Ellison, Hoosiers, run over Eagles, 52-17

Throughout the recruiting process, Indiana coaches had a name for Morgan Ellison.

They called him “Jordan Howard 2.0,” a nod to his strong, downhill running style that is reminiscent of the former Hoosier. Ellison, of course, took it as a compliment and spent ample time as a high school senior poring over Howard’s IU highlight reel.

On Saturday, Ellison took his first steps toward creating his own Hoosier legacy.

The freshman running back powered his way to an impressive rushing display, helping the Hoosiers to a one-sided 52-17 victory over lowly Georgia Southern before a sun-washed crowd at Memorial Stadium.

Ellison became the 11th freshman in Indiana history to rush for more than 100 yards in a game, totaling 186 yards on the ground and scoring two touchdowns.

“He’s got great feet,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “He’s quick. He’s got burst and vision. He’s got some good speed too. … We kind of commented on him throughout fall camp and he proved me right today.”

In doing so, Ellison demonstrated the authority that made him arguably IU’s most intriguing option in the team’s running back by committee. There was no committee approach Saturday — not with Mike Majette resting and Ellison running so well.

Ellison, who landed at Indiana after two broken legs suffered in high school caused others to shy away, has looked the part of a Big Ten running back in spurts since the start of last month’s fall camp.

Quarterback Richard Lagow was among the many who saw those qualities from Ellison early in camp. Others did, too.

Early last month, prior to the first padded practices of the summer, Ellison was running so hard he caused his defensive teammates to pause. During one non-padded practice, safety Chase Dutra and others tried to offer the youngster some advice.

“Dutra and all them got upset,” Ellison said. “They’re like, ‘Hey, you can’t be running like that! You know what happened to the last running back that runs like that? You can’t be doing that! You’re gonna hurt yourself!’ I just felt like I came out of fall camp and felt like I had to prove something.”

He did on Saturday, and while one win over a totally overmatched opponent doesn’t mean the first-month concerns over IU’s running game are suddenly solved, Ellison’s performance bodes well for better days on the ground.

Ellison averaged 7.4 yards on 25 carries, giving Indiana the early lead when he dove into the end zone for a two-yard score on IU’s second possession.

He came a yard shy of another score on IU’s next offensive possession, fumbling just shy of the goal line. The ball squirted into the end zone, where receiver Simmie Cobbs recovered it for the touchdown.

“Simmie came back and gave me a high five,” Ellison said. “He was like, ‘Thanks, bro.'”
Ellison later added another score on a one-yard run early in the second quarter.

Indiana, which entered Saturday with 128 rushing yards in two games, totaled 282 yards on the ground against the Eagles, the weakest Football Bowl Subdivision opponent the Hoosiers will see all season.

Even so, this was a performance for Ellison and his teammates to savor.

“He’s a hard worker,” Lagow said. “He wants to be great, which is awesome. He’s just so physical at a young age. A lot of guys aren’t wired like that, especially coming out of high school. For him to be that way, he is unique.”

Ellison’s big day also took the burden off Lagow and backup Peyton Ramsey, both of whom had their moments.

Their snaps were split almost evenly, though Lagow didn’t return to the field after taking a late hit by Eagles defensive end Logan Hunt early in the third quarter. On that play, Lagow had just completed a 71-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ian Thomas on IU’s first drive of the second half.

Ramsey added his own passing touchdown on Indiana’s ensuing possession, tossing a pretty swing pass to Devonte Williams, who took it 42 yards for his first career score.

Lagow completed eight of his 13 passes for 130 yards, while Ramsey went 3-for-8 for 55 yards.

“Those guys both played and they both played well,” Allen said

Indiana scored in all three facets of the game on Saturday, using a strip and score from cornerback Andre Brown late Saturday and a special teams score from J-Shun Harris, who took a punt return 70 yards to the end zone in the first quarter.

But the most special performance of the day belonged to Ellison.

Now, the Hoosiers hope there will be plenty more special days to come for the rookie.

“Mike (Majette) wasn’t really playing this game, so it was like somebody has to step up,” Ellison said. “Just do it. I felt like it was the time, honestly.”

6 comments

  1. I think Charleston Southern will be a weaker opponent than Georgia Southern. GS defense had previously either stuffed the run or given up good yardage. Today the OL played better with Knight and Nworah seemed to make the OL better. Add Ellison to the equation and IU may have a decent run game. I wanted to see more of Gest especially after his long run up the middle. I see Majette and Williams as important parts of the pass game.

    Watching Lagow [he had a good game not a great one though] get hit in the knee, I have to question the decision to red shirt Tronti as I can’t see him be effective enough if Lagow goes down and IU needs him to be an effective back-up. I don’t run the team so I will just except they are willing to take the risk they won’t need him this year. Ramsey had his usual game but I worry his game will be strong enough for the coming teams. It was good to see Thomas get his long TD. I still am waiting for the offense to target our receivers in ways that completely stress the defense.

    It was good to see the ST be special again in this game. The punt return for a TD was a combination of a great run by Harris and good blocking by the return team.

  2. I agree about red shirt or not on Tronti. Play whoever is needed for the present. However, if Tronti is not needed then redshirt him. He may not do any better than Ramsey. Go out and recruit another qb with goal of upgrading position. Easier said than done for IU. For example schools in California may have a couple 4 star qbs setting on bench besides the starter. So IU is left taking what they can get until they can change it for the better.

    IU better show up to play physically against Penn State. Passing game with Lagow repeating OSU strategy may be IU’S best chance. Can’t hold onto the ball. Play Ramsey or Tronti as or if needed. Run if quick passing game is working. If not much is working try to manage less than a 17 point loss.

  3. Certainly many high points, the OL was more active, Ellison earned (A.Thompson like #’s)being the mainstay RB, ST’s play highlighted by Harris, best play call of the young season-bubble screen to Williams, D caused turnovers but allowing TD passes are signs of overconfidence or simply a glaring weakness, Covington if he continues progress is NFL potential, lots of lower depth chart players of youth and less experience got lots of game time, the dimming factor of the day’s success is that it was GSU on the other side of the ball. OL still has to quickly move closer to something described as ferocious-like. Want to see more of CG as he gets to the 2nd level faster than any other RB and before the opponents D can fully react. Did Hale play? I don’t remember him being a target. Even though Fant had a minor injury I hold great concern for Ball and Riggins getting prepared for the NL’s aerial attack. D and ST’s will still have to carry the flag for the offense in the B1G. Unless there is a season ending injury I don’t see how Tronti adds anything to the QB game day performance this season.

  4. The deal with Tronti is about gaining experince playing as a back up in games like today and experience for next season. I worry IU is one QB injury away from disaster but the coaches seem to be okay with the situation. Hale was held out of the game which is why you didn’t see him. I haven’t heard any news about Ball yet so I hope his was a minor injury. Riggins is all about how quickly he can recover from his concussion but coaches seem to be satisfied with Corner depth.

  5. I think they like how Ramsey is turning out by RS him as a Frosh. They also know what is going on in the IU recruiting world we are not privy to. Hoss Hoff sure had his way with their C yesterday. Also I thought Wes Martin was on top of his game Saturday blocking for either run or pass. Like in the 1st game next week could again separate the men from the boys. Although I think the D will shine.

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