to be available) takes advantage of a wayward Indiana secondary. Deion Burks has a big game and is able to get downfield. The offensive line holds back Indiana’s pass rush, which has not looked very good.

Purdue’s defense was able to force some freshman mistakes out of Brendan Sorsby or he made the wrong play at the wrong time (weirdly, he plays better on the road).

Or Indiana was put into a situation in which it could win the game and the staff made every decision possible to prevent that from happening. That too.

Finally, got a prediction for Saturday?

I think overall program momentum will have a factor. Indiana’s either lost or on the downturn depending on what happens after the game, staff-wise.

Purdue had a rough season but Walters is rebuilding and has a pretty good class coming in. All things considered, I think Walters will end up being a successful coach in West Lafayette, sincerely. He’s a good defensive coach and has the recruiting chops to get talent in the building.

I think Purdue takes this one at home, something like 24-17. And Indiana is left with a decision to make.