Bloomington, IN – After a brief rain delay the Hoosiers fought against the weather and the Vandals, in what turned out to be a tale of two halves. Idaho was not looking for any moral victories Saturday night and they certainly had the Hoosiers’ number in the first half. In a week 2 that was full of upsets, and although it wasn’t pretty, the Hoosiers were able to come away with the victory to move to 2-0 on the year. Here’s 5 things we learned about our Hoosiers against Idaho.
1. Tempo, Tempo, Tempo
1st year Offensive Coordinator Walt Bell and Tom Allen are employing a fast paced tempo offense this year. Saturday against Idaho we saw both the good and the bad that this scheme will bring. Idaho dominated time of possession in the first half as IU could not get anything going on offense. All of IU’s first half possessions ended in under 3 minutes, most even under 2 minutes. Each of these possessions ended in either a punt, a turnover, or a missed FG opportunity. This forced the IU defense to be on the field for way too long. QB Gevani McCoy and the Idaho offense took full advantage of this and made the fatigued Hoosiers’ D pay.
Then came the 3rd quarter. What it must have been like to be a fly on the wall during that halftime speech by Coach Allen. Whatever he said must’ve worked because the Hoosiers came out on fire in the 3rd quarter. IU came out blistering hot and reeled off 23 straight points in the 3rd while holding the Vandals scoreless. IU QB Conner Bazelak finally got control of his offense and the D stiffened up.
I’m still not sold on the up-tempo style that Bell brings to the table. We’ve seen how it can absolutely change a game, for better or for worse. Let’s hope it’s more for the better gion forward.
2. QB Conner Bazelak needs to be more consistent
Bazelak looked lost in the first half and this bled over into every position on the offensive side of the ball. Sure the weather had something to do with it but you just can’t be a Big Ten quarterback and miss as many easy throws as he did. IU was driving at the end of the first half and looked to be in a good position to score for the first time in the game. After engineering the first good drive for the Hoosiers, Bazelak threw what might be one of the worst interceptions I’ve seen from an IU quarterback in a long while. He had an IU receiver wide open deep in Idaho territory and just simply overthrew him by a mile. This was an errant pass that was just simply inexcusable for a power 5 QB.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere Bazelak comes out in the 3rd quarter and looks like he can compete with the best in the game. He led IU to 23 unanswered points, throwing for 2 TD’s and executing IU’s offense almost flawlessly. He then managed the game and led our Hoosiers to the victory. IU needs that Bazelak to show up more often than not as it gets into the meat of the Big Ten schedule if they want any chance of success.
3. Shaun Shivers Can Be A Game Changer
After a not so memorable first game against Illinois, minus the game winning TD of course, Shivers rebounded nicely with a 155 yd performance against Idaho. Arguably the only Hoosier to show up in the first half, Shivers consistently gained good yardage when not much else was going well for the Hoosiers. The Auburn transfer averaged nearly 8 yards a carry and showed his big play ability with a 46 yard scamper. He has scored a TD in both of IU’s games this season and will be a big piece of the Hoosiers’ offense moving forward.
4. Dasan McCullough Is A Beast
Arguably IU’s most important recruit on the defensive side of the ball, McCullough has shown to be very much deserving of the 4-star ranking coming out of high school. McCullough can and will play almost every position on the field. He consistently got into the Vandals’ backfield and caused havoc. He finished the game with 5 total tackles including 2 sacks, but it is the plays that don’t show up in the stat sheet that make him so special. Tom Allen seems to agree with me, “This is the thing I love about Dasan,” Allen said. “He’s really talented — he’s 6-foot-5, 225 pounds and he can run — but he is a really good practice player. He’s very locked in, he’s very mature for his age as a freshman, he understands how to study film. He cares a lot, works really hard. He’s really good during walkthroughs, which is usually an area which freshmen struggle with because it’s not what they’re used to, and [he’s] being really locked in during those.
“I’m really proud of him and he’s making plays.”
5. Weather Can Make A Difference
Most athletes and coaches will never use the excuse that the weather affected their play. However, the stormy conditions at Memorial Stadium Friday night were really tough to play in. After lightning in the area cause the start of the game to be delayed by more than a half hour, the rain continued to fall heavily throughout the first half. Is this the reason for IU’s sluggish start? Well, It certainly didn’t help.
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