IU Insider Blog: Hoosiers lack consistency

You might look at IU's 42-28 result against Michigan State Saturday and think the Hoosiers were at least respectable against a talented Spartans defense. My take: Look again.

If you just look at the score you might say that Indiana football was at the very least respectable Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium.

After all, the Hoosiers did score 28 points against one of the best defenses in the country, a group that was only allowing 13.4 points per game.

Offensively, IU managed 351 yards of offense against the nation's best defense, a unit that was only giving up 203.6 yards per game.

So not bad, right? One week after posting an impressive 44-24 victory over Penn State the Hoosiers took another step forward despite dropping a two-touchdown decision.

Well, not exactly.

Here is what a closer look at the final statistics would reveal.

Indiana ran a total of 74 plays to get that 351 yards of offense, an average of 4.7 yards per play.

But one Indiana play was a 64 yard touchdown run by Tevin Coleman and another was a 53 yard reception by Shane Wynn.

Take those two plays out of the mix and Indiana would have gained 234 yards of offense on 72 plays. That's 3.25 yards per play. And you need better than 3.25 yards per play to win on the road in the Big Ten.

A similar statistical breakdown can be made of Coleman's rushing performance. He had one carry for 64 yards and his other 14 carries netted 15 yards. Put in this way, if you have one carry in a game for 64 yards chances are you're going to eclipse 100 yards for that game. Coleman had 79.

Nate Sudfeld was off the mark throughout the game, Tre Roberson did an admirable job in his place at times but you didn't the impression that Roberson was the answer either.

No, make one thing clear, Indiana took a step back Saturday afternoon in East Lansing. Can the Hoosiers turn it around? Absolutely. There are still six games to be played. Three at home and three on the road. Win those three home games against Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue and you're bowl eligible. Do that and surprise someone on the road and you reach seven wins.

So end of the year goals and aspirations still exist but the fact remains that Indiana needs to put two good games together back-to-back and that hasn't happened yet this season.

The problem is I'm not sure if it will happen this season. Indiana simply has a very small margin of error. It can't afford to not make plays on defense, it can't afford for Nate Sudfeld to have an off day in the passing game, it can't afford to let the defense stay on the field for more than 37 minutes (out of 60) as it did Saturday at Michigan State.

They are all small things by themselves but when combined together they become bigger.

What will Indiana do next weekend at the Big House? Good question. They could come out and give the Wolverines a really good game or the Hoosiers could struggle for the second week in a row. One thing in IU's favor is that the Hoosiers' ride to this point has been one good game followed by one bad game.

What we learned Saturday is that another bad game is behind the Hoosiers.

Indiana has to hope to have that good game against Michigan next week and then find a way to break that streak the week after.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch

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