Cam Coffman (2) threw for a career-high 454 yards Saturday, but he struggled with accuracy in a 23-point loss to Penn State.
If one throw epitomized Cam Coffman’s career performance at Penn State on Saturday, it might have been his last one. Down 45-22 but nonetheless driving for one more score inside the game’s final minute, Coffman worked from the shotgun, as freshman tight end Anthony Corsaro slipped behind Penn State’s coverage, open in the back of the end zone.
Coffman overthrew him.
One week after officially falling out of Big Ten title contention, Indiana saw its bowl hopes dry up as well on Saturday. The Hoosiers (4-7) also remain winless against Penn State (7-4), after falling 45-22 in State College.
Fresh off of a 62-14 drubbing at the hands of Wisconsin, Indiana started strong away from home, building a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter. From that point, the Hoosiers appeared to struggle with momentum the rest of the way, missing crucial tackles, failing to capitalize on Penn State mistakes and letting too many of their own drives stall after crossing the 50-yard line.
Coffman, who has quietly put together a solid first season in Bloomington, never found a good rhythm Saturday. The sophomore finished 33-of-59 for 454 yards (a career high), with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He spent most of his afternoon slightly overthrowing, underthrowing or otherwise simply missing open receivers.
Indiana’s defense struggled again, albeit perhaps not so severely as it did a week ago. The Hoosiers began with good pressure on Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin, but they found no answer whatsoever for Allen Robinson, the Big Ten’s leading receiver, who hauled in Penn State’s first three touchdowns.
By game’s end, McGloin had set career single-game and single-season passing marks of his own, and Penn State had written 543 total yards onto the final stat sheet.
Thanks, again, to excellent interior line play from Adam Replogle and Larry Black Jr., Indiana had intermittent success against the Nittany Lions’ offense in the first half, but big plays built two late touchdown drives, sending both teams into halftime with the score set at 28-13.
“Those last two drives, we didn’t execute well,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said, speaking of IU’s tough end to the half.
Perhaps the game’s crucial sequence would come just after the break.
Indiana held Penn State to nothing on the first drive out of the intermission, then scored on a one-play, 79-yard drive fashioned by a long Stephen Houston run from a screen pass. Mitch Ewald’s missed extra point left the score at 28-19.
The Hoosiers followed that score with an onside kick to get the ball back, and Penn State turned the ball over on its next drive. But from those two possessions, Indiana scored just three points, as Ewald missed a 55-yard field goal before hitting from 46.
“It would have been nice to have made some money right there,” Wilson said on IU’s postgame radio show, speaking to the drive that ended in the missed field goal. “We didn’t get anything out of that drive.”
Coffman continued to struggle after that to hit apparently open receivers, and he faced increasing pressure as the half wore on. The 6-foot-2 junior college transfer finished with a career-high in passing yards, but his completion percentage (55.9) was well short of the 65-70-percent number IU coach Kevin Wilson pegs as IU’s target. He was sacked six times.
“We threw it a lot, and we had a lot of yards, but we’ve got to teach Cam, because he missed some things,” Wilson said. “We’ve got to teach him to play better, because it’s not what we need yet.”
Now out of the bowl picture, Indiana finishes its season with a trip to rival Purdue for the annual Old Oaken Bucket game. Kickoff is set for noon at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette next Saturday.