Last week, the Indiana football team was applauded for a gutsy performance against top-ranked Ohio State. The program seemed to have finally turned a corner under Kevin Wilson. Fans finally felt pride for IU football again.
Just seven days later, they're feeling very differently about the Hoosiers. The pride may come back at some point, but for now, the emotion has turned to worry.
The already banged up Hoosiers lost even more players to injury in an ugly 29-7 loss at Penn State on Saturday afternoon. Starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld and starting running back Jordan Howard did not play due to ankle injuries they suffered last week, and then backup quarterback Zander Diamont left the game in the third quarter with an apparent arm or shoulder injury.
According to Mike Miller of the Bloomington Herald-Times, Diamont had his right arm in a sling when he came out of the locker room following the game. Kevin Wilson said after the game that Diamont was dealing with both a shoulder injury and a concussion.
"We'll get back and get it looked at," Wilson said. "I don't know the extent of anything with his shoulder. If the head was what it was, they said he was out. We'll get back and get him looked at and move on."
Diamont, who nearly led the Hoosiers to an upset of Ohio State after Sudfeld was hurt last week, took a hit as he was rolling out of the pocket to make a throw. He did not return to the game, forcing Wilson to go with third-stranger Danny Cameron, the son of former IU coach Cam Cameron. Sudfeld was dressed and warmed up at several different times on the sideline, but he never played.
"We waited to see how much they could do," Wilson said of Sudfeld and Howard. "They practiced yesterday a little bit more, and Jordan didn't do as much. Nate could have played, but he just wasn't very mobile. I didn't know how many plays he could extend and I didn't know if he could protect himself. It was kind of how it was last week at the end of the game. He was cleared, but personally, I didn't feel he was good."
Without its regulars, the offense struggled mightily. Indiana (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten) punted 11 times, turned it over, and went just 3-for-16 on 3rd down. The Hoosiers' only touchdown came with 4:11 to go in the first quarter on a 12-yard run by Diamont. That tied the game at 7-7, meaning Penn State outscored the Hoosiers 22-0 in the final three-plus quarters.
Indiana managed only 234 yards of total offense. Diamont competed 9-of-17 passes for 90 yards, and Cameron was 6-of-16 for 65 yards and an interception. Diamont was IU's leading rusher with 38 yards. Devine Redding had only 32 yards on 13 carries.
And yet, with all of that being said, Penn State didn't exactly put the game away early. Neither team scored in the third quarter, and the Hoosiers had several chances to cut into the 19-7 deficit in the second half. They simply couldn't do it.
On one promising drive, Wilson was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike contact at an inopportune time, a penalty you rarely see from a head coach.
Penn State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) was led by quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for two more. He competed 21-of-39 passes and was not intercepted, though the Hoosiers did sack him a number of times.
The Hoosiers are back home next week for a game against Rutgers. How healthy will the be by then? That's a question that will likely determine how their season will turn out.