IU ensured that however ugly the 2011 season might get, 0-12 at least will not enter in to the equation. IU pulled out to a 24-7 lead against South Carolina State and then traded scored with the Bulldogs, ultimately winning 38-21. This was a strange game. It never seemed that IU was in danger of losing, but there were some tense moments, and the Bulldogs pulled within 10 points on two occasions during the second half. Still, as I said last night, a win is a win, and a few FBS schools lose in these games every year, and we won't be on that unfortunate list.
The IU offense was very effective, for the most part, particularly in the early going. IU scored on four of its first five possessions, although slowed down in the middle of the game. As I said in my preview, defense has been SCSU's strength, but the Bulldogs didn't have much luck keeping the IU offense in check, especially in the first half. IU had 29 first downs, 557 yards of offense, and gained 6.1 yards per play. IU converted 6 of 10 third downs. On the downside, however, were an incredible 19 penalties for 144 yards. I really don't know what to make of this. IU had three penalties against Ball State and 6 against Virginia, so they have not been an overwhelming problem before, but they were on Saturday, and on both sides of the ball. IU has 12 penalties on offense, including 7 false starts (3 by Peyton Eckert, 2 by Andrew McDonald), 3 holding (2 by McDonald), plus a substition infraction and intentional grounding. The defense had 5 penalties, and 4 of them were for offsides. Some of the offenses were by young players, including true freshman Eckert. Andrew McDonald is harder to figure. I'm willing to assume that it is a one-game glitch, but it's an issue that warrants watching.
The defense continues to be a concern as well. IU allowed SCSU, a team whose offense had shown little punch in the first two weeks, 4.2 yards per carry and 5.5 yards per snap. The inability to outmuscle a FCS team does not bode well for the Big Ten season, and the offense isn't yet where it was last year, although there is plenty of promise.
Edward Wright-Baker was 21-27 with 2 TDs and 273 yards and no interceptions. He did fumble the ball once, which is becoming an issue and, as Gerry Dinardo pointed out on the telecast, related to his failure to protect the ball once he decided he was going to run. Dusty Kiel completed 4-6 passes in his first action of the season, but didn't look good in the one series he played after Wright-Baker's fumble.
- True freshman D'Angelo Roberts may have emerged as IU's top running back with his 19-102 performance. He gained 47 yards on one crucial drive in the third quarter after SCSU pulled to within 10. He certainly was more consistently able to gain significant yardage than Stephen Houston or Matt Perez, although both of those guys scored touchdowns.
- Kofi Hughes is quickly becoming an important part of the offense. Hughes caught 3 passes for 47 yards, including a 40 yard TD, and gained 45 yards on the ground on 2 carries out of an end around-type play. Hughes was a very good high school quarterback, and it seems certain that he will throw out of that play at some point this season.
Duwyce Wilson caught 6 passes for 101 yards and made some really nice catches, including on a TD at the back of the end zone; Damarlo Belcher added 6 for 36 yards. EWB continues to spread the ball around: 9 different Hoosiers had catches.