The Hoosiers are 3-2 on the 2016 season and 1-1 in the Big Ten after a 38-17 loss at No. 2 ranked Ohio State on Saturday in Columbus. In the loss the offense went scoreless for the final 25 minutes of game time, while the defense did a solid job against one of the top offenses in the nation. The special teams unit were solid, but they did allow a big return right before halftime that led to an easy touchdown drive for the Buckeyes. Peegs.com takes a look back at the game and examines each unit on the Indiana team.
Indiana Passing Game
It was a so-so day for quarterback Richard Lagow and the Indiana passing attack. The Hoosiers had a pretty conservative game plan that saw them run the ball on 40 of their 68 offensive snaps. In the game Lagow completed 14-of-28 passes for 182 yards with two touchdowns and one pick. Mitchell Paige had another solid game as he finished with 44 yards receiving and one touchdown on four receptions. The other touchdown pass went to tight end Danny Friend, which is an encouraging sign. Coming into the game there had only been four passes hauled in by IU tight ends and all have been made by Friend. Getting the tight end more involved in the passing game is something that the staff would probably like to do because it opens up the field for the other skill players. Nick Westbrook had two receptions for 67 yards at OSU, but his production has fallen off from where it was for the first three games of the season. After hauling in 15 passes for 332 yards and four touchdowns in the first three games, Westbrook has only had five receptions for 105 yards and no scores in the last two games. Obviously the level of competition has something to do with that, but with Simmie Cobbs out the Hoosiers will need Westbrook to step-up his play every week. Ricky Jones also saw his production drop-off against the Buckeyes as he finished with 40 yards receiving on two receptions.
Indiana Running Game
The Indiana rushing attack had a rough day against a very good Ohio State defense on Saturday. The Hoosiers really tried to get something going on the ground, but for the most part they were not able to. IU ran the ball 40 times for 99 yards which comes out to 2.5 yards per carry. Devine Redding was the leading rusher as he finished with 78 yards on 22 carries. True freshman Tyler Natee was once again the top back-up as he carried the ball eight times for 20 yards. Mike Majette and Devonte Williams were not very effective as they combined to carry the ball seven times for only four yards. This game really showed how much the Hoosiers miss right guard Dan Feeney. So many of their running plays have Feeney pulling out and getting downfield to block and without him those plays just aren't as effective. Now, the front seven for OSU played a big part in the lack of success for the Hoosiers on the ground, but it is tough to replace an All-American in Feeney. This week the Hoosiers face a Nebraska defense that is giving up just over 150 yards rushing per game, and nearly five yards per carry so they should have a chance to get their running game back on track.
Indiana Pass Defense
The Hoosiers pass defense did a really nice job against OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett and the Buckeyes passing game. Barrett finished the game completing only 9-of-21 passes for 93 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and the touchdown pass came very late in the game when the IU defense was a bit worn out from being on the field so much. The Indiana secondary did a really good job in coverage. There were several instances where Barrett had the time to throw but was unable to find anyone open, or if he did try to complete a pass an IU defender was there to make a play. What made the performance from the IU secondary even more impressive is they were starting two true freshmen in Marcelino Ball and A'Shon Riggins. Ball has been starting all season at Husky, but Riggins got his first start of the season and played very well. The Ohio native finished with three tackles, an interception and a pass break-up. With Riggins and Fant at the corner spots the Hoosiers look to have a couple of lockdown corners that should allow them to be more aggressive with what they do defensively because they have two guys on the outside that can play press man coverage. After not being much of a factor for the last few games sophomore Tyler Green got a good deal of playing time and he did a nice job.
Indiana Run Defense
Even though the Buckeyes rushed for 290 yards it still was a decent performance from the IU rub defense. The Buckeyes were never really able to break a big run as the Hoosiers did a solid job of not letting them get to the outside where they could get in space and do more damage. The biggest issue the Hoosiers against the OSU rushing attack was defending the QB read-option plays with J.T. Barrett. The Ohio State signal-caller finished with 137 yards on 26 carries with one touchdown. This week the Hoosiers are scheduled to face another dangerous dual-threat QB in Tommy Armstrong from Nebraska so they will need to clean up some the mistakes they had this week. Linebacker Tegray Scales was once again very active as he finished with 10 tackles, one pass break-up and one QB hurry. safeties Tony Fields and Jonathan Crawford both had solid outings as they combined for 15 tackles against the Buckeyes. Junior linebacker Marcus Oliver had another solid game as he recorded seven tackles. Fellow linebacker Chris Covington seems to be getting more and more comfortable every game. The junior from Chicago had five tackles as one of the top back-ups at the LB spot. Up front Ralph Green was the leading tackler on the D-line as he had six tackles. Fellow defensive tackle Nate Hoff had both of Indiana's tackles for loss and he had the only sack they recorded against OSU. Defensive lineman Robert McCray made his return against OSU after missing the first four games after having shoulder surgery and he recorded three tackles. Getting McCray back is huge for the D-line.
Indiana Special Teams
Outside of one kick return the Indiana special teams had a pretty good day at Ohio State. Kicker Griffin Oakes made the only field goal he attempted. He did struggle a bit with kick-offs as he was not able to record any touchbacks, but there was a swirling wind in the stadium that had a hand in impacting that. Punter Joseph Gedeon had a pretty good day as he punted seven times for an average of just over 40 yards per punt, including two punts that the Hoosiers were able to down inside the 20 yard line. When it comes to the return game punt returner Mitchell Paige was not able to return any of the punts he fielded. Kick returner Devonte Williams is getting closer and closer every week to breaking a big return on a kick-off. He nearly broke one at OSU and it seems to only be a matter of time before he takes one back for a touchdown. The Indiana punt coverage team did a good job as they only gave up three return yards in the game on one return. The kick coverage team had one mistake that OSU took advantage of for a big return right before halftime that their offense was able to convert into an easy touchdown that gave them a 14 point lead going into the half. Other than that it was a solid outing from the IU kick coverage unit. This week the Hoosiers will face a Nebraska team that is in the top three in both kick and punt returns so the coverage units for the Hoosiers will need to be sharp when the Cornhuskers come to town.