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Indiana 23, Western Michigan 19: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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Here are the stats.  What do we see?

 

The good:

  • The final score, of course.  While a 4 point home win over a MAC school isn't the stuff of legend, the oddsmakers had the game nearly even and practically all media and blog predictions favored the Broncos.  All wins matter: just ask Michigan State.
  • IU outgained Western Michigan 372 to 288 and averaged 6.0 yards per play to Western's 4.0.  This speaks particularly well of the defense, which was reasonably effective against one of the nation's most productive offenses of last year. 
  • The rushing game was much, much better.  IU ran the ball 33 times for 187 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per carry.  Again, no one will confuse Western Michigan's front seven with Ohio State's, but IU ran the ball often and effectively.  Even taking Demetrius McCray's 59-yard TD run out of the equation, IU averaged 4 yards per carry. 
  • IU sacked Tim Hiller twice and pressured him more often than that.  Jammie Kirlew got into the action with 1.5 sacks.  Once again, Greg Middleton made little impact in the stat line other than his crucial forced fumble, but he clearly had an impact on the WMU passing game. 
  • Tandon Doss continued to cement his status as the #1 receiver with 8 catches for 85 yards.
  • Speaking of McCray, he ran the ball 17 times for 137 yards for an average of nearly 8 yards per carry.  Bryan Payton added 5-29 (5.8 ypc) and Mitchell Evans, working out of a Wildcat-like formation as quarterback, was 6-35 (also 5.8 ypc). 
  • Redshirt freshman Nick Freeland continues to kick well.  He made three of four field goals, and his only miss was a block.  In other words, he hasn't shanked one yet (knock on wood). 

The bad:

  • Once again, after a strong start, IU failed to put the game away despite ample opportunity to do so.  IU had two scoring drives in the second half (plus a blocked field goal from the 5 yard line) compared to three in the first half, so IU moved the ball reasonably well in the second half, but managing at least one touchdown on those second half possessions would have given the Hoosiers some breathing room. 
  • IU allowed 161 kick return yards to Brandon West, good enough for 26 yards per return. 

The ugly:

  • 13 penalties for 106 yards.  On the key drive of the game, the fourth quarter drive that Middleton ended with his forced fumble at the five yard line, IU had four penalties, including three personal fouls.  They were oddly clustered as well.  IU had consecutive false starts in the first quarter by Tandon Doss and Pete Saxon.  In a very odd sequence in the third quarter, tight end Troy Wagner, despite being "covered up" by another player on the line, left his three point stance on two consecutive plays, and each was a false start.