Every Monday at 9 a.m., following an Indiana football game, we will have a feature at AllHoosiers.com that we call Monday Morning Quarterback.
In it, AllHoosiers.com site publisher Terry Hutchens will look back at some of the in-game coaching decisions that worked well or maybe fell a little bit short in that particular game.
Here is our installment following Saturday’s 45-42 loss to Bowling Green.
1. WAS IT ASKING TOO MUCH OF Chris Covington TO PUT HIM IN A PAIR OF FOURTH-AND-ONE SITUATIONS?
You can argue back and forth whether you agree or not with the decision to take Nate Sudfeld out on a couple of fourth down plays and put in a different look with Chris Covington at quarterback. Myself, I didn’t like it on a couple of different fronts but obviously this staff had seen things in working with Covington in the extra week to feel as if he was ready for that kind of pressure situation.
The first time we saw it was in the first quarter when Covington was inserted into the lineup on fourth-and-one on the Bowling Green 33. He had what appeared to be a read option and handed the ball to Tevin Coleman who was stuffed for no gain.
The second time came on IU’s final drive of the first half with Indiana clinging to a 14-12 lead. Covington came in on a fourth-and-one situation at the Bowling Green 22. This time he tried to run but again, Bowling Green filled all of the gaps and tackled him for a 2 yard loss.
The reason I didn’t like it was two-fold. The first one is that with Sudfeld in the game the defense at least has to believe there’s a chance that the IU junior quarterback will possibly try a play action fake to freeze the line and attempt to get a short pass in for the first down. He could just as easily hand it off to a running back or even sneak it himself if that was the call. But with Covington in there, it appeared as if Bowling Green could just stack the line and take that away. So I believed having Covington in there made IU a little more one-dimensional.
My second point is that it’s just tough to put a true freshman in that spot any way, but in this case a true freshman who came to Indiana as a defensive back and just make the switch to quarterback a few weeks ago the week before the opener against Indiana State. I understand that Covington was a successful high school quarterback Al Raby High School in Chicago but I just think he could use a few less pressure situations to gain a little college confidence before putting him in on a couple of attempts like those.
2. EXPLAIN THAT TIMEOUT WITH 5 SECONDS TO PLAY IN THE FIRST HALF?
After trailing 14-3 early, Bowling Green had regained the momentum with a series of field goals and had narrowed the IU lead to 14-12. The Falcons had just stuffed Indiana on a fourth down play and got the ball back at their own 24 with 1:39 to play in the half.
My first surprise here was that Bowling Green decided that 14-12 was just fine as a halftime score and opted not to try to make a first down or two and get into field goal range Tyler Tate one more time. But the Falcons let the clock run down. Facing a second-and-10 at the Bowling Green 36, the Falcons were about to run one more play into the line when Kevin Wilson called timeout with 5 seconds to play.
What was the thinking there? If you were worried perhaps that your defense didn’t see a Hail Mary pass play coming or something like that, I guess I see it but Bowling Green just had the body language that it was ready to get the half over. By giving them a chance to throw one more deep ball against an IU secondary that had some coverage problems Saturday, one would think would be a potential recipe for disaster. It all became a moot point when Bowling Green ran the ball for 2 yards on the final play of the half, but I didn’t understand the time out in that situation.
3. WHAT WAS Shane Wynn THINKING ON THAT ONE KICKOFF WHERE HE BROUGHT THE BALL OUT WHEN HE DIDN’T NEED TO DO SO?
The kickoff had hit Wynn in the field of play and then carried into the end zone. Wynn hesitated for a moment and then brought it out. Not only did he only return it 16 yards but there was an IU penalty that brought the ball back to the 2 to start the second-quarter drive.
Now many people will try to pin this on the coaching staff for not educating their players well enough that in that situation you can put a knee down and take the ball on the 25. The reality here though is that just last week the coaching staff had shown IU that very play from a game over the previous weekend and used it as a teaching moment that you didn’t have to bring the ball out. Still, it didn’t matter as ultimately the player has to make the decision. Wynn made the decision to bring the ball out.
As frustrating as it is to watch, I get Wynn’s dilemma, too. He probably thought about it but also wondered what happened if he took the knee and they called it a safety. He decided he wasn’t willing to let the officials make that determination. But it wasn’t from a lack of education. On this one, the Indiana coaches had their team ready for the situation and it just didn’t work out.