Every Monday, 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 49-24 victory over North Texas.
Two of today’s topics are on the offensive side of the ball and one in the kicking game.
1. THE DECISION TO TRY AND ONSIDES KICK FOUR MINUTES INTO THE GAME
The onsides kick is a weapon that is so often reserved for late game comeback situations but when executed properly it can clearly bring with it the element of surprise.
That was clearly the case Saturday for the Hoosiers. IU had just scored on a 1 yard run by Tevin Coleman with 11:40 remaining in the first quarter when IU coach Kevin Wilson called for the onsides kick.
Not sure if that was a case of Wilson and his staff watching film and seeing that North Texas was too quick to retreat or what, but the play worked to perfection.
Kicker Griffin Oakes squibbed the ball from the 35 to the 47. The players on each side of him – T.J. Simmons to his left and Kyle Kennedy to his right – both pinched toward the middle and hit the one North Texas front player who seemed to have recognition on the play. The ball bounded off of him and into the hands of a sliding Clyde Newton.
IU would go on to score a touchdown on its next drive and take a 14-0 lead.
The play set the tone for the game. It showed that Wilson had confidence in his defense on the day and took a chance to break the game open early.
2. TWO FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS BIG ON SECOND TD DRIVE
After getting the onsides kick and taking over at its own 49, Indiana had a couple of costly penalties on the next drive that put the Hoosiers in tough spots.
On the first one, a 5-yard false start penalty on Colin Rahrig turned a third-and-7 situation into a third-and-12 and eventually a fourth-and-6 and the 30.
Despite having a kicker in Oakes who booted successful field goals from 38, 48 and 58 yards against Maryland, Wilson did not hesitate to go for the first down. Nate Sudfeld threw a tough pass from the left hash marks to the right with tight end Anthony Corsaro making a sure handed catch for the 10 yard reception and a first down.A few plays later, a Ralston Evans holding penalty (questionable on replay) made a second-and-3 at the 13 into a second-and-13 at the 23. That eventually would lead to a fourth-and-2 at the 12.
Once again, Wilson did not hesitate and it was obvious he was going for it from the start. He ran a misdirection play action fake to the fight and flipped the ball out to the left flat to true freshman Jordan Fuchs who caught the ball and ran the final yards for the touchdown. Isaiah Roundtree had a nice block at the goal line on the play.
But again, like the decision to use the onsides kick, going for it on fourth down two times on that drive had to instill that confidence in both sides of the ball that Wilson wasn’t worried about IU’s chances on Saturday.
3. QUESTIONABLE LATE GAME PASS CALL
I try not to do too much of the arm chair quarterback stuff. I’m a sportswriter, not a football coach, and I know my limitations. But I just didn't understand that.
Indiana led 42-24 but North Texas had just scored two touchdowns in less than 2 minutes. You didn’t get the feeling that Indiana was going to lose but you did feel like it would be much better if they could pick up a couple of first downs and let the clock expire.
The play in question came on third-and-2 at the North Texas 43. IU had ran the ball on the first six plays of the drive and had gained at least 2 yards on every carry. In fact, the six carries had totaled 30 yards.
More importantly, Indiana had gained 296 yards rushing to that point in the game and it was clear that North Texas couldn’t stop the run.
But on third-and-2, IU attempted a pass. If it was a short, safe route even a pass in that situation I could understand. But this was a sideline pass where if the receiver didn’t catch it no one was going to catch it. Of course, it was an incomplete pass and IU punted the ball.
Still, that was one play where I thought that maybe the offensive staff out-thought itself a little bit right there.
That’s today’s Monday Morning Quarterback feature from AllHoosiers.com.
Stay tuned for Daily Features each day this week at AllHoosiers.com leading up to Saturday’s game with Iowa. Tuesday is our On The Mend feature looking at the injury situation. Wednesday is How They Fared where Ben Faunce looks at how IU’s recruits did in last weekend’s games. Thursday is Scouting The Opponent, a segment with five questions from an opposing beat writer. Friday is our Prediction Time feature where the AllHoosiers.com staff predicts the outcome of that Saturday’s game and looks for your take on what the score will be as well. Also on Friday we have our weekly The Buck Stops Here feature where from IU coach Buck Suhr breaks down the upcoming opponent after watching tape of them during the week.
Also continue to follow the bottom of this page for the related stories file throughout today as we add content from Monday’s Kevin Wilson press conference.Coverage Central: IU 49, UNT 24
Staff Analysis: One more look back
Sudfeld delivers vintage performance