Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rock bottom, yet? Illinois 55, Indiana 13.

IU treated the Big Ten Network's prime time audience to horrid performance. IU was moderately competitive for much of the first half, moving the ball with some success, and missing two makeable field goals. Here are the stats.
The stats don't tell anything that watching the game did not. Illinois nearly doubled up IU in total offense (563-313); averaged 6.6 yards per carry to IU's 3.2; passed for 271 yards to IU 172; averaged 8.5 yards per play to IU's 4.3; and turned the ball over once to IU's twice. Last year, I made quite a bit of fun of Juice Williams, so it's only fair to note that he is much improved as a passer, and his 72.7 completion percentage last night was his career best. Other thoughts:
  • The Seven Blocks of Limestone are more like Seven Bags of Mulch. Ben Chappell was sacked four times in his first college start, and the O-line's failures continue to hurt every aspect of the offense.
  • While the line takes its share of the blame, Chappell, filling in for injured Kellen Lewis, completed only 10 of his 29 pass attempts against a previously mediocre Illinois defense.
  • Austin Starr and Greg Middleton need not worry about repeating as All-Americans this season.
  • What in the world possessed Bill Lynch to kick field goals down 34-7 and 48-10? I suppose I can understand the last one, trying to restore Starr's confidence. But a 20 point deficit in the middle of the third quarter is not insurmountable. Don't misunderstand, I'm not saying IU would have won if Lynch had gone for it there--we probably wouldn't have gotten the touchdown. But midway through the third quarter is too early to wave the white flag.

This season has turned into a disaster. Last year, Rick Greenspan faced a difficult choice: he could elevate the acting head coach, who had a poor Division I-A record but had performed admirably in tough circumstances and led IU to its first bowl game in 14 years. There's no guarantee that IU would have landed a top-notch coach if Greenspan had conducted an open search. The rationale behind hiring Lynch was continuity: he would avoid the inevitable staff turnover and player attrition and would keep the original Hoeppner staff roughly intact. In short, having finally achieved some momentum with the football program, IU hired Lynch precisely to avoid this sort of season. I'm not calling for Lynch's head, but there's no doubt that if Greenspan had any inkling that 2008 would look like this, Lynch would not have been considered. My various posts from last November make clear that I was ambivalent about the Lynch hiring. I look forward to Bob Kravitz's mea culpa, but I'm not holding my breath. IU has five games remaining, and four of them would be winnable if IU were a decent team. It's time to salvage something.

1 comment:

T-Mill said...

good, the mulch will help with the fertilizer of our own season come bucket time.