Indiana Week rolls on, and now that we’ve taken the time to appreciate the best wins in (recent) Hoosier history, we have to notice the sea change in IU football since Tom Allen took the helm.
For example: A shutout! Yes, it’s of Rutgers, but it was Indiana’s first conference shutout since back-to-back shutouts of Northwestern and #22 Michigan State in 1993.
Today, though, no one is particularly fearful of the Hoosiers’ defense...if they at least have to acknowledge that the IU defense isn’t a complete turnstile any more. But Indiana still yielded points by the busload in 2018, and it’s time to ask...
...Tom Allen, what would you say you do here?
Question #1: Beer Collaborations
Indiana, like much of the rest of the B1G, has a pretty impressive collection of breweries. One of the better-known ones in 3 Floyds (BECAUSE YOU CAN’T HAVE ENOUGH FLOYDS! HE’S THE BEST PIG EVER!), partially because of the number of collaborations they’ve done with other breweries such as the delicious Blakkr Imperial Ale they made with Surly. Which out of state brewery would you like to see your favorite sudslinger work with?
MNW: Summit Brewing Co. has done a cool thing with their Dakota Soul pilsner, with grain sourced from a family member’s farm in North Dakota, but that doesn’t really answer your question.
In the little bit of research (!!!) I did for this--and in part because I’ve always been curious as to what actually goes into a “collaboration” beer—it looks like a “collaboration” is just a couple breweries saying “Hey, let’s brew this,” then one brewery hosting it and doing the work while the other comes over, picks their brain, and drinks. So I don’t really give a shit, is my answer to your question. Unless they’re doing something semi-cool like brewing Sierra Nevada IPA after the Camp Fire, it can be all the Minnesota breweries doing a “collaboration beer” called “Fuck wisconsin” and I still wouldn’t bat an eye.
That, or something like People Brewing in West Lafayette doing a barrel-aged Old Oaken Ale with Upland Brewing in Bloomington and releasing it each year for the game. Actually, that’s fucking brilliant COPYRIGHT TRADEMARK NO BACKSIES, MNWILDCAT, MAY 27 YEAR OF OUR LORD 2019. SUCK IT, INDIANA.
LPW: I’d like to see Revolution Brewing of Chicago convince famously provincial wisconsin brewery New Glarus to collaborate on the hoppiest beer possible. I love hoppy beers!
Thumpasaurus: ...the best of which was without a doubt Boogoop, the phenomenally-named wheatwhine they put out with Mikkeller a while back. I often find brewery collaborations disappointing, so I’d rather just have Flying Monkeys collaborate with Flying Monkeys and give me more Chocolate Manifesto immediately.
Stew: My favorite brewery is Toppling Goliath. A world renowned brewery in little ol Decorah. I also love me some Pipeworks, out of Chicago. They both are known for giant, bold, juicy NE style IPAs. But they already did a collaboration, Double Creature Feature. So let’s go with something fun like Big Grove brewery doing a collab with Summit Brewing for a smoked bacon porter called Free Floyds!
MNW: Oh. My. God. I would drink the hell out of that, and now we need to make this whole article about rivalry beer collaborations that we would drink. Because I want a Free Floyds! smoked bacon porter in my belly right now.
Beez: I have nowhere near the beer knowledge to answer this question.
WSR: My wish is simple: I’d like Surly and Thew Brewing (The check better be in the mail, Flenker) to work together and just make a couple really damn good beers. And then I’d like a few smaller breweries but good breweries from around the Quadrangle to get together and make beers with passive-aggressive names involving each other, especially if they’ve already got some sort of Protestant-leaning name.
Question #2: A Defensive Coach with an Average Defense is...
Football: Tom Allen was hired because a) He’s not Kevin Wilson and b) Someone thought the key to success would be through defensive football and he was the defensive coordinator.
Ummm...whoops. The Hoosiers have been 10th in the B1G both of his years in charge in terms of PPG allowed, and they went from a respectable 6th to a Nebraska-like 11th in 2018. Will this being the 3rd year of Allen’s recruiting allow him to build the depth to have a solid defense, or should we all complain about the fun days of Indiana being the chaos team and not giving a rat’s ass about defense?
Candystripes: #ChaosTeam is not a winning strategy. Trust me, we’ve tried it, it doesn’t work. I’m not saying I’d prefer to watch a bunch of 6-4 football, but I’d much rather win 14-3 than lose 63-47.
LPW: I miss the Chaos Team days. Indiana got so damn close against Michigan and Ohio State back in the day that I made a point to tune into their games. If memory serves me right I think if it weren’t for a fumble or botched long snap against OSU in 2015 they could’ve beaten the Buckeyes. With Zander Diamont as QB! Just like earlier this week, I still don’t have enough confidence in Tom Allen to see the Hoosiers do well.
Townie: Look, Tom Allen has an awful lot on his plate. While his D sucked, he was playing with the other guy’s kids. To use a time-worn cliche, the cupboard was bare. He has seven seniors and four juniors on this defense. The rest are sophomores and freshmen.
Last year’s class was good. The new group is the highest ranked incoming class in Indiana history. These kids need to be good, because they will be playing right away.
Last year, he had zero depth and a lot of youth at important positions. This year is more of the same. The front four linemen are all seniors. The guys behind them are two sophomores and two freshmen. The second string linebackers are also freshmen and sophomores. The second string defensive backfield has a single junior, the rest are sophomores.
This is a thin veneer of experience that will have let downs as he rotates in his youngsters. It’s going to take him another year, at least, to get this defense up to a respectable level.
Thumpasaurus: Indiana’s opportunities are, as every year, limited, but Tom “Stealth Mode” Allen has indeed been building some solid depth across the board. Experience is a bigger factor in competent defense than in competent offense (line play notwithstanding), and you know what helps keep a defense fresh? Controlling the clock and running the ball. If Indiana is going to make a successful transition into a well-rounded, competent team (Iowa east, essentially), there’s likely to be fewer 52-49 shootouts with Ohio State, sure, but there also won’t be as many dumb 55-52 shootout losses to Rutgers.
I’d wager that more than a few Indiana fans are sick of “BUT OMG CHAOS TEAM!,” especially since it didn’t actually break their losing streaks to Michigan or Ohio State. You might be better off just quietly putting together 6-8 win campaigns without scaring those two if you want that narrative to fade just like “yeah but Illinois is SPOOKY THO” did over the 2010’s.
Well...maybe not JUST like that.
Stew: I do miss #ChaosTeam. However, last season I questioned Allen’s continued employment, and Candy directed me to his recruiting “success”. And relative to Indiana’s past, Allen has pulled in classes leaps and bounds better than past Indiana teams. While I doubt this leads to any vast movement in Indiana’s ceiling, I do think it improves their depth quite a bit. However, I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call their defense “solid”.
MNW: The Hoosiers have another guy on defense who’s put in the time and climbed to the top—it’s kind of a stealthy, impressive staff for Tom Allen.
Of course, Allen’s the defensive guru, but DC Kane Wommack built a Top 10 defense at Eastern Illinois, shored up the South Alabama squad, and now has earned a promotion after leading the Indiana linebacking corps.
While the Hoosiers like to fly around in the secondary behind DBs like Bryant Fitzgerald and Marcelino Ball, though, making the middle of the defense a tough place for opposing quarterbacks, the problem has been that there’s lots of time to get the ball there. IU rated out 90th in sacks in 2018, and while sack leader Jerome Johnson returns on the defensive line...he had 3.5. As a DT. I mean, the Hoosiers could have a better interior line with the addition of DT Juan Harris, but while the DEs include high-motor Gavin Everett and reliable Allen Stallings IV, I’m not so sure this defense is improving on its 83rd-ranked run defense, to say nothing of its abysmal pass rush.
So, basically, chalk this unit up to the list of “ifs” this year — and don’t hold your breath.
Beez: This is going to be the year! Indiana’s D is going to be much improved, and Stevie Scott is going to grind out long drives and keep the other team’s offense off the field...which will also help Indiana’s D.
Congratulations on being exactly as boring as most of the rest of the B1G, Indiana!
WSR: If they wanted Jerry Kill, they should just hire Jerry Kill. But yeah, I miss #ChaosTeam as well, and appreciate that my team was one of the many that tried to fill the void last season. And Indiana’s defense will be better, which means it, like the offense and the coach and everything else to do with this team, will be perfectly Wonderbread.
The IU defense in Allen, Year 3?
This poll is closed
Finally, a top-tier defense.
Some improvement to upper-half defense.
Thoroughly mediocre, which might count as an improvement?
Regression to Rutgers-level bad.