Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
On this Throwback Thursday we are wrapping up the 2015 non-conference schedule with IU's victorious trip to Wake Forest. Indiana moved to 4-0 for the first time since 1990 and would be in contention for a visit from ESPN's College Game Day. However this game proved to be costly as quarterback Nate Sudfeld hurt his ankle that would limit him to just the first half against Ohio State and keep him out against Penn State. However, a road win against a Power-Five team is impressive and IU needed to go 4-0 in the non-con to qualify for a bowl.
Opponent: Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Location: Saturday September 26th /12:30pm/ BB&T Field/ (Winston-Salem, NC)
Why They Played: For the first time in their histories Indiana and Wake Forest met on the gridiron, in the first game of a home-and-home series.
What The Game Meant
For the first time since Kevin Wilson has been in Bloomington the Hoosiers have swept their non-conference slate. The Hoosiers start 4-0 for the first time since 1990.
Top Offensive Performers
Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana- The bruising Indiana back reached the end zone for the first time since the opener. He carried the ball 33 times for a punishing 168 yards. He wasn’t flashy, but on a dreary say he got the job done.
Offensive Line, Indiana- These guys do not get enough credit for the job they do. The offensive line played extremely well against a strong front seven for Wake Forest. They paved the way for 211 yards on the ground and allowed Nate Sudfeld enough time to find his receivers down field.
Simmie Cobbs, WR, Indiana- Cobbs has become one of Nate Sudfeld’s favorite weapons. Despite some drops, he had a big game hauling in a game high seven passes for 75 yards and the first score of the game.
Cam Serigne, TE, Wake Forest- The Deacon offense was pretty much silenced until the last six and a half minutes of the game when they scored 14 points. Serigne caught a team high five passes for 72 yards, and was one of the few highlights for the Wake offense.
Top Defensive Performers
Defensive Line, Indiana- The combination of Darius Latham, Ralph Green III, Zack Shaw, and Nick Mangieri combined for 15 total tackles, three sacks, five tackles for loss and two pass break ups. They were in Wake Forest’s quarterback Kendell Hinton’s face all day. They also led a defense that held Wake under 100 yards rushing on the day.
Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana- The super sophomore had a heck of a game in his second contest back since a suspension to start the year. Scales led the Hoosiers in tackles with nine, had two sacks, and broke up a pass.
Brad Watson, CB, Wake Forest- Any time a cornerback leads the team in tackles, the defense probably did not have a terrific day. Watson had a game-high 14 tackles and a pass break up to pace the Demon Deacon defense.
Special Team Performance
For the second week in a row the Hoosiers looked very, very good on special teams. Griffin Oakes and punter Erich Toth (four punts inside the 20) were money with their kicks today giving the Wake Forest returners no chance to make a game breaking play. The coverage units had a big part in that as well. Wake had an average starting field position of their 24-yard line.
If the Hoosiers have one area of special teams to improve it would be on kick return. Ricky Brookins returned two kicks for a total of 33 yards. It looked as if Devonte Williams was out of the rotation as Brookins and Majette were the deep men on kickoffs.
We could go with the continuation of the third quarter shutout streak, which is now at four games, but we’ll go with the rushing yards allowed by the IU defense. The Hoosier defense stuffed the Deacon running game, holding dual-threat QB Kendell Hinton to just 57 yards on the ground. As a team Wake only averaged 3.1 yards per carry.
There were so many turning points, but the tone of the game changed when safety Tony Fields put Indiana up 31-10 with a pick-six.
I Knew it Was Over When…
Rashard Fant knocked away Hinton’s final fourth down heave into the end zone to preserve the 31-24 lead.
Players of the Game
Indiana Defensive Line and Tegray Scales- The line and Scales effectively shut down the Wake Forest offense for 53 minutes. They were in Hinton’s face all afternoon and made the Deacons one-dimensional.
Cam Serigne, TE, Wake Forest- As it is said above, there were not many bright spots for Wake Forest. Serigne was one of them hauling in five catches for 73 yards.
What I Took Away From the Game
All is well, that ends well. The Hoosiers took the foot off the gas on offense and nearly paid the ultimate price as they saw a 31-10 lead cut to 31-24, with Wake Forest driving for a tying score. The Hoosiers sealed a 4-0 start when corner Rashard Fant knocked the ball down in the end zone.
For the most part, Indiana dominated the game Saturday. They took a lead into halftime for the first time all year, held Wake to under 100 yards rushing, won the turnover battle, and held another opponent scoreless in the third quarter.
However, the Hoosiers did get too conservative after the Tony Field interception. Indiana threw just five second half passes, one in the final 15 minutes. There could be several reasons this happened. First Indiana was trying to bleed the clock and they were having success doing it. Second, the rain could have played a factor. A slick ball could have lead to poor throws and turnovers in addition to stopping the clock. The final reason may be to protect Sudfeld a bit. He did have an ice pack on his ankle as he was doing interviews.
Wilson called this a “good win” he then added that, “we made it hard at the end… we’re fortunate to win. We played pretty good defense until the end, but we got a little rattled.”