While I'm glad to not have had the first article in this series, if you had told me at the beginning of the 2014 campaign that I'd have the second article, I would have asked you how in the hell Rutgers wasn't here. And when you told me that we'd be playing our third or fourth string quarterback for half of the season, I would have said "Oh. Yeah, that makes sense now."
Anyway, unlike the Purdue review you probably read yesterday, this Postmortem will only contain two general categories of Indiana's season, as the only "defining" moment was Nate Sudfeld going down with an injury against Iowa. Everybody ready? All right, let's do this thing.
A Tale of Two Teams
Team 1: Nate Sudfeld and the Overachievers
The season opened (as the last few seasons have) with the Indiana State Sycamores coming to Memorial Stadium. While the high powered offense that put 73 points on the Trees last season didn't materialize this year, the Hoosiers were able to comfortably dispatch their FCS foe 28-10.
The second week of the season brought the Hoosiers' first bye week for reasons that will probably never make sense, but it did allow us to watch as the rest of the conference tripped and fell flat on their faces.
Week 3 brought a tough game against Bowling Green in Ohio. Whereas last year's squad blew out the Falcons in Bloomington, this year's team just couldn't put the Falcons away, and gave up the winning score with less than 10 seconds left in the game. The only real positive to come out of this game was that Tevin Coleman followed up a nearly 250 yard rushing performance against Indiana State with almost 200 yards and 3 touchdowns, and bulled his way into the discussion of the best running back in the Big Ten.
Week 4 presented IU with a huge opportunity: A rematch against a Missouri team that handily beat the Hoosiers in 2013, and the only B1G East-SEC matchup during the regular season. The Tigers entered the game undefeated and ranked #18 in the nation. Shockingly, Indiana only trailed for 4:40, and a D'Angelo Roberts touchdown with 22 seconds left in the game sealed the upset win for the Hoosiers, who defeated a ranked team out of conference on the road for just the fourth time in program history. Enthusiasm was high in Bloomington.
Which made week 5's listless blowout by Maryland all the more depressing. Griffin Oakes taking Aaron Del Grosso's place as the starting kicker and nailing a school record 58 yard field goal weren't able to keep the Hoosiers close to the Terrapins, and Tevin's garbage time touchdown did little to stem the feeling that the Hoosiers had completely wasted their Missouri momentum.
Week 6 brought a much needed blowout of a throughly overmatched team in the North Texas Mean Green, and made up for [A GAME THAT NEED NO BE MENTIONED EVER AGAIN] where [INDIANA PLAYED HARD IN A WAY THAT WASN'T REFLECTED IN THE FINAL SCORE AND NO YOU SHOULDN'T GO LOOK UP THAT SCORE]. And, as it turned out, the last time we would see Nate Sudfeld finish a game this season.
Team #2: Tevin Coleman and not a whole lot else
Iowa. If not for the Hawkeyes, there's a chance IU could have made something more of this season. Even though the first half had started off really rough, IU was starting to put the offense together heading to halftime. And then Nate Sudfeld got sacked and suffered an injury to his non-throwing shoulder that required season-ending surgery. During the second half, backup quarterback Chris Covington came in and didn't do much of anything, but at least he finished the game and would be ready for Michigan State after the bye week. Or so we thought at the time.
On either the Monday or Tuesday of bye week #2, we learned that Chris Covington had torn his ACL during the Iowa game, and thus the Hoosiers would be burning Zander Diamont's redshirt so the freshman would be able to start against the Spartans. While Hoosier fans accepted the decision, as Diamont's high school highlights showed that he could certainly play well, it was a decision that no one really wanted to have to make.
And then Michigan State came to town, and while IU looked good at the beginning of the game, it quickly went downhill from there. Next came a trip to struggling Michigan, who didn't seem to be struggling too badly against us. Follow that up with a game against Penn State that may have set the game of football back a few decades, but was still there for the taking until we just didn't take it, and people began thinking of the upcoming basketball season.
Throughout all of that, the Hoosiers' offense did have a bright spot (Penn State game notwithstanding): Tevin Coleman took the team on his back and ran with it. And kept on running. While Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin was getting most of the attention, national media types finally took notice of what was going on in Bloomington, before penning articles saying how it was a shame that Tevin wouldn't even sniff a Heisman mention due to playing for Indiana.
And then against Rutgers, Tevin had his biggest breakout game of the season: 32 carries for 307 yards and a touchdown. There were only two things that put a damper on Tevin's big day: the fact that Rutgers still won the game going away, and Gordon breaking the NCAA single game rushing record on that same day against Nebraska. That day pretty much summed up the season for both Tevin and the Hoosiers: you may be good, but if you aren't great, you'll fall by the wayside.
A trip to Ohio State produced a game that was shockingly close (including IU leading as late as the third quarter), but ended as many things did in 2014, with a defense that couldn't hold on in the fourth quarter and the Buckeyes escaping with a win. Of course, you know how their story finished.
And finally, Indiana hosted Purdue in the annual Old Oaken Bucket game. Quite a few people (myself included) had written off the Bucket game as a loss after watching the MSU debacle, but by the time the game actually was played, we'd come around to the idea that IU might yet have a chance against their in-state rival. A sloppy game by both teams (6 combined turnovers does that) ended with Zander running in for the winning score. And, of course, there was some post game celebration.
And some alterations to those celebratory photos.
Because 2014 SEC East Champion Indiana is a thing now.
What comes next?
Returning starters (approximate): Offense: 8; Defense: 7; Special Teams: all but the long snapper
After the season, Tevin Coleman decided that a 2,000 yard rushing season and a draft grade that would place him among the top running backs chosen was a good enough reason to head for the NFL. I think I speak for a lot of Hoosier fans when I say good luck in the league, Tevin. We'll all be rooting for you.
How will Indiana replace Tevin's production? The short answer is that they probably won't, but only because Tevin was such a big part of the offense that replacing him won't be an easy or short term thing. The long answer is UAB transfer Jordan Howard and sophomore-to-be Devine Redding will have to shoulder the load, and it may take some time before they're fully ready to do so.
Of course, Nate Sudfeld will be back (and hopefully as good as ever), and most of the young WR corps will have another year to adjust and improve, so maybe Indiana will be back to the prolific offense we saw in 2013. The defense loses quite a few big contributors to graduation, but Brian Knorr seems to have that unit heading in the correct direction (finally!), so with proper development and a bit of luck, Indiana might just sniff the postseason in 2015.