A week after scoring 73 points, Indiana's offense came out flat against Navy. It seemed an odd sight after watching the Hoosiers demolish Indiana State last Thursday.
It was also odd watching senior wide receiver Kofi Hughes drop two touchdown passes.
Like Indiana's offense, Hughes shrugged off his struggles to finish strong. That alone kept Indiana in the game and helped propel Indiana's offense, which put up 21 points in the second half.
"I mean he was never down," sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld said. "We all know, we all have faith in each other that we can all get the job done so I don't think that messed us up at all. ... There was no being upset with him."
Hughes got Indiana on the board in the second quarter. Taking advantage of single coverage, he blew past his defender on a deep post route and caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Sudfeld.
He finished with a game-high six catches for a game-high 102 yards and one touchdown. Luckily for Indiana, the offense found the end zone both times he dropped a touchdown pass.
"We all do that," said senior tight end Ted Bolser. "I did it down there in the corner, ended up catching another touchdown. Cody [Latimer] — he'll probably never drop a pass. Kofi unfortunately did, but he backed it up and he shrugged it off. And that's what he does best. He's a great leader and he's obviously a great receiver."
With Indiana trailing by 17 late in the second quarter, Hughes got past several defenders but was caught off guard when the ball made it through traffic.
"The first one I didn't think it was going to get through and then I looked [stupid], and it just hit me straight in my hands," he said.
The fact that Hughes, a sure-handed receiver, dropped an easy ball caught Bolser off-guard, too.
"Yeah, absolutely," Bolser said. "And I don't think he'll ever do it again."
On Indiana's final possession, Hughes broke free in the middle of the end zone but dropped a sure score. He said he lost it in the lights and tried to cradle it at the last second.
Sudfeld hit Hughes on the very next play for a seven-yard gain. Two plays later, Sudfeld found Shane Wynn for a touchdown.
"I have so much faith [in Hughes]," Sudfeld said. "He dropped the post but it was just a tough catch; the ball was in the lights. But we just said, our thing is, ‘Wipe it away and just go to the next play.' That's what he did. I threw a speed out to him the very next play, show him, ‘I still believe in you.'"
Sudfeld spread the ball around to 11 different receivers. Everyone has an opportunity to get involved in the offense, and everyone gets a chance to redeem themselves.
"Nobody's going to hold a grudge," Bolser said. "If you did that you wouldn't be throwing to anybody by the end of the game."
In other words, the drops were not an issue, especially for someone with the track record of Hughes. Sudfeld said he had forgotten about the drops after the game and the he didn't think much of it. He said it didn't phase the offense.
It didn't phase Hughes either.
"Kofi — I was proud of him," Sudfeld said. "He's a senior, he's a leader, so he wasn't down on himself and people fed off that. We just kind of kept going and people were making plays."