The Hoosiers are one of three Big Ten teams still looking for their first conference win. Along with Illinois and Penn State, Gerry DiNardo's team has known nothing but frustration in league games this season.
There are obvious reasons for Indiana's problems — a running game that has fallen well short of expectations and a run defense that gives life to every team it plays.
But there are other less obvious reasons — including poor clock management by DiNardo in each of the last two games.
In the loss to Northwestern Oct. 9, Indiana had the ball in Wildcat territory with less than a minute remaining in the first half and DiNardo elected to let the clock run down before the Hoosiers tried a Hail Mary pass that was unsuccessful
The Hoosiers faced a similar situation against Ohio State last week. Indiana had a first down at its 44 with 29 seconds to play and two timeouts remaining. Quarterback Matt LoVecchio was sacked for a 7-yard loss with 24 seconds left.
DiNardo opted to let the clock run down to three seconds, then planned to attempt a Hail Mary pass on second down. But LoVecchio was sacked for another 7-yard loss to end the half.
His explanation for not using his timeouts and letting the clock run down did not satisfy Hoosier fans.
"I always want to be the last one to have the ball in that situation," DiNardo explained. "I didn't have a lot of confidence that we could just chuck it and move down the field.
"I wanted to throw it way down the field on that last play and hope for a pass interference call."
In any case, the Hoosiers will have a difficult time breaking into the win column vs. Minnesota this week, but they should have a great opportunity at Illinois Nov. 6 ... and they might not even need a two-minute drill to get it.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The running game was supposed to be the key to the Hoosiers' offense this season. But BenJarvus Green-Ellis has gotten no support from an offensive line that was supposed to be a strength. Indiana is averaging 118.0 rushing yards per game — a figure that ranks 10th in the Big Ten.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Hoosiers will get tested this week by Minnesota's explosive offense. Indiana gives up 458.1 yards per game — the most in the Big Ten. They also fail to capitalize on big-play opportunities. Defensive back Buster Larkins had a chance to intercept a pass in the flat last week against Ohio State and take it the distance, but he batted the ball in the air where Ted Ginn Jr. caught it and took it for a Buckeye touchdown.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We can't think about opportunities that have slipped away. We can only look forward from this point on." — WR Courtney Roby on his team's 0-4 Big Ten record.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Minnesota at Indiana, Oct. 30 — The Gophers got well at the expense of Illinois last week, recording a 45-0 victory. Minnesota's strength is its running game — 278.4 rushing yards per game — and stopping the run is the biggest weakness for Indiana's defense. Minnesota may have faltered against Michigan and Michigan State, but the Gophers usually don't lose to the lower-tier teams in the Big Ten.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Matt LoVecchio — While the Hoosiers still can't come up with a conference win, LoVecchio has not been bad. He has established a nice pitch-and-catch relationship with WR Courtney Roby and seems to be a much more competent and confident quarterback this season. LoVecchio has completed 93-of-172 passes for 1,205 yards.
Return specialist Lance Bennett — He has given the Hoosiers a significant lift as a kick returner. Bennett leads the Big Ten with a 30.9 average per return and has brought one kickoff all the way back for a touchdown.
ROSTER REPORT: Offensive lineman Justin Frye (ankle) and punter Tyson Beattie (ankle) are questionable for Saturday's game against Minnesota. Defensive back Tracy Porter (shoulder) is doubtful. Offensive linemen Chris Mangiero (ankle) and Isaac Sowells (arm) are expected to miss the remainder of the season.
Many Reasons For Hoosiers' Record
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