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Behind the numbers: Indiana 56, Idaho 14

Stephen Carr had one of the best games of his career, while Indiana’s passing attack left more to be desired

NCAA Football: Idaho at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana earned its first win of the season on Saturday night, defeating Idaho 56-14 in its home opener. Crimson Quarry went through the play-by-play data from the game, courtesy of ESPN, in order to calculate some advanced metrics in an effort to provide more context about the victory.

Here’s what we found.

Success rate

Success rate is defined as a team gaining at least 50 percent of the yards needed for a first down on first down, at least 70 percent on second down and 100 percent on third and fourth down.

Here’s how Indiana and Idaho fared in terms of success rate in Week 2:

Indiana

  • 1st down: 39.3%
  • 2nd down: 33.3%
  • 3rd down: 46.7%
  • 4th down: 100%
  • Total: 41.8%

Idaho

  • 1st down: 37.5%
  • 2nd down: 38.1%
  • 3rd down: 28.6%
  • 4th down: 50%
  • Total: 36.1%

From Week 1 to Week 2, Indiana improved its down-by-down success rate by 14 percentage points on first down, 10 percentage points on second down and almost 14 percentage points on third down. Obviously, there was a massive disparity in Hoosiers’ competition, going from a now-top-10 team in Iowa to an FCS team that started a UConn transfer at quarterback, but the Hoosiers’ offense took advantage of playing an overmatched opponent at home.

It’s also worth noting that Idaho’s success rate numbers improved as the game continued. In the first half, when Indiana established a 35-7 lead going into halftime, the Vandals managed just a 30-percent success rate on first down, 33 percent on second down and less than a 17-percent success rate on third down.

They ran just 25 offensive plays in the first half, with a drive chart that looked like this:

  • Three-and-out
  • Fumble
  • Three-and-out (blocked punt returned for a touchdown)
  • Three-and-out
  • Three-and-out
  • Three-and-out (punt returned for a touchdown)
  • Touchdown

Idaho’s first first down of the game didn’t come until there was 1:30 remaining in the first half, so by any metric, Indiana’s defense (and special teams unit) was exceptional in the opening 30 minutes of play.

Stephen Carr produces one of the best games of his career

After generally being bottled up against Iowa, Indiana starting running back Stephen Carr finished just one yard shy of tying his career-high, which he set in his second career game at USC. Carr finished with 118 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and he showed signs that he could be a workhorse back for the Hoosiers.

On their first offensive possession, when they marched down the field on an 18-play, 75-yard scoring drive that took more than eight and a half minutes, Carr ran the ball on nine of the team’s 18 plays and he was rewarded with a two-yard score. While eight of those nine attempts went for four yards or fewer (he had a 17-yard run on the second play of the drive), the scoring drive was built around handoffs to Carr and drop-backs from quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Carr averaged 6.3 yards per carry on his 13 attempts on first down. He rushed for a first down or touchdown on four of his seven carries on second down, as well as both of his fourth-down attempts.

With long runs of 26, 26 and 17 yards, Carr showed flashes of explosive running, along with an ability to pick up the necessary yards in short-yardage situations. If his future performances skew closer to his stat line against Idaho, rather than his stat line against Iowa, he could potentially prove to be Indiana’s most dynamic running back in several years.

Consistency has been something Carr struggled with in his career at USC – after his 119-yard game as a freshmen, he rushed for just 28 yards on 3.1 yards per carry in the Trojans’ next game – but that has often been dictated by his workload. In four seasons at USC, he had 20 carries just once in 34 games and at least 10 carries on just 10 occasions.

His 41 carries in Indiana’s first two games are the most carries he has had in consecutive games since he had 29 combined in the third and fourth games of his college career, so as Indiana’s lead back, he now has the opportunity to put together the best statistical season of his career.

Idaho’s Hayden Hatten had a quietly productive game against the Hoosiers’ secondary

There was only one Idaho offensive skill position player who you could argue had a productive game against Indiana and that was All-Big Sky wide receiver Hayden Hatten, who hauled in 10 receptions for 94 yards and both of the Vandals’ touchdowns.

On a night in which Idaho quarterback Mike Beaudry averaged just 5.4 yards per attempt and five of the Vandals’ seven players with a reception finished with fewer than 20 receiving yards, Hatten was the lone standout. Five of his 10 receptions went for a first down or touchdown.

However, it’s also worth noting he only had three catches for 25 yards and a touchdown in the first half, so much of his production came in the second half when the game’s outcome had already been decided for all intents and purposes.

But he was still the only player who proved capable of hurting the Hoosiers’ defense and he was clearly Beaudry’s No. 1 target, yet the Vandals were able to go to him repeatedly in the second half, including a nice touchdown grab over Indiana cornerback Reese Taylor.

On a day in which Idaho couldn’t establish any rhythm in its running game (with just 82 sack-adjusted rushing yards) and on a day in which Ohio State had three 100-yard receivers, albeit in a loss to Oregon, showing the type of receiving threats that loom on Indiana’s schedule, Hatten’s statistically impressive performance goes on the back-burner as an area in which Indiana’s secondary, which admittedly wasn’t at full strength Saturday at the safety position, can work to improve upon.

Indiana’s run-pass breakdown

Time and score dictates play calls, so it’s not a surprise that Indiana ran the ball nearly 30 more times than it passed. Here’s Indiana’s run-pass breakdown by down.

  • 1st down: 78.6 percent run
  • 2nd down: 61.9 percent run
  • 3rd down: 53.3 percent run
  • 4th down: 100 percent run

Penix attempted just four passes on first down, going 2-for-4 for eight yards, so even as Indiana was building its lead, the Hoosiers weren’t necessarily trying to beat the Vandals through the air consistently on first down.

Against an opponent like Idaho, and with an upcoming opponent like Cincinnati looming, perhaps it’s not a surprise that Indiana relied so heavily on its rushing attack, especially with Penix still looking to regain his old form from yet another season-ending injury, but Indiana’s passing attack still left a lot to be desired for a team with the reigning Big Ten receiver of the year in Ty Fryfogle and a preseason All-Big Ten quarterback.

While Penix finished with just 68 passing yards, his ball placement on a first-quarter touchdown to Javon Swinton and a second-quarter strike in the end zone to Fryfogle showed glimpses of the version of Penix who became something of a national name last season.