What in the hell is going on in Bloomington?
I mean seriously. The Indiana Hoosiers squeaked by MAC cellar dweller Akron Zips football team 29-27 in 4 overtimes this past Saturday. This, despite the fact that Indiana played at home and entered the game a 16.5 point favorite initially.
ALL of that could be forgiven if this was a first year coach at this program. All that has been forgiven for 1st year coaches at Indiana. It’s rather hard to wrap your head around when a regime in its 7th year gives you this result.
All that said, Indiana did win. They are 2-2. Let’s see what we need to talk about.
The Indiana Hoosiers played a clunker of a game against the Akron Zips in Bloomington on Saturday. Indiana managed to outlast Akron 29-27 in a 4 OT game. Overtime was only possible due to a missed Akron 32 yard field goal with time expiring.
In this game, the Hoosier offense put up 282 yards total. 190 through the air and 92 on the ground. That metric is dwarfed by the Akron offense, who put up 474 yards of total offense, with 211 through the air and 263 yards on the ground.
Both teams mustered a measly 17 points in regulation. Akron QB DJ Irons channeled his inner Mike Vick and passed for 194 yards and ran for another 141 with 2 rushing scores. Akron running back Lorenzo Lingard also ran for 113 yards and 1 score. The only thing that kept the Hoosiers alive was the 3 interceptions Akron had, with one being a pick six on a pass thrown from backup Akron QB Jeff Undercuffler Jr.
I started with Akron in the stat column because those numbers certainly deserve some kudos. The Indiana side? Not so nice. Freshman QB Tayven Jackson did not follow up his nice performance against Louisville well. Jackson threw for 190 yards on 11/26 passing with 1 touchdown and one really back interception. He was also sacked 3 times and came away with -19 yards on the ground in total. Other notable offensive stats were Cam Camper with 4 receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown in overtime. Christian Turner also had 13 carries for 67 yards and a score in regulation. If you’re wondering where Jaylin Lucas was, he had 13 carries for 43 yards and….wait…this can’t be right…oh no….it’s right….0 FUCKING CATCHES on 0 FUCKING TARGETS.
Defensively, Louis Moore had 2 interceptions with 1 being returned for a touchdown. Phillip Dunnam also had an interception, good for his 3rd on the season. Indiana recorded 2 sacks from Noah Pierre and Andre Carter. Pierre’s sack was his first of the year while Carter’s was his 2nd.
What’d We Learn
Cam Camper is Healthy and Good
One of the lone bright spots from the game was the fact that Cam Camper had another good game filled with great catches. Camper had his first touchdown catch of the season in overtime and boy was it a good one. He also had a fantastic catch on a 40 yard pass early in the game. Camper’s 100 yard plus game is his first 100 yard game this year, and if he’s able to remain healthy my guess is he’ll get a couple more.
Offensive Woes Continue
In what’s become a theme since Kalen DeBoer left for greener (then purpler) pastures, the Indiana offense struggled. The Hoosiers mustered 17 total points in regulation….with only 10 of those coming on offensive scores. Indiana also got stuffed on the goal line by the indomitable Zips defense not once, but twice. One of those being a fourth down stop of…checks notes…Donaven MucCulley.
Through regulation against FBS competition, the Indiana Offense has scored: 3 points, 14 points, 10 points. That, my friends, is Iowa level bad. That’s worse than Iowa bad because they’ve played football against 4 FBS teams and have thrown up a goose egg and still scored more points.
Let’s Talk About Walt Bell
I’ve put this off long enough. I think we have enough of a sample size that it’s time to begin the crucifixion of Walt Bell (metaphorical crucifixion because literal crucifixion is illegal in 49 states and most counties in Kentucky).
From our off season discussions, I give you my initial thoughts of Walter Bell circa 2022:
“Indiana needed a new OC and needed one quick. Who better to get for HTCA’s Indiana offense than….already fired and available former UMass Head Coach Walt Bell. That’s fucking right, Walt Bell. For those wondering why I’m upset that Indiana hired a relative no-namer at an important OC position, let me explain my dissatisfaction with the hire. Walt Bell, while young, comes from a position of absolutely no redeeming or quality marks on his resume. Walt Bell spent the past 3 seasons at UMass with teams that went a combined 2-23 and was fired after 8 games in 2021.
Prior to that, Bell was the OC under Willie Taggart at Florida State in 2018 where that team went 5-7. Prior to that, he was the OC at Maryland under DJ fucking Durkin where the Terps went 6-7 (okay) and 4-8 (fucking terrible). Prior to that, Walt was the OC at Arkansas State where the Pine Bluffs went 7-6 and 9-4 respectively. That’s not terrible. That said, in his OC career, Walt Bell is 31-32 with a 2-23 Head Coaching record. He’s not even known as a QB whisperer or a recruiter, nor is he an offensive wizard like Kalen Deboer or even Kevin Wilson.
<skipping bits about other coaches>
I’m extremely not impressed with the Walt Bell hire. I truly think HCTA missed on Bell and now Indiana is stuck with him for what could be the rest of Allen’s career at Indiana. Make no mistake about it either, should Indiana flutter here and fail to get back to .500 in the next two years, Allen is out. So for him to stake his Indiana future on Walt Bell…he’s braver than I am.” – Buffkomodo, May 10, 2022
But Buff, maybe those Walt Bell offenses at Maryland and Florida State were actually good and were doomed by bad defenses. Fuck you, no they weren’t. The offense his first year at Maryland was ranked 68th in the nation (average as fuck), his second year they did jump to 46th but when you’re 4-8 who cares, at Florida State the offense was ranked 97th, and he never cracked the top 125 offenses in the nation at UMass. Oh, Oh, Oh, it gets better. At Arkansas State, the place where his team overall had the most success, his offenses were ranked 67th in his first year and 80th in his second year. It’s especially bad when fellow Maryland writer Larry31 has popped in every now and then to giggle about it then peace out. That’s the level of coach we fucking have here.
IT GETS BETTER. In his first year at the helm, the Indiana Hoosiers ranked 100th in team offense (PPG). SP+ liked Walt but the offense was ranked 58th. Through 4 games this season, Indiana ranks 94th by the same metrics. 94th. As in 6 units shy of 100. That’s utterly offensive.
The Saddest Part of All
The saddest part of all is that there is no hope on the horizon. There’s no reinforcements coming. There’s no great change to be made this season. Even assuming Allen wanted to make a change, then someone else would need to step in and call plays on short notice. Does firing an OC go well when you have 4 very winnable and winnable games on the schedule left to play? No. You’re essentially sacrificing the rest of the season if you fire him now. Think it can’t get worse? Oh boy, it can. There’s still 30+ spots left to drop.
As reported by the IndyStar and Herald Times though, Walt Bell’s contract runs out at the end of the year. As of today, it’s not been renewed. It’s likely not going to be renewed. Which means that, once again, our dear leader Tom Allen will be searching for an OC heading into his final season at Indiana. And if you think good coaches will line up to come and coach for a HC who is likely getting canned at the end of next season, you’re damn wrong.
For the first time on Twitter, the Tom Allen fans are silent. They saw the wreck unfold Saturday. Then know who the buck stops with. The unfortunate part is that there’s literally nothing that’s going to change between now and the offseason, and there’s likely no head coaching change to be made heading into 2023. This stuff changes nothing, because if you were going to fire him, you’d have done it already. You wouldn’t let the program flounder about going on it’s 3rd season of floundering.
On to Maryland
If you need some optimism, allow me to give you some. In 2015, the Indiana Hoosiers played Duke for the Pinestripe Bowl. That team finished 6-7 in Indiana’s first bowl since 2007. That season, Indiana required: a dropped 2 point conversion to beat a very bad FCS Southern Illinois team, the stars aligning to outlast a very bad Wake Forest team, and a 2nd half come from behind victory to beat a Jeff Brohm led Western Kentucky team. One bad game does not make, nor define a season. To say Indiana is out of bowl contention because they looked bad against a MAC school is very uninformed.
This game is important though. At the beginning of the season, this game was one Hoosier fans thought Indiana could get. Now, through 4 weeks, we’ve shifted to “well hopefully Indiana can compete.” Indiana enters this game as a pretty big underdog, and rightfully so. Indiana is anywhere from a 14.5 point underdog at the time of writing to a 21 point underdog depending which simulation software you’re using.
Another fun fact is that, during the current shape of the conference, Indiana has NEVER gone to a bowl and lost to Maryland. It’s not happened. Given the current schedule, it’s not impossible to overcome a loss to Maryland, but it does make things harder.
Look, I don’t know what the answer is here. I just know things are looking bleak as hell for the Hoosiers. They aren’t fun to talk about. They aren’t fun to watch. If things go poorly over the next 4 weeks, when the Hoosiers return home to play Rutgers there won’t be a crowd there to watch. That fills me with sadness. Anywho, let’s see what team shows up this weekend before we head into the bye.
Gametime: September 30th – 3:30 PM EST – BTN
Odds (Fanduel Odds on 9/25 at 1:10 PM EST): Spread (IU +14.5), ML ( Indiana +460), O/U (50.5)