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Indiana's Offensive Line Continues to Struggle, Needs to Get Things Fixed Quickly

Indiana's offensive line has been struggling all year, and that group has been a big reason why the Hoosiers are 0-4 in the Big Ten and averaging only seven points per game. Indiana coach Tom Allen blames inconsistency and communication issues, and vows to get things fixed.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — There in an old adage in football that games really start up front along the line of scrimmage, and games are won — or lost — in the trenches.

And when an offense struggles as much as Indiana's has this year, it's easy to point the fingers at an underperforming offensive line. Aside from quarterbacks Michael Penix Jr. and Jack Tuttle already getting hurt from big hits, Indiana has struggled to run the ball and protect its passers. 

It's been an issue all year long, but it was magnified in Saturday night's 54-7 loss to No. 5-ranked Ohio State, where the Buckeyes tallied five sacks, and 14 tackles for loss. The keyboard critics on social media are roasting Indiana's offensive line.

And with good reason. 

"I would say a lack of consistency continues to be an issue," Indiana coach Tom Allen said when asked about the offensive line on Monday. "We have to make some movements there and get some other guys involved."

No part of Indiana's team played well on Saturday, but it was the offense that fell apart first. Allen blamed consistency issues and a lack of proper communication. He said the Hoosiers will make as-needed adjustments before facing Maryland on the road Saturday, looking to get the results they want.

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"I think it has been isolated breakdowns. You get certain things happening the way they're supposed to on certain plays, and then the next one, they're not," Allen said. "It can't happen. We've got a scenario where we need guys to step up obviously, with the injuries we've had at quarterback."

Indiana offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan said it's easy to blame the offensive line, but in reality, it's on the entire offense. There have been dropped snaps on first down, plus penalties and some bad luck, where ballcarriers have slipped before getting hit.

"It's tough sledding when you're playing third-and-12 the whole game," Sheridan said. "That's not fun to play offensive line or any position, and it's hard to be balanced while keeping the defense off balanced."

The Hoosiers are on the road at Maryland this Saturday, a team who can relate to struggles on both sides of the ball. They've lost three straight Big Ten games, to Iowa, Ohio State and Minnesota.

Indiana will head to College Park, Md. in hopes of capturing its first conference win of the season. With Penix and Tuttle's status unknown and true freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley likely to get his first career start, the offensive line needs to step up its play in order for the Hoosiers to be successful.

"I think everybody needs to elevate," Sheridan said. "Everybody needs to improve, coaches and players."

  • TOM BREW COLUMN: It's refreshing to see Peyton Hendershot break Indiana's school record for receptions by a tight end. He's matured into a great player and a dangerous player in the passing game. CLICK HERE
  • MARYLAND FAVORED: With all of Indiana's injuries at the quarterback position, Maryland is actually favored in Saturday's game at College Park. Here's the latest on the point spread. CLICK HERE
  • REPORT CARD: Lots of ugly grades for Indiana following the 'ugly' 54-7 loss to Ohio State. CLICK HERE