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Indiana in the Buff with Mr. Komodo: Ill-A-Noise

Football is back, but my sanity is yet to return.

Michael Hickey

*in the voice of Dwight Schrute*

It’s September.

You’re a Hoosier Fan or follower.

You’ve been disappointed since last year because Tom Allen lied and told you your Penix was fixed when it was clearly broken.

What did you do?

Nothing. You drank and cried.

What did he do?

He fired his Sheridan and lopped off his Penix. Ouch.

Fast forward 9 months.

Ding Dong. Someone’s at the door.

Who is it?

It’s a mustached man who’s been average everywhere he’s been. He’s got average quarter backs to play with. He’s got an average strategy.

Who else is there? Tom Allen? And you’re calling plays? But you hired a DC? Because yours left? And took a demotion to leave? Ouch.

I guess it’s week 1.

But wait. It’s week 0 and your opponent already played.

But you weren’t there. You were celebrating Scott Frost losing.

It’s September. Indiana might suck this year.

But football. It’s back.

Bring the noise, Illinois. Cause you’ve got a 50/50 chance of winning.

Cause someone has to. Legally….legally someone has to win.

Opponent History

Indiana...pretty much has been bad its entire history.
  • The Indiana Hoosiers and Illinois Fighting Illini have played a total of 71 games in their history.
  • The first game was played back in 1899 and was a 5-0 Indiana win.
  • Indiana and Illinois last played in 2017. The Hoosiers prevailed 24-14.
  • My fondest memory of playing Illinois was watching Juice Williams gash the Indiana defense for what felt like thousands of yards.

Illinois Fun Facts

For Illinois fun facts, I have solicited the help of our Illinois correspondent, Mr. Thumpasaurus.

Thump, please give us some fun facts about Illinois.

Thump: Certainly.

  1. One of the most iconic buildings on campus is Altgeld Hall, located behind the Alma Mater. The exterior contains the only gargoyle on campus. It has four sister buildings at other campuses in the state: Legend has it they combine to form a complete castle, but this is likely just an invented explanation for why you can never find your way around Math Castle.
  2. The internet as we know it was developed at the University of Illinois. The internet initially was just a network of computer systems across which data and files could be sent. Its first utility exploded after Mosaic, the first internet browser, was developed at the U of I in the 1980’s.
  3. The Morrow Plots are the oldest experimental agricultural field in the United States, which means that just southeast of the Quad lies the most important cornfield in America.
  4. Green Street is where all the campustown bars are, but until around 50 years ago it was difficult for businesses to stay long term because it flooded too much. Since we’re a real engineering school, we set about fixing this (glares at Ross-Ade Stadium) and the resulting drainage canal runs through he engineering quad. This is the beautiful and scenic Boneyard creek.
  5. REO Speedwagon was formed in the Illinois Street Residence (ISR) dorms that are still in use today.

Buffkomodo: Thank you for your contribution Thump!

Storylines to Watch

1) Connor Bazelak or Jack Tuttle: Who starts and who finishes?

This is the main story line going into game number one. While the Hoosier staff has known for the last week or so who the starter is, by all accounts there was a legit quarterback battle between the transfer from Missouri, Connor Bazelak, and the former transfer from Utah, Jack “I <3 Tuttles” Tuttle. It’s my opinion that as a fan base, we’ve seen all we need to see from Tuttle to know he’s probably not the answer at QB. The sticking point though is…how is he not just so much better than Tuttle that you actually had a QB competition? Now I know that coaches do coach things. It very well could be they’ve known since the spring Connor was starting but wanted to keep Illinois guessing up until the last minute. But pardon me for thinking that if Bazelak and Tuttle are basically two sides of the same coin….we could be screwed. Who comes out of the tunnel to start will be one story worth watching, and seeing if that person ends the game is also worth watching because it very well may not be the same person.

2) Is the offense offensive or at least neutral?

Walt Bell….is the new offensive coordinator. While some may not have noticed, and judging by the attendance most of you haven’t, the Indian’s have managed to win a few here and there and are threatening to climb out of the cellar Walt Bell has actually grown a fantastic mustache. Like…it looks good. It’s my assumption that his contract with UMass requires him to tattoo his record on his upper lip and he’s trying to hide it, but I mean I guess it could be he’s just trying to show he’s old and needs respect. I don’t know. Anyway, can the mediocre Walt Bell make the Indiana offense at least mediocre? That’s a major storyline this year. Last year, the offense was offensively bad. Can it improve? We’ll see.

Just look at the lip ferret.
Zach Osterman

3) Can the defense force a few takeaways?

The more and more I hear Tom Allen talk about last year’s defensive effort, the more tire marks I see on Charlton Warren. I think that it’s obvious Allen wasn’t happy with how the defense performed last year. Perhaps the biggest stat is that in 2020, the Hoosier defense forced 22 takeaways (5 fumbles forced, 3 recovered so really 20 takeaways but screw it) in 8 while in 2021 that mostly the same defense forced 9 takeaways (4 FF, 2 recovered so really 7) in 12 games. That’s not Tom Allen defense. That is pretty much the whole story. 2020 went so well because Indiana forced a ton of turnovers and set the offense up in good shape most of the time. That didn’t happen last year. That doesn’t absolve a terrible offensive performance, but it doesn’t help at all. With Tom Allen taking a more hands on approach to the defense, can they get back to taking the ball away from their opponents? It’s something to watch for as the season progresses.

NOTE: I’m not going to bitch about the O-Line here. We all know it sucks.

You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Until It’s Gone

I think that it’s important to frame the current state of Indiana football in two lights. Number one, we as elder statesmen to the Hoosier football fandom know that the program is the losingest program in college football. Like…we can’t escape it. We also can’t escape that we’ve felt that a ton over the past few decades.

What we need to understand is that the players on the field….the kids in the stands….they’ve not been accustomed to our Indiana football. They’ve pretty much only known competitive, .500 football with two really good years and 4 bowls in 6 years. Last season was their first foray into the abyss that many of us dwell in as Hoosier fans. So to just expect the same old Indiana to do the same old kind of losing…it may be a little off base.

I don’t expect this team to pop off for 8 wins. Hell, I don’t really expect a bowl this year. I do expect a return to competitiveness. I do expect Indiana to not be the outright doormat it was last year. I also expect to not see kids quit halfway through the season like they did last year.

When Indiana won at Wisconsin in 2020, I never really knew how hard the fall would feel. We’d never been up so high. I guess you really don’t know how much you’ll miss those times until they’re gone. Hopefully they come back soon. Friday night is a great opportunity to send a message. Let’s see what happens.

Gametime: 9/2 – 8:00 PM EST – FS1