IU freshman Ellis impresses at PSU

Per usual, Indiana had a quick, explosive wide receiver operating in the slot Saturday.

It just wasn’t Whop Philyor.

After the Hoosiers’ leading receiver went into concussion protocol during the second quarter at Penn State, freshman David Ellis stepped into Philyor’s metaphorical cleats.

And they seemed to fit. Ellis finished with seven catches for 85 yards, helping IU keep its stride. It wasn’t all that surprising, considering the flashes Ellis showed as a kick returner early in the year, but it was still impressive.

The highlight was a 39-yard gain on a wide receiver screen early in the fourth quarter, propelling the Hoosiers on a touchdown drive to pull within three points, 27-24.

“David Ellis, he stepped up,” IU quarterback Peyton Ramsey said. “We knew what he was capable of doing. He’s a really good player, young guy. He kind of showed everybody what he’s all about today.”

At times, offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer has tried to find ways to get Ellis the ball, including seven carries for 35 yards at the end of a blowout over Rutgers. Philyor, a Big Ten leader with 61 catches for 863 yards, has just occupied the receiving slot best suited for Ellis.

The freshman had just five catches for 49 yards coming into the PSU game. He more than doubled those numbers as a slot receiver at PSU.

“Every day in practice, I practice with the mindset of I’m going to be playing on Saturday,” Ellis said. “So whenever there is an opportunity for me to end up playing, or (Philyor) needs a breather, or he, unfortunately, gets hurt, that’s when I step up for my brothers and just play hard.”

IU coach Tom Allen obviously would have liked to have Philyor for all four quarters of a close game. He bantered with officials immediately following the blow to the head Philyor took, miffed as to why the Nittany Lions’ defender didn’t draw a targeting call.

But what Ellis provided in relief was positive.

“David Ellis did some good things out there and he’s a talented player,” Allen said. “Hopefully, we get Whop back next week, but don’t know that yet. The bottom line is Whop’s a great player, it hurts not having him.

“But David Ellis, he’s a talented player. He’s next man up behind him, so he’ll make those plays.”

Miller impresses

Another young player who produced Saturday was redshirt freshman linebacker James Miller.

The replacement for injured redshirt sophomore Thomas Allen at one linebacker spot, Miller came away with seven tackles at Penn State, second most on the team.

Thomas Allen, the coach’s son, recently had surgery to repair a shoulder injury suffered at Nebraska. Like how senior Coy Cronk has mentored freshman left tackle Matthew Bedford following a season-ending injury, the younger Allen is doing the same for his counterpart.

“When Thomas be there (at practice), he’ll be helping me,” Miller said. “When I get to game day, it’s just fun. Can just play.”

IU wasn’t enjoying itself too much following a close loss, but Miller understood why the locker room was so quiet.

And he intends to fix that.

“It was quiet because we were hurt,” Miller said. “We don’t come here just to keep up with them. We come here to win games like that. But go back to the drawing board, and we’ll fix whatever needs to be fixed.”

A silver lining

IU was especially disappointed after Saturday’s loss. There were no moral victories to be claimed.

But Allen wouldn’t completely discount the progress the Hoosiers have made. IU’s average margin of defeat at Penn State was 22.5 points in 10 previous games.

The 11th contest was different.

“If you don’t see it, I don’t think you’re paying much attention,” Allen said. “You get on the road and those are tough places to play. We were right there. That, to me, you talk about the progress, you go through and how you build a program. This season we’ve won games that, in the past, we’ve not been able to finish.

“Now we are playing highly-ranked teams and right there with them. It doesn’t have the same feel to me.”


  1. Ellis step in and played the same role Whop has all year. What kind of attention will UM give him during the game. There is another young receiver that will also have to step up to give Ellis some relief during the game, what option does IU take IE two TEs, a freshman WR, etc.

    It was good to see Miller in the game as he will become a very good LB with his hitting ability. One thing I don’t understand is playing Ziemba in a spy position instead of going with Cam Jones; IU needs a better athlete on running QBs.

    1. You said a mouthful. Thought it would be obvious Jones is the most capable to stymie those plays.

  2. If you two bloggers (V13 and Hoosier Clarion) can see that Ziemba is not the right guy to spy on an athlete quarterback, Why isn’t the coaching staff seeing this?? We have had two games (MSU and Penn State) where the quarterback consistently left the pocket and picked up important yardage. This is the same thing that happen last year in multiple games (Michigan, MSU and PSU). Being that we see the same thing year-in and year-out, my guest is that Shea Patterson (Michigan – QB) will run on the Indiana defense for 50 plus yards. An Indiana will lose again…and fans will holler – we where close again, but the ref’s cheated on this play and that play. Enough of the same on scenario, lets bet a winning team for once.

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