Grade card following Indiana's blowout of Idaho: The test was easy, but ...
Indiana needed to bounce back in a big way Saturday.
And it found a perfect foil in Idaho.
The Hoosiers blitzed the Vandals, punishing the Memorial Stadium visitors by a final of 56-14. Idaho couldn’t stop Indiana’s offense, nor could it slow the Hoosiers’ special teams, which enjoyed one of their best days in program history.
Let’s take a look at the grades:
Although the yardage wasn’t much, Michael Penix Jr. found his groove much more quickly this week than last, throwing for a couple touchdowns without a turnover.
The 2 scores showed nice touch: The fade to Javon Swinton in the first quarter, then the back-shoulder toss to Ty Fryfogle in the second. While those were 2 of Penix better throws, Indiana failed to hit on any big plays, at least with its first unit, which is supposed to be a hallmark of what it wants to be able to do.
Penix tried on a couple deep passes, but failed to connect; his accuracy is not there on the long ball through the first 2 games of the season. Against Idaho, Penix finished with 68 yards passing — his long was 10 — on 11-of-16.
He left in the second half, giving way to backup Jack Tuttle, who took advantage of the opportunity by hitting a big play to tight end A.J. Barner, who made a great spin by a defender then picked up a block by DJ Matthews to go 76 yards for a score.
Penix was sacked twice, because he has a tendency to hold on to the ball too long.
In all, IU was 13-of-20 for 159 yards and 3 scores.
For the Hoosiers’ offense to be successful, it needs an efficient, if not game-breaking, rushing attack to set up Penix as a play-action and deep threat.
It definitely found the running game Saturday night. Stephen Carr led the Hoosiers’ attack with 118 yards and a touchdown, as IU totaled 179 yards and 3 scores. If you’re a lover of old-school, running football, then nothing was more beautiful than Indiana’s 18-play, 75-yard drive in the first quarter that chewed up almost 9 minutes of play clock. The drive included 10 rushes, including Carr’s one-cut pickup of a first down on a 4th-and-1. He capped the drive with a touchdown, IU’s first score of the game.
The Hoosiers’ offense put up 42 of the 56 points — IU’s special teams scored 2 touchdowns — as it was much improved from the week before.
Indiana converted nearly half of its third downs (7-of-15). On the eight fails, it went for it 3 times on fourth and converted all 3. Twice Carr picked up short-yardage fourth downs; Tim Baldwin Jr. had the other. And 2 of those drives went on to end in touchdowns. It was a better effort by the offensive line, particularly in the running game.
IU had 338 yards without a turnover.
The game felt reminiscent of last season for Indiana’s pass defense, which created 1 turnover and allowed less than 200 yards.
On Idaho’s 2nd possession, linebacker Micah McFadden came on the blitz, knocking the ball out of Idaho QB Mike Beaudry’s hands. Weston Kramer landed on it for the recovery.
The Hoosiers allowed a couple passing touchdowns, but no plays of longer than 23 yards through the air. Cam Jones had IU’s second sack.
The Hoosiers’ defensive front was active against the run, stacking up the Vandals for only 65 yards on 22 attempts, about 3 yards per carry. QB Beaudry got loose once for a 20-yarder, but that was about it in terms of big plays for Idaho.
The Vandals converted only 3-of-14 third-down attempts.
The Hoosiers gave up 14 points, but only after they were already ahead 35-0.
They controlled the line of scrimmage, particularly keeping the Vandals from finding any short of consistent running game. And IU got a turnover off a blitz, and did so when the game was still a game in the first quarter.
Idaho had only 261 total yards.
Well, what a day for the Hoosiers, who scored touchdowns twice on special teams.
Late in the first half, Pierre Noah broke through the line and blocked Caleb Lightbourn’s punt attempt. It was corralled by Javon Swinton, who ran the remaining 4 yards into the end zone for a score. It was part of an outstanding day for Swinton, who also had a receiving TD.
Then just before halftime, Matthews scored on an 81-yard punt return and later Jacolby Hewitt had a 72-yard kickoff return that set up another IU touchdown.
The Hoosiers finished with 266 return yards and 2 touchdowns.
Tom Allen had an unexpected week, as he had to rally the Hoosiers after the lackluster performance vs. Iowa in the opener.
And the result was good: IU was much improved in Week 2, although against a much lesser opponent. Still, the outcome gives the Hoosiers a bit more confidence while seeing the room to grow as well, especially as the passing game looks for more.
The Hoosiers did what they needed to against the Vandals, especially using the running game to pound their guests into submission, and ran their passing game off of that.
The defense held firm, also, and generated a turnover that led to an early score.
And the special teams chipped in as well, with a huge day and a couple scores.