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 31-27 victory over No. 18 Missouri.
1. THE INABILITY TO GET POINTS ON THE FIRST DRIVE OF THE HALF
Indiana hasn’t been able to get many turnovers in the first three games but when the Hoosiers do get them it’s really important to capitalize. Getting nothing in a tie game early in the third quarter Saturday at the time looked as if it might be a series that would come back to bite the Hoosiers.
On the first play of the second half, Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk was intercepted by IU senior safety Mark Murphy at the 28 and he returned it three yards to the 25. It was a huge play in terms of momentum after the game had been tied at 17 at the half.
The first down call was understandable. Nate Sudfeld handed the ball off to Tevin Coleman who had missed the second quarter with cramps in his legs and was just getting back into the game. He gained 3 yards to the Missouri 22. On second down, Missouri’s Shane Ray came through and sacked Sudfeld for minus-9 which put IU in a bit of a hole at the 31 with third-and-16. The problem with the third down call is that you don’t have a field goal kicker that you have a lot of trust in so it’s difficult to know what yard line you need to get to feel safe for a field goal. Instead of looking down field for an intermediate route, Sudfeld threw a little shovel toss out to Coleman who gained 7 yards. I thought it was a run at the time but it was officially rule a pass completion from Sudfeld to Coleman. This gave IU fourth-and-nine at the 24. Aaron Del Grosso then came on for the field goal attempt and pushed it wide to the right. He is 1-for-4 this season on field goal attempts and the three misses have all been wide to the right.
The biggest frustration there, however, was simply that IU missed a great opportunity to seize momentum by getting points off of a turnover and failed to even get three points.
2. GOOD SUBSTITUTION WITH Griffin Oakes AT KICKER
Following the game, Kevin Wilson said that Del Grosso had a pulled groin and that led to the decision to use Griffin Oakes for the final two extra points and for four of the five kickoffs in the game. Whatever the case, that turned out to be a huge substitution late in the game.
After IU scored to take a 31-27 lead with 22 seconds to play, IU had the decision of whether to squib kick it and use a little time or to try to kick one into the end zone. Having a kicker like Oakes who could power the ball out of the end zone made Wilson’s decision a lot easier.
Oakes did just that and Missouri started at its own 25. But the decision to go with Oakes at some point in the game was a big for Indiana on Saturday.
3. WILSON MAKES A STATEMENT TO HIS TEAM WITH A LATE GAME DECISION
With the game tied at 24 with 8:39 to play, Indiana was in a bit of a desperate spot where it needed, at the very least, to be able to flip the field. The Hoosiers were starting their drive at their own 6. A couple of Tevin Coleman runs and a pass to Shane Wynn got the ball out to near midfield pretty quickly. IU had a second-and-three at the Missouri 49 when Sudfeld tried to get a pass to Jordan Fuchs but it went incomplete. On third-and-three, D’Angelo Roberts ran for 1 yard.
Many times in these situations in the past Wilson has opted to go for it on fourth down because it hasn’t had the trust in his defense that it could stop the opposing offense. That definitely had played out the week before when Bowling Green marched 88 yards in the final 2 minutes to beat Indiana 45-42.
But this day had been different. The IU defense had responded over and over again and Wilson wasted little time with his decision to punt it. Erich Toth then successfully flipped the field with a 40 yard punt to the Missouri 8.
The important message, however, that was delivered from Wilson to his defense was that he had confidence in them that they could stop Missouri. Eventually, the defense did just that, holding the Tigers to a field goal.