Throughout all of my college football memories, Indiana University (no, NOT the University of Indiana, no such thing) has rarely, if ever been competitive in the Big Ten. They were so bad when I went to school there in Bloomington, that I only attended one game to ‘check it out’. And the stadium was not staying empty for lack of trying; the dorms would post free football tickets on the bulletin boards, and they would lay untouched all week until they put up next game’s free tickets. I am used to Indiana going 2-0 playing no name schools, then right before the Big Ten season starts, we’ll lose big to someone like North Carolina, then if we’re lucky, win 1 more game the rest of the season.
There were sparks when Randle El was the quarterback, but the bottom line is that they have only been to one bowl game in the last 16 years, and they got trounced.
However, last week, they looked very good last week against Akron, and I started to get a glimmer of hope that we might be competitive in the Big Ten this year. As I type this, I am watching the Michigan game, and I think we have a very promising team. Might even be competitive in the Big Ten. Might even get more national exposure and get better recruits. Might even start being competitive in the Big Ten every year. Might even get ranked nationally!
Okay, before we get too excited, let’s look at where we are at realistically.
- Multi-faceted offense: They can run a traditional offensive package, but will also throw the the wildcat offense, and a triple option package at you. This makes us harder to play and game plan defense against. I really think we could also be successful exclusively running a spread offense like Drew Brees did at Purdue, as well.
- Physical Defense: Our pass rush has caused one interception so far. Just now as I’m writing this, we caused a fumble.
- Solid Quarterback: Our QB has a heck of an arm, and can throw it accurately 50 yards in the air.
- Good special teams threat: Our special teams kick return team is great, and we often end up with great field position.
- Score off of turnovers: We got points off both of the MI turnovers that I saw, a must!
- Offensive play calling is very solid
Things to work on
- Too many penalties: Penalties are killing us. Several drive killing false starts in the packed Big House today. Need more poise against all that noise.
- Must score touchdowns in the red zone: Three times we have gotten deep in the red zone and come away with only field goals.
- Special teams defense: MI is running it back to the 35 or 40 far too often.
I was chatting with my friend Rich on the phone, as we both watched the Indiana at Michigan football game today. I remarked that it would be really cool to build a national football program at Indiana. Rich recommended following in the steps of Bobby Bowden. When Bowden came to Florida State, he said, they were a no name school. So Bowden started scheduling early season games against top 10 teams, and would travel on the road to their place. They got trounced, but they got on TV. Soon, when Bowden would call kids to recruit them, at least they knew who Florida State was. Bowden, of course, parlayed that national exposure and name recognition into two national championships and a perennial contender.
Now I didn’t research the accuracy of Rich’s comments, but I don’t think it matters even if he just made them up. I think this is a solid model for improving recruits, and building a national program. Schedule tough teams early and often
Can Indiana build a nationally competitive football program? Can Bill Lynch be our Bobby Bowden? Only time will tell, but at least for now, yours truly is hopeful.