4 Things We Learned: Indiana 38, UConn 3

Stevie can get rolling.

Indiana was very intentional about giving sophomore running back Stevie Scott the ball.

Scott finished with six carries versus Ohio State as the Hoosiers tried to open up the run with the pass and then fell behind. Against UConn, the 231-pounder was fed 10 times in the first quarter alone, gaining 44 yards.

On the Hoosiers’ second drive, in particular, Scott carried the ball on four of the first five plays for pick-ups of 1, 9, 7, and 5 yards. The only non-Scott play was a 10-yard keep by Peyton Ramsey, sticking with the run despite the loaded boxes the Hoosiers have faced.

Scott finished with 97 rushing yards on 21 carries, including a long of 10 yards. Not overly explosive, but the fact that Scott maintained a level of consistency, even after left tackle Coy Cronk went out with an injury in the first quarter, was encouraging. Scott averaged just 3.2 yards per carry coming into Saturday.

While Cronk’s injury is worrisome for the continued success of the ground game, freshman tackle Matthew Bedford was blocking the left side when Scott bounced that way for a six-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Cronk has the Hoosiers’ respect.

Players get hurt. Sometimes, it’s an experienced, talented player like Cronk that goes down, which makes it that much harder to swallow.

But what transpired following Cronk’s grim-looking ankle injury in the first quarter speaks to his stature inside the Hoosier locker room.

The entire sideline poured onto the field as Cronk was loaded on a cart, getting ready to be taken away. Players get hurt and many receive words of encouragement from teammates and coaches before they ride off. But few get the whole team.

If it wasn’t already obvious, Cronk, who made his 40th career start Saturday, is one of the emotional centers of this IU team. It was hardly a surprise that Nick Westbrook was talking about playing the rest of the season for Cronk, or that IU coach Tom Allen offered Cronk the game ball after Saturday’s win.

The Hoosiers expect their fourth-year starter to continue to lead. He will just have to do it from the sideline.

The defense can score, too.

It had been more than a year since a Hoosier returned an interception for a touchdown, but sophomore Cam Jones reminded everyone what’s possible when an explosive athlete gets a hold of the football.

Jones, who was recruited as a receiver, went 44 yards for IU’s first pick-six since Sept. 1, 2018, when Jonathan Crawford returned one 33 yards against Florida International.

Those kinds of plays are back-breaking, and it’s timing, shutting down UConn’s opening drive of the second half, was everything the Hoosiers needed. It instantly turned a 17-3 halftime lead into a wider 24-3 cushion.

IU now has three takeaways in four games, far below the 2.2 per game average the defense held in 2018. But Jones’ return showed the potential for big defensive plays is still there.

This wasn’t a great non-conference slate.

Through four games, the Hoosiers are 3-1. Even with an ugly loss to Ohio State, uncertainty at the quarterback position, and now an injury to the anchor of the offensive line, IU is exactly where most would have expected.

But with three wins in the rearview, it’s safe to say those were all mismatches. Ball State (1-3), Eastern Illinois (0-4), and UConn (1-2) have two wins between them. The Cardinals beat Fordham (1-3) by 28 points and the Huskies bested Wagner College (0-4) by three.

It’s safe to say IU has taken care of business, but the Hoosiers have yet to match up with an equal, including the now-No. 5 Buckeyes on the other end of the spectrum.

That leaves some questions about how IU will truly stack up to the rest of the Big Ten, but that’s about the only negative. This isn’t like basketball where strength of schedule factors into postseason berths. Just get six wins.

IU only needs three more to make their dreams of a bowl a reality.

What’s next?

No. 25 Michigan State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m., in East Lansing, Mich., BTN.

In the Hoosiers’ first true road test of the season, they will face one of the conference’s best defensive units.

The Spartans rank fifth in points (11.0) and third in yards (228.3) allowed per game. With the question of Michael Penix Jr.’s availability, and now the loss of Cronk, IU will quickly find out where it stands on that side of the ball.

Michigan State just beat Northwestern, 31-10. The week before that, the Spartans lost by a 10-7 margin to Arizona State.

33 comments

  1. Pretty sure Cronk was the catcher for his HS baseball teams. BB Coaches try to pick leaders to be their catchers to run the defense.
    Still can’t understand why Scott can’t punish tacklers enough to get a run farther than 10 yd. Also don’t get why Hart doesn’t see Gest as his best option to break 1 from the LOS and also the best change of pace rusher to attack a DB filled box. I don’t believe he was given 1 carry against UConn. What a waste. Hart has never valued him with any respect except for last season and that was by default that he had to. He gave more attempts to Mike Majette ’17’ & ’18’ which were baseless and failed than he ever gave to CG. I guess Hart is simply satisfied by big bodies and *’s.

  2. IU learned:
    1. UCONN was a ok practice game to get organized.
    2. Could do somewhat what they were suppose to do.
    3. They have some improved confidence.
    4. That the time has come for IU to play MSU this Saturday.

  3. We’re going to learn a lot more about IU this Saturday than we did last week. We’re going to learn whether IU’s defensive players can play physical against bigger, more mature players, or whether they will be intimidated. We’re going to learn whether a smart QB with mid-major arm talent can score points against a great defense. And we’re going to learn whether our young team can keep their wits playing in front of a very hostile crowd.

    1. Are we playing Ohio State again….? MSU is not a barometer for “breakthrough.” Didn’t they lose to Arizona State at home? And other than lowly Northwestern, they’ve played all their games at home.

      Sadly, a very average MSU team by BigTen standards will likely still blow us out of East Lansing. Losing to Arizona State with blowout wins against a Iffy and a whiffy of the BigTen…along with masterful slaughters of Tulsa and Western Michigan is hardly iconic football.

  4. Bit off-topic…(but we do talk a lot about quarterbacks on here and just how integral they are to success).
    Question: Anyone ready to cash in the chips and cut the losses with Baker Mayfield?

    Wow…And I thought nothing could ever be more overly hyped than Hoosier Football. Enter the Cleveland Browns. Baker is running around for life and limb more than Zander Diamonte did at IU. Now he’s starting to get a taste of how an Indiana quarterback feels on a daily basis. College game cranks out so many of these soon-to-be football gods like gumball machines spit out their sugary chew balls on the cheap. How quickly they lose their flavor….Blow the big bubble…and POP! How quickly the cockiness and the swagger gets a punch in the nose.

    And more irony? What is arguably the greatest NFL dynasty in a century did so with a quarterback barely drafted from the BigTen. He’s won so many Super Bowls that he may soon not have enough fingers for every championship ring.

    Take off the Karate Kid headband, Baker. Your swag is a joke.

    1. While playing the off the topic tune H4H,
      Just for fun, the University of Alabama is supposed to have flipped the #4 QB prospect for 20 from USC. Knowing your love for little QB’s, this kid is all of 6′ 180 lb being recruited by a big dog to play in the SEC.

      Go figure.

  5. It is already known:
    1. IU does not tackle big things. (big ten players)
    2. IU does not run the ball against big ten teams.
    3. IU passing game is famously known.
    4. IU does not match against big ten teams and win.
    INSERT…WELL…THINGS ARE A CHANG’IN WHERE YOU WISH.
    PO. Things you post are already known. Historically known.

  6. The IU defense will have a chance to step up and win the game against MSU. Stop the 3rd down completions. Peyton will score 17 or so. But IU will need 23. Indiana needs Penix! This game is a great chance to “Breakthrough”!

  7. Think. Here’s the question. Because of size (though USC and much better Alabama) OL’s can protect the little guy. However, the real question is he being recruited to actually be the guy or set on the bench as a # 2 or # 3 qb and see where he is at by his junior or senior year if he is still at respective school? Would he end up playing qb or different position at a school like Bama.
    Some players that IU has now recruited that we’re also being
    recruited by top schools…at IU they are expected to become the guy at a particular position in many cases. At a top school they are being recruited to have expectations as a backup player.

  8. Overrated hyped pre season big ten: Many of the big ten teams will beat each other up during season. They will level off into more down to earth teams. After a couple legitimate front runners which now appear to be Wisky and OSU the big ten teams that can get their share of meat/wins will have nice successful seasons.
    Though WIsky has been Alvarez tough for years now as they turned it around Wisky did have a little past tradition to draw from.
    Schools like Northwestern, Purdue, Minnesota, Rutgers (now), Maryland, Nebraska has found how tough it is, etc and IU will never be the leader of the pack consistently for any long period of time. Northwestern who I respect their program for example, had several nice years but have to scratch and claw for everything they get and maintain very seldom overpowering anyone of significance despite improved practice facilities etc. and good solid coaching.

  9. Hey HC, do you have insight to IU football practices and the team that the rest of us don’t have? Do you honestly think Hart wouldn’t play Gest more if Gest was showing he was the man day in and day out at practice, in film reviews, in his leadership, etc? Don’t you think Hart would be overruled by DeBoer and TA, probably in that order, if the best player for the position and game situation were not playing? So many questions, so few answers. None of us arm-chair coaches and quarterbacks really knows what’s going on day in and day out with any of the Hoosier teams. There’s a reason why Tom Allen, DeBoer, and even Hart get paid the big bucks while we armchair coaches and quarterbacks log on the Hoosier Sports Report and offer our insights and wisdom, free of charge at that.

  10. They may not be a barometer for determining a breakthrough, but they will provide an indication as to the divide between IU and other middle tier programs. IU continually battling it out with Rutgers or Maryland for last place is getting old.

  11. Losing Cronk was a severe blow. Who knows what’s up with Penix?

    I’m still picking the Hoosiers to knock off Sparty.

  12. I am interested to see how IU comes out to play this week. A new line up in the OL and how they play will go a long way to determine how much of a chance IU has for a win. IU’s defense will need to be stout and hard hitting to slow down the MSU offense.

    We saw more double TE formations but I was hoping coach DeBoer would run some wing with a TE to overload the front and help the running game but he sounds like there is more offense to come.

    With Cronk out it would be nice to get Penix back to back up the defense and threaten them on deep routes. Our receivers will need to work hard to get open against the physical DBs as we know the officials won’t cut IU any breaks.

  13. Maybe Cronk’s injury will instill some meanness into the OL since Hiller is unable to. They just don’t have an attitude to be defiant nor that chip on the shoulder to dominate. I just can’t figure how you can overachieve with pass blocking and so miserably underachieve the leverage required to run block.

  14. HC, good post and good questions. And I too have noticed a lack of nasty in this O-line. The last three or four IU O-linemen that have been drafted all had a little nasty in them. I haven’t seen any with this group.

  15. Chet, glad to hear you’re still picking IU to upset MSU this Saturday. But are you putting any money at risk with your pick?

    Our best QB may not play. Our best O-lineman is out. And our running game has been lame through four games. The game is at MSU. Not the ideal conditions for an IU upset.

    1. I don’t gamble. I find people who gamble invariably end up cheering for their favorite team to lose because they have money on the game. That’s f*%@#d up.

      I fly into Las Vegas pretty regularly as a jumping off point and the casinos just look depressing to me. Nobody is smiling.

      Well researched investments are as close as I come.

      1. I don’t gamble. I find people who gamble invariably end up cheering for their favorite team to lose because they have money on the game. That’s f*%@#d up.

        Have you ever filled out a March Madness bracket without IU winning it all? The second you write in a Final Four and a champion without the name Indiana, you have become victim of your own sins.

        Now let’s get this straight. All the past years and times I’ve submitted brackets, I had Tom Crean and our Hoosiers taking it all….just as I did in every other season of bracketology madness. It’s (&R&(%$^&**(^%%%ed up to enjoy a little bracketology at the expense of our Hoosiers.
        I wrote them in when Finkelmeier was considering being a one-and-done….walk-on or when Guy-Marc modeled his ineligible gray sweatsuit for a season. Just was wrong to bet against that sweatsuit.

          1. I don’t gamble either…but I do fill out a bracket or two for fun.

            Would loving nothing more than for IU to bust a bracket, but…..come on, man.

            You’ve never filled out a March Madness bracket just for fun?

          2. I thought you did enjoy quilting….because you sure couldn’t get enough ‘Weaves to Nowhere.’
            Hell, some of you stuck with the ‘Weaves to Nowhere’ coach so long, you turned Assembly into Jo-Ann Fabrics Arena.

  16. Don’t Hoosier fans always pick IU to win, whether directly or indirectly (meaning if this or that happens)? It’s called IU Hoosier Fan hope. That’s all and been going on since the beginning of its existence.

  17. It’s pretty much known as pollyannaism….(a.k.a. blindly optimistic). It’s everywhere now. I thought our basketball program could somehow remain immune but the last charlatan required so many excuses, it became many a fan’s only recourse.
    It’s also become a sort of delusions of grandeur syndrome…..Playrooms and lounge rooms next to locker rooms are given “Greats from the Past” names . We cut down nets at McCracken after losses. We call things a different “style of play” to replace the true ineptitude of not being qualified to teach the game. We measure our program’s success on draft nights rather than Elite Eights…Final Fours, etc.

    I’m also taking IU over Michigan State….I’m actually thinking we win out this year. OSU will be our only loss. People keep hating on Ramsey. Tell Tom Brady just how highly he was regarded coming out of college. I can assure you, if Ramsey was a Wolverine he would lead Michigan to a Rose Bowl. He just needs more talent around him.

  18. You are hilarious. Didn’t you just repost that you picked the winner of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904?

    God almighty. If you get the team names right you’ll keep reposting it for the next 5 years.

    1. And one of these days, your broken clock prediction that IU will win a game as an underdog will finally come true. Are you going to mention the 14 times in a row and counting that you were wrong?

  19. Rooting for IUFB against the B1G East is tough but it is what fans do. The game tomorrow we will see if IU plays hard enough and tough enough to play in the B1G East this year. I hope we see a much different team against MSU than we did against OSU. But anyone thinking IU could hang with this version of OSU after watching them the past four weeks is delusional. OSU is far better than last year’s team was with new defensive coaches and new HC. It looks like only one B1G team has a chance against them and even they are questionable to beat them.

    I hope IU plays well and gives MSU fits making the game competitive with IU has a chance to win.

  20. Lucky OSU has a terrible OC…or we might have lost by 100 hundred points.

    V13- You are a realist. Nothing delusional about realizing how tough it is to turn the corner with this football program. Most on here realize that. And most of us didn’t take 8 years to realize Crean was a farce at coaching basketball (especially when the stakes got larger). Take some a very long time to smell the coffee when overwhelmed by the perfumes of charlatans.
    I don’t wish for the same on the football program you passionately follow more than the average fan. Nobody is cheering against them.

    People do tire of excuses….whether it be at qb or anywhere else. The program is 50 years beyond excuses. New coaches should hold their tongues and not speak of “breakthroughs” to simply massage a fan base tired of BS.

    IU 45
    MSU 38
    Ramsey will throw for 434 yards..

  21. Wow, dishonest and childish….you must be so proud. Maybe now come back with some more straw man lies ? How about telling me not to elevating Brohm to Nick Saban again? That was a fun one. Come on, I like playing with children…give it your best, most dishonest shot.

  22. Hoping your favorite team will win and betting on them to win are two different things. I always hope IU FB will win, but would rarely put money at risk betting on them to beat teams like MSU, OSU, MI, PSU. If they do surprise me, then I’m delighted. But hope comes from the heart and betting should come from the brain. No matter how much hope I have, I can’t suspend my brain. And since IU’s FB team is not bigger, faster, stronger or as well coached as MSU, my brain tells me that IU will not defeat MSU on Saturday. I was at last year’s IU – MSU game, and it was a mismatch. If it had been a prize fight, IU’s cornerman would have thrown in the towel three minutes into the second half.

    I think IU may have narrowed the gap against MSU over the last year, but I think we’re still a year or two away from closing it enough to beat them. And we’re going to need a really good QB to do that!

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