Indiana’s Keys To Bounce Back Against Connecticut

Photo by: sarah miller/ Hoosier huddle

Photo by: sarah miller/ Hoosier huddle

Written by Amanda Pavelka (@amandapavelka3)

Coming off their disappointing loss to Ohio State, the Indiana football squad hopes to turn around defensive woes to hold Connecticut back from surprising them at home. Here’s what the Hoosiers need to do to put away the Huskies and proceed to Spartan land with an appeasing 3-1 record. 

1. Establish a running game

This has been said all season long, and here we are three games down with no real ability to run the ball effectively. Indiana’s run game sits at the bottom of the Big Ten, third worst in yards per carry with 3.1 and second worst with only 101 yards per game. 

Stevie Scott’s had a surprisingly quiet sophomore season, and is the only IU player in the top 30, at No. 20 for rushing in the conference, with 37 carries for 118 yards, an average of 3.2 yards per carry. Last year Scott averaged 5 yards per carry, and 94.8 yards per game, a rushing game Indiana struggles to accomplish as an entire team this season. 

Mike Penix comes in at No. 31 with 9 carries for 79 yards, an 8.8 average. 

Pointing the finger does not solve the problem. The offensive linemen have to do their job and the running backs need to be ready to run. If they cannot run up some good numbers on UConn, there’s no reason to believe they could on the rest of the season’s tough opponents.

In the words of defensive coordinator Kane Wommack: “Enough is enough.”

2. Defense

Tom Allen counted 11 missed tackles and 16 guys that missed a tackle against Ohio State. A lesser blow than the 25 missed tackles in the home opener against Ball State, but still a tremendous issue. It is CRUCIAL that Hoosier defense makes a statement on Saturday. A win is not just a win against a team like Connecticut. Indiana needs to hold the Huskies to 17 or less for a victory over UConn to be satisfactory. 

3. Determination

“The UConn game is the most important game because it’s the next one.” Allen preaches focusing on the here and now. Nothing can be done about last week’s loss to OSU, and the best way to move on from it is to pocket a “W” against their next opponent. With or without Penix, the Hoosiers are capable to shut down UConn, and they need to go in with the mindset that they will do just that. 

Indiana’s Keys to Overcoming Ohio State

Indiana’s Keys to Overcoming Ohio State

Written by Amanda Pavelka (@amandapavelka3)

While the odds are against Indiana going into Saturday’s home game, it is not to say defeating Ohio State is impossible. Breaking the 26-game losing streak to the Buckeyes is hands down the Hoosiers’ toughest task of the 2019 season. A few key things will have to be in order for Hoosiers to be successful.

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Veteran Hoosiers Prepare to Execute Against Ohio State Saturday

Written by Amanda Pavelka (@AmandaPavelka3)

The competition has ramped up for Indiana football quicker than usual going into week three. The Hoosiers will go from facing the lowest-ranked opponent on the 2019 season to the most difficult—the No. 6 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

While producing a massive 52-0 victory over Eastern Illinois last Saturday, Indiana displayed a promising offense, and improved defense—talented enough to shutout the Panthers completely. 

“Overall it was a confidence booster to go out there, clean up stuff, and produce a shutout which is very hard to do, no matter who you’re playing,” senior linebacker Reakwon Jones told the media Monday. 

Saturday’s true test is against an elite defensive line that unlike Eastern Illinois, boasts guys more than qualified for the job— seven of 11 top defensive linemen returning from 2018’s Big Ten and Rose Bowl Champion squad. 

“Going into this game, we always know they have a stout defensive line of athletic guys, big guys,” senior offensive lineman Simon Stepaniak said, “so just preparing this week at practice and taking everything seriously and making sure our craft is in tip-top shape for this game is crucial.”

In his third game as quarterback one, there’s a heavy weight placed on redshirt freshman Michael Penix’s shoulders to be the difference-maker in IU’s 26-game losing streak to the Buckeyes. Ohio State is known for their pass rushing game, and for Penix, it’s not the main focus going into Saturday’s game. 

“I trust my offensive line, believe in everything with the offense, that Coach DeBoer’s going to put us in the right situations,” Penix told the media on Monday, “I feel like that’s not something we’re worried about right now, we’re just worried about what we need to execute on the offensive side of the ball.”

Ohio State’s stacked depth won their battle last year. IU ran out of steam on both sides of the ball and fell out of the game after halftime, succumbing to the Buckeyes 49-26. 

Penix prepares for the biggest game of his college career so far with the 1-0 mentality:

“Every single day we work hard, not because of who it is, but because it’s our next game, our next opportunity to get better and show the world that Indiana is on the rise.”

Indiana’s Keys to Defeating No.6 Ohio State

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Written by Amanda Pavelka (@amandapavelka3)

While the odds are against Indiana going into Saturday’s home game, it is not to say defeating Ohio State is impossible. Breaking the 26-game losing streak to the Buckeyes is hands down the Hoosiers’ toughest task of the 2019 season. A few key things will have to be in order for Hoosiers to be successful.

Create turnovers and take them to the bank

Saturday’s turnover-less matchup ended the country’s longest streak Indiana boasted, recording at least one takeaway in 19 consecutive games until last Saturday’s matchup against Eastern Illinois. In a game where every possession counts, the Hoosiers are going to have to find a way to create turnovers— and capitalize off them.

Play 60 minutes of hard football with no mental mistakes

I’ve heard this goal from many mouths of IU players and coaching staff throughout the year, and Indiana has no choice but to achieve just that if they want to come out on top Saturday. Ohio State’s depth and talent is far too great for Indiana to let up on. 

Indiana can look back at last year’s matchup against Ohio State to learn what went wrong against a squad that will mostly be returning for Saturday’s matchup. Going into halftime last year, Indiana was trailing No. 3 Ohio State 28-20. They came out lifeless in the second half and the Buckeyes ran them out of the Horseshoe 49-26. 

Special teams continue to take care of business

Special teams has been stunning so far this season— especially Logan Justus. The Indiana-native kicker continues to be a crucial key in IU’s offense, and with a perfect 4-4 for field goals and 8-8 for extra point kicks, the Hoosiers feel like they can rely on him to get the job done. 

A failed two-point conversion and missed field goal not only failed to get points on the board, but slowed momentum in last year’s matchup. Overall, special teams continues to be a strong position group for the Hoosiers, so they just have to continue to take care of business on that end. 

Target OSU’s playmakers 

Shutting down junior running back J.K. Dobbins and sophomore quarterback Justin Fields is at the top of the Hoosiers’ defensive to-do list Saturday. Indiana can’t afford to enable OSU’s playmakers to do what they do best— disappear into the end zone. 

Defensively the Hoosiers struggled with missed tackles, posting 25 against Ball State. Last Saturday they cut missed tackles down to nine, but with much faster and stronger players coming to town this week, IU defense needs to be on their A-game. Consider Saturday IU defense’s truest test. 

Feed the fans 

The Memorial Stadium crowd will be electric without a doubt and it’s things like interceptions, missed field goals and extra points that can be a real downer. Minimizing mistakes is more than missed points on the scoreboard— it is energy out the door. 

They need to take advantage of thousands of Hoosier fans expected to pack the Rock on Saturday and fight the hard fight for a full 60 minutes. If the Hoosiers play intense, the crowd should be intense. The crowd and the team will need each other Saturday. 

Indiana’s Keys to Satisfactory Victory over Eastern Illinois

Photo by: sarah miller/hoosier huddle

Photo by: sarah miller/hoosier huddle

Written by Amanda Pavelka (@AmandaPavelka3)

Much like Indiana’s season-opening game against Ball State, a victory is expected against Eastern Illinois in the Hoosiers’ home-opener on Saturday. It is not a just a win that makes the team successful, though. Here are keys to a satisfactory victory against the Eastern Illinois Panthers. 

Don’t sleep on defense

Indiana’s defense had a rather lackluster performance against the Cardinals— with a disappointing 25 missed tackles. Along with unacceptable penalties, this lost the Hoosiers yardage in a game that allowed for it. Every yard counts, and against their Big Ten opponents, the Hoosiers cannot afford misses they did last Saturday. Consider Saturday’s matchup another live tackle practice— one they need to take seriously as their battles only get tougher. 

Catch the football

Pass catching was a struggle last Saturday—too many missed catches held the Hoosiers back from their potential in Mike Penix’s first game as starting quarterback. What could have been a blowout ended up a 10-point victory, and against EIU, the receivers will be expected to minimize mistakes. 

Ramp up the run game

Running backs seemed nonexistent in the first half against Ball State. Stevie Scott stepped it up in the second half, but Mike Penix led the Hoosier rushing game. That’s unacceptable going forward. There is too much talent at that position for them to be silent on the stats sheet. 

Gain bench experience

Coaching staff pinpointed problems with tackling, receiving, and the running game between the postgame press conference and Monday’s meeting with the media. If they did their job, the Hoosiers should establish dominance early on enough to rotate through the roster. Nearly every man should have a chance to see the field on Saturday. 

Peyton Hendershot Shows What the Possibilities are at Tight End

Peyton Hendershot Shows What the Possibilities are at Tight End

Written by Amanda Pavelka

There were both hiccups and flashes of good things in Indiana’s season-opener on Saturday, one of the most remarkable performances in their 34-24 victory coming from tight end Peyton Hendershot. 

Kalen DeBoer came to Bloomington to develop a competitive Big Ten offense, and the first look at his newly-implemented system at IU was displayed in their first matchup against Ball State. Part of his game plan he explained in fall camp was to include tight ends more in a mission to stretch the field. As a starter at tight end, Hendershot was a key component in that.

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Logan Justus Beams With Confidence in Perfect Performance Against Ball State

Logan Justus Beams With Confidence in Perfect Performance Against Ball State

Written by Amanda Pavelka (@amandapavelka3)

In Saturday’s matchup against Ball State, Indiana’s offense was inconsistent. Missed tackles costed the Hoosiers more points than it should have, and it was none other than Logan Justus that saved them from falling at Lucas Oil Stadium. 

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Keys to a Successful 2019 Season Kickoff Against the Cardinals

Keys to a Successful 2019 Season Kickoff Against the Cardinals

Written by Amanda Pavelka (@AmandaPavelka3)

Going into Saturday’s season-opener against Ball State, the Indiana football squad holds the biggest opportunity to prove themselves and pocket a lopsided first win. What the Hoosiers accomplish at Lucas Oil Stadium in terms of scoring, shuffling through the depth chart will set the tone for their 2019 football season. 

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Penix Goes From Setback to Opportunity in 2019

Penix Goes From Setback to Opportunity in 2019

Written by Amanda Pavelka

In a Monday morning press conference, Tom Allen answered the biggest, most impending question of the 2019 Indiana football preseason— who would be quarterback number one. Under immense pressure to produce a successful season in his third year at the helm of Indiana football, Allen described a painstaking process used to name Michael Penix as the leader of Indiana’s offense. 

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2019 Indiana Football Positional Preview: Tight Ends

Image: Sammy Jacobs Hoosier Huddle

Image: Sammy Jacobs Hoosier Huddle

Written by: Amanda Pavelka (@AmandaPavelka3)

One of the youngest position groups for the Indiana Hoosiers lies in the tight ends. In his third year of coaching at Indiana, Nick Sheridan, the man responsible for reeling in Michael Penix, transitioned from quarterbacks to tight ends. With the expertise of strength and conditioning staff David Ballou and Dr. Matt Rhea, Sheridan has done a fine job developing the youthful, talented group of five so far.

-Peyton Hendershot- 6’4”/255 pounds - Redshirt Sophomore

The returning starter from North Salem, Indiana is looking for a breakout year. Hendershot suffered an injury his freshman year, taking the medical redshirt in 2017 after appearing in four games. At his first opportunity, he bounced back and made his presence known in last season when he most famously carried a career-high 32-yard touchdown against No. 3 Ohio State and sealed the road win against Rutgers with a 25-yard reception on fourth down. Hendershot’s 2018 stat line reads: 15 receptions, 163 yards, two touchdowns, a pair of tackles, one for loss, and a blocked punt. With a productive year under his belt and an added 10 pounds, he’s capable of adapting as a more confident hybrid to new offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer’s scheme quite well.

-Matt Bjorson- 6’3”/249 pounds - Sophomore

As a freshman, Matt Bjorson showed flashes of potential early-on with his 15-yard catch in the season-opener at Florida International and a pair of catches totaling 31 yards against Ball State. In total, he secured five catches for 53 yards in the 12 games he played. Bjorson has made some great plays in fall camp and is has the potential to really contribute on offense. He comes back for his sophomore year 12 pounds bigger, more powerful, beaming confidence— expect to see more receptions and blocks as a product of his hard work in the offseason.

-TJ Ivy- 6’5”/ 257 pounds - Redshirt Freshman

TJ Ivy was forced to take the bench his freshman season, and remains one of the most talented Hoosiers whose potential has yet to be tapped. Ivy’s size and impressive high school resume qualifies him for number three tight end, although it is very possible he could earn more play time if he takes advantage of the chance to prove himself early-on this season. Ivy’s added 10 pounds in the offseason and presents like a Big Ten tight end. He’s on the list of players I’m most excited to see take the field in the upcoming season.

-Ryan Barnes- 6’4”/ 249 pounds - Redshirt Freshman 

A walk-on from Noblesville, Indiana, Ryan Barnes joined the team and has been a contributing member of the scout team. Barnes was awarded offensive scout team player of the week twice, for games against Virginia and Iowa and was also special team scout player of the week against Michigan last season. Barnes did not waste time pursuing his dream to play college football in the offseason— he put on 23 pounds. With a competitive tight-end group, there just is not room for Barnes— expect him to contribute behind the scenes this season.

-Gary Cooper- 6’2”/ 235 pounds - Freshman

To redshirt or not to redshirt Gary Cooper will be one of the biggest decisions for the tight ends group in the 2019 season. Cooper may be the most versatile tight end in the group— his sturdy frame and speedy catching could be lethal for Indiana’s opponents. Ranked No. 13 hybrid tight end by ESPN, Cooper makes the future of Indiana football look bright, but with the competition at the tight end spot, a redshirt could be a smart move. Either way, he has four games to decide what’s best for Cooper and Indiana football.