Indiana football: Report card after shutout win vs. Michigan State
The Indiana Hoosiers stayed undefeated in the Big Ten Saturday, jumping out to an early lead at Michigan State, then sitting on the margin in the second half.
The result was a resounding defeat of the Spartans, though one that left the Hoosiers feeling like they left points on the field.
Following is a report card following a 24-0 Indiana win.
Passing offense: C-
It was a mixed bag for Michael Penix Jr. and the Hoosiers’ passing game on Saturday, as the group threw for 320 yards with a couple of scores.
Receiver Ty Fryfogle, in particular, was outstanding, earning 200 receiving yards on 11 catches with two scores. Both TDs were great. Fryfogle broke multiple tackles — make that poor non-tackles — to get into the end zone after running up the left sideline for a 16-yard score in the first quarter. He snagged a 65-yarder off a nice back-shoulder throw by Penix for his second touchdown in the second quarter.
Otherwise, Penix was a bit shaky at times. He threw two interceptions, the first when he got pressured off the right side and he made a poor decision to throw into coverage off his back leg. On the second pick, he forced the ball into man coverage at the end zone, but a Spartans cornerback had the receiver blanketed. Combine that with the incomplete passes on fourth downs, at the MSU 1- and 5-yard lines in the second half, and Penix wasn’t as sharp in the red zone as he’d like to be.
The sophomore lefty finished with 320 yards on 25-of-38 with the two scores but the two interceptions. He was sacked once.
Rushing offense: C-
Indiana had a couple of new starters on the left side of its offensive line and that affected the running game.
The Hoosiers finished with 113 yards on 39 carries, only 2.9 yards per attempt. Too frequently, the Hoosiers were stuffed at the line of scrimmage, unable to get a push against the Spartans’ front. It was evident on IU’s second possession, when it was jammed up against its goal line; twice, the Hoosiers tried to run to gain some room, but they were shut down.
Stevie Scott III ended with 84 hard-fought yards on 23 carries. But his long was only 13 yards. He scored a touchdown when he bowled through a Spartan defensive back for Indiana’s first touchdown. But the 8-yard run was one of the most explosive on the day. On a third-and-goal early in the second quarter, IU had to settle for a field goal after Scott failed to find any running room.
Overall Offense: C-
The Hoosiers scored 24 points in the first half, again taking advantage of the defense’s ability to generate turnovers. IU scored its first 17 points off of Michigan State giveaways. The last Hoosiers touchdown drive covered the most yardage, a game-high 79 yards on 5 plays late in the second quarter.
But for as much good as there was in the first half, it was a ho-hum second half. Three of the Hoosiers’ five drives in the second half started in MSU territory, including two at the Spartan 28 and 9. But IU didn’t score on either, instead seeing their chances to expand the lead die on fourth-down incompletions. Didn’t matter Saturday afternoon in East Lansing, but it certainly will later in the year.
IU, which came in perfect in the red zone this season, scored on only three of seven chances vs. the Spartans with two touchdowns. The Hoosiers were a decent 8-of-18 on third down, but only 1-of-3 on fourth down.
Pass defense: A
The Hoosiers chased Spartans quarterback Rocky Lombardi from the game in the first half. His replacement, Payton Thorne, proved to be only slightly more effective.
In other words, it was a good day for the Indiana pass defense. The Spartans finished with 131 yards on 13-of-27 passing with three interceptions. MSU quarterbacks were sacked four times.
Cornerback Tiawan Mullen had a great afternoon with a couple of interceptions, both coming when he just simply outsmarted the opponent. He peeled off his man on the first, instead dropping down to cover the underneath receiver. And the second pick came when he hung in his zone, perfectly positioned when the ball sailed his direction.
Reese Taylor, the No. 3 corner who would be a No. 1 many other places, had an interception in the second half, returning it 53 yards.
The pressure was better than it’s been all season, as well, with Micah McFadden and Jerome Johnson each having two sacks.
Rush defense: A
The Spartans had only 60 net yards on 24 carries. But even if you take out the sack yardage — the NCAA counts that as rushing yardage for some reason — MSU wasn’t much better.
Thorn had a 38-yard rush on an option keeper and that really represented the Hoosiers’ only breakdown.
Thomas Allen, the coach’s son, caused a fumble when his helmet collided with the football and Indiana recovered.
Overall Defense: A
IU tossed a shutout by holding MSU to 191 yards. The Spartans had only nine first downs and were 3-of-12 on third downs, plus the Hoosiers created four turnovers and scored off of the first three.
In the first quarter, when IU set the tone, the Spartans had 21 total yards, with two punts and two turnovers.
What more could one ask for?
Special teams: B
Charles Campbell hit one of his two field goals, making a chippy 21-yarder in the second quarter before missing a 41-yarder before the half.
Punter Haydon Whitehead had a fine day, averaging about 40 yards per punt, but his biggest play might have been the save of the high snap on his first opportunity. If that had gone over his head, the Spartans might have had some early momentum.
IU gave up one 36-yard kick return.
Tom Allen leaves the game with some things for his Hoosiers to work on, not bad after a 24-0 shutout on the road. IU, for instance, must be more efficient in the red zone on offense.
But the game plan defensively was on point, keeping Michigan State from ever finding any sort of offensive flow.
This was a classic trap game, with the Hoosiers coming off a huge victory over Michigan and Ohio State looming in a week. But Indiana didn’t take the bait. Kudos to Allen and Co.
Indiana is 4-0.
Yeah, maybe their opponents so far have all been disappointments. But teams can play only who is on the schedule — and if Penn State and Michigan are having bad seasons, the Hoosiers helped make it that way. This time it was a rebuilding Michigan State squad.
Things get real next Saturday with a trip to Columbus to face Ohio State.