Indiana 51, Towson 17: Willis and Chappell lead Hoosiers to opening victory.

 

Here are the stats.  IU jumped out to an early 17-0 lead, and while Towson moved the ball at times, the Tigers never pulled to within closer than 10 points again.  A suprise to me upon reading the box score, although perhaps it shouldn't have been, is that Towson ended up outgaining IU by a pretty healthy margin.  That's troubling from the perspective of the defense, but not so for the offense.  IU still managed a solid 6.4 yards per play, and because of good kick returns and Towson turnovers, IU's starting field position was excellent.  In the first half, IU had eight possessions, and four of them began at the 50 or on Towson's half of the field.  In IU's first nine possessions, IU had five touchdowns, two field goals, and two punts.  Even against Towson, that's pretty solid.  Darius Willis broke the 100 yard barrier before halftime, and the starters were off the field about halfway through the third quarter.  Add in that IU scored a defensive touchdown, and the yardage discrepancy isn't bad for the offense.  I'm not sure we learned much about the IU offense today, but there certainly were no major red flags.  The two main complaints I have are that IU did look a little helpless the first time they were in the red zone (the first and goal that led to Nick Freeland's first field goal), and Ben Chappell made a really sloppy pass under duress that was a bit too similar to some of his 15 interceptions from last season.  Overall, however, no major complaints, and IU did it all without top receiver Tandon Doss.

 

The defense, on the other hand, gave up 392 yards to a FCS team, and not a particularly good one.  If nothing else, Towson's decision to start Chris Hart at quarterback gave IU a wakeup call and hopefully will provide some lessons about how to handle mobile quarterbacks such as Denard Robinson, Tate Forcier, Terrelle Pryor, and Robert Marve, to name a few (gulp).  Hart's completion percentage was below 50 percent, but he ran for 123 yards on 16 carries and threw a 65-yard touchdown pass.  After having seen him play, it's not surprising that Towson coach Rob Ambrose decided to play him for the whole game.  Certainly, some of Towson's gains came in garbage time (118 yards in the final 18 minutes, long after IU's starters sat down), but it's a concern.  A positive for both the offense and defense is that IU won the turnover battle 3-0.  Last season, IU was +7 on the season, and was +11 before losing the turnover battle 4-0 against Purdue.  If IU can continue to maintain a positive turnover margin, then the defense's deficiencies won't be as harmful. 

Which individuals stood out?

  • Chappell was fine, completing 70 percent of his passes, throwing for 182 yards and two touchdowns in two and a half quarters.  The backups, Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker, didn't particularly stand out, but there's still time.
  • Darius Willis ran for 102 yards on 14 carries and scored two touchdowns, including a 49 yarder. 
  • Zach Davis-Walker gained 28 yards on two carries.
  • Much to my surprise, IU burned the redshirt on Antonio Banks.  He gained four yards on two carries.  IU doesn't have a numbers problem at RB, so the staff must be fairly high on him.  A quick scan of the participation chart suggests to me that he was the only true freshman to play last night.  Did I miss anyone?
  • Tight end Ted Bolser, who didn't make it into the two deep (or my preview) caught four passes for 68 yards.  He caught his first career touchdown reception, and was wide open in the end zone on another occasion. 
  • Damarlo Belcher had a couple of bad drops, but otherwise was excellent: 7 receptions for 92 yards.
  • Nick Freeland and Mitch Ewald shared time at kicker.  Each was perfect.  Freeland made 5 extra points and 2 field goals, and Ewald made one of each.    
Well, after all the buildup, now we get to wait another 16 days before IU heads to Bowling Green to play Western Kentucky.  IU did about as expected against Towson.  The offense was fine, the defense was cause for a bit of concern.  Still, 1-0 is always better than the alternative. 
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