Missed calls, missed kicks cost IU football in close loss to Michigan State

Indianapolis Star

BLOOMINGTON — gave up the Old Brass Spittoon on Saturday afternoon, falling to Michigan State, 24-21, in a trophy game.

The loss drops IU to 3-8 on the season. A controversial intentional grounding call and a missed field goal from Chris Freeman at the end of the game capped the Hoosiers' woes on the day.

IU (3-8) will finish the regular season at Purdue next week.

Here are three observations from the game:

Inventive play-calling not enough

Rod Carey had some fun with the play-calling at times Saturday. 

The newly-minted offensive coordinator drew up some inventive plays for quarterback Brendan Sorsby in the Hoosiers’ second-quarter touchdown drive, including designed QB runs to the left and right that picked up 11 and 25 yards, respectively. 

Carey effectively mixed handoffs, passes, and QB rushes to get well into the red zone, ending with a 4-yard TD rush for running back Trent Howland. 

The coordinator’s effective calls worked again in the first drive of the third quarter — a 38-yard pass from Sorsby to wide receiver Donaven McCulley set up a 3-yard touchdown to James Bomba, tying the score at the time. 

Sluggish defensive effort

IU’s defense was sluggish at best Saturday afternoon. At worst, it was downright lackadaisical. 

The Hoosiers defense seemed unprepared for the first drive of the game, and Michigan State took advantage. Spartans quarterback Katin Houser relied on a specific play throughout the first drive — a short pass to the right. That play worked for four of the Spartans’ eight plays of the scoring drive, including the 17-yard touchdown pass to Maliq Carr. 

IU seemed to pick up the pace after that, snagging an interception, forcing a turnover on downs, and two punts in MSU’s next four drives.

After that, though, the plodding defense returned.

MSU scored its second touchdown of the day for two reasons: 1. A really impressive one-handed catch by Montorie Foster, and 2. A listless tackling effort by the Hoosiers. Hoosiers defensive back Phillip Dunnam was Foster’s main defender, but his top effort to tackle him was a swat at the ball, which Foster spun out of easily.

Defensive back James Monds and linebacker Aaron Casey were also in vicinity of Foster, but they seemed to let up as he neared the end zone, allowing Foster to score easily.

In the third quarter, IU defensive back Jamari Sharpe grabbed the Hoosiers' second interception of the day. On his return, though, Sharpe fumbled the ball near the 50-yard line, and Michigan State recovered the ball for a gain and a fresh set of downs.

Then, near the end of the fourth quarter, it was deja vu for the defense. Spartans massive tight end Maliq Carr broke through multiple lackadaisical Hoosiers tackle attempts on his 36-yard run to the end zone, putting Michigan State up with a minute left.

Louis Moore was the main tackler on Carr this time, but he was overpowered by the Purdue transfer and fell to the ground. Both Casey and Sharpe couldn't get a good hand on Carr either, allowing him to easily run in for a touchdown. Carr finished the game with 100 yards and two touchdowns

Brendan Sorsby consistent after career game

For the second straight week, IU's loss isn't the fault of the quarterback.

Sorsby had a career game last week against Illinois, going 22-of-33 for 289 yards and three passing touchdowns, as well as two rushing touchdowns, in IU's 48-45 overtime loss.

While the redshirt freshman wasn't as prolific against Michigan State this week, his consistent, scot-free play helped the Hoosiers to a victory.

The quarterback's only fault of the day was an intentional grounding call, which was contested by fans, with seven seconds left in regulation.

Sorsby finished the day going 19-of-34 for 192 yards and two touchdowns, with no turnovers.