Written by Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
The Indiana Hoosiers dominated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on their way to their first conference win and fourth win overall in 2019. In the 35-0 win, the Hoosiers second shutout of the season, there were bright spots and areas of concern as the Hoosiers hit the halfway point of the season. He are the five takeaways from Indiana’s homecoming victory:
1. Indiana Found its Ground Game
Hoosier fans have been waiting for the ground game to break loose and that finally happened on Saturday afternoon as Indiana ran for 260 yards on just 38 carries with nearly 200 of those yards coming in the second half. Sophomore Stevie Scott ran for a season-high 164 yards and averaged a bulldozing 13.7 yards per carry while freshmen Sampson James and David Ellis contributed 36 and 35 yards respectively. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey added 11 yards on two carries. While Rutgers is the bottom of the barrel in the Big Ten, running for 6.8 yards per carry is encouraging.
2. Smothering Defense
The Hoosier defense pitched its second shutout of the 2019 season and extended Rutgers’ scoreless streak in Bloomington to eight quarters. The defense set the tone early when Demarcus Elliott crushed quarterback Johnny Langan on the first play from scrimmage causing a fumble that linebacker Reakwon Jones scooped up for a touchdown.
On the day, the Hoosiers held Rutgers to just 75 yards and only one passing yard. The Hoosiers defense swarmed the ball all day recording six sacks and 14 tackles for loss that resulted in negative-64 yards with 12 Hoosier defenders recording at least a half TFL.
3. Offense Started Fast, but Stalled Out in the Second Quarter
Indiana raced out to a 21-point lead in the first quarter thanks to a scoop-and-score and 154 yards of offense. However, over the last 22:08 of the first half Indiana failed to extend the lead. The Hoosiers put up 305 yards of offense in the first half, but turned the ball over twice, once on an interception and another on a fumble by Sampson James the Hoosiers also were stuffed on a fourth-and-goal late in the first half. It was frustrating enough that a few fans booed the offense off the field.
In the second half, IU scored 14 quick points in the third quarter and started to use their run game to kill the clock. It looked a little dicey for a while with the offense sputtering, but a dominant defense and a third quarter flurry of points gave the Hoosiers a comfortable lead.
4. The Penix-Philyor Connection is Working
Redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Penix has found his go-to guy in fellow Floridian Whop Philyor. The two have hooked up for 23 completions, 322 yards and two touchdowns over the last two contests. They have a trust and a comfort with each other that is rare and will lead to more explosive plays the rest of the season.
5. Special Teams Play Needs to be Cleaned up
The Hoosiers did plenty of things correctly today, but special teams, the return game especially, has a lot of cleaning up to do. Once again a penalty wiped out a big return for Philyor in the punt return department. Added to that, Philyor lucked out when he mis-played a punt that could of resulted in a safety but it was ruled he made a gesture during the punt and the ball was ruled down at the two-yard line where he caught the ball. These things did not bite the Hoosiers in the rear end today, but this is a vital stretch of games for IU and mistakes like that could cost Tom Allen and company a game down the road.