Hoosiers eyeing explosive play ratio at Ohio State

Indiana entered last week’s game against Rutgers aiming to produce more explosive plays on offense.

At least for one half, the Hoosiers did exactly that.

This week, the challenge is twofold for IU, which will once again try to work the creases for chunk gains inside Ohio State’s defense, while striving to limit the explosive pickups from the Buckeyes’ big-play offense.

“This team we’re playing this week, that’s what they (have) lived off of,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “They have really created a lot of explosive plays.”

Programs differ on how they measure explosive plays. At Indiana, Allen considers them any pass or run of at least 15 yards. The weekly target? On offense, Allen says he wants as many as possible. Defensively, the goal is zero.

Through five games, Indiana has totaled 36 offensive plays of at least 15 yards — 21 passes and 15 runs — for an average of 7.2 per game. At Rutgers, IU posted a season-high 12 explosive plays after emerging from its Big Ten opener against Michigan State with merely one — Whop Philyor’s 65-yard touchdown reception.

Here’s how it’s broken down on a game-by-game basis so far:

Opponent  (run/pass)  Total
Fla. Int.            (2/5)            7
Virginia            (2/4)            6
Ball State         (6/4)          10
Mich. State      (0/1)           1
Rutgers            (5/7)          12  

And here’s IU’s explosive play leaderboard:

Player            Explosive plays
Scott                 5 (carries)
Westbrook      4 (receptions)
Timian             4 (receptions)
Ramsey           4 (four carries)
Hale                 3 (receptions)
Fryfogle           3 (receptions)
Philyor             3 (two receptions, one carry)
Taylor              2 (two carries)
Bjorson           2 (receptions)
Walker            2 (carries)
Hendershot   2 (receptions)
Harris             1 (reception)
Fiacable         1 (carry)

On the other side, Ohio State’s offense is averaging 11 explosive plays per game, while its defense is yielding 6.6 per contest. The Hoosiers’ defense, meanwhile, is allowing approximately 6.4 per game.

Michigan State’s offense posted a season-high 10 against Indiana two weeks ago. Virginia recorded seven on Sept. 8, while FIU, Ball State and Rutgers each managed five against IU’s defense.

“That’s a ratio that we look at and compare to the opponent,” Allen said. “Just like the turnover ratio is a huge part in the game, the explosive play ratio to me, what you allow or what you, compared to what you gain yourself as a team, the difference is often the factor in the game. So (we’ll) try and get more of those, offensively, for sure. “That’s a big deal.”


  1. The thing missed in this discussion of explosive plays is Ramsey’s poor completion rate in the deep zones of the field. You can overcome that with intermediate passes that receivers turn into big plays but we have seen very few catch and runs for big plays, Whop’s against MSU comes to mind.

    IU has a big opportunity this week and just as PSU’s iffy defense stepped up and made OSU vulnerable IU can create problems for OSU. OSU has had problems on defense, they are very athletic and good, with players not maintaing gap responsibility. As a result OSU has given up big plays in games so far. This game will say a lot about how this IU team will perform the rest of the year. Rutgers laid down and got whipped by OSU, IU has the same chance or they can rise up and give OSU a fight. Giving OSU a fight with a chance to win the game would set IU up for the second half of the season, let’s hope for a fight this game.

    1. The thing missed in this discussion of explosive plays is Ramsey’s poor completion rate in the deep zones of the field. You can overcome that with intermediate passes that receivers turn into big plays but we have seen very few catch and runs for big plays, Whop’s against MSU comes to mind.

      EXACTLY!…..This piece (along with Allen’s analysis of an “explosive” play) is intentionally deceptive. It’s deceptive based on competition, parameters for yardage defining “explosive” as it relates to what OSU could use in a definition, and the obvious further honest analysis needed of “intermediate” yardage plays (low numbers of deep passes) turned into “explosive” plays that will likely be limited against a defense the caliber of OSU.

      Deceptive piece through and through….

      1. I agree H4H, this has been the problem in the discussion all along. A 65 yard pass play with the ball in the air 15 yards and the receiver runs the other 50 is one thing. The ball in the air 50 yards and the receiver running 15 yards is quite another. This is the PR capacity which is suspect and needed greatly. Otherwise the defense can pack the LOS and treat your passing game as an extension of the run. Can get away with the dink and dunk on lesser defenses, but it didn’t work with MSU and it won’t work with OSU.

    2. I humbly disagree. Forget the OSU score as soon as it happens. They and AL are superior teams. Play hard. Learn and develop. Don’t get hurt. And focus immediately on beating IA. Some teams are better, deeper, more gifted athletes than your team. It is only one loss. Beat IA!

      1. BP,

        That’s about one of the most defeatist attitudes I heard in a while, “it is only one loss!” Yeah, and there were only 7 of those one losses last year. I’ve seen far too many better, deeper, and more athletically gifted teams beaten by lesser teams who had the attitude they could do it. If Bill Mallory’s 2 teams which beat OSU in back to back years after IU had lost 38 straight to them had this attitude, we’d still be counting!

        That kind of attitude we won’t have a ghost of a chance of BeatPurdue as you suggest. Because even with the talent shortage they still currently have, they still think they can beat anyone they play and did with IU last year.

          1. Hold out Timian, Whop, Penix and any other less than 100% player. Save them for IA, PSU, MN, MD and Purdue. That is a good plan for the season.

        1. You are wrong with the “defeatist” cheap shot! IU is not one of the 3-4 teams which will play each of their 12 games knowing that they can and should win. We need to focus on the 8-9 games that we can win to make a great season. Hold out Timian, Whop, Penix and any other less than 100% player. Demand that everyone who does play is giving 100% effort. Learn and develop. But be ready for a maximum effort with all guns blazing against IA, PSU, MN, MD and Purdue. Win 7 or 8 and concentrate where you can win! Your nonsense about Mallory and OSU is just that, nonsense! OSU is great this year. They were average during Mallory’s 2 victories.

          1. Agree and disagree…I would love to see Penix (barring he’s healthy) against OSU. Every great player loves a great opportunity. This game is being televised on Fox as a national broadcast.
            I don’t think I would ever temper expectations as a coach of a major football program.

            Where I agree with you…? You can’t judge/compare records across the decades. Each coach inherits different circumstances and different levels of highs and lows in the history of IU and their opponents. We must also understand that our basketball heyday was also very good for garnering IU national publicity and national relevance on the stages of a major sport. No matter the dismal history of the football program, I still believe some of that stage influenced interest and motives to come to IU in the other sports.
            Kentucky Football is looking pretty strong these days….Are they beginning to reap some of the rewards of a basketball program always top-ranked and very relevant in March?

  2. IU depth is critical. playing starters four quarters against deep teams runs you out of gas. We seem to enter the 4th qtr with bodies feeling like it is the 5th qtr lined up against bodies that are entering the 3rd qtr.

  3. But could OSU use considerably more yardage than Allen’s 15-yards per play parameter /definition and still very nearly equal their total number of explosive plays Allen is using against the IU standard(15-yard explosive play guideline) to compare his explosive plays to that of OSU?

    What if we set the definition of an individual explosive play to be over 20 yards….or, maybe 25 yards? How do we then stack up against OSU?

  4. I’m willing to give IU a mulligan for whatever the final score ends up at OSU. A win is a game where no one get’s hurt and they can start concentrating on Iowa. I don’t think IU will be able to take advantage of OSU’s poor secondary play because Ramsey’s arm isn’t good enough to throw to the deep flats. Maybe OSU comes out sluggish after Penn State. But I don’t see this as anything more than a “well we gave them a good scare for 3 quarters” kind of a game at best.

  5. Teams like OSU I always hear more depth needed. Though true, IU starters are aren’t good enough either. Also even when sometimes games are somewhat close teams like OSU have the ability to turn up level of play against IU to win the game. IU has already played at there highest level to hold on and compete against teams like OSU and therefore there is nothing to turn up. Result teams like OSU victory.
    All around the country there are many teams that produce a major upset over the course of a season/s. When was the last time that IU produced a major upset, not an upset but a major upset? other than an upset stomach.

  6. What a disappointing attitude in the above 6 comments. IU is the underdog but with your attitude, why should they show up? I hope the team doesn’t listen to you guys and instead goes out there with the feeling of STOP them and then go 1st down, 1st down, 1st down and finally GOAL!

    This team is deeper than previous years and could break through at any time. OSU is a good time. GO HOOSIERS! Hit them hard!

  7. OSU could probably defeat 1/2 the NFL teams….If the score on Saturday is less than a four touchdown spread, it will be a miracle.

    1. OSU would lose to the worst team in the NFL by 60. There is not a player on an NFL bench who would not be a star anywhere in college football.

      What a stupid thing to say.

      1. You think with several seasons playing against his NFL teammates every single day that Nate Sudfield as a grown man would not be a collegiate star?

      2. There’s hardly a player on an OSU roster who doesn’t become an NFL star….and many on the bench merely overlooked on draft night to inferior talent elsewhere because they simply never had enough time on the field to be evaluated.
        Sudfeld is an outlier….If he’d gone to a real football program(other than the charades of a place where he could actually find PT) he would have been no different than the fourth backup qb on OSU. He’d be on a Canadian football league roster living the dream to match his true talent level.
        Your analysis fails again…The cream doesn’t always come to the top(and certainly not IU) because talent is only evaluated based on limited scope and limited chances to play. The first string qb at IU has opportunities far exceeding the 4th string qb at OSU…or PSU…or Alabama…or Clemson, etc …but is he better/more talented?
        The best programs in college football likely have 90% of the best talent in the country. That talent is not very evenly distributed in college football. Talent in college football is more of a narrow and steep bell curve. Only 50%(at best) of that roster talent within that towering bell curve ever sees the field enough to be properly evaluated by NFL scouts.

        Thus, I retain my argument. OSU could “probably” defeat 1/2 of the NFL teams(especially the totally overrated Carolina Panthers) because the NFL must deal in a certain amount of assumptions. The assumption being that talent is distributed evenly enough in BCS college football to allow for the best talent to see the field.

        And stop with the “stupid thing to say” childish insults, Chet. You may never intentionally say things out of jest or fun on this blog because that would be too humble a trait in flippancy for a man commanding such intellectual depths as yourself.

        My comment was meant to be hyperbole. It was much in jest…That being said, “talent” is a word nearly as casually thrown about these days as such a jest. Do you consider those running our country to be from subsets of the most talented to do so? I see sports in a very similar fashion….I don’t see things in absolute.

      3. Wrong. Most #3 QB’s and many #2 QB’s in the NFL were not, and could not, be “stars” in college. Sudfeld was great for IU, but not All-B1G and certainly not All-American. He is one of the best #3’s in the league, now in his 4th year.

        1. You are so wrong. I’m not talking about when they were 20. I’m talking about a third year NFL quarterback in his mid twenties who practices with other NFL players every day.

          I brought this up last night in a telephone conversation with a young man I coached who is now an assistant offensive coach with the Dolphins. He thought it was pretty funny.

          His comment was that a third year pro playing against college players is about the same as high school upperclassmen playing against middle schoolers. Everyone would look unstoppable.

          1. The young man I referred to is currently the wide receivers coach but he was previously the assistant quarterbacks coach.

          2. OSU Football going against IU Football is nearly akin to high school upperclassmen against middle schoolers.

            If the pro players weren’t allowed the enormous amount of PED’s they’re pumping into their asses, there would likely not be as much separation from a premier college program(e.g. OSU) taking on a lower tier NFL team. PED’s changes everything and it’s being policed very little in the NFL.

            In 2014, the NFL bragged of its revised testing procedures, but an anonymous player told Bleacher Report, “The new testing procedures aren’t catching anyone, because players know there is almost no way to get caught.”

            The NFL does not meet the strict standards of the World Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees the Olympic sports. Instead, the NFL oversees its own testing program. Penn State professor Charles Yesalis, an anti-doping expert, likens that to the fox guarding the hen house.

            “They put in place something that gives them plausible deniability without hurting what their customers want,” Yesalis told The San Diego Tribune. “… This is all about business …”

            Great piece…from OCT. 2017


  8. There use to be the NFL Champs and later super bowl champs until around 1976 vs the college all stars. Most of the all stars came from a very few teams I think.

    1. O! O! The Chgo. Tribune Charities All-Star Football Game at Soldier Field! I went to one with my dad! The NY Jets! The things I remember most were watching Joe Namath in warm-ups and marveling at how far he could throw a football on a nearly flat trajectory (the classic “frozen rope”) and also the souvenir pennant Dad bought for me. I wrote the score and date on the back in marker and hung it on my bedroom wall. I wonder what happened to it? I kept it for quite some time. I miss that pennant, but not as much as my dad. Love you, dad. Sorry, everyone, I couldn’t help myself.

  9. Mike DeBord? Explosive plays? The only time DeBord and the word explosive are used in the same sentence is when he’s in the bathroom.

    1. Funny thing FS,

      DeBord didn’t seem to have a problem with explosive plays at UT, then again, it might have been he had the personnel who could actually carry out the calls. Wasn’t it KW who said, “you can only call the plays you can block?” Maybe you can only call the plays you can run. Problem is we have not been able to see an alternate to the current on field personnel sufficiently enough to determine if it is play calling or personnel insufficiency.

      What if you change the OC next year and get more of the same? At what point do you realize we are not dealing with enough data to make a determination? Would you want your knowledge of FB to be judged based on the comment you just made? If you make an OC change next year and the offense opens up with basically the same personnel then it was on the OC, but if it doesn’t you just sacrificed him to save one player.

      1. I’ve got more than enough data on MD. He can fly high in a higher flying program but he has no clue how to lift a program to that elevation. Yup he owns this offense.

        1. HC,
          So in other words you’re saying he can’t coach players with no talent?

          Last I looked everyone was in agreement the receivers were pretty talented. Everybody has been pleasantly surprised with the running production so far. There are some OL question, but the only place where there has been any major questions by a majority on a lot of boards as to talent, has been at QB.

          So, I guess you are absolutely right, he can’t coach QBs with no talent.

          1. I’m saying all his ballyhoo has been with programs with rosters possessing more talent than IU held last year and this year. He can’t coach up a program needing coached up. He is no Tom Allen on the offensive side of the ball. Lots of Q’s about OL underachieving. No piss and vinegar to their demeanor on game day. That’s led to the rushing game not being a ball of fire vs. B1G. That’s Hiller’s fault. You either can coach toughness or you can’t. You’re the 1 saying disparaging remarks about QB play.

          2. Naw HC, it can’t be due to a QB who has yet to prove he can throw the deep ball. Never mind the passing attack is not much more than a glorified running game. Never mind the OC can only coach talent. Never mind the OL cupboard was left pretty bare. I’ll tell you what, let’s fix everything that you say is wrong and when we get more of the same, you can blame it on the Waterboy.

          3. You disparage PR all you want. He not only throws at a clip of 70+%. He also has had a lot to do is with rushing stats. Which by the way in the B1G games would look even more meager w/o production. I sincerely suspect an OC with capabilities for offense like Allen sports for defense would turn results around like Allen did. Remember the D before he showed up. Nope DeBord owns his plight in Bloomington every bit as much as Allen does on D.

          4. HC,
            It ain’t hard to have 70% completion percentage when your average pass is 6 yards! Might as well be handing it off in the backfield. He’s #1 in the B1G is passing % and # 12 in production! Maybe you’ll get your wish and DeBord decides to hang it up after this year. Even better let’s hope TA hires a top OC. You probably haven’t thought this out that far, but if he does hire a top OC to open up the offense, the new guy will want to be able to pass downfield.

            If DeBord has all the problems you say he does, then he is probably the reason why PR is on the field! PR’s safe and steady, that’s what you have said many times. Well guess what? That fits your description of DeBord’s MO too. Don’t take no chances, be safe and steady.

            You get your wish for a new OC and you may see your boy PR holding the clipboard most of the time. PR’s a good kid, but unless he shows something pretty soon, he is not a starting B1G caliber QB. Saturday is a good time for him to start showing what he can do, because you can’t stay with OSU dinking and dunking. Do that and IU will be short 2 or 3 receivers leaving Columbus.

          5. -I’m sure Ramsey is a great young man. But IU Football will never get off the ground with a quarterback whose assets are more pedestrian than playmaker.
            -Nor will it garner any attention or attendance with a clunk and clink pedestrian offense. It just won’t.
            -Get the ball downfield …or watch the program go downhill.
            -Wilson may have lost a few more games by not playing it pedestrian and safe, but it remains the only avenue to bring a heartbeat back to a comatose football program.

      2. I made my opinion on DeBord known when they announced the hire . I was 99% not on board. And that other 1% was to his favor because he is an Indiana guy. People gave him kudos because they broke some offensive records at Tennessee during his final year there. The reality is that they finished 50th and 40th in the nation in total offense during his two seasons there as OC. He had some pretty solid talent there and it wasn’t like he lit the world on fire or anything.

        1. FS,
          Funny thing about statistics, they can be taken out of context. First thing you need to know was both years, not a single SEC team was in the top 25 of Total Offense. Neither year did the top offenses in the SEC set the world on fire win wise. Coincidentally IU was in the top 20 both years and the best they could do was 6-6. Secondly, both years UT got to play a little team from down in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, that will knock a hole in any offense. 2016 Bama was the only one was able to totally shut them down.

          1. I’m not sure where you get your facts or stats from but in 2015 Ole Miss (10-3 record and beat BAMA) was #10 in the nation in total offense and in 2016 Missouri was #13, Tex A&M #24 and Ole Miss was right outside at #26.

          2. FS,

            Was looking at ncaa.org and looked at the wrong year for ’16. Remember the Missou team went 4-8 and as for A&M and Ole Miss, their coaches both been fired since then. Ole Miss in that time period is a bit of a misnomer as they have a fair amount NCAA problems right now as a result. For A&M 8 wins will put you on the hot seat. Numbers are also skewed for A&M as they played Prairie View A&M, not a major challenge even by IU non con standards, rolled up a lot of big numbers on that one. Had a good offense except when playing the top teams in the west.

  10. That’s 1-800-coach IU…Pick up the phones now! 1-800-coach IU. Operators are standing by. Again, that’s 1-800-coach IU.

    Worried about getting your teeth kicked in? No worries. Hoosier School of Dentistry covers all your talent cavities with free coverage(pass coverage exclusions apply).
    Along with a generous salary, we offer free room and DeBord.. Yes, that’s FREE room and DeBord while you build your Memorial dream home.

    Once again…That’s 1-800-Coach IU. What are you waiting for? That’s 1-800-Coach IU. Call today!

  11. Per the last 40 years, after the first week of October, or a game or two against real BigTen football programs, the IU chatter will quickly turn to hoops. All of this quarterback and OC controversy will be the same yesterday’s news of many yesteryears. Dust in the wind….

    Where’s Podunk-and-dinker…? I’m feeling at a loss for the absence of melancholic IU Football low attendance posts.

  12. Wilson was considered an offensive genius and his offense produced a six-win season. The problem was, he could not identify a quality DC with a microscope! If this year’s IU team wins six games or more, there’s no way T.A. will fire DeBord. He may retire on his own initiative, but he won’t get canned. We’d all like to see the offense make more big plays and include more deep passing plays, but T.A. does not seem to care about style, only results.

    As for BeatPurdue having a “defeatist” attitude, I disagree. I think he’s being realistic and strategic. Now maybe if the game was in Bloomington, we could all openly express our hope for an upset. But the game is in Columbus, and even if we could match up with OSU’s talent, the home cooking we’ll be subjected to will guarantee OSU’s victory (and if you don’t think officials are influenced by huge home crowds and a highly ranked team, you’re naive). I hope Allen slows the game down and burns clock. Stay close to OSU in the first half and then see what happens in the third quarter. But I ask you, would you rather beat OSU this weekend and then lose the remainder of the games this season, or would you rather lose Saturday and win at least three more games through the remainder of the season? Which scenario is better for IU Football? Which scenario will help T.A. build a truly competitive Big Ten program? “Everything is relative to expectations.”

  13. How convenient. Explosive play of 15 yards is very entry level elementary. At a higher level and non elementary I would say an explosive play starts at a gain of 25 yards and above. Anything less is excellent, great, incredible, good etc but not explosive. Then again, IU football is entry level elementary.

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