4 things we learned from IU’s win over Virginia

1. It’s not always pretty, but IU is doing exactly what it needs to do.
On a soggy night, in a driving rain, it’s tough to learn too much about these Hoosiers. Except for this: Indiana plays hard. Whether in the heat and humidity of South Florida, or in a deluge in Bloomington, IU has reacted well. That’s as important as anything at this point. The Hoosiers aren’t racking up many style points through these first two weeks, and that’s OK. Indiana has shown it can do enough things well on both sides of the ball to earn victories so far. Of course, there is room for improvement all over, but this is a team with attainable upside. The Hoosiers are right where they need to be two weeks into the season.

2. Stevie Scott emerged as a top option.
When Indiana needed rushing consistency the most, Scott gave the Hoosiers all they asked for. In the process, it’s clear that the newcomer is worthy of a prominent role moving forward. No one in IU’s active backfield has the power or poise of Scott, who demonstrated Saturday why coaches formed high hopes for his potential while watching him ram his way through IU’s defense in fall camp. His 31-carry, 204-yard performance was a revelation for Indiana and its rapidly-thinning backfield. Most importantly on Saturday, 140 of Scott’s yards came in the second half, while IU’s offense otherwise struggled to sustain drives in the adverse, rainy conditions. Without Scott carrying the Hoosiers and eating clock, this could have been a very different result.

3. The defense responded to Tom Allen’s challenge.
Allen, IU’s coach and defensive coordinator, was disappointed and frustrated by what he saw from his side of the ball in last week’s season-opening win at Florida International. On Saturday, the defense answered his call for better execution. For the most part, IU only had two poor defensive possessions, both of which came at the start of each half and led to Virginia’s only two touchdowns. Otherwise, the Hoosiers worked to contain dual-threat quarterback Bryce Perkins — and largely succeeded. Although Perkins accounted for 123 yards on the ground and 106 yards through the air, 52 percent of his total offensive production came on those two scoring drives. In between, IU made sure most of that production was rather empty. Linebacker Reakwon Jones, in particular, seemed to do a good job of keeping things in front of him. The Hoosiers held the Cavaliers to merely 2.3 yards on first down, setting the tone for a handful of quick and unsuccessful UVA drives. Of Virginia’s 11 total offensive possessions, five lasted less than two minutes.

4. Special teams needs a quick cleanup.
First, give credit where it’s due: punter Haydon Whitehead is as reliable as they come. Otherwise, an ugly night led to some sloppy play on special teams. The only reason Virginia had a chance to drive for the winning touchdown at the end of regulation was because it blocked a first-quarter IU point-after attempt, returning the ball for a score and turning what should’ve been a 14-7 IU lead into merely a four-point Hoosier advantage. The protection also broke down a second time on Logan Justus’ third-quarter, 41-yard field goal attempt. Those errors just can’t happen. Though on this nasty night, in might be fair to give that unit a pass. Yet, the Hoosiers also had another special teams error late in regulation, when a block in the back negated a nearly 40-yard punt return by J-Shun Harris. It’s not all cause for concern, but some cleanup work is surely in order.

WHAT’S NEXT: Saturday, vs. Ball State, Memorial Stadium, noon, BTN.
The Cardinals played Notre Dame tough on Saturday in South Bend before falling, 24-16. Despite the loss, Ball State recorded three interceptions, four sacks and 10 tackles for loss at Notre Dame Stadium, giving its program a jolt of energy heading into next weekend’s trip to Bloomington. Indiana, meanwhile, will be looking to polish off a perfect non-conference season.

39 comments

  1. I know you have to play in conditions given. Interested in seeing how Scott does when teams focus on him and have their footing and speed and he has his, plus competition level increases. Good punter really helps IU. Is kicking (field goals, extra points) going to cost IU a win this year? Should be fixable but often these things come back to haunt a team a couple if not a few times throughout season (even if not blocked, a negative play). Just seems harder to fix instantly than it appears it should be.

    1. Coach Allen decided not to choose Campbell as his FG and PAT kicker because he is a freshman. But he did say that Campbell’s kicks “rise faster and higher”. It is now imperative to give him the job! Don’t wait until after you lose a game you had to win! Also, you say that Ramsey’s arm is stronger now than last season. But you also say that you have to call plays (limit your playbook) to what he can do successfully. This does not wash. If Peyton’s arm is strong then open up the full offense (IU’s receivers are our strength: talented Hale and Westbrook, and deep with Timian, Fryfogel, Whop and the freshmen TE’s all good!). If his arm is not strong play Penix, he has all of the tools! Get the coaches out of the way and “go for it” on every play of every game to win 7 this season!

  2. Logically speaking focusing on Scott should open things up for R.T. and others including passing game. If Ramsey can be effective. To be effective Ramsey has to play mistake free but wouldn’t be surprised if offense gets bogged down with him.

    1. t,
      The development the S train has shown so far is a pleasant one indeed, especially if it continues to grow. DCs now have another thing to worry about when facing IU and that’s a very good thing. I would agree this should open up the game for the rest of the skill players in a big way, if Scott can continue to be effective. If nothing else the defense now has to account for his presence on the field, just like RT and the others.

      The onus is now even heavier on PR now, if the offense gets bogged down with the tools which appear to be available, time for a QB change. He can’t continue to throw the picks against the tougher defenses coming. His strength was supposed to be his decision making on the field, mixed results after two games. Gotta give him the benefit of the doubt after the first two games with the usual opening game mistakes and the extreme weather in the 2nd. PR needs to have a good game against BSU this week, it won’t get any easier next week.

      1. Be careful with “S train”…Forget the space and it becomes “Strain.” And for IU Football, every year in the BigTen East is a strain.

        I wish we could play the powerhouse teams of the BigTen East at the beginning of the season. We’d have a better shot before the real “trains” of the BigTen get steaming down the track. Non-conference cupcakes help ensure bowl possibilities for a program forever struggling to make any real inroads in its conference standings. But in truth, meeting the “murderer’s row” of the BigTen when they’re in mid-season form favors in even greater proportions the advantages in depth(multiple trains in case one breaks down), experience, talent and coaching(train conductor) expertise.

        Can we please dial back on the hype referencing anything about IU as “train”-like until we see a semblance of performances in our conference indicative of a train that can take the strains of a season in the BigTen East? Cabooses get left at bowls in Detroit. Trains with big powerful engines and many passenger cars get bowls in Florida and Texas…and California.

  3. Does BSU have a let down after the ND effort? Or does IU get their juices flowing the 2nd week in a row. I suspect they’ll fight like hell in the 1st half. If IU dominates they will win big. Better ST’s, solid QB play and exploiting TO’s by the D are paramount.

    1. It certainly would not be unusual for a team to have a let down after a performance such as BSU had at Ball State. They had hoped to make history and barely fell short.

      It will take some real coaching moxie to get his team that jacked up moving on from Notre Dame to the Hoosiers. While they may have more confidence it’s hard to see them duplicating the effort.

      The Hoosiers just keep plugging along. They don’t have any big emotional swings to deal with. Another day at the office.

  4. BeatPurdue makes a good point about Ramsey. Did IU limit the offense because of his physical limitations? He was lucky not to have thrown three INTs against Virginia, with one that would have been a pick-six had it not been dropped. We have to cut him some slack because of the weather, but the one INT he did throw was a terrible decision, late and over the middle while he was on the run. Surprising for a guy who is supposed to be smart and cautious. I think it might be prudent for Penix to get some playing time against BSU.

    Giving credit to IU’s players and coaching staff, as Indy Star’s Osterman wrote today, “With 66.4 percent of the roster redshirt sophomores or younger, IU is the fourth-youngest team in the Big Ten, and younger than all but 15 teams nationally.” Given that fact, being 2 – 0 is impressive. Imagine, if this team finds a way to win six or seven games this year, how good they can be next season!

  5. N.D. Oh hummed their way past Ball State. IU defense needs to get after B.S. qb as B.S. will come after Ramsey. I felt and still do think Virginia is the best team on IU pre big ten schedule. Virginia has several upper 3 stars and a couple 4 stars. Scott did great by not turning ball over and doesn’t need to start against B.S. The only thing that will beat IU will be to’s. B.S. has done well against IU in recent past. A characteristic of IU offense with a qb like Ramsey is offense can get bogged down for series after series and then something bad for IU happens and it really puts pressure on defense to come through. IU wins solidly 2 touchdowns.

    1. Meh. Count your blessings. Purdue lost to a Northwestern team that got stomped by Duke before losing to a directional school.

      Based only on that they shouldn’t win a game the rest of the year…but they likely will.

  6. Still believe the best thing to happen for IU against BSU this week was how close they played against ND. Granted ND was still hung over from UM and BSU played over their heads, still works in TA’s favor. He can hammer on the team all week BSU good enough to play ND that close in South Bend and IU FB team can’t take anything for granted.

  7. I’m amazed that no one has factored in the horrible call that went against Ball State when, after replay review and a television commercial break, it was obvious a fumble had occurred by an ND punt returner (subsequently recovered by BSU). That blatant missed call may have very well cost Ball State the game. The analysts stated the obvious in mentioning the replay booth/officials having plenty of time to look at the replay during the commercial break. The ball should have been rewarded to Ball State.

    What in the hell do we have replay for when such homer officials exist in South Bend? That entire team of officials should be fined. The ultimate goal is to get the call correct. You can’t tell me that somebody in a capacity to get the call right wasn’t alerted when the broadcast crew knew of the replay they were watching during the customary television timeout after a punt. Inexcusable how honesty didn’t prevail.

    Game-changing play …and it was PURPOSEFULLY missed. Crooks.

    1. H4H,
      I agree, seem to remember a call against UM a few years ago which would have won the game for IU. How do replay officials miss what the rest of the country can see on their own television?

  8. The conditions of the game make it hard to learn from the game. The downpour impacted the game plans and the play to the point we really don’t know much about the team from this game. One thing we do know is they have the grit to win close games. The defense got better and overall did a good job keeping a dangerous running QB in check for most of the game. IU’s offense can be very dangerous and I hope we see that against BSU. IU’s OL, receivers, and Scott are talented enough to give defenses real problems. The next question is Ramsey the QB to get the job done or will it be up to Penix to step in and really make IU’s offense dangerous.

  9. Yes v13, I’m waiting for the weather to cooperate with IU’s offense. It will be interesting to see how it performs when there are no excuses regarding heat and humidity or a monsoon limiting their play selection. If the weather in Bloomington is good this Saturday, will DeBord open the playbook and start utilizing those wide receivers a little more? Will we see Ramsey’s stronger arm taking more shots down field? Will we see an IU kicker score extra points and field goals?

  10. Should have already been playing Penix…or Dawkins (if he would have been given the opportunity from the beginning).

    I’ve seen enough of Ramsey. Sorry, but not at all sold. When we get the big boys, we’re going to need a bigger arm and bigger play-making abilities. I honestly don’t get it…..Play the best athlete. Play the guy with arm that can make a deep threat a reality.
    And how much decision making is needed when handing off to the ‘S Train?’ Penix is the future. The future should be now(or two games ago)….if anyone is truly honest about “breakthrough.”

    Continue to play Ramsey and it will look like the second half of the Bears vs. Packers last night. Little dump off passes and horrific play calling…Handing the ball off to a running back all our keying on because the qb has no moxie and looks like a deer in headlights. How do the Bears keep ending up with these highly regarded qb’s with no moxie?

    Penix has moxie. Play him.

    1. “a deer in headlights” ‘Ramsey’, when? Never have I seen that from him. He is the starter not because of a 65 yd. arm but precisely for his poise and field command.

  11. True….But, inevitably, Penix will soon be thrust into a role he’s barely prepared against top competition(BigTen East) .
    That’s the “old” Hoosier Football formula. Start the experienced “leader” until his so-called leadership can’t trump his lack of speed or arm. Offense stagnates upon such realization against better conference teams/defenses…
    Then bring in the inexperienced athletic guy(Penix) who is ill-prepared because he was warming the bench during cupcake days. Low risk…Low returns…Achieve ‘Urinal Cake’ Bowl game.

  12. One of the PAC-12 bottom-feeders last season, with their new coach, just beat Michigan State. That ASU team was much smaller than MSU, but they played them tough, wore them out with speed and a fast pace, and then finished them off in the final seconds of the game. Signature win for Herm Edwards, but and upset has me wondering if it’s possible for IU to start this season 4 – 0. Let’s get past BSU on Saturday and then crank it up a notch for the Big Ten season-opener in Bloomington.

    1. It’s quite likely that the Hoosiers would have beaten both those teams. You never know but there is little reason to think they wouldn’t.

  13. Barely defeating Utah State was the writing on the wall….MSU grossly overrated…until they play us.
    I wonder how much impact the MSU scandal is having on the overall culture/mood of its programs/athletes? Who wants to attend a university which had such despicable deeds happening for so many years….?
    Never mind. I guess PSU answered that one…No bar of sick/criminal behavior is too low anymore (except for a 3-way phone call to a recruit).

    I do like Herm Edwards…Seems like a man of integrity….though I really have no idea. Just like his sideline demeanor and what he conveys in body language. Doesn’t hop around like Peter Cottontail. Real deal.

  14. Everyone will be cheering in 4 years in the unlikely event they are able red shirt Penix this year.

    Autocorrect has a real issue about typing ‘Penix’. It gets downright ugly.

    1. Actually, that’s probably not true. There will probably be a hotshot freshman on the bench the fans are screaming for.

  15. Back to the weather issue. While living in Fl, the Dolphins going to Buffalo in January and the Bucs playing in Green Bay always big issue. Remember TV interview with Warren Sapp. He was asked what worried him the most about Green Bay game in January. His reply was he was afraid he would freeze his “thingie off”. TV guy asked “thingie?”. Sapp said “you know, my “. TV went to commercial.

    1. Hey Ron, I’ve become a regular visitor to Heber City. Been going back and for to the Oregon coast and my first night stop is always up around Mirror Lake. Beautiful area.

  16. Reliable Whitehead may be, but the numbers say reliably “meh.” UVa. 44.7 yds./punt (7-313) cf. IU 35.5/punt (6-212). Outpunted by 101 yds.; that’s a lot of territory. Both teams put 4 punts inside the 20 yd. line, so it’s not like IUFB out-coffin-cornered them. Harris had 2 yds. total punt returns and zero yds. kickoff returns. OK, the rainstorm gives the return teams the benefit of the doubt, but right now it looks to me that special teams need a LOT of work. Fire Inge if things don’t improve markedly against Ball U. It’s not like firing an OC or DC mid-season. Find a guy with a scheme who really wants to prove himself and give him a shot.

  17. With Penix performance against FIU it seems clear he will start sooner rather than later. I was hoping to see him against VA once the offense didn’t finish drives in the second half. I like Ramsey as a QB but IU will need a more dynamic QB to have a winning season. It is clear for now the OL will give our QB time to throw the ball unlike last year. It is a good time to get Penix a start and see how he handles it. It is hard to replace a QB completing 73.5% of his passes but with Penix at 80% and no ints isn’t a bad alternative. I hope this coming game Penix gets in enough to show if he cando the job better than Ramsey which so far Penix is 100% in leading scoring drives.

  18. v13, if I was Allen, I’d stay with Ramsey as the starter against BSU. He’s 2 – 0 with reasonably good stats. And IU absolutely must win the BSU game if it is to have a chance at producing a winning season. But I’d give Penix some snaps against BSU, just like they did with FIU. And if the offense starts to “bog down” under Ramsey, then I’d put Penix in to give the offense a boost. We have to remember that Ramsey is still a true freshman, and as physically talented as he is, and as much potential as we all agree he has, he’s not going to be as good at recognizing defenses and making decisions compared to the more experienced Ramsey. Start Ramsey, but have Penix ready to go in order to keep BSU’s defense off balance.

  19. On an unrelated football note…Ian Thomas is now ‘the man’ at tight end for the Panthers. Perennial all pro and mentor to Thomas, Greg Olsen, rebroke his foot and is out indefinitely.

    Next man up.

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