The Hoosiers are 1-0 on the 2016 season after a 34-13 season opening win over the Florida International Golden Panthers this past Thursday night. In the win IU got strong performances from both their offense and their defense, but there were a few mistakes on special teams that the Hoosiers should be able to get corrected going forward. Peegs.com takes a look back at the game and examines each unit on the Indiana team.
Indiana Passing Game
Against FIU the Indiana passing attack had a solid night. New starting QB Richard Lagow finished 18-of-27 (66.7 percent) for 240 yards with one touchdown that went to tight end Danny Friend. The junior college transfer displayed the arm strength and accuracy that he has shown since coming to Bloomington. There were a couple deep balls that he probably would like to do over again because he had guys open and missed them, but that is something he should get better at because in practice he has shown good touch and accuracy on deep balls. At receiver sophomore Nick Westbrook led the Hoosiers in receptions with six, and in receiving yards with 70. Westbrook got the start in place for Simmie Cobbs, who did not play because he was serving a one-game suspension. Cobbs is expected to return this week against Ball State which will obviously be a key addition for the Hoosiers. RB Mike Majette also had a nice game against FIU with two receptions out of the backfield for 54 yards. As the season goes along and Lagow gets more comfortable in the offense, look for the passing game to get better and better and for there to be more big plays for the Hoosiers.
Indiana Running Game
The Hoosiers rushing attack picked up where it left off in 2015 as they ran for 246 yards on 52 carries with one touchdown. The lone rushing TD for the IU offense was actually scored by QB Richard Lagow when he kept the ball on an option-read play and took it in from six yards out. Against FIU junior Devine Redding led the way with 135 yards on 22 carries. The Ohio native played well as he had his fourth straight game of rushing for more than 100 yards dating back to last season. Back-up Mike Majette had 47 yards on 10 carries to go along with his 54 yards receiving. There was a stretch of play in the middle of the game against FIU where the run game was stymied a bit, but overall it was a good first game performance. Freshman backs Devonte Williams and Cole Gest did not have huge performances against FIU, but they have the ability to break out at any time and they should be much improved as they get more comfortable in the offense. And the same goes for senior Clyde Newton. The one real negative was the two fumbles that the IU backs had. They were able to recover one of them, but they need to make sure they have better ball security starting this week against Ball State.
Indiana Pass Defense
It was an impressive first performance for the IU defense under new coordinator Tom Allen. Against the FIU passing attack the Hoosiers had three interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns by cornerback Rashard Fant and linebacker Tegray Scales. There were also eight pass break-ups by Indiana defenders, and FIU quarterback Alex McGough only completed 50 percent of his passes. While the Hoosiers only recorded one sack in the win over FIU, they did a good job of making things uncomfortable for McGough by getting pressure on him and forcing him to make throws when he wasn’t ready to. IU did have a second sack but it was negated when they were called for a face mask penalty. The one thing that does need to be cleaned up is Indiana defensive backs did let receivers get behind them a couple of times and the Panthers were able to take advantage with a few big pass plays. IU should have a chance for some more big plays this week against Ball State. Cardinals QB Riley Neal only completed 53 percent of his passes against Georgia State, and he threw two interceptions with one going back for a TD.
Indiana Run Defense
The first game could not have gone much better for the Indiana defense when it comes to defending the run in their win over FIU. The Hoosiers held the Panthers to only 63 yards on 21 carries, and if you take away a 27-yard run by FIU early in the game the Hoosiers only gave up 36 yards on 20 carries. The Indiana defensive line did a very nice job of getting a push and not letting the Panthers get anything going on the ground, and they did without one of their top D-lineman in fifth-year senior Ralph Green, who did not play because he was serving a one-game suspension. Nate Hoff led the D-line with three tackles as he was very active all night long. Sophomore Jacob Robinson recorded only one tackle in the game, but he was constantly getting a push and he seemed to be in the FIU backfield most of the night. The Hoosiers will have to carry that strong play against the run over to this week’s game against Ball State as the Cardinals were very productive on the ground in their season opener. The Cardinals rushed for 325 yards and four touchdowns on 52 carries in their win over Georgia State.
Indiana Special Teams
It was a bit of a mixed bag for the IU special teams unit in the win over FIU. The good was the job that new punter Joseph Gedeon did in his first ever appearance in an Indiana uniform. The sophomore from Columbus, Indiana only averaged 36.8 yards per punt, but that is a bit misleading as three of his five punts were pooch punts that brought his average down. He was able to drop three punts inside the 20 against FIU, including one that landed at the one-yard line and led to a safety for the Hoosiers when FIU was called for holding in the end zone. Gedeon also had a punt that went for more than 50 yards that shows what kind of leg strength he has. Other positives for IU on special teams is there kick return was pretty solid, and their kick coverage was also pretty good. The disappointing for the IU special teams unit was with the kicking game, and more specifically the field goal team. Kicker Griffin Oakes was one-of-two on field goals with his one miss coming on a 26-yard attempt. There was also a botched FG attempt when holder Mitchell Paige dropped the ball on the snap. It is not unexpected to have some kinks in game one of the season, but these are things that need to be cleaned up going forward because there will probably be games that come down to a field goal and the Hoosiers need to execute when they get the chance.