A loss is a loss. That is a fact. In the game of football, somebody wins and somebody loses. Indiana lost what was seen as a winnable game on their schedule and fell to Navy 41-35.
It wasn’t that they lost, it was how they lost. Indiana was embarassed on the ground and gave up over 500 yards of total offense, and forced zero punts from the Midshipmen. The Hoosiers had no answer for Navy’s triple option and allowed quarterback Keenan Reynolds to rush for three touchdowns.
What does this say about the Hoosiers now? Is all hope lost? No, of course not. This is week two of a twelve week season, with two of the next three games all looking winnable. Indiana hosts Bowling Green, Missouri and Penn State and with the way Nate Sudfeld and the offense are playing, all three of those can be wins.
Indiana must take that next step on defense first. The Hoosiers have been compared to Michigan State in that both teams have stellar offenses that can put up points in a hurry. But, the defense still isn’t there and what good does that do? If Indiana’s defense figures it out, this team can be scary. The Hoosiers don’t have to suddenly become Alabama’s defense overnight, they just need their own defense to become consistent. At times, the Hoosiers stepped up and made some plays against Navy’s defense only to be undermined by penalties and questionable calls.
So ponder this. If Indiana is 4-1 heading into Michigan State on October 12th, another winnable game after watching the Spartans struggle in their opening weeks, does Navy matter? Kevin Wilson and Doug Mallory won’t have to worry about the triple option at all for the rest of the year. They won’t have to worry about Keenan Reynolds.
Indiana’s offense continues to play at a high level, and one could make a case for Nate Sudfeld as the starter, especially after Tre Roberson was pulled in the first quarter. One could also make a case that Indiana would have won the game had Sudfeld started, but the fact is there is no victory flag flying over Memorial Stadium this week. There was no celebration. There was only the usual thing we’ve grown accustomed to over the 2+ years of Kevin Wilson’s tenure. And that’s defeat.
For the Hoosiers, they better hop back up. Bowling Green awaits. And they might be the closest thing to a must-win that you can get in mid-September.