Indiana Daily Student

Indiana football’s passing game a non-factor in 35-14 loss to Minnesota

<p>IU freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley runs against Minnesota on Nov. 20, 2021, at Memorial Stadium. McCulley led Indiana in rushing with 72 yards during the game Saturday.</p>

IU freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley runs against Minnesota on Nov. 20, 2021, at Memorial Stadium. McCulley led Indiana in rushing with 72 yards during the game Saturday.

Shortly after the passing of its former president, Herman B Wells, IU commissioned a statue to be placed on campus to honor its former leader. 

IU South Bend professor Tuck Langland was chosen to craft Wells’ likeness. The statue now sits on a bench in the Old Crescent of IU’s campus, its outstretched right hand worn away from the many freshmen who have shaken it for tradition’s sake.

Langland, however, had a plan in mind for the statue.

Indiana football was set to play Minnesota, Langland’s alma mater, that October at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. Langland carved “IU vs Minnesota, Oct. 21, 2000 - Go Gophers” into the underside of the brim of Wells’ hat.

Minnesota would go on to lose that game 51-43. Before tonight, Indiana was 2-6 against Minnesota, and the series was tied 2-2 in Bloomington.

That changed Saturday night when Minnesota defeated Indiana 35-14 on senior night in Memorial Stadium. 

“Obviously disappointed in the outcome, proud of the kids’ fight,” head coach Tom Allen said at the postgame press conference. “Proud of our seniors, all that they represent, what they’ve done here.”

The first quarter consisted of just three drives, two from Minnesota and just one from Indiana. Minnesota’s first offensive possession bled over eight minutes from the clock. Indiana, taking over after a fourth-down stop, took six minutes on a touchdown drive.

That touchdown came off of a mistake. Freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley fumbled the initial snap before gathering himself up to wade through Minnesota’s defense and into the end zone.

Indiana only asked McCulley to pass twice in its first drive, and only one of those attempts ended in a completion. Those seven yards, which came courtesy of sophomore wide receiver Javon Swinton, would be McCulley’s only passing yards of the first half.

Allen said most of Indiana’s offensive plays were run-pass options, with McCulley electing to run on most, and Allen believed he should have thrown more.

“Dual-threat, dual means you do both,” Allen said. “If you’re not dual, then you’re just one dimensional.”

McCulley had 12 rushing attempts for 59 yards in the first half. Then, as fans in the stands shouted for him to pass with 23 second left in the half, he threw right to Minnesota junior defensive back Tyler Nubin.

Minnesota capitalized as senior quarterback Tanner Morgan ledreceivers toward the sidelines before finding senior wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell in the end zone to extend Minnesota’s lead.

In its three drives with McCulley following halftime, Indiana only gained 29 yards before a late third-quarter interception ended the freshman’s night. Sophomore quarterback Grant Gremel replaced McCulley at the beginning of the fourth quarter. 

As though sensing its fans growing apathy for football, IU promoted single-game tickets for men’s basketball over speakers and on the stadium’s jumbotron multiple times throughout the game.

Despite his one quarter of play, Gremel led Indiana in passing yards with 60 to McCulley’s 17. Of those 60, 53 came on his final two attempts: a completion to sophomore tight end AJ Barner and a touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Malachi Holt-Bennett.

When asked if he would consider starting Gremel next Saturday against rival Purdue, Allen replied he would do whatever needs to be done to beat the Boilermakers. Gremel brushed off potential pressure that could come with facing Purdue.

“Pressure’s fake,” Gremel said. “I don’t believe in pressure.”

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