Indiana suffered a homecoming loss to Michigan State on Saturday afternoon to fall to 2-4 on the season overall and 0-3 in the Big Ten.
Let’s go position-by-position and take a look at what went right and what went wrong at Memorial Stadium with our weekly report card.
The task won’t get any easier for Indiana next weekend. The Hoosiers will host Ohio State on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.
A “D” is probably too harsh for a backup quarterback who had some good moments. But Tuttle came in with high expectations, and whoever was the quarterback for IU in this game had to limit mistakes and produce against what was the weakness of Michigan State — its pass defense.
Tuttle both made mistakes, with two interceptions and a fumble, and far too many drives stalled out and ended in field goal attempts or punts. Tuttle wasn’t particularly accurate, especially after he went 7-of-9 to open the game, and he didn’t capitalize on open opportunities to run. He finished 28-of-52 for 188 yards.
True freshman Donaven McCulley made his college debut in this one as IU had a few plays designed for him in the game. He carried two times for eight yards.
RUNNING BACKS (C)
Stephen Carr had 96 yards of offense on 27 total touches. With Indiana using four-wide sets and stretching the defense, he pulled down a career-high and game-high eight receptions on eight targets for 43 yards. Carr added 19 carries for 53 yards.
With Tim Baldwin, Jr. in the transfer portal, the back-up duties were split by walk-ons Davion Ervin-Poindexter and Chris Childers. Both had nice moments, breaking off runs of 29 and 25 yards, respectively.
Freshmen running backs David Holloman and Trent Howland did not get carries.
WIDE RECEIVERS / TIGHT ENDS (D)
Ty Fryfogle was targeted a team-high 12 times and managed to pull down seven receptions for 65 yards. He became the 11th Hoosier to reach 2,000 yards. Fryfogle, and the rest of his fellow receivers haven’t been able to produce the big plays and pull down the contested throws like they did last year. The big play absence of D.J. Matthews will be felt throughout the season.
Miles Marshall and Javon Swinton both had four catches. As a group the receivers averaged just 6.7 yards per reception. No receiver beyond Fryfogle, Marshall and Swinton had a catch. Texas A&M transfer Cam Buckley was not in uniform for the second straight game.
Peyton Hendershot made three receptions for 32 yards. He was used for much of the game split-out rather than on the line.
OFFENSIVE LINE (C)
On a sack yard adjusted basis IU ran 33 times for 154 yards, good for 4.7 yards per carry. Among the Big Ten games, the running lanes were the widest in this one, and the push up front the best. But still, the bar was set low and not much came easy.
And of course the sacks count, and the line permitted three that cost IU 20 yards. MSU had five tackles for loss and three quarterback hits beyond the sacks, and their push got better as the game wore on.
DEFENSIVE LINE (B)
Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III entered the contest with 913 rushing yards (152.2 per game). IU held the nation’s leading rusher to 84 yards on 23 carries (3.7 yards per carry) and kept him out of the end zone.
Ryder Anderson was in on a sack and Weston Kramer had a tackle for loss. Alfred Bryant added a quarterback hit.
As is often the case with this group, especially on the interior, they took on blockers to allow the linebackers and defensive backs to make plays — and they did.
20-game starter James Head, Jr. saw his first action of the season.
If Indiana ends up with a losing record it might cost Micah McFadden an All-American season. He has been that good. He had nine tackles including 2.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks. He now has a tackle for loss in each of his last 11 games.
Cam Jones secured a career-high eight tackles (5 solo) in the game and added a beautiful first half pass break-up, the eighth of his career.
Although IU rotates personnel on defense, they have been leaving McFadden and Jones on the field as much as possible — and that makes sense.
DEFENSIVE BACKS (A)
Down two of its top three players, the cornerbacks shined on Saturday in the context of those tough circumstances.
Redshirt junior cornerback Noah Pierre made a career-high nine tackles including a team-best eight solo stops in his first career start, and he added a fourth quarter interception. Pierre has bounced around from husky to safety and now corner, and he played like a veteran, even while MSU targeted him.
Jaylin Williams was solid at the other corner spot. Tiawan Mullen was not in uniform and Reese Taylor didn’t play after the first quarter as both continue to deal with injuries.
Senior safety Devon Matthews matched a season-best with eight tackles (4 solo) and one TFL, the fifth of his career. Matthews has made at least eight tackles in four games, including each of the last two outings. He crowded the box to help stop Walker.
Raheem Layne was back after being injured against Penn State and he played well. Josh Sanguinetti grabbed his first career interception on a play where he both deflected the ball and came down with the INT.
SPECIAL TEAMS (D)
Charles Campbell connected on three field goals (24, 44, 25) in four attempts (he missed form 55). He is now 10-of-12 (83.3 percent) on the season and 22-of-25 (88.0) in his career.
Ervin-Poindexter nearly blocked a first quarter punt.
Jacolby Hewitt brought out the kickoff to open the second half that he should have downed.
James Evans struggled, punting five times for 197 yards (39.4 average). The Hoosiers did hold the dangerous Jayden Reed in check on the returns. Indiana failed to cover a punt inside the five when it appeared they had multiple players ready to down the ball. MSU ended up scoring on the ensuing drive.
Tom Allen seemed completely exhausted after the game. He is at a point where until his quarterbacks stop throwing it to the other team, nothing is going to change. His team is still competing at a high level. Allen seemed to waste a couple first half timeouts that his team could have used on a late drive.
Nick Sheridan definitely made some changes during the bye week. Indiana’s offense came out in a four-wide look and used tempo for much of the game. The Hoosiers also ran 57 pass plays to 31 running plays. But the results were the same, turnovers and an inability to convert in the red zone cost IU the game.
DC Charlton Warren dialed up a stellar game plan. MSU came into game averaging 36.7 points, 217.2 rushing yards, 269.7 passing yards, and 486.8 total yards. The Hoosier defense held the Spartan attack to 13 points, 100 rushing yards, 141 passing yards, and 241 total yards. It didn’t seem possible to slow Walker while not getting burnt in the deep passing game, especially with IU short-handed at corner. But the defense got all of that done.
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