Indiana football finally found the endzone in the second half against Maryland on Saturday, but the team came out on the losing side yet again. During their four-game losing streak, the Hoosiers have been outscored 66-30 in the second half and were shut out in two of those games.
Last weekend, against Maryland, Indiana scored the most second-half points — 16 — since its week three matchup with Western Kentucky University. It did Indiana’s office no favors that the defense gave up 24 points in the second half — a season-high.
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Early in the season, the high-tempo pace of the Indiana football offense played to the strength of the Hoosiers. Now, it seems the offense has stalled out, and the lack of possession has only hurt it. Indiana is tied for last amongst FBS teams in average possession per game at 24 minutes.
“We know that we’re good,” redshirt junior quarterback Connor Bazelak said during a press conference Monday. “The only team that has beat us is ourselves.”
Bazelak blamed the loss on turnovers and missed plays down the stretch. The turnovers alluded to a Bazelak interception at the beginning of both the first and second half and then a fourth quarter fumble. The Terrapins scored 17 points off of Hoosier turnovers.
“We had opportunities to win the game,” offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Walt Bell said during the press conference. “We all know that is somewhere we have to improve.”
Bell said he also faults the loss on their lack of running game, labeling it an “11-man effort.” In its four-game losing streak, Indiana has had just 190 total rushing yards, and its opponents have rushed for a total of 356 yards. The Hoosiers haven’t had a game where they’ve totaled over 100 rushing yards since playing the Hilltoppers on Sept. 17.
Indiana senior running back Josh Henderson said success on the offensive side of the ball will come with practice, being more consistent and believing in each other.
“We’ve made mistakes, and we feel like it's all self-inflicted,” Henderson said in a press conference Monday.
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With a season that is aging rapidly, the Hoosiers know that mistakes on the offensive end need to be addressed and fixed soon, or Indiana will lose its chance to go bowling.
“Our kids are unbelievably resilient,” Bell said. “When you're in the Big Ten, when you’re playing high-level football, that game is going to be defined by somewhere in between 4 and 8 plays.”
Bazelak and the Hoosiers will continue to take one game at a time, staying focused throughout the season.
Indiana defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Chad Wilt said the team will look to focus on three areas throughout practice and preparation for Rutgers: communication, execution of assignments and fundamentals and technique.
Indiana will take on Rutgers at noon this Saturday in New Brunswick, New Jersey..