The Hoosiers are 2-1 on the 2016 season after a 33-28 loss at home to Wake Forest. In the loss did some good things on offense, but turnovers and an inconsistent running game did them in. The IU defense had a pretty good day defending both the pass and the run, while the special teams unit for the Hoosiers had another breakdown that cost them points. Peegs.com takes a look back at the game and examines each unit on the Indiana team.
Indiana Passing Game
It was certainly a mixed bag for Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow. On the positive side the junior college transfer set an Indiana record with 496 passing yards against Wake Forest, and he also had three touchdown passes. On the negative side he had five interceptions that were the difference in the game. In fairness to Lagow a couple of the picks were really not on him, but he still had a couple poor throws that can't happen going forward. Another positive from the loss to the Demon Deacons was the breakout game for wide receiver Ricky Jones. The IU fifth-year senior had a huge game with eight receptions for 208 yards. He looked like the Jones from last year as he was able to get open for a couple of deep balls down the sideline. Nick Westbrook continued his outstanding season as he finished with six receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Mitchell Paige had another solid game with seven receptions for 64 yards. There were a number of good things to take from the performance of the IU passing attack against Wake Forest, but at the end of the day the Hoosiers lost the game and the biggest reason why were the five interceptions IU had.
Indiana Running Game
It was a disappointing game for the Indiana running game against Wake Forest. It certainly didn't help that the Hoosiers were without the right side of their offensive line with right guard Dan Feeney and right tackle Dimitric Camiel both out with injuries. A good deal of Indiana's success running the ball this season has been to the right side behind Feeney and Camiel, and without those two the IU O-line failed to get the push up front that they normally do. Devine Redding once again led the way for the Indiana ground game, but he saw his streak of 100 yard games end at five as he only had 68 yards rushing on 16 carries. Cole Gest was having a nice game with 22 yards on three carries, but he hobbled off the field after his third run and did not return for the rest of the day. Devonte Williams and Mike Majette combined to rush for 31 yards on seven carries. There was a new wrinkle to the Indiana rushing attack against Wake Forest as true freshman Tyler Natee was used as a Wildcat QB and he carried the ball a couple of times with one run going for a touchdown. Things don't get any easier this week as IU will face a Michigan State defense that is only giving up about 90 rushing yards per game.
Indiana Pass Defense
The Hoosiers pass defense had another solid outing as they held Wake Forest to only 172 yards passing. They did a solid job of not giving up too many big plays, and the Demon Deacons QB, John Wolford, only completed about 55 percent of his passes. Indiana also had five pass break-ups against Wake Forest. The biggest issue with the Indiana pass defense is the lack of pressure from the defensive line. Unless the Hoosiers send an extra defender or two on a blitz they really struggle to get any sort of a consistent pass rush. On Saturday the Wake Forest quarterback routinely had plenty of time to scan the field and wait for his guys to get open before any Indiana defender got to him. The personnel is not changing for the most part from here on out so the IU staff is just going to have to figure out a way to get more of a pass rush from the current group of defensive linemen. The only other option is to blitz more, but the issue there is if you don't get to the QB a big play for the offense is the likely result.
Indiana Run Defense
Indiana was also very solid defending the Wake Forest rushing attack. The Demon Deacons came in as averaging over 200 yards per game and around 4.5 yards per carry. The Hoosiers held them to 180 yards in the game and about 3.5 yards per carry. They did give up some runs late that hurt them, but considering they were on the field for almost 34 minutes it was an encouraging performance for the Hoosiers defensively. Linebacker Tegray Scales had an outstanding game as he led the team in tackles with 13, in tackles for loss with three, and in sacks with two. The Cincinnati native has the ability to be an All-Big Ten performer and he showed that ability against the Demon Deacons. Defensive back Marcelino Ball and linebacker Marcus Oliver were also very active as the both finished with nine tackles. This week the Hoosiers will face a Michigan State offense that is based on running the ball. The Spartans are going to run and run and run some more. Indiana will need a solid outing from their front seven this week against MSU.
Indiana Special Teams
The Indiana special teams had another week where a miscue cost them points. This week it was a blocked field goal when the edge rusher for Wake Forest was able to get in the backfield and block the kick. There are not many teams that can have mistakes every week on special teams and win games, and Indiana is certainly not a team at this time that has enough margin of error to overcome repeated miscues with their special teams units. The ere was some good as punter Joseph Gedeon punted four times and averaged 42 yards per punt. Running back Devonte Williams took over as the kick returner after Cole Gest was injured and he had two returns for 56 yards, including one where he almost took it all the way back for a score. Rashard Fant had a couple nice punt returns, but one came after he made a very poor decision by fielding the ball on the two yard line. Fortunately for him he was able to return the punt back out past the 20, but he broke the Cardinal rule of never fielding a punt inside your 10 yard line. Michigan State is almost always strong on special teams under head coach Mark Dantonio so the Hoosiers will need to be sharp when their special teams units are on the field this week.