NOTES: Hoosiers sling it downfield

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As the final seconds fell off the clock at Ohio Stadium on Saturday evening, Indiana receiver Nick Westbrook turned to his quarterback and clung to an emerging sign of optimism.

Even in a 49-26 defeat to No. 3 Ohio State, IU’s offense opened up in ways it previously had not.

Peyton Ramsey threw for a career-high 322 yards, challenging the Buckeyes’ secondary in one-on-one coverage and attempting the kinds of throws that haven’t consistently been part of this IU offense during the first half of the season.

Saturday was a glimpse of what this team looks like when those throws are there, a welcome development for an offense looking to maximize an experienced and diverse receiving corpse.

“That’s something I said to Peyton toward the end of the game, that this is kind of scary to show you how dangerous we can be,” Westbrook said. “Going forward in this season, we should expect a lot out of ourselves as receivers and in the passing game.”

Ramsey missed a couple downfield throws during Saturday’s first half that, had they been caught, might have gone for touchdowns. Otherwise, the IU quarterback seemed to take a step forward in his stewardship of the Hoosiers’ offense.

Ramsey got nine different receivers involved in the aerial attack, averaging a season-high 12.4 yards per attempt.

Indiana also enjoyed eight plays of at least 15 yards through the air, two of which went for touchdowns.

“They just continued to give them to us,” Ramsey said. “That’s something that we haven’t seen this year. There haven’t been defenses that have consistently dared us to throw one-on-one balls and 50-50 balls. We were able to come up with some big ones.”

Keeping those deep balls as a consistent part of the offense will be the challenge when IU opens the second half of the season next Saturday against Iowa at Memorial Stadium.

“That’s something that (receivers coach Grant) Heard has instilled in us since fall camp,” Westbrook said. “You’ve got to make this offense run, especially making those big time plays, those 50-50 balls and just knowing that if the ball is in the air it’s going to be ours or it’s going to be incomplete and that’s about it. We’ve felt our confidence grow and grow each week. We felt it grow each week and this is kind of a good (example) of that and showing that it’s progressed.”

Harris keeps rolling
With receiver Luke Timian missing his third consecutive game with an injury and Whop Philyor missing his second, IU once again needed help through the air.

J-Shun Harris delivered.

Harris caught a career-high eight passes for a personal-best 104 yards, marking the first time in his career he eclipsed the 100-yard level. Across his past three games, Harris has totaled 21 catches for 200 yards.

“He’s just stepped up and we’ve needed guys to step up and make plays with Whop and Luke being out,” Ramsey said. “He was extremely willing. He works so hard and he’s a guy that I can easily count on and trust. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Explaining his decision
When Donavan Hale’s three-yard touchdown reception cut IU’s second-half deficit to 35-26 midway through the third quarter, Tom Allen opted for a two-point conversion instead of an extra point attempt.

Kicking the ball could have made it a one-possession game, but Allen also recognized that, with an eight-point deficit, a two-point try would be necessary at some point.

IU’s attempt to make it a seven-point game didn’t work, with Ramsey tossing an interception in the end zone. Allen backed his decision after the game.

“Just wanted to get within seven points,” Allen said. “… That way you now know what you have to do. That’s my rationale. And once again, I go back to (how) we study this. That’s the mathematical odds (telling us) to go for two at that particular time. So you know exactly what you have to get next. So that’s the rationale and I stand by that decision.”

17 comments

  1. Love the positive spin, but nothing was opened up in this game. OSU was playing flat and soft (being lazy and grabbing receivers) until the second half.

    It may actually be more difficult to “sling it downfield” in upcoming games because its not premier enough talent for them to rest on laurels.

    It’s very difficult to take much away from these sorts of games…

  2. It was nice to see the offense more agressive in the game but there were still several many passes that were not going anywhere IE to Majette leaking through the line. I am afraid that the second half is more like what IU will face coming up. As much as I respect Ramsey and his toughness, until Penix is part of this offense IU will struggle when the opponent defense tightens up. It is nothing against Ramsey as he is giving everything he has on the field but having a QB limited is like having a RB that can only gain the yards the OL create. That said, Ramsey had a very good first half despite missing some deep open receivers.

    I hope teams watching this film will keep teams from loading the box up. I won’t know how effective the offense was, in the second half especially, unless I can find a video of the game other than the TV video.

    1. V13,
      You said the key point, “loading the box up.” Until we see defenses not loading the box with 9, 10, and 11 guys in box or crowding the line of scrimmage, the message remains the same. The opponents defensive strategies are screaming loudly, “We don’t think your QB has a complete game.” TA is a good defensive guy, look at the strategy he used against OSU. Except in very short yardage situations, IU defenders did not crowd the LOS or load up the box because they knew the OSU QB would beat them deep.

      Anyone can see what they want to see, but the opponents defenses are telling you all you need to know. Going forward IU will see a lot of the same strategies from the better opponents. Expect PSU and UM to do the same thing. The lesser talented teams will try as well unless you can find a weak point to exploit. Won’t find that with the teams who have better talent level across the board.

  3. I’m confident Coach Allen will keep his thumb on DeBord to continue calling plays aggressively keeping maximum pressure on opponents D. Ramsey proved against OSU he has plenty of arm for the more aggressive offense needed in the B1G. Hope Allen drops the zone pass D and goes back to the M/M although it did help support against the run.

  4. Same o same o. OSU vs IU game not that close and lived up to expectations. IU made a few good plays with the same result as always just like in the past except for a very small handful of times.
    True measure of where team is from IU perspective is in some of the games coming up.

  5. Our family are season ticketholders since the mid-eighties and I remember the Ohio State and Michigan games were decided in the first half. Ohio State is the major football program for the State of Ohio and the football program is money making machine, even before the Big Ten TV money arrived .
    I U is like the Oakland Athletics versus Dodgers, Yankee organizations, Ohio State’s football revenue possibly exceeds I U ‘s total athletic revenue and the OS booster money is there for supporting a top five college football program. Our expectations for I U to run with a top national football program like Ohio State always going to be met with fan frustration, except for a few possible upsets. I believe IU is becoming more competitive in a very tough Big Ten division.

  6. Visit web site: IU vs Ohio State football series history, eleven warriors. Can IU exceed it’s success against the Buckeyes for the rest of the 21st century over the 20th century and first 18 percent of the 21st century? It could get worse but not much as you could loose every single game for a whole century.

      1. How would a person ‘loose’ a game?

        It’s what all but a couple of weighted down old stubborn mules have been asking for:

        “Loosen” up the running game and the opponent’s crowding defense by playing Penix.
        Let the talent “loose” rather than leaving it handcuffed and saving it for a rainy day (not to be confused with a monsoon-or-later)
        Loosen up the playbook with less restrictive play calls.
        Loosen up the pocketbooks of potential buyers of Hoosier tickets not putting their tight asses in seats to watch conservative football. Maybe by….
        Loosening up a bigger arm on the sideline …and PUTTING HIM IN THE DAMN GAME!
        Footloose…….Everybody get football loose!

        1. “a couple of weighted down old stubborn mules!!!”

          Has our beloved H4H the ultimate jester gone PG on us? Is this a newer kinder gentler H4H? It is certainly a nicer way of saying the obvious. Rest of it is vintage H4H.

  7. Opposing teams strategy for this year and next two seasons should try to keep P.R. from getting hurt to much and make sure he continues to be the starter and always stay in the game. It is the best way to contain IU offense.

  8. This foot loose footwork with T.A. dance moves on the sideline would surely confuse the defense with much humor. IU ball on the opponent 33 yard line and R.T. wide open in end zone. P.R. slings it downfield. That’s right P.R. slings it downfield (like a slingshot) to R.T. Oh! So close. The ball skipped at the 5 yard line to R.T. Incomplete pass. IU turns it over on downs. Being positive. No interception to hurt P.R. stats. R.T. asks coach for a chance at qb out of frustration. M.P. on sidelines saying put me in coach, put me in.

    1. t,
      You know I agree, and I don’t know about you but somehow I don’t equate “slinging it downfield,” with PR. Hate to pick on Mike, but when I hear the term “slinging it downfield,” I kinda think of Bret Farve, or I’ll date myself, a Jim Plunkett, and yes they could do it college. Slinging it downfield is not the inaccurate heave of a weak armed QB, but the accurate throw of a QB who can put it on the money 50 yards downfield or anywhere else for that matter. There are plenty of them out there and most top passing programs have them lined up. Believe it or not, I suspect IU has one holding the clipboard.

      The biggest problem is if they guys on the sidelines think they are better, but not being played. Fast recipe for a transfer, and don’t say, “didn’t need them anyway like with Dawkins.” It can cause a much bigger problem is if IU gets the reputation, deserved or not, of not starting the better talent, going to very hard for TA to recruit going forward. TA is doing great right now, but remember this, if this happens, IU is just a QB injury away from being up a creek just like they were when Sudfield went down. If you don’t understand this, you don’t understand anything about college football recruiting.

      When it comes to recruiting perception is reality and don’t think for a minute the other programs will not use it against you. Saw the best chance IU FB ever had to turn it around torpedoed by just such perceptions.

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