The Hoosier offense continued to excel, but the defense, against an Akron team that had done little against its other FBS opposition, continued to create concerns. Here is the box score. Unfortunately, I didn't have the chance to watch the game live, so any impressions I have right now are based only on the stats and on my limited viewing of highlights. I may post more impressions if I have the chance to watch the game today.
A review of the numbers suggests that the story of the Akron game is pretty similar to the story of every other game so far this season. The passing offense was excellent, the rushing offense is a concern, and the defense is a major concern. The offense, overall, was very productive, with 426 yards and 7 yards per play. The Hoosiers scored five touchdowns and never had to settle for a field goal, all from inside the red zone, and didn't turn the ball over. Still, as in the Western Kentucky game, the production was disproportionately from the passing game. Still, IU managed only 84 rushing yards and averaged 2.9 yards per carry. Part of this is because Ben Chappell, thanks to a sack and other problems, ended up with -18 yards. Still, if IU cannot dictate to teams like Akron and Western Kentucky, IU will have to improve to have any success running the ball against Big Ten competition. Certainly, there is nothing optimal about a "balanced" attack. If IU can move the ball and score points throwing the ball on 75 percent of their possessions, great. But the lack of a credible running attack may begin to inhibit the passing game.
On defense, the Hoosiers again struggled against a team that had struggled against all credible competition, allowing 335 yards and 18 first downs. Akron averaged 5.3 yards per carry and gained 160 yards on the ground. The Zips scored on 4 of their 9 possessions. Patrick Nicely, who was completing 40 percent of his passes and averaging 111 yards per game, completed 15 of 27 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Alex Allen and Nate Burney, averaging 4.3 and 4.4 yards per carry, ended up with 6.2 and 6.9 against IU. Akron gained 183 yards in the first half, so this was not a matter of garbage time. Really, the game didn't have any garbage time at all. Akron had a chance to make it a one-possession game with a throw into the endzone late in the fourth quarter. Individual notes:
- Ben Chappell continues to excel. He completed 70 percent of his passes, threw for 346 yards, threw four touchdown passes, and made it through the first (but certainly easiest) quarter of the season without an interception.
- IU continues to take advantage of a variety of weapons in the offense. Ted Bolser caught two more touchdown passes. Terrance Turner caught 6 balls for 121 yards. Duwyce Wilson caught 4 balls for 68 yards. Tandon Doss caught 3 for 40 and scored a rushing touchdown on a 9-yard ed around. Damarlo Belcher caught 4 passes for 57 yards. Max Dedmond scored his first touchdown of the season. Six players caught multiple passes for IU.
- After struggling against Western Kentucky, Darius Willis was better. He gained 87 yards on 19 carries. Unlike in some recent games, the staff seemed determined to stick with Willis. Nick Turner and Trea Burgess combined for 3 carries and Antonio Banks didn't run at all.
Leon Beckum and Mick Mentzer each recorded one sack.
Well, after three games, the Hoosiers are what we thought they were: a team with a strong offense and a very suspect defense. It could be worse, but the defense certainly has not surprised for the better. Now, IU enters Big Ten play facing Michigan and the dangerous Denard Robinson. Michigan's defense isn't very good, but can IU possibly outscore the Wolverines? We'll have to see. More on that game as the week continues.