Indiana’s offense was a no show on Saturday night at Penn State, and now the Hoosiers head into their bye week with far more questions than the answers they should have five games into a season.
Let’s go position-by-position and take a look at what went right and what went wrong at Beaver Stadium with our weekly report card.
Indiana (2-3, 0-2) will now have a much-needed week off. The Hoosiers will host Michigan State on Oct. 16.
Michael Penix started the game 1-of-10 passing before completing nine of his last 12, but included in those final three incompletions was an interception that looked a lot like his prior six. The redshirt junior made a poor decision under pressure on a throw into the Penn State red zone that thwarted a drive that could have kept the Hoosiers alive. Penix ultimately exited the game with a shoulder injury.
Jack Tuttle had some positive moments both through the air and on the ground when he came in for Penix, but he ultimately made the same kind of mistake — an ill-advised back foot throw that had no velocity and was intercepted. He got a couple drives going, but not until it was 21-0 and Penn State was more focused on keeping things in front of them.
Based on the way Penix looked through five games, Tuttle is likely an upgrade irrespective of what we learn about Penix’s injury.
RUNNING BACKS (D)
Stephen Carr had nowhere to go all day long as the offensive line and the scheme were unable to create running lanes. Carr hasn’t shown the speed or shiftiness to make something of nothing against high end competition.
Indiana’s predictable first down runs didn’t help the cause.
Backup Tim Baldwin got just one attempt after fumbling in each of the last two games. If IU cannot trust him, they have serious depth issues.
WIDE RECEIVERS / TIGHT ENDS (D)
Ty Fryfogle was targeted a team-high 12 times and but managed to pull down just five receptions for 48 yards. Drops were once again an issue for Fryfogle, who had been sure-handed prior to this season.
Peyton Hendershot continues to assemble a strong season after catching five balls for 88 yards. He is up to 20 catches for 268 yards on the season. Hendershot was able to get open down the field in this one.
No one else was able to make an impact as Indiana suddenly has some depth issues. Cam Buckley was unable to play and Malachi Holt-Bennett became the sixth true freshmen to take the field this year for IU.
By and large this was a receiving group that was unable to create separation.
OFFENSIVE LINE (D)
The pass protection wasn’t terrible as the Hoosiers allowed two sacks and three quarterbacks hits. But Penn State didn’t blitz a great deal, choosing instead to force Penix to be accurate against tight coverage in a collapsing pocket, which he generally wasn’t. And while there weren’t many breakdowns, the PSU front was more powerful in the passing game.
The running game was non-existent after the line was unable to get push or create lanes. The IU front just hasn’t shown that it is capable of being leaned on to a great extent.
“It’s not just on the offensive line, but it obviously starts with them, big men lead the way and they got to get the job done and they weren’t good enough,” Tom Allen said after the game. “We got to coach better, we got to play better, and we got to find ways to ways to take some pressure off some things we can do well. It starts up front.”
Tackle Caleb Jones was beaten bad on the edge on Jack Tuttle’s first snap of the game.
DEFENSIVE LINE (C)
Penn State came into the game with a struggling running attack, but the Lions amassed 209 yards on 42 carries (5 ypc). IU was also unable to get a sack although they did have six tackles for loss including 2.5 from the defensive line.
End Ryder Anderson shared the team lead in total tackles with eight including a tackle for loss.
Tackle Weston Kramer recorded five tackles in the game. Fellow starting tackle Demarcus Elliott was disruptive in the backfield a few times and played with good energy.
Micah McFadden matched Anderson with eight stops and added three quarterback hurries and 1.5 tackles for loss, his seventh career multi-TFL game and second this year.
Cam Jones matched a career-best effort with seven total tackles for the Hoosiers. He led the squad with five solo stops, but he also seemed to let a couple long runs get behind him.
Whether due to how talented McFadden and Jones are or a lack of trust in the second-string, IU hasn’t been rotating heavily with this group.
DEFENSIVE BACKS (B)
Indiana was without starting cornerback Tiawan Mullen and lost fellow starter Reese Taylor during the game. Second string corner Chris Keys was already out for the season. With all that in mind it was a strong night for the group other than when Jahan Dotson was lost on PSU’s third touchdown.
Senior Raheem Layne collected the Hoosiers second interception of the season and the first of his career.
Senior defensive back Devon Matthews had seven stops from his safety position, while senior cornerback Jaylin Williams was credited with a season-high six stops.
Fifth-year defensive back Bryant Fitzgerald made five tackles and added one stop behind the line.
SPECIAL TEAMS (B)
Freshman punter James Evans averaged 45.9 yards on eight punts with two landing inside the 20-yard line. He seems to have settled in after a unsteady start to his career.
Kicker Charles Campbell had a field goal blocked, his first miss of the season. The kick appeared to be low and Penn State had good push from an overload.
IU had no kickoff or punt returns. PSU’s dangerous Dotson had two punt returns for 18 yards.
Tom Allen’s decision to go for it on 4th and a long one yard rather than take three points in the first quarter was probably a mistake, and the play call on the 4th down, a run up the middle, lacked imagination. His later decision to kick a field goal down 21-0 late in the third quarter was a head scratcher. Allen has a major challenge over the next two weeks to get this team back on track while navigating injuries.
Offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan dialed up a bevy of first down runs up the middle to go along with third and fourth down runs that seemed out of place. As has been the case in each game, this is an offense that attempts to be something it doesn’t seem capable of. And with his best playmaker D.J. Matthews out for the season, Sheridan is a bit handcuffed when it comes to developing something more dynamic.
Defensive coordinator Charlton Warren’s unit did enough to win the game, especially when considering they were left on the field for nearly 35 minutes. Perhaps Penn State could have done more if it really felt threatened, but holding Penn State to 24 felt like a recipe for an upset going in. It pre-dates Warren, but Indiana can’t seem to solve Sean Clifford’s ability to escape the pocket. 232 of his 870 career rushing yards have come against IU.
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