Hoosiers power past Panthers, 38-28

MIAMI — There was no script, no concrete plan or predetermined number of snaps for both Indiana quarterbacks entering Saturday’s game at Florida International.

Tom Allen knew he wanted to play redshirt sophomore Peyton Ramsey and true freshman Michael Penix behind center this weekend, but he didn’t know how that strategy would unfold.

“We just said, ‘Hey, let’s see how the game goes,'” Allen said.

As it turned out, the game couldn’t have gone much better for IU’s quarterbacks.

Both Ramsey and Penix led the Hoosiers to scoring drives, kickstarting a seemingly-rejuvenated Indiana offense in a 38-28 victory over the Panthers before an announced crowd of 17,082 at Riccardo Silva Stadium.

For a position that rightfully commanded so much attention across the past month of fall camp, Saturday’s season opener provided Indiana (1-0) with a measure of solace at quarterback. Both Ramsey and Penix looked the part of capable and efficient passers, combining for 252 yards through the air, four touchdowns and a completion percentage of 75 percent.

Simply put, the Hoosiers need not worry about that position, so long as those two stay healthy.

Ramsey redeemed himself after an interception on IU’s first series by completing 20 of his 27 passes for 156 yards and three scores. Penix backed up the impressive potential he flashed during August practices, connecting on eight of his 10 throws for 96 yards and a touchdown.

“I thought they both did a good job,” Allen said. “I thought Peyton controlled the game, other than the one pick where he made a bad decision there. … Just thought he looked really sharp. Michael came in as a true freshman back in his home state. That’s gotta be a lot of nervous energy for him for that. But he was calm and cool.”

And Indiana was rewarded for it.

The Hoosiers have now won 12 of their last 13 non-conference games, including five in a row on the road. They’ll host Virginia next Saturday in Bloomington.

Credit Ramsey for shaking off the early mistake.

After FIU (0-1) turned his interception into an 11-play, 66-yard touchdown drive to open the scoring, Ramsey bounced back with a perfectly executed pitch-and-catch with Donavan Hale, who scored the first of his two touchdowns on the night on an 18-yard haul over the middle to tie the game.

“When you make a mistake, ultimately you have to bounce back,” Ramsey said. “I’m not perfect, I made mistakes last year and I think I learned from that. I’m just trying to stay calm, stay cool, and play my game.

“… It’s been a point of emphasis for us to score touchdowns, especially down in the red zone. I think we did a good job of that tonight. When we got down there we punched the ball in. It’s good to see what we emphasize get put into action.”

Penix entered early in the third quarter and marched Indiana 72 yards on nine plays, concluding with a nine-yard swing pass to Mike Majette. Penix also played on the ensuing series, which went 70 yards on 13 plays and ended with kicker Logan Justus’ first career field goal from 36 yards out.

“We said we’re gonna get him in as quick as we can in the third quarter, got him in there and wanted him to get in a little rhythm so he could get a chance to get a couple drives,” Allen said. “Then we say, ‘Hey, know what? Let’s make sure (we finish).’ We gotta manage the clock. Obviously, Mike is a true freshman. I don’t want to put that on his plate yet. He still needs to learn some things. So let’s get Peyton back in there and go win the game. That’s kind of how we played that out and I think it worked out well. I’m telling you. You have to have more than one guy.”

After Jonathan Crawford’s first-quarter pick-six gave IU a 14-7 lead — and an advantage the Hoosiers didn’t relinquish — Ramsey also connected with Peyton Hendershot for a score and hit Hale a second time to put Indiana up 28-14 entering halftime.

While the offense looked diverse and creative, Indiana’s defense struggled to put forth consistent results.

The good news was that the Hoosiers met their goal of three takeaways — an interception and fumble recovery each by Crawford and an additional fumble recovery by Nile Sykes.

The bad news was that IU’s front seven struggled to stuff FIU’s running game and the defense, as a whole, missed too many assignments.

After Ramsey’s first-quarter interception, the Panthers averaged 7.1 yards per carry on seven carries on their second possession, ending the drive with Anthony Jones’ two-yard dive on third-and-goal that put the Panthers on the board first.

“We’ve got to be able to do some things man-to-man, and they won some of those,” Allen said. “But we didn’t give up really any deep balls, which is what we’re not trying to do. I didn’t think we stopped the run good enough, but, man, we played a ton of guys.”

FIU averaged 9.2 yards per completion, 4.4 yards per carry and 4.9 yards per play against the IU defense. All told, FIU rushed for 170 yards, including 88 by Jones. If anything, the Hoosiers were bailed out late by the fact that the Panthers’ final two scoring drives of the night ate more than 10 combined minutes off the second half clock.

“We’re still young,” Crawford said, “and I feel like we have a lot of learning to do. But I feel like this first game was a good learning step for us.”

Admittedly, nerves bubbled inside Allen, too.

This particular season opener featured 11 freshmen playing their first college football game, an unproven defense and, frankly, a series of unknowns in all three phases of the game — and that was simply his own team. Florida International, with its undetermined quarterback situation, presented a whole different dimension of questions Allen and his Hoosiers would have to solve.

“I was so nervous,” Allen said. “I don’t know if I’ve been this nervous for a game in a long time.”

FIU kept its hopes alive with the two methodical scoring drives in the second half.

Running back Shawndarrius Phillips capped a 16-play, 78-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run to close the third quarter and cut IU’s lead to 35-21. After IU kicker Logan Justus connected on a 36-yard field goal — the first of his career — receiver Maurice Alexander closed a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown reception to trim the Hoosier advantage to 10 points.

But Indiana killed off the final six minutes and four seconds with a healthy dose of running back Stevie Scott. The true freshman converted a key third-and-two with a three-yard pickup that extended the drive and helped the Hoosiers seal their first win of the season.

“We got the ball with 6:04 left in the game and they never got it back,” Allen said. “Usually you call it a four-minute offense but that was a six-minute offense. That was really big to be able to secure the win and never let their offense have a chance again. Proud of a lot of things, but most of all is for our guys finishing and finding a way to win.”

38 comments

  1. Relieved that IU won, but I was not impressed with this performance. Defense was weak, no pass rush and disappointing performance by the defensive backs. Running game is so-so. Both quarterbacks looked good. Just wondering why so many freshman played so much? Yes, you want to keep everyone fresh, but if IU has to play that many freshman again, we’re in trouble.

    This game did not increase my confidence that 2018 would be a break through season. Then again, Penn State went to overtime …………………

    1. Po,
      I don’t read too much into a first game, a lot can and should change between now and the next game. Wasn’t just PSU in trouble, don’t forget how close MSU came to a similar outcome, not to mention both were at home. A road opener win is always a good thing, but was against competition IU should beat. A lot of work to do this week to get ready for VA.

    2. It was the best time to get them experience and set them up for later success when depth is going to really be needed in conference play. This game probably made for good training as well given how taxing the heat and humidity would be on them. There are things that need cleaning up. The D line needs better pressure and penetration, the linebackers need to work on containing big plays. The CBs had a few more interference penalties than I wanted to see but kept FIU largely grounded. Ramsey handled the ball nicely minus the one miscue, and Penix seemed to throw the ball with authority and looked the part. I just hope the O line can do a better job in goal line situations. We WILL need that to close out games.

  2. IU played so many young players. Had we been playing UVA we would have looked completely different. This performance was encouraging. And give FIU some credit for Pete’s sake. They are a good football team and they played well. You guys and your expectations are silly.

  3. IU has excellent players at QB, 75% is top drawer! IU has excellent players at the receivers positions, Hale is a beast, Westbrook, Ty, Whop, Luke, and the freshmen TE’s are all good. The O line was disappointing. The runners were disappointing, except for Taylor and Whop (both non-running backs). IU simply cannot put pressure on the opposing QB and we get no push on the line of scrimmage. The DB’s have to stop fouling! The strength of this team is freshmen and sophomores! Keep playing them. They will learn. We won because of Crawford’s interception and our new kickers FG. The defense and O line must get better. But every college in FL has talent. U VA will not have more!

  4. Ramsey’s arm does look better. I was skeptical when I kept hearing about his improved arm strength but my eyeballs now lead me to believe that the rumors are indeed true. This is a really good sign for IU football.

  5. Fans need to appreciate wins especially early in the year when no one knows how good anyone is. I am happy IU won a game many outside the program thought would be a tough game for IU going into South Florida and playing a team that was infused with talent [also finished 8-5 last year].

    Without question IU needs to improve but there were good things to take from the game. First we have two viable QBs who may be even better than viable. Hale established himself following knee injury. All our receivers established that they can catch the ball instead of having a # of drops. Against what was considered a formidable DL our OL protected the QBs. Both QBs looked solid running the ball. Taylor showed his talent transfers to the college field. Looking at the defense a lot of first time players saw the field gaining experience. The defense had three take-aways to start the season. Our kicking game looks solid this year with new kickers and a dedicated ST coach. IU is averaging 35 points a game and could easily have made it 42 at the end.

    All and all it was a good win, it is always good to get a win especially on the road. It was a particularly a good win because the team feels good and the coaches have mistakes to point out. It gives players a focus heading into VA that coaches can use to get their attention to get better. A big win would have been tough for the coaches to get the player’s attention and a loss would have made it difficult to get the players picked up heading into VA.

  6. Ya know PUke plays a true Frosh WR and everyone goes gaga. IU plays Freshman who’ve earned playing time and it is a glaring weakness. Just depends on the slant you wish to push.

  7. When has IU had a quarterback controversy because both are too good to sit? Lots of past controversies because no one was good enough to play. Reese Taylor took a shot, bounced off and continued for a long run- a great sign. You know he is going to get as many touches as he can handle and at least for one game, he looks like he can handle several per game. Stevie Scott isn’t explosive but he is powerful- serviceable given 4 months ago he was considered a freshman linebacker.

  8. I liked the IU helmets…(sort of a ‘Midnight Special’ neon afterglow)..The Rust-Oleum primer look is a cool change over the traditional high-gloss enamels. Maybe it symbolizes some “unfinished” business for Indiana Football…?

    Also like the fact that IU has ‘no-name’ jerseys….It causes you to make an effort to listen and remember those making big plays. It also conveys the message of ‘team first’ and ‘next man up.’ No performance is bigger than the overall product/outcome.

    Keep on truckin’!

  9. IU played 11 freshman last night. Has IU ever played 11 freshman in a game in its history? I have no problem with freshman getting to play if they’re the best player at their position, but if IU has 11 freshman that are the best at their position, over even the second best at their position, that’s disconcerting, and does not say much for the older, more experienced guys on this roster. It will be interesting to see how many freshman get to play against VA.

    While the running game needs to improve, both of IU’s quarterbacks looked really good. And the receivers looked good too. When you’re four for four scoring touchdowns from inside the red zone (I don’t count the last drive because IU was just trying to kill the clock), the offense is playing well.

    1. Or, it’s great recruiting.

      If you said Alabama instead of Indiana then your comment would be referencing great recruiting.

    2. Why “disconcerting”? If I were a low 4 star recruit, my eyes would light up when IU comes calling! I could jump start my career by 2 full years!

  10. Playing 11 freshman may be an indication that you had a great recruiting class, but overall, it’s a negative indicator. Overall, it indicates a problem with depth of talent, poor recruiting in the past, high player turnover, or the inability to develop players over several years. Playing freshman should be the exception, not the rule. And as the statistics indicate, the more a freshman plays, the more likely they are to suffer serious injuries, because most of their bodies have not fully matured. I doubt the best teams in the country are playing 11 freshman in a game, unless it’s one of those blow-out games where the coach is obligated to empty the bench.

    It will be interesting to see how many of IU’s freshman will play in games five, six, and beyond. This new rule allowing them to play in four games while saving their redshirt makes things very interesting.

    1. Better tell Clemson what a bad sign that is for their program. They put 13 true freshmen on the field in their opener.

      1. New redshirt rule does certainly play into giving true freshman some additional pt early(especially in games that are “softer” opponents or develop into one-sided affairs).
        A Clemson freshman is likely further along in skill sets than most IU juniors….(likely 4 and 5 star guys as opposed to 2 and 3 star). Higher level recruit means better athletes …and likely bigger bodies that translate into more readiness.
        IU is usually developing freshmen in hopes of turning them into bigger and faster frames(e.g. the magic potion sold in “new” strength and conditioning coaches/techniques)…. and, eventually, into 3 or 4 star level products.
        IU will have to take more risk with freshmen that are less physically ready than a Clemson recruit. Clemson may be able to use a more talented freshman with less risk…(individually because of athletic maturity …and collectively due to roster depth).

        1. OK, so the argument you guys are putting out there is that it’s a good thing if Clemson is playing freshmen but it’s a bad thing if IU is playing freshmen.

          At the same time…we want to see IU practicing the same habits as the big boy programs. Sometimes.

          Got it.

          1. It’s not my argument. I’m all for IU playing freshmen. I don’t believe in planning for tomorrows when it comes to IU Football. We’ve been doing that for quite the while.
            Did you watch Federer tonight…? The stages in life seem to be there forever…and one night they suddenly vanish. It’s a very cliche expression, but watching one of the greatest to ever play the game of tennis crumbling to a relative nobody at 1:00 am summons the true hit of cruel reality. There was Federer in front of a sparse crowd of night owls moving down from the cheap seats to the empty chairs of the New York socialites departed. And there the cheap seat freaks watched with a combination of tired sadness and perplexed faces soon to be washed of their manufactured necessity rooted in survival. To live we must deny the inevitable in knowing every moment of sun will come away to a same truth Roger was facing tonight. A giant of the tennis game relinquished to an opponent bigger than anyone on the other side of the net: ‘Father Time stays undefeated.’

            If you’re at IU to play football, your stage is now. Father Time has warmed up to our cold bed long enough. He laughs in your belief of a deserving stage to fall quietly in the simple lonely hours of an appreciated nod….from ‘you know who.’
            Who? Father Time, that’s who. And Father Time only comes out to take a bow for those who cherished in life and passions of heart every competitive chance never constrained by a tomorrow available today.

  11. Have any of you who complain about how many Freshmen played considered that the new Red Shirt rule might have had something to do with it? Might the coaches have decided to give them some real game experience whereas in a prior season they would have been held out of the game so they wouldn’t burn the redshirt?

  12. Clemson blew their smaller, weaker opponent out. That game was like the varsity scrimmaging the JV team. I believe Clemson’s recruits are athletically superior to IU’s recruits (bigger, stronger, faster). How many of Clemson’s 13 freshman played a position other than special teams?

    Like I said, it will be interesting to see how many of IU’s freshman are still playing after the first four games. I predict six or seven freshman will play in more than four games this season. Penix, two freshman running backs, Taylor, one of the tight ends, and one defensive back.

    1. Its way more likely they were position players. Coaches don’t want to throw a skill player into a coverage situation on special teams for no good reason. It’s a lot more likely they played their regular position.

  13. Hey why are Fred Glass and Tom Allen allowed to suspend Morgan Ellison indefinitely without telling anyone what he is alleged to have done? They both are saying it is now out of their hands? The kid didn’t suspend himself. Someone made the decision to suspend him and there had to be reasons. It looks like they are looking for ways to sweep whatever he is alleged to have done under the rug so they can keep him on the team. Are there any campus or Bloomington police reports alleging a crime? Why can’t the reasons for the suspension be made public so that Glass and Allen can be held accountable for their decisions?

    1. Do you normally receive some sort of weekly list of students who have been diciplined by the university but they weren’t on it? I never hear about any student being disciplined unless it was something very public in nature. I’m curious, too, but that doesn’t mean I have a particular right to that information.

  14. I do remember many times when IU basketball players’ suspensions/removals were made public rather quickly. I recall the following all made public very quickly:
    Perea’s reckless late night driving …
    Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams in the fake ID incident outside of Kilroys….
    An already expelled Perea (expelled from the team) supplying alcohol to some new recruits and underage members of the team. Large bottles of alcohol were seized at a convenience store parking lot.
    Stan Robinson and Devin Davis expelled from team for illegal substances in their dorm room.
    Sobriety testing of Holt after Devin Davis jumped in the pathway of his SUV traveling on 17th Street in front of Assembly Hall…Davis narrowly escaped death and was later expelled for using weed(see above).

    I also believe in a right to privacy, but it’s rarely adhered. I recall an article in the IDS detailing an incident when the son of IU’s president (McRobbie) got busted for a large amount of weed in his dorm room. I don’t recall long delays in the interest or right of privacy.

  15. Whether true or conjecture, when reasons for expulsion or discipline are not made public, there is a black cloud hovering over the accused fed because of assumptions feeding a reality worse than any rumor. If the offense is in the realm of what many would see as simply a young person making a bad decision(without any real intent to harm another), public statements and quick addressing of the incident is seen as healthy transparency.

    With the ugly tales surrounding so many college programs of late, leaving major suspensions to guessing will only keep the printers more poised for pressing. Leaks which could be near the truth…or light years from the truth will begin to emerge. JPat has already somewhat placed readers of Scoop into such a realm…of the growing black cloud. Thus, what privacy has really been afforded? It’s more like “put on your seat belt and brace for the impact of the truth.”

  16. Not backing up at all, HC. Try reading my posts a second time. Trying to figure out how this new rule will affect the number of freshman that will play, and how many games they will play for IU. But historically, and this has been a long held belief expressed by many college head coaches, if you’re playing a lot of true freshman, it’s not a positive indication about the talent on your roster. Yes, raw talent matters, but so does experience and physical maturity.

    Try engaging in the discussion rather than simply dismissing comments you disagree with. Funny, I haven’t read any of your comments since Saturday’s game criticizing DeBord’s play calling, his inability to recognize/utilize play-makers, or suggesting that this will be DeBord’s last season as IU’s OC. Of course, one game does not make an entire season, but DeBord’s offense looked pretty good on Saturday. What’s wrong, HC, worried that you were totally wrong about DeBord and the offensive coaching staff? Talk about “backing up!”

    1. In the 1st 4 posts you made not 1 mention of the new RS rule. In the 5th after earned criticism you try to blend it into your negative statements. That is indeed ‘Backing Up’. You always find a reason to profess the sky is falling. Not many on here buy it.
      On the DeBord topic; I’m sure an astute poster will authenticate I expressed for the most part DeBord called an aggressive game(if not do some research and look for it). Now I have no idea whether that is just how the chips fell, executing the game plan or the theme of the play calling each series to Allen’s directive. I can only hope more of what worked is on the way. But I do know the performance of many Frosh had much to do with the positive results of the offense we watched. Look up the sky is intact.

  17. If you want fans in the stands at Memorial, you best play talented freshmen(plural). If Indiana is ever to catch up with the curve in which they lag far behind(in breadth and depth of talent in the BigTen East), they must be willing to take risk and put forth ‘question marks’ rather than bank on some better future. As a recruit coming to Indiana, you just realize it’s a “now game.”
    Football is brutal at the high school level. Irreversible damage to brain tissue due to multiple helmet hits has likely started long before college. Risk has already been measured and discounted in pursuit of love and dreams. What is there to be “saved” of any recruit when the truth of long term disastrous effects of playing football are now backed by mounting evidence in medical facts?
    Playing too early is a sign of weakness? Playing this brutal game at all is a sign of marbles lost. Weakness is the least of your worries.

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