BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) As quickly as a road win over a ranked Missouri team gave the Indiana faithful hope, a blowout loss at home to unranked Maryland left the realization that the Hoosiers still lack the consistency needed to compete every week in the Big Ten.
Now, coach Kevin Wilson and his team find themselves in a familiar situation, 2-2 for the third consecutive year. With a tough conference schedule on the horizon, every loss takes Indiana one step further away from making its first bowl appearance in Wilson's tenure.
''That's what separates the really strong players and the really strong teams from the guys who aren't: consistency,'' Wilson said Monday. ''We said back in preseason we want competition and consistency, and I've seen some solid things in practice, but you have to transfer it to the game.''
Along with being inconsistent on the scoreboard, going win-loss, win-loss, to start the season for the second year in a row, Indiana has been unpredictable on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, Wilson and his staff have stressed the need for their team to be aggressive. But a week after controlling the line of scrimmage against Missouri, Indiana was dominated and gave up 484 yards to Maryland.
Indiana's passing attack accounted for just 126 yards on 37 attempts. Nate Sudfeld completed just 38 percent of his passes, including an interception, without a touchdown.
Though Sudfeld undoubtedly has to play better for Indiana's offense to improve, the struggles in the passing game don't all fall on his shoulders.
''It was a day where if anyone that had a part of passing could mess up some things, we were hitting on 10 all day,'' Wilson said. ''Whether it be the play call, the time to call it, the placement, the route, the protection, the read, the catch, whatever you name it, we were all part of it, collectively.''
Part of the challenge facing Indiana's passing game is replacing three NFL-caliber receivers in Ted Bolser, Kofi Hughes and Cody Latimer, and the familiarity they had with Sudfeld.
''I think we're still trying to develop that chemistry, that we know where everyone's going to be at every time, so Nate can trust it and rip it and throw it,'' offensive coordinator Kevin Johns said. ''It's something that doesn't just happen on game day, it builds starting today, starting yesterday, and it builds throughout the week. On game day we need to go out there and perform.''
In order for Indiana to have a chance in much of its remaining schedule, that chemistry will need to develop sooner than later. Despite its inconsistencies, Indiana's defense is improved, but this Hoosier team won't consistently win games in the Big Ten on the defensive end. They need a consistent, formidable passing attack to go with their talented rushing tandem of Tevin Coleman and D'Angelo Roberts.
Indiana will need to get its passing game on track Saturday in its final non-conference game of the year against North Texas. The Mean Green are ranked 11th nationally in rush defense, allowing just 87.3 yards per game on the ground.
Luckily, if figuring out the passing game is your issue, Kevin Wilson is the right man to have at the helm.
''I get more into problem-solving rather than getting frustrated,'' Wilson said. ''We're not going to stay stubborn, I think we've always evolved, and I think we have to continue and we always will.''