On a day when Indiana was honoring former star running back Anthony Thompson, it was only appropriate that the Hoosier ground game would be very impressive, as they racked up 455 rushing yards in an easy victory over Indiana State. Though the Hoosiers only won 28-10, the statistics show much more of a blowout in which the game's final result was never in doubt. Despite the great day on the ground, the Hoosiers' passing game still seems to need work; however, the defense looked much-improved under new DC Brian Knorr.
The game started 50 minutes late due to lightning, but once the stadium dried up, the weather turned out to be relatively cool with a nice breeze throughout Memorial Stadium. Indiana showed confidence in their defense from the opening coin flip, choosing to defer the kick to the Sycamores. The IU defense gave up a few big plays on the first drive, as ISU drove down the field to the Hoosiers' 25, but got bailed out when ISU kicker Eric Heidorn missed a 42-yard field goal. When the Hoosiers got the ball back, it was time to run. Tevin Coleman got the ball for the majority of IU's 9-play, 76-yard drive, including the drive's final play, in which he ran the ball 13 yards for a touchdown.
After an ISU field goal, it didn't take long for IU to strike back. Running back Tevin Coleman broke free on the second play of Indiana's second drive, taking it to the house for a 73-yard touchdown run. This made the game 14-3. The teams then traded punts back and forth, until the Hoosiers capitalized on great field position midway through the second quarter, and D'Angelo Roberts ran in a two-yard touchdown to make it 21-3. Roberts ended up with 129 rushing yards for the game. The Hoosiers went into the locker room at halftime with the same 21-3 advantage.
Despite the success running the ball, IU quarterback Nate Sudfeld has some trouble throwing the ball yesterday. The Sycamores came prepared to defend the pass, and Sudfeld ended with a very pedestrian line of 11-for-18 with only 111 yards of passing. Throughout the afternoon, he struggled to find open receivers, and ended up scrambling with the ball quite a few times. Sudfeld seemed to be missing having his top targets from last season, including Cody Latimer, Kofi Hughes, and Ted Bolser. On the bright side though, Simmie Cobbs, who had 3 receptions for 57 yards, showed some potential for developing into a deep threat. The most frustrating moment for Sudfeld had to be in the third quarter, when Travis Starks intercepted his pass and returned it for 60 yards, leading to a Sycamore touchdown a few plays later.
After a few miscues on fourth-down conversion attempts and a missed field goal, the Hoosiers put the game away for good late in the fourth quarter, thanks to Myles Graham's 1-yard touchdown rush with 2:15 to go, which made IU's advantage 28-10. The win makes the Hoosiers 1-0 on the season, and this is the third straight season in which IU has opened with a home victory over Indiana State, though it is also the last time they'll be playing the Sycamores for the foreseeable future.
The Pivotal Play
Tevin Coleman's 73-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The touchdown gave the Hoosiers an early 14-3 lead that would prove to be insurmountable, and showed that the running game could be a force to be reckoned with this season.
The Game Ball Goes To...
Coleman. 247 yards on 23 carries could be the start of a very special 2014 campaign. In a conference full of good running backs, such as Ameer Abdullah, Melvin Gordon, and Jeremy Langford, Coleman will have to continue to stand out as the season goes on. His ability to be elusive and quickly change direction reminds me of LeSean McCoy, and he was aided this week by the fact that the Sycamores seemed more interested in defending the pass than the run.
Third down conversions: Indiana State 2-for-14, Indiana 11-for-17. The Hoosiers' ability to convert on third downs came up huge throughout the game, the Sycamores were not nearly as successful. Though a lot of these conversions were third and short, they helped to move the chains for the Hoosiers in a way that the Sycamores were unable to do.
Final Unit Grades
Offense: B. The team had a great day on the ground, but still has work to do in the passing game. There were also some questionable playcalls from Coach Kevin Wilson, especially on the two fourth-down conversion attempts, but the Hoosiers could afford to experiment a bit against the Sycamores.
Defense: A-. Though the competition was inferior to what they'll see in future games, Brian Knorr's 3-4 defense had a strong debut. The only scoring drives for ISU came from offensive or special teams miscues for the Hoosiers, and overall I saw better fundamentals and tackling than I did all of last year.
Special Teams: D+. Aaron Del Grosso missed a chip-shot field goal late in the game, and J-Shun Harris fumbled a punt return that led to a Sycamore field goal. In addition, there were a few dangerous fair catches on punts, and questionable kickoff returns. Erich Toth's solid punting saved this from being an even lower grade.
Overall: B. This was a solid first effort for the Hoosiers with a few obvious things to fix, but the game's outcome was never really in jeopardy, and the Hoosiers had no trouble defeating their in-state FCS opponents.
Song That Best Describes This Game
"Running to Stand Still" by U2. The Irish rockers' song "Where the Streets Have No Name" plays in the video montage before every basketball game, but I've chosen a more subdued track from their Joshua Tree album to represent this game. Lots of running obviously, but unfortunately the scoreboard stood still too many times after great drives from our personnel.
IU has a bye week coming up. Normally, this would seem a little too early for a bye week in the season, but it does give Sudfeld and the Hoosiers two weeks to work out the kinks in the passing game. After the bye, the Hoosiers get some MACtion, as they travel to face Bowling Green on September 13. The Falcons lost their first game on Friday night to Western Kentucky by the score of 59-31. For more on Bowling Green, check out the excellent SB Nation MAC blog Hustle Belt.
Quick Thoughts, Links, and Other Miscellany
- The Hoosiers wore the Block I helmets, which I really liked, presumably because they were honoring Thompson, who wore that style helmet under coach Bill Mallory.
- Quick helmet power rankings: Chrome, Block I, State Flag, Numbers on the side, Pitchfork (red), Pitchfork (white with red stripe). Yes I realize that ranking the chrome helmet first could be divisive and controversial, but I like them a lot, especially with the home unis.
- IU was making a big deal out of last year's Old Oaken Bucket victory over Purdue, and rightfully so. The Hoosiers showed many highlights from last fall's Bucket game, and a popular concession were giant plastic tubs of popcorn that were designed to look like the bucket itself.
- KickSewly and I were both sitting in the North End Zone, and the fireworks are LOUD from there. Fred Glass must have gotten a few more bucks in the explosives budget during the offseason.
- Official box score
- Highlight reel
- Post-game quotes from Wilson, Coleman, and others
- Mike Miller from the H-T compares this year's result against the Sycamores to last year's outcome.
- An IDS column says not to over-scrutinize Sudfeld's performance.
- Terry Hutchens's observations on the game