How far has this Indiana program come?
The Hoosiers had one of their worst halves in recent memory — and they still somehow led at the break against Maryland.
Then IU lost its starting quarterback — and they started to pull away from the Terrapins.
For years Indiana fans have seen the Hoosiers hang around in games before Big Ten foes ultimately asserted their will with superior depth and talent.
On Saturday Indiana was that team.
How do you grade this day?
Let’s face it, Michael Penix deserved an F for his 2-for-15 first half. The only completions were a jump ball he heaved to Miles Marshall, and a tipped ball that Peyton Hendershot snared. It was a difficult to comprehend half for a player that has been exceptional almost every time he takes the field.
But Penix was better in the second half, going 4-for-4 for 47 yards and adding the 21 yard run that resulted in the end of his day as he suffered a lower leg injury.
And then all Jack Tuttle did was come in and go 5-for-5 for 31 yards and add a two-point conversion throw to Hendershot. Indiana scored 18 unanswered with points Tuttle in the game.
RUNNING BACKS (A)
Tim Baldwin provided a nice change of pace for IU and became the 14th true freshman to hit the century mark on the ground for the Hoosiers. A combination of patience and a quick burst allowed Baldwin to gain 106 yards on 16 carries (6.6 ypc).
Junior running back Stevie Scott III rushed 24 times for 80 yards and three touchdowns, his first career game with three rushing TDs. His 28 total rushing scores share fourth in school history with Tevin Coleman.
Indiana’s running backs combined for 45 carries for 207 yards (4.6 ypc) and performed well in multiple schemes include outside zones and wildcat formations.
Note: Sampson James was declared inactive prior to the game. “We hope he’ll be back with us soon,” head coach Tom Allen said after the game.
1, 2 – you know what to do! 🎶 pic.twitter.com/Ci1OJaAy73
— Indiana Football (@IndianaFootball) November 29, 2020
WIDE RECEIVERS / TIGHT ENDS (B)
While there wasn’t a great deal of first half separation, the problem before the break wasn’t drops. Penix was inaccurate and Indiana’s receivers rarely had a chance. The group won on underneath routes in the second half to help turn the tide.
But this wasn’t a big day for a special group including Ty Fryfogle, who was coming off back-to-back 200 yard games. In part fueled by a second half focus on the running game, no IU receiver had more than 2 catches or 40 yards.
Miles Marshall made a really nice play on a first half jump all from Penix.
OFFENSIVE LINE (B)
Tom Allen gave the game ball to the offensive line, and maybe that is the right answer after the Hoosiers amassed 234 rushing yards and didn’t permit a sack.
But teams have run on Maryland all year, and Indiana took a while to get going on the ground. Moreover, Penix took a few big hits in the first half that may have played a role in his being inaccurate. Penix never seemed to be able to get comfortable in the pocket before halftime.
Did the offensive line really make progress? We’ll find out next week at Wisconsin.
Game ball to the o-line! pic.twitter.com/vDOfPo3KVt
— Coach Tom Allen (@CoachAllenIU) November 28, 2020
DEFENSIVE LINE (A-)
It was another strong day for this underappreciated group.
The Hoosier front four produced 2 sacks, 2 more tackles for a loss, and 4 quarterback hits.
Jerome Johnson registered one of the sacks, while Jonathan King had the other.
Sio Nogoagatoto’a was in the quarterback’s face on Maryland’s third interception.
Until a late fourth quarter 73 yard drive, IU had held Maryland to under 230 total yards.
D.K. Bonhomme made a game changing play in the third quarter as he read the run-pass option to perfection and tackled the quarterback in the end zone for a safety.
Micah McFadden had a sack and an interception as part of a 3 tackle day. McFadden was also hitting Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa as he was throwing his second interception.
Cam Jones led IU with 6 tackles and had 2 quarterback hits.
Handled business. On to the next. pic.twitter.com/OZPhdlUECu
— Indiana Football (@IndianaFootball) November 29, 2020
DEFENSIVE BACKS (A)
They just keep making plays.
Indiana recorded three more interceptions on the day, including two by defensive backs. Tiawan Mullen picked off his third pass in three weeks, and Jaylin Williams recorded his fourth interception of the season and sixth of his career.
Tagovailoa had just 170 passing yards before the final Maryland drive after throwing for a total of 676 yards over his last two games.
Jamar Johnson had 5 tackles, while Mullen and Devon Matthews had 4 apiece. Matthews also had a pass breakup.
SPECIAL TEAMS (A)
Haydon Whitehead notched 318 yards on seven punts (45.4 yards per punt) with a long of 53 yards. He hit two punts more than 50 yards and Maryland never had a punt return.
Maryland had no big plays on special teams as Indiana continues to be solid in that area.
Kicker Charles Campbell improved to 8-of-9 on the season with a 33 yard field goal.
That Indiana can ultimately dominate and pull away in a game where they didn’t play well is a testament to where Tom Allen has the program.
Indiana’s offense was uninspiring in the first half, but the Hoosiers made some clear changes in the passing game at halftime to get Penix going and then had the right play calls to help Tuttle acclimate. The wildcat formations were effective, as was an expanded role for Baldwin.
Kane Wommack’s defense continues on a torrid pace with no signs of letting up. Maryland averaged 40 points and 425 yards over its last two games, but another flurry of sacks and interceptions stymied the Terrapins.
The defense had three interceptions for the third-straight game and the fourth time this season, the longest streak in the Big Ten since Wisconsin did the same in 2016. Indiana has not had a three-game stretch with at least three picks dating back to 1996.
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