Bloomington, Ind – Well, it was another nail-biter in Bloomington last Saturday. Our Hoosiers must certainly love drama as they had to use overtime to beat those pesky Western Kentucky Hilltoppers to stay undefeated on the year. Every game we gain a little more knowledge about our Hoosiers so without further adieu, here are…
5 Things We Learned About IU Football Against Western Kentucky
1. The Defense Is Not Where It Needs To Be
While there are a few bright spots, the defense as a whole is not where it needs to be. Western Kentucky had its best offensive output of the season last Saturday dropping 545 total yards of offense. This defensive effort will certainly not put us in the position to win many games if our offense is struggling. As Tom Allen so succinctly put it in his post game press conference,
“Ooh, that stinks.”
He would go on to elaborate,
Yeah, the thing that they do that really makes it hard is you try to balance the pass game fits where you’re trying to help us in the pass game and also stop the run, so trying to borrow back and forth, and they do a good job of stressing you in that area. They put a lot of stress on us a year ago with that.
I thought we had some good answers. Had some bad fits on a couple of those long runs.
So yeah, just really disappointed, to be honest with you. That’s probably the most disappointing thing.
But I will say this: This is what I told our guys all week long. Guys, they’re going to get some yards. Just keep them from scoring touchdowns. Make them kick goals, and then we’re going to block the field goal.Tom Allen Post-Game Press Conference 9/17/22
Straight from the horse’s mouth folks, we’ve got to get better.
2. Aaron Casey is a Tackling Machine
One of those bright spots I mentioned earlier on defense, is Aaron Casey. Chosen by the entire program prior to the season as the first ever George Taliaferro award winner, Casey has proven that he is well deserving of that accolade. He is averaging 7 tackles a game with 2 of those for a loss. Casey is a play-maker on a defense that desperately needs one. He had perhaps his most impactful game of the season last week as he matched a career high with eight tackles and recorded a career-high with 3.0 tackles for loss.
Aaron is a model of consistency and work ethic and is one of the beloved players by the IU coaching staff.
When you coach him with those things, he’s usually right on it the next time. There’s a reason we call it practice, glad we don’t play games on Tuesday’s but he keeps working on it and preparing on it through the week, keeps attacking it and by Saturday and you’ve coached him up, he’s learning, he’s responding, he’s growing, he’s gaining confidence all throughout the week. Boom, it’s Saturday and he goes and makes the play. It’s fun to coach kids who are coachableChad Wilt Media Availability 9/12/22
3. Our Offensive Line Is Still A Work In Progress
Our Hoosiers’ only ran the ball for 120 total yards against WKU. IU Offensive Line coach/ Run Game Coordinator Darren Hiller cannot be pleased with that number. WKU consistently pushed our line back from point of attack and held our RB’s to minimal gains. IU has had to use patchwork lines as there have been a slew of injuries, most recently to starting center, Zach Carpenter during warm-ups. This can’t be used as an excuse and will not be by Tom Allen and Darren Hiller. As they always say, next man up.
4. Conner Bazelak Was The Right Choice For QB1
Bazelak can certainly sling the ball when need be. With IU’s running game being somewhat ineffective, he threw the ball a whopping 55 times, completing 33 of them good for a season high 364 yards and 2 scores. The Missouri transfer did not come in as the heir apparent at quarterback. He had to win the spot in a very competitive battle during summer and fall camp. His numbers are great yes, but its his leadership and ability to stay even keeled that truly stands out to me. Apparently to his Offensive Coordinator Walt Bell as well.
I think the biggest thing especially on game day is no matter what happens, good, bad wrong, right or indifferent, you know as soon as he comes off the field he’s always going to come to the phone. Literally the moment he gets off, he’s calling before I’ve even got a chance to breathe for a second. No matter what, good, bad wrong, right or indifferent, wide open guy we miss, something bad happens, something good happens, he’s the exact same guy all the time.
There’s a million types of leadership. You know somebody like Tom Brady is always yelling and screaming. He’s a very animated guy on the sideline and you see guys like Eli Manning who’s to himself and I think to his strength he’s very even keeled. A mistake doesn’t rattle him, or something good doesn’t change his demeanor. He’s even keel and can handle success and failure which is a huge strength for him.OC Walt Bell Media Availability 9/7/22
IU Has Found Ways To Win
IU needed yet another 4th quarter comeback drive, this time to send to OT Saturday. Then IU blocked WKU’s field goal attempt, almost running it back for a TD which put them in great position. Finally Charles Campbell nailed a walk-off 51 yard field goal that looked like it could have been good from 60 to seal the win. While this is not optimal it does make for some dramatic football. Indiana stepped up late in the contest and found a way to come out with the victory. All critiques aside, this is the only thing that matters. IU is 3-0 on the season and while they definitely have a lot of things to work on, it’s much better to be able to work on those aspects at 3–0 as opposed to 0-3.
We found a way to win three football games at this level, which is not easy to do. I think we beat a really good Illinois football team. I really believe that. So obviously I know it was last weekend, and I thought we beat another really good football team this weekend.
The exciting thing is we’re 3-0 with a lot of things to improve on. I feel we’re not even close to playing our best football. We did have a better start, okay, but at the same time, we’ve got the middle part. We had a great finish. We’re really strong in the fourth quarter.Tom Allen Post-Game Press Conference 9/17/22