Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
Opponent: Virginia Cavaliers
Location: Saturday Sept. 9th Scott Stadium Charlottesville, VA
Why They Played: The Hoosiers and Cavaliers met Saturday in the front end of a home-and-home series. Overall it was IU’s third game against Virginia.
What The Game Meant:
This game was a massive pivot point for the Hoosiers. A win would set up the rest of their season while a loss would basically put their bowl hopes on ice.
Top Offensive Performers
Peyton Ramsey, QB, Indiana- The redshirt freshman from Ohio came in for Richard Lagow in the second quarter and hit his first 11 passes and sparked the dormant Indiana offense. He completed 16-of-20 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Ramsey was also a threat running the ball netting 42 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Simmie Cobbs, WR, Indiana- Cobbs didn’t have the monster performance that he had in week one, but he was solid and led IU with five catches for 62 yards and a nifty touchdown where he bullied his way into the end zone to cap off a catch and run.
Kurt Benkert, QB, Virginia- The Virginia quarterback was asked to throw the ball a school-record 66 times. However those 66 passes went for just 259 yards.
Olamide Zacceaus, WR, Virginia-Zacceaus was Benkert’s favorite target catching 12 passes for 72 yards. He was solid, but not explosive enough to make a huge impact.
Top Defensive Performers
Jonathan Crawford, S, Indiana- Crawford led the Hoosiers with 11 tackles and was great at keeping the play in front of him. Crawford also broke up a pass.
Chris Covinton, LB, Indiana- Covington was a force in the middle of the Indiana defense making eight tackles including one for a loss.
Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana- The All-American linebacker continued to be the leader of this defense as he racked up eight tackles including 1.5 for a loss. Along with Covington, Indiana’s linebackers cleaned up a lot of the short gains Virginia had on Saturday.
Jordan Mack, LB, Virginia- Mack led all defenders with 16 tackles. He added 0.5 a sack as well and plugged up Indiana’s rushing attack well.
Micah Kiser, LB, Virginia- The other All-American on the field today played pretty well also. He made 14 tackles including two sacks. However, his efforts were not enough.
Special Team Performance
Saturday was Indiana’s best performance on special teams in a very long time. They received contributions from every unit. Griffin Oakes was impressive nailing two long field goals into the wind (51 and 47 yards). He was excellent on kickoffs limiting the dangerous Joe Reed to just 11.5 yards per return and booted two for touchbacks.
Hayden Whitehead was huge, booting the ball seven times for a net average of 40.6 yards and pinned Virginia inside their own 20-yard line four times.
On the other end J-Shun Harris was tremendous on punt return. After starting the day off on a bad note by fielding a punt inside the five-yard line. Harris was a game changer returning five punts for 109 yards including a backbreaking 44-yard touchdown.
Finally, Devonte Williams was solid in the kick return aspect as he averaged 27 yards per attempt. The third phase of the game was a major reason why Indiana came out with the win and one has to hope it will only get better.
The Hoosiers went on a game changing 17-0 run in the final 6:16 of the first half that was keyed by Peyton Ramsey throwing for and running for scores.
The turning point of the game was the 17-0 run the Hoosiers had right before half. If I had to pick an individual play, it was Simmie Cobbs’ 29-yard touchdown catch-and-run where he spun out of tackles and got a huge block from Mike Majette. Indiana just looked like they had their swagger back after that play.
I Knew it Was Over When…
A victory would have been signed, sealed and delivered if the Robert McCray scoop and score of a fumble hadn’t been called back for a ridiculous targeting penalty on Greg Gooch. However, officials made the show about them in the name of player safety and reversed the play. So, this game was over when J-Shun Harris returned a punt 44 yards for a touchdown to put IU up 34-17 with 5:56 left.
Players of the Game
Peyton Ramsey, Indiana- Ramsey was the spark that IU needed on offense and he acconted for 215 total yards and three scores.
Micah Kiser, Virginia- Kiser did his darnedest to keep the Cavaliers in the game, but ultimately it was not good enough.
What I Took Away From The Game
As much as Peyton Ramsey sparked the Hoosier offense, the defense and special teams deserve much of the credit for keeping the Hoosiers in the game early as they kept Virginia of the scoreboard until the 8:08 mark when they took a 3-0 lead.
This was a win the Hoosiers absolutely needed to win and they did so in pretty convincing fashion. While the first 24 minutes weren’t pretty offensively, Indiana rallied to put up 34 points.
Richard Lagow started for IU and just couldn’t get it going through the air completing just three passes on 10 attempts for 24 yards and a pick. Lagow was replaced by redshirt freshman Peyton Ramsey in the second quarter and gave the Hoosiers a boost with his arm and legs as IU again struggled to get the run game going with Lagow under center.
After the game head coach Tom Allen, who dedicated the game ball from his first career NCAA win to his father who is recovering from open heart surgery, said that Lagow is still his starting quarterback. However, he did say he had two QBs who can play and it should be expected that both would see significant action against Florida International next week.
Ramsey was spectacular going 16-of-20 through the air, but he did get sacked three times. Going forward the Hoosiers are going to need both quarterbacks to play.
On the defensive side of the ball, Indiana was much better in limiting the big play and had the chance for multiple takeaways as they forced two fumbles and broke up six passes. Eventually, the turnover luck should change in IU’s favor.
Special teams were great, as I mentioned above, and was a major reason why Indiana can leave Charlottesville 1-1. Oakes looks to be back to his 2015 form. Hayden Whitehead is a game changer at punter and J-Shun Harris was tremendous on punt return. They needed to win the special teams’ battle and they did.
While the win is terrific, the Hoosiers have a lot to fix in the next couple of weeks before heading to Penn State. The running game and the offensive line play struggled early as IU couldn’t get anything going on the ground. IU finished with 121 yards on 41 carries (3.0 ypc). On the other side of the ball the Hoosiers continued to struggle to get to the passer. Again the Hoosiers had just one sack (Jacob Robinson and Tegray Scales) and usually gave Benkert all day to throw. When they did pressure the UVA quarterback, it usually resulted in an incomplete pass.
The Hoosiers return home to play FIU next week and Georgia Southern on Sept. 23rd. They need to use these two games to iron out all the kinks in order to win some Big Ten games.