Controversial calls hurt, but loads of missed tackles hurt IU more vs. Michigan State.

Indianapolis Star

BLOOMINGTON — One week after giving up 48 points in a loss to Illinois, IU football's defensive effort was, at best, lackadaisical on Saturday afternoon in a 24-21 loss to Michigan State.

"It's very frustrating," coach Tom Allen said. "Our guys had a chance to affect the game defensively, and they didn't do it. ... We didn't finish. It was frustrating, without a doubt. Young guys out there playing hard and didn't finish."

The Hoosiers defense came out unprepared on the first drive of the game, allowing Michigan State to take advantage of a simple-yardage play. The Spartans ran the same play — a short pass to the right from QB Katin Houser — four times in an eight-play drive, including for a 17-yard touchdown pass to Maliq Carr.

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IU seemed to shape up after that — the defense forced an interception and a turnover on downs throughout the rest of the first half. At the end of the half, though, IU's defense because lackadaisical again.

With one minute left in the first half, Michigan State wide receiver Montorie Foster Jr. made an impressive one-handed catch near the 25-yard line. IU linebacker Aaron Casey was on his way toward Foster already, and it should've been an easy tackle.

Instead, Casey just tried to get his hand on the ball, which Foster spun to avoid. Defensive back Phillip Dunnam also had his hands on Foster, but he didn't seem to attempt a tackle.

While Dunnam, Casey, and other defenders trailed behind, Foster sauntered into the end zone.

"There's still some things that we didn't do well, some things that we did do well after last week," Casey said. "There were also some things we didn't do as good as last week. It's back and forth in that aspect."

Despite the defensive miscues, IU fought its way back into the game and led with five minutes left. All the defense had to do was hold off the Spartans' final drive of the game.

Instead, Carr was the one to torch the Hoosiers defense.

Carr caught a deep pass from Houser around the 15-yard line, colliding with and knocking over IU defensive back Louis Moore in the process.

"He was big," Moore said of Carr. "I wouldn't say it was tough defending him, but it was tough getting around him body-wise, because a lot of the catches he had on me, at least, he was in front of me. I couldn't get around."

Casey attempted to tackle Carr, but the tight end spun around to avoid Casey and breezed past defensive back Jamari Sharpe to walk into the end zone, giving MSU the three-point lead with just one minute left. Carr finished the game with two touchdowns on nine catches for 100 yards.

"There weren't really any breakdowns in coverage or anything like that, it was just staying on your man and finishing," Casey said postgame.

There were some controversial calls near the end of the game, including potential no-calls on the MSU offense and the intentional grounding call on IU quarterback Brendan Sorsby, which just put salt in the wound. But the lack of defensive effort put IU in that position in the first place.