WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – It was a season of missed opportunities.
Rather than heading to a third straight bowl game, the Hoosiers finished their season watching the Boilermakers take back the Old Oaken Bucket.
Purdue looks to be a program on the rise, while the year ends discouragingly for IU with questions about what could’ve been.
After consecutive six-win seasons, first-year IU Coach Tom Allen entered the spotlight with great anticipation. Things were supposed to be different and a breakthrough was on the horizon.
Right now, IU is a program stuck in idle.
For three straight seasons, there have been so many close calls against ranked teams but nothing to show for them. The defense finally was fixed, only to see the offense become a liability.
This season was a setback when the Hoosiers had the talent to win seven or eight games.
The Hoosiers fell way short of the lofty expectations that were hoisted upon them.
Allen’s message was tantalizing. He offered something new and exciting as it was widely thought that he could continue the upward trajectory of the IU program.
There’s no glossing over the fact this was a disappointing season. IU had a top-25 level defense and couldn’t even manage to get to a bowl game.
Under new offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, the offense was both inefficient and incapable of winning games against quality teams. While the offense faced strong Big Ten defenses, too many times it looked completely overmatched with little chance of having success.
Against Purdue, IU’s offense had six three-and-outs to go along with a one-play drive, which ended with an interception. The Hoosiers didn’t have success until late in the game when the game was nearly out of reach, and the offense left the defense on the field for way too long.
The loss to its biggest rival exemplified everything that went wrong about the season.
Outside of a 71-yard run by junior running back Ricky Brookins, IU’s run game was nonexistent. Senior quarterback Richard Lagow was tasked with throwing the ball 60 times and was inaccurate, as he has been his entire IU career. The play calling was unimaginative and too many times on third down, Lagow threw short of the first down.
The defense stifled Purdue’s passing attack, holding it under 200 yards, but the rushing defense wore down in the third and fourth quarters.
All these were issues that plagued IU all season long and led to this mediocre season.
Yes, there were injuries, and IU played a difficult schedule, but the bitter taste you’re left with after this season could have been avoided by just beating Purdue.
It was that simple. One win and IU could have been heading to a bowl game. An achievable goal based on the talent of IU's roster.
In the end, Allen couldn’t keep this program moving forward, and IU wasted one of the best defenses it has had in decades. The foundation had been built, but the next step hasn’t taken place.
With Purdue on the upswing, IU had a chance to continue its own growth this season. Instead, the Hoosiers went backwards.
If Allen’s going to be successful at IU, that can’t become a trend.
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