Indiana report card for 37-21 win at Rutgers
Rutgers was a potential trap game for Indiana. But the Hoosiers didn’t fall. Instead, they’re 2-0 with a huge game upcoming vs. Michigan.
Let’s grade the Hoosiers following the 37-21 win Saturday against the Scarlet Knights.
Passing offense: B+
Michael Penix finally found a groove in the second half.
Here’s the drive when it happened: With five minutes to go in the third quarter and Indiana leading 23-15, the sophomore quarterback threw darts to Ty Fryfogle and Javon Swinton back-to-back. Then, he drew consecutive pass interference penalties on Rutgers, setting IU up with a first down at the RU 13. Penix hit Peyton Hendershot twice in a row, the second a 2-yard TD.
Including that drive, Penix finished the game hitting his last seven pass attempts. Not bad.
For the game, he hit 17 of 26 passes for 238 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was sacked only once. And the line gave Penix time to operate.
He made a great deep throw to Whop Philyor in the third quarter, the one in which Philyor was called for ta facemask penalty at the end. Earlier, Penix made a great throw to Fryfogle on a 15-yard touchdown to put IU up 20-7.
A week after having a quiet 2020 debut, Philyor needed to be more involved, and was, with five receptions for 137 yards.
Rushing offense: B
IU needed more diversity of its running game and found it against the Scarlet Knights.
Take away the 27 yards in team losses, and the Hoosiers had 132 yards on the ground. Stevie Scott III was again tough to bring down between the tackles, with 79 yards on 21 carries. Also, it was good to see IU get Sampson James involved; he had 33 yards on seven attempts.
But you’ve got to love Penix designed draws, which were more effective this week than last. He had a big 25-yarder when IU trailed early, then he scored on a 1-yarder late in the first half to give the Hoosiers their first lead.
Total Offense: B
Indiana scored 37 points, which is great, but for the second week in a row the Hoosiers found a way to do so without racking up a ton of yardage. The Hoosiers had 343 yards and were only 2-of-11 on third down.
But midway through the third quarter, offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan started to open up the playbook more, letting Penix drive the ball downfield. It looked much closer to the offense of a year ago, rather than the one that had been stuck in the mud for the first six quarters of this season.
The Hoosiers settled for too many field goals — three of them — once after Penix let a shotgun snap go through his fingers near the goal line. It turned a first-and-goal into a second-and-goal from about the 25. Scott dropped a pass on the next play and IU kicked.
However, Indiana did not turn the ball over, a week after Rutgers forced 7 Michigan State turnovers.
Pass defense: A+
Rutgers had only 125 yards on 35 passing attempts, a scary 3.4 yards per try.
And Indiana sacked Noah Vedral four times and intercepted him thrice. The Hoosiers turned up the pressure early, getting picks on consecutive throws, the first by Jonathan King to set up a first-and-goal and the second by Jalen Williams, again setting up a short field. The back-to-back touchdowns put IU up 20-7 at halftime after it had trailed by a point five minutes into the second quarter.
IU brought a bunch of different pressures that the Knights couldn’t handle. And a nod to Demarcus Elliot, who knocked down a fourth-down pass that basically sealed the game.
Rush defense: A-
The defense gave up 124 yards on the ground, with really only one screwup. A Hoosiers defensive end crashed in on Kay’Ron Adams’ run, opening the lane for a 37-yard gain. But that was about it for the Scarlet Knights.
Total Defense: A
The Hoosiers had a couple of roughing penalties that extended Rutgers’ drives, one on a third down and one on a fourth. But we might be getting a little nitpicky.
Rutgers had less than 250 yards and turned the ball over three times. Indiana played big and physical, got after the quarterback and had few breakdowns.
Special teams: B
IU kicker Charles Campbell made all three of his field goals, from 41, 27 and 30 yards.
Indiana did allow a 55-yard kickoff return, which helped Rutgers into good field position in the third quarter, but the drive died on Elliot’s PBU in the red zone.
Nothing much to complain about for the Hoosiers. Maybe Sheridan could stand to show a bit more confidence in the passing game, but he seemed to do so as the game progressed. Perhaps it’s a good sign for the future.
And Tom Allen has put his stamp on the Hoosiers. They play solid defense and are opportunistic on offense.
Indiana is 2-0 following a game Saturday in which it again made the plays needed to get a victory, particularly by turning Rutgers’ mistakes into points.
It’s a formula that works.