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Indiana in the Buff, with Mr. Komodo: I-da-ho, You-da-ho, He/She/We/They-da-ho

Wordy title, but worth it.

A prized recruit he is. Please don’t leave.
Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times

As I stormed out of Memorial Stadium last Friday, I thought “stupid, stupid, stupid. God this line sucks! Running the ball for 1.9 yards per carry! Jesus, we’re awful.” Actually, I didn’t as much think it as I said it painfully loud to Mrs. Komodo in front of 50 fans also heading for the exits at 3:00 left to go in the game. We proceeded to walk back to the car, and my wife took us home. As we got onto south 37, she prodded me to at least listen to the last part of the game. I obliged and I’m so happy I did. We listened (and I watched on YouTube TV) as Indiana stormed back to win on the last drive of the game.

That’s right folks. I just want everyone to know I take full credit for removing the bad ju-ju from Memorial Stadium just in time for Indiana to drive down and win. It’s all because of me….and the other thousands of fans who literally did the same thing…and Illinois special teams….but mostly me.

Indiana now sits at 1-0 in conference play with a clear path to meaningful improvement in sight (3 wins, 1 B1G win). In fact, if the tires continue to fall off Nebraska Indiana could have a very clear path to doubling their win total from last year (4 wins, 2 B1G wins). Let’s not get ahead of ourselves too far though.

This week, Indiana takes on an Idaho squad that they trounced last season 56-14. Far be it from me to declare Indiana will 100% win any game on their schedule, but this is as close to a gimme as possible. When the dust settles late Saturday night, the Indiana Hoosiers will somehow be 2-0. Let’s see the matchup and what we’re watching for.

Matchup History

Glorious! Indiana has a winning record against someone!
  • Last year was the only time Indiana and Idaho have played, resulting in a 56-14 blowout. That’s how you beat an FCS team.
  • DJ Matthews had a great game.
  • The defense had a great game.
  • That’s….really all you need to know from last year.

Idaho Fun Facts

  • Idaho put the fear of God in Washington State last week, losing to the Cougars 24-17.
  • The Vandals finished 4-7 last year in the Big Sky conference, and got housed by Indiana and Oregon State.
  • RECYCLED FUN FACT 1: 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.
  • RECYCLED FUN FACT 2: It is a 30 hour drive from the University of Idaho to Indiana University.
  • It’s Idaho and I’m doing this on work time. You get the facts you get
  • Potatoes.

Storylines to Watch

1) Who can stay healthy?

Indiana didn’t escape Illinois unscathed. The best offensive lineman on the team, Matthew Bedford, tore his ACL and is done for the year. Cam Jones got a little banged up. Bazelak got hit a couple times. I was convinced Shaun Shivers died on the first play from scrimmage. While scheduling FCS opponents is just assuming that you’ll walk out with a victory, it’s not always easy. I-wa and Nebraska both struggled with FCS opponents last week and Idaho damn near pulled off a win against Washington State.

Perhaps even bigger than winning the game though is the issue of keeping your team healthy. No torn ACLs, no dislocated shoulders, nothing that’s going to prevent kids from lacing them up next week against Western Kentucky. If Indiana wants a chance at reaching its potential this year, the star players and skill position guys have to stay healthy. What’s left of the shitty line must also stay healthy. That’s the first thing I’m watching for this weekend.

2) Can Indiana actually run the ball….and should it?

The Hoosiers ran the ball 26 times last week. Let me tell you, that 26 times appeared to be way to many as the Hoosiers averaged 1.9 yards per carry. In his presser this week, Walt Bell claimed they had to run the ball every now in then just to prove that they were still a threat to run. Let me tell you what Walt, 1.9 yards per carry is not a threat to run. It’s a recipe for a 3 and out.

Compare this to Purdue, who ran the ball 23 times last week. Purdue is a team that many have projected to be in contention to win the West. At minimum, they’re a solid 7-8 win team this season with that schedule. They don’t need to run the ball at all to win, and they’re under no disillusion that they can run the ball.

I hate to say this, but perhaps our black and gold state-mates have a point. If you can’t do something, why bother trying. Your receivers seem to have some skill. Your QB has some pop. Let him sling it around the field and see what happens. I’ll be watching to see what Walt Bell calls and see if we decide to uncork a little more this game or if we ground and pound more and get an O-lineman rolled up on.

3) How much can this team improve in a week’s time?

Let’s face it, even if Idaho is formidable, they’re a far cry from the likes of Illinois, Nebraska, Rutgers, Maryland, and Purdue. Those 5 teams are the ones you’re gunning for if your Indiana this year. They’re your really only opportunity for conference wins. You peeled off Illinois to start the year, and that’s fantastic. Now you’ve got 4 more to get. These next 2 weeks set you up to see how much more tinkering you can do before conference play starts for real. You get a great test in a good Cincinnati team in 3 weeks and nobody expects a win. What I’m more interested in is can the Hoosiers improve enough to put a scare in Cincinnati? These next two weeks are tune ups. Fixing those missed tackles. Fixing the missed blocks. Fixing the missed throws. Let’s see how much improvement we can see this week.

Optimism, Thy Name is Tom Allen

Coaches get too much credit and too much blame. However, that’s the baggage that comes with being a head coach. Honestly, I do feel that Tom Allen is the only person who can make Indiana football respectable today. He’s certainly not without his flaws, but the way he presents the brand of Indiana football…he’s got Tom Crean Eric Musselman like energy flowing from him. I think that’s the personality Indiana football needs and thrives with. There certainly was a ton of pessimism after last year, rightfully so. Many didn’t think Allen could get the train back on the tracks at all, let alone this year. While one game certainly doesn’t mean everything is hunky-dory in Bloomington, it’s given a fan base a chance to exhale and have a little optimism that things aren’t unsalvageable. Tom Allen doesn’t need to get his hot seat turned up just yet. This was always the rebuilding year anyway. Let’s see how it plays out, but the rebuild is off to a good start.

Game Time: 9/10 – 8:00 PM EST – Big Ten Network