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Indiana Hoosier Pregame #2: Let’s Try This Again

Back to reality. Holy shit there went the gravity.

Hello old friends. It’s been a nice two years of a high, but it seems we’ve come crashing back to reality now haven’t we Hoosier fans? At least for the moment that is. Honestly, I feel partially responsible for the castration that was the Hoosier’s week 1 game. In a comment, I said I thought that Indinia getting blown out was out of the question. I was wrong. On a completely related note, I’m also not paid for my football analysis. Always bet against me being right.

Enough reflection on game one for now, we’re onto week 2 to play the mighty Idaho Vandals from Moscow, Idaho! Honestly, I’d ramble on about Idaho’s 56% graduation rate or their previous season being a complete train wreck, but I’m not up to it. It’s week 2 baby. As Pumbaa told an orphaned lion, “you got to put your behind in the past.” What better way to do that than with a game against inferior competition. Indiana Hoosiers. Idaho Vandals. Let’s go!

In the Absence of History, There are Only Fun Facts

Winsipedia graphic.

As you can see, there is no history here. This is the only time that Indiana has played Idaho. That said, we need to learn something in this spot, so here’s some fun facts:

  • Idaho is actually called the Vandals due to their 1918 basketball team. Apparently, that team was said to be so talented, they were a “gang of Vandals” to their opponents. It almost sounds like an Indiana story to be honest.
  • Idaho plays in the Big Sky Conference and went 2-4 in 2020, all in conference play. They are currently 1-0.
  • Idaho has the nation’s second largest Mormon population. Do with that what you will.
  • It is a 30 hour drive from the University of Idaho to Indiana University. Clark Griswold would be excited.
  • The state of Idaho looks like L or the wooden gun given to Will Ferrell in The Other Guys, depending on how you hold it.
  • Potatoes.

What to Watch for Indiana Fans!

Here are the top 3 things I’m looking for this week:

1) How do the Indiana players respond to a half full stadium?

If you’ve been to an Indiana game, odds are you were able to see the corners of the stadiums in all their empty glory. Even on most big games, Memorial Stadium doesn’t fill up completely. Entering last week, the pressure cooker that is the Indiana fan base was beginning to blow. Many in the Indiana athletics sphere announced mid-week that the Cincinnati game was sold out officially.

Then, well, Indiana got trounced in week 1 and all the momentum in the fanbase kind of seemed to release at least a little. My guess is that there will be many empty spots in the stadium vs Idaho. As we found out last week that probably means it’ll be full, but I digress. While there will be a lot of people there, it won’t be jam packed. Many people won’t show up. I fully expect the student section to, for one more week, keep up the tradition and leave at half time never to return. It’s suppose to be a blowout. They will want to go drink more than watch a beatdown.

How does Indiana as a program respond to that? How do the players respond to it? I’ll be watching for that.

2) How does Mike Penix look this week?

Mike Penix looked bad in week 1. There’s a reasonable case for saying he didn’t really look good for a large portion of last year. Penn State – Meh. Rutgers – Meh. Michigan State – Not Great. Maryland – bad and then got hurt. Even the first half of the Ohio State game last year he was meh. He really only played well vs Michigan and the Ohio State second half.

Look, I don’t want to pretend like I could do better. I also don’t know how much of this is due to play calling. All I know is that he’s been built up around the fanbase as the next coming of Randle El and it’s just not been there, at least consistently. How Mike Penix looks this week will set the stage for a redemption game vs Cincinnati. He probably will get pulled at the half or 3rd quarter, so let’s hope that he’s able to put up at least some nice numbers, make some tight throws, and get himself back to the QB he can be in time for UC.

3) Does play calling look better, or do we start the burner underneath Nick Sheridan’s seat?

Out of the 34 points that Iowa hung on Indiana, I lay 17 of them on the feet of Nick Sheridan’s offense. 2 pick sixes and one that allowed Iowa to kick a field goal at the half. All of that seems bad enough.

But then there’s the play calling itself. It was….piss poor. Hell, it really looked like Mike Debord was back in the booth. Multiple runs on 2nd and 3rd and long. Almost no pass attempts past 20 yards down field. No plays were even called to try and get Penix a couple shots or into a rhythm. This offense has no identity at the moment. That’s all on Sheridan. After spotting the Hawkeyes 14, there was never any urgency from the plays called to get down and score quickly. I just don’t understand it. Many in the fan base don’t as well.

I get we may not see a lot of differences in next week’s game. You certainly don’t want to go into your bag of tricks and show the league your hand. But if there’s not at least a few shots downfield, a more competent offense, shit, give me a WR pass or flea flicker. Literally goddamn anything other than what we saw last week and in a lot of last year. I’ll be watching for that.

“Shake It Off” - T Swizzle

I really don’t want to be too tough on Indiana after a bad game. Truly, I think that there were a lot of bright spots for the Hoosiers, particularly on Defense. Holding the Iowa QB1 and RB1 to less than 150 passing yards and less than 100 yards rushing respectively signals that the defense is legit. The offense certainly leaves a lot to be desired though. That’s where Indiana’s season will be made or broken.

Honestly, the season won’t be made or lost in these next 3 weeks…unless we start 0-4. Many, many people thought Indiana would start 2-2, 3-3 anyway. This season can still be special, and #9Windiana is still in play. This week really offers up an opportunity for Indiana to reset itself before getting thrown back into a meat grinder. We all expect Indiana to crush Idaho. We all expect a win here.

It’s okay to be upset after last week. God knows I was. It was just one game though. There’s still 11 left to play, and it’s not like Indiana was the only team in the nation to underperform last week. Let see if Tom Allen’s Hoosiers can fix some of the glaring flaws and get back in the win column here. As the great philosopher Taylor Swift once said, “Shake it off.” Time for the Hoosiers to shake off last week. It’s good to be home.

Game Time: 9/11 – 7:30 PM EST – Big Ten Network