For the past few years, under Cam Cameron, the Indiana Hoosiers has had one of the best running attacks in the country. Last year, combining two backs that could both punish and run around you, the Hoosiers beat and battered opponents into 5 wins. That is an amazing feat, considering their defense ranked as one of the worst in the country.
So, despite that running prowess, Cameron could never assemble a respectable defense. In that way, he resembled Mumme just a bit too much, and was let go after the 2001 season. His replacement, Gerry DiNardo has come in and immediately shown that this is his program with his rules on his turf. He first rid himself of the preseason Big Ten offensive player of the year in Jeremi Johnson. Then he dismissed a few other players over the course of spring practice and summer, trying to "weed out" the players who really wanted to play football.
And now, the Hoosiers stand at 1-1, with two of the most unimpressive performances seen in IU football history. Sure they do not exactly have a checkered past of success, but never have they been an example of futility as they have been this year.
Just look at some of these stats from the first two games. The Offense has never shown any continuity, and the rushing game that was once dominant has become almost non-existent. The Hoosiers are not even averaging 100 yards per game. The first two gamed combined; IU has a total of182 rushing yards. Just to give you an idea, last year IU AVERAGED 152 yards rushing per game. SIX TIMES they rushed for more than they have in the first two games in a single game.
It is not as if the Hoosiers are not trying. So far they have rushed the ball about 24 times a game, about where they were last year. Although DiNardo brings a west coast style offense, right now he just does not have the players to do it well.
The most important of those players is the quarterback, for which the Hoosiers are seriously hurting through the first two games. A respectable game against the William and Mary team (did I mention they are a Division I AA team?) gave quarterback Tommy Jones 165 yards passing (still not spectacular) and a 50 percent completion rate, and three touchdowns. He did throw two interceptions though against a 1-AA team on his home field.
The Utah numbers are just ridiculous. Tommy Jones was hurt in this game, but before he got hurt I am not sure he would have not been jerked anyway. He went 4-13 with only 64 yards. Gibran Hamdan came in and passed the dickens out of the ball, throwing for 212 yards going 17-34, but he threw three key interceptions that prevented the IU offense from scoring.
The ineptitude of the IU rushing attack became so apparent that it was all but abandoned in the second half. Although the team found itself down, it pushed itself further down by going into a panic offense where they ran empty backfields, and gained empty yards. The only score of the second half came off a Utah fumble that gave the Hoosiers great field position.
If there were any bright spot to the offense, it would be the fact that the receivers, when they do get open, they do not drop passes, and are decent at getting YAC (yards after catch). But again, Utah right now has the number 104th rated defense, and thanks to that stellar performance by the Utah Ute's, the Hoosiers have the 44th ranked passing offense. Right now Kentucky has the 46th rated passing defense in the country, and may have a better chance of protecting against a big game from the Hoosier passing offense.
Needless to say, right now the Hoosiers are just trying to find what it is they do well. Despite DiNardo's claim of finding the "weak" spot in Kentucky's game, they will do well to keep this game close, let alone win.
But then again, games are not played on paper, so we shall see.
Some players to watch from Indiana in this game are as follows:
Gibran Hamdan 6'6" 231 Senior (former walk-on) QB
Yamar Washington 5'9" 198 Sophomore RB
Glenn Johnson 5'11" 179 Senior WR
Courtney Roby 6'0" 182 Sophomore WR
Herana-Daze Jones 5'10" 201 Junior LB
Joe Gonzalez 6'0" 218 Senior SS
John Kerr 5'11" 224 Freshman LB
Antonio Watson 6'1" 198 Senior CB