4 Things We Learned: Indiana 35, Rutgers 0

There is a clear dividing line.

The difference between Rutgers and the rest of the Big Ten became just a little more obvious Saturday.

Indiana’s shutout increased the Scarlet Knights’ total margin of defeat to 165-7 in four conference games. They have now been held scoreless 10 times since entering the Big Ten, the most of any conference team since the turn of the century. And remember, Rutgers entered the league in 2014.

Also keep in mind that Maryland (3-3), the last team to handle the Scarlet Knights, just lost 40-14 to Purdue (2-4).

Rutgers football is clearly in disarray, but it’s a positive that IU has been able to maintain a gap between itself and the lesser teams on its schedule, dating back to the non-conference. When the Hoosiers have needed to take care of business, they have. IU’s youth may have been responsible for a lull or two during Saturday’s win, but the result was never in doubt.

After a blowout at the hands of Ohio State, the Hoosiers challenged Michigan State and dominated Rutgers. That bodes well as IU (4-2) aims to possibly seal a bowl berth in road contests with Maryland (3-3) and Nebraska (4-3) and then returning home to face Northwestern (1-4).

Whop is here to stay.

Every year, slot receiver Whop Philyor has had one really big day.

As a freshman, the Tampa, Fla., product had a 13-catch, 127-yard performance against Maryland. As a sophomore, it was his 13-reception, 148-yard game against Michigan State that turned heads.

But after another outburst on the Spartans, hauling in 14 balls for 142 yards, Philyor added yet another eye-popping performance to 2019 versus Rutgers: 10 catches, 182 yards.

The fact that those games came back-to-back is yet another encouraging sign for a player that has had his ups and downs. Last season was especially injury-plagued, cut to seven games by a high ankle sprain and a torn LCL.

Through six games, Philyor has career-highs in catches (41) and yards (553) and is one touchdown away (3) from setting another best. He’s been a reliable target for Michael Penix Jr. on quick swing passes, almost like a supplement to the Hoosiers’ run game. He’s can also get downfield and over the top of defenses.

The continued presence of Philyor gives IU’s offense plenty of staying power.

D-Mac is a key piece.

Coming into the season, the defensive tackle position was a massive unknown outside of redshirt junior Jerome Johnson.

There is a reason IU dove into the junior college ranks to bring in Demarcus Elliott and Juan Harris. With Elliott’s performance versus Rutgers — and the announcement postgame that Harris has left team — it’s become apparent how significant the addition of “D-Mac” really was.

On the very first play Saturday, the sophomore from Garden City, Kan., sacked quarterback Johnny Langan, forcing a fumble and a Reakwon Jones touchdown return. That was Elliott’s third sack of the season, tied for the team lead with defensive end Allen Stallings.

Elliott finished with three tackles for loss, which gives him five on the season, one short of Micah McFadden’s team-best total.

With Harris no longer on the team, the Hoosiers will need Elliott to continue to produce alongside Johnson. A host of younger players, namely freshmen Shamar Jones and Sio Nofoagatoto’a, will have to step up, as well.

The evolution of Ellis continues.

There is a reason David Ellis came into the season listed as an “athlete.”

While the true freshman has mostly settled into roles as a kick returner and wideout, Ellis got seven carries for 35 yards versus Rutgers.

This happened during a lopsided win, so it’s not clear if this is anything more than an experiment, but it shows there is definitely a desire to move the 6-foot, 207-pounder around and get the most out of his playmaking abilities.

With news last week that Cole Gest has put his name into the NCAA transfer portal, Ellis could be even more valuable in that phase of the game. Where Ellis lines up the rest of this season — and moving forward in his career — will be something to watch.

What’s next?

Maryland, Oct. 19, 3:30 p.m., College Park, Md.

As noted above, the Terrapins (1-2 Big Ten) are coming off of a bad loss to the Boilermakers.

In a battle of two struggling pass defenses, Maryland struggled the most, allowing redshirt freshman Jack Plummer to complete 33-of-41 passes for 420 yards and three scores. Purdue picked off Maryland’s Tyrrell Pigrome twice.

Penix and his receiving corps should be licking their chops.

On the other hand, the IU defense will have the challenge of corralling a dual-threat quarterback. While Pigrome turned the ball over to Purdue, he did throw for 218 yards and ran for another 107 yards and a touchdown, including a 61-yard scamper.

The location and the opponent has meaning, too. IU will be returning to the scene of a heartbreaking 42-39 loss, one of the biggest blows to the Hoosiers’ 2017 bowl chances.

22 comments

    1. I didn’t see very much to be learned on this one either t. Not much more than a tune up for the increasingly challenging levels coming up in the next 3 weeks. Not too happy about the 2nd quarter, but for the most part took care of business as should have been expected. What needs to be seen now is a convincing win at Maryland if there has been progress in the IUFB program. The next 3 weeks will tell the tale on this season and the direction of the program. All 3 games are potentially winnable, but IUFB has to prove that. We’ll see, none of the 3 upcoming teams at this point can be considered at any higher level of development this year than IU.

  1. Unlike Hoosier teams in the not so distant past, this team is taking care of business when it’s supposed to. They are a competitive bunch that I expect to win at least 6 games and hopefully more. This team seems to have a different vibe than we’ve come to expect from IU football. I believe that this team will pull off an upset this year, which would go a long ways towards instilling the youngsters with confidence and an understanding of what it takes to win. In TA I trust. Go Hoosiers!

    1. Yes Sir Pac, yes Sir! There’s a chemistry, for the lack of a more fitting description, about how this team acts to near all situations as compared to seasons past. It is not only talent level of players but new coordinators and Allen focused evaluating as COO. The new organization is built for advancement.

  2. Well, either Purdue suddenly became an offensive juggernaut or Maryland has a pretty sorry defense.

    The Hoosiers should do fine.

    1. Purdue played a handful of really good true freshmen: Bell we knew of, but there Was a good RB, 2 receivers, and a defensive LB or end that all looked very good. Purdue is improving. But so is IU. Coach Allen needs to play all of his good freshmen now and forget redshirting them. Just win now Baby!

      1. Indeed, BP, if they can play, play ’em. Saving some guy who’s needed now so that he can play in 2023 makes no sense. IUFB does not have the luxury of “developing” players. Maybe at some schools where there are ready reinforcements for when the injury list grows as the season grinds on, but that’s not where IUFB is.

  3. I’m interested to see if IU’s young players show signs of improved discipline against Maryland. To me, that will be the key. Have they learned to stop shooting themselves in the foot? The athleticism is there, the QB is there, the energy is there. Now, they have to demonstrate that they can combine all that with discipline. If they do, I think they get their fifth win at Maryland.

  4. Really I do not understand why the staff would move a quality slot receivers like David Ellis to running back (risking injury), when you already had a capable (similar) running back in Cole Geist (transfer portal) to kill time on the clock. hopefully this was just an experiment or wrinkle to add a different play. At the present time Indiana (supposably) has 3 to 4 capable running back use them. Everyone is correct the next three games will advise a lot about this team…..They have taken care of business and beat the team they where suppose to beat and they have played well at home….Now comes the real challenge of playing back-to-back games on the road. Indiana next three games are against up and down teams and all three teams have suffered some type of quarterback injury. For the first time in years, looks like the stars are in alignment for Indiana football, hopefully this young team (?) and young coaching staff can take advantage.

    1. Personally I like the move to RB for Ellis. I think it’s more of a wrinkle like you stated but Ellis is built like a RB and has the moves to match. I rooted for Gest to be a productive piece of the puzzle but he really wasn’t showing much this season. Maybe he wasn’t 100% healthy yet but I don’t think the offense will miss him much.

      1. Two season ending injuries during a period when better athletes were being recruited. It happens.

        I think he made the right call. They are gonna keep recruiting guys they believe are better. A mid major will be getting an experienced running back and he will possibly be a featured back.

        Everybody wins.

  5. Best needed a O-line that opened holes. He’s not big enough to create them on his own. I think Ellis was inserted as an RB after Test announced to TA that he was jumping on the transfer portal.

  6. A-Shon Riggens is retiring from his college football career due to injuries, Gest is transferring and a huge D-linemen has decided to quit the team (again). All three players were former starters and had considerable potential. Looks like we’re going to have three more scholarships to offer in next year’s recruiting class. But these announcements remind us that in relative terms (knock on wood), IU has been fortunate this year. Our biggest loss (due to injury) has been to our best O-lineman who may be able to return as a fifth year starter. That’s a credit to TA and his staff and the S&I staff. Let’s hope we continue to stay healthy and that no other players enter the transfer portal until the season is over.

    1. Po,
      The only question which went through my mind regarding you concerns about losing former starters was, “Is it because the upcoming younger players are more talented and they see that?” Obviously, retiring from football due to injuries is not unusual. The other two, I wonder.

      1. I don’t think anyone is really surprised about the big D lineman. From a distance it seems there is more than football factoring into this young man’s decision. I wish him the best.

  7. There is something to learn from every games. The Rutgers game makes it hard to get much from it about IU’s team but film will show many lessons that need to be learned. I did like seeing that first defensive play as showed we have players capable of making game changing plays. Don’t dismiss plays like these just because it was against Rutgers. Rutgers passed for 120 yds against MD yet only for one yard against the Hoosiers.

    The offense showed more deep passes good pass pro for Penix. The second half saw an explosive running game which should lead to better running against MD. Whop with his second double digit catch game.

    What team will MD put on the field? Defensively they look like they are walking around watching plays develop. If IU comes out and plays a good game beating MD by 21 points will the complaints be that IU still hasn’t beaten anyone good? I think it shows that IU is improving when losing to MSU by coming up short while going toe to toe then turn around and handle a team IU could have overlooked.

  8. Then, if that’s the case some who post need to quite dismissing other teams wins as though they haven’t played anyone any good. IU has beat one ok team thus far (as PO noted) and that was Ball State.

  9. Here’s one for the enjoy it while it lasts category:

    By the ncaa stats, IUFB now has the 13th best defense in the land, featuring the 10th best against the pass. Can we say thank you Rutgers U?

    Rush defense and offense a little more pedestrian currently at #38 and #44 respectively, but only half way through the year, much can change either way on anything.

    1. While it’s easy to dismiss any statistic because Rutgers is hapless, give the D credit where credit is due. IU held them to 2 yards passing and 70 some rushing. Last week they were good enough to put up 163 passing yards on Maryland while rushing for another 200 yards.

      They put up 106 passing on Michigan and only rushed for 20 fewer yards than against the Hoosiers.

      They got more yards both passing and rushing against Iowa than against IU.

      They have played 4 Big Ten teams so far and Indiana was the most effective defensively.

      So…there’s that.

  10. think, in the case of Cole Gest (G-E-S-T), I think that’s exactly the conclusion he reached. Why stay if he’s not going to play? Not so for the other guys in that one just got fed up with the injuries and is on schedule to graduate and the other has some personal issues that have caused him to be on-again/off-again. College football is, like many other sports, a meritocracy, where the players with the most talent, mental and physical toughness and perseverance get rewarded with playing time and the additional opportunities that arise from that experience.

    As for the ranking of IU’s defense, let’s evaluate that at the end of November. In the mean time, I’d like to see a few more take-ways, especially INTs made by the DBs. As Bob Knight used to teach his players, “you have to have to be able to anticipate.”

  11. IUFB does seem more prepared to play than it has recently these last few Saturdays, but the dumb penalties and strange red zone play are still there. The weird thing about this season is that although it is proceeding along entirely predictable lines (unremarkable win over unremarkable MAC team; beating up on lesser folk, getting clobbered by the usual neighborhood bully, and the oh-so-familiar close-but-no-cigar loss to a respectable program), most of us probably feel that we really don’t know what the heck it is that we’ve got here. But the next four teams are all beatable, so I’ll stick to my motto: “Beat the beatables!”

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