How much can one guard be missed? A lot, apparently, if that guard is Indiana’s Dan Feeney:
Thru 2 games on 20 runs to either side of #Hoosiers star OG Dan Feeney, Indiana RBs have gained 172 yards, an 8.6 yards-per-carry average.
— Josh Liskiewitz (@PFF_Josh) September 19, 2016
Fast forward to the Hoosiers’ 33-28 loss Saturday to Wake Forest. In the first half, without Feeney at right guard (concussion) or senior Dimitric Camiel at right tackle (undisclosed) and with the game still in the balance, the concept of balance was something Indiana couldn’t quite — well, grasp.
The hosts carried the ball 19 times in the first two quarters for 53 yards, or 2.8 yards per tote. They threw it 26 times. Tailback Devine Redding’s streak of 100-yard games hit the skids at five. And as the Hoosiers got farther behind, coach Kevin Wilson went more and more to the air, unapologetically:
Wilson said IU didn’t run the ball a lot because Dimitric Camiel and Dan Feeney were out, also said the Hoosiers didn’t block well. #iufb
— Jordan Guskey (@JordanGuskey) September 24, 2016
All of which, once the dust settled, made for an interesting stat line for quarterback Richard Lagow: 28-for-47 passing, 496 yards, three touchdown passes and five interceptions. The best and worst afternoon imaginable, all in the same breath.
Even without Feeney, a 305-pound NFL prospect who’s recovering from a concussion suffered Sept. 10 against Ball State, Indiana’s first three touchdown drives required a grand total of seven plays to consummate. The Hoosiers’ four scores took up 11 plays in all. The hosts marched up and down the Memorial Stadium turf to the tune of 611 total yards of offense.
That wasn’t the problem.
This was: The Demon Deacons’ advantage in time of possession, 33:53 to 26:07.
Also, this: nine Hoosiers penalties for 84 yards in demerits.
And, primarily, this: five Indiana turnovers to zero for the Deacons — all on Lagow picks.
Ironically, Indiana had come in to the tilt tied for 23rd nationally in turnover margin (plus-0.62 per week) while the Deacons were tied for 120th (minus-1.08 per week). So throwing the ball all over the stadium might work on your neighbor’s Xbox, but, in reality, it also comes with consequences.
In this case on Saturday, that meant kissing good-bye the Big Ten’s second-longest winning streak over non-conference foes (eight, tied with Michigan State; Ohio State leads, with nine). And the loss was also a momentum buzzkiller for a program that had built a good head of steam in victories at Florida International (34-13) and the Cardinal (30-20) and now faces a three-game gauntlet of Michigan State, Ohio State and Nebraska, back-to-back-to-back.
The Deacons (3-0) are better than their ‘Q’ rating, having already notched a victory, by double-digits, on the road, against a Duke side that somehow won at Notre Dame on Saturday. The “what” of IU’s first defeat didn’t sting so much as the “how.” Or the “why:”
oh, yeah, indiana’s without both dimitric camiel and dan feeney today
— CRIMSON QUARRY (@crimsonquarry) September 24, 2016
Miss you, Dan Feeney.
— jackson (@blinknerve) September 24, 2016
Not having Dan Feeney is really hurting the run game
— Caleb Blaase™ (@coachCB60) September 24, 2016
Where is Dan Feeney
— charlie hall (@chall_02) September 24, 2016
IU run game is hurting without Dan Feeney out there. We are throwing more and the INT’s are piling up.
— Paul Roberts (@MisterRoberts) September 24, 2016
Over their last 16 games, the Hoosiers have amassed at least 35 carries 12 different occasions. They won eight of those games. The games in which they posted 34 carries or fewer? Zero wins, four losses. Get well, Dan Feeney. Get well soon.