Indiana 31, Western Kentucky 13.

IU didn't produce the overwhelming win that many might have wanted to see, but IU did show some positive signs in a 31-13 win over Western Kentucky, a team in the second year of its transition to Division I-A. Here's the box score.
The overall numbers look reasonably good. IU outgained WKU 450 to 282. IU averaged an impressive 6.3 yards per play to WKU's 4.1, and punted 4 times to WKU's 7. Each team had one turnover in close succession. Kellen Lewis threw an interception, but WKU gave it back with a fumble just a few plays later. WKU quarterback KJ Black completed 19 of 31 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown. IU's two QBs combined for a similar completion percentage but managed only 153 yards in the air, albeit with two touchdowns. The difference was on the ground. IU ran for 297 yards and averaged 7.2 yards per carry. WKU ran for 63 yards and only 2.0 yards per carry. Even setting aside Kellen Lewis's two long TD runs, for a combined 137 yards on two carries, IU still averaged a solid 4.1 yards per carry.
As to individual performances:
The good:
  • Kellen Lewis became IU's career touchdown passing leader with his first half pass to Ray Fisher. Lewis completed 63 percent of his passes and threw one interception.
  • IU used Ben Chappell in certain short yardage and goal line situations. Chappell was 1-3 for 9 yards. Most encouraging was one of the incompletions: when IU was pinned back on its ~2 yard line, Chappell was under pressure and threw the ball away. Yes, I'm still stuck on the Northwestern game from last year.
  • Andrew Means, IU's leading returning receiver, led the team with 6 catches for 63 yards.
  • Terrence Turner, who caught only 1 pass before a season ending injury in 2007, caught 4 passes for 38 yards.
  • Deja vu: 6-5 freshman Demarlo Belcher, from Fort Wayne, caught only one pass for 5 yards, but it was for a touchdown on the patented Hardy fade. If the oversized Belcher can provide just partial replacement of Hardy's production, it will be a huge help to this offense.
  • As promised, freshman tight end Max Dedmond did line up in the slot and caught a pass for five yards.
  • Bryan Payton ran for 57 yards and 6.3 per carry. Demetrius McCray ran for 38 yards on 9 carries.
  • Jammie Kirlew, moved to the right end to replace the suspended Greg Middleton, recorded two sacks.

The bad:

  • Marcus Thigpen ran for only 18 yards on 8 carries. Against Western Kentucky. I like Thigpen. He should be on the field as much as possible. But what is the coaching staff seeing that suggests that Thipgen is capable of being the starting tailback for what we hope will be an average to above average Big Ten team?
  • Our new starting corners didn't record an interception or a broken up pass, although Black's numbers were held a bit below his 2007 averages (based on completion percentage).

The ugly:

  • It's not often that a punter gets the hook, but after opening with a 57 yarder, redshirt freshman Chris Hagerup followed up with a 12 yarder, a 35 yarder, and a fumble. Joe Kleinsmith kicked the last punt of the game, a 50 yarder.

It was an opener, and while the pass defense and non-Kellen rushing games are concerns, IU has time. After next week's game against Murray State, IU has a bye week before playing Ball State and beginning the Big Ten season against Michigan State.

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