Analyze This - Central Michigan

Hoosier Nation's John Decker looks back at Indiana's 20-13 season-opening win over Central Michigan in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. See who was HoosierNation.com's Player of the Game, and which areas are still concerns as IU prepares for this weekend's home opener…

STANDOUT PERFORMERS
HoosierNation.com's Player of the Game: James Hardy The 6'7", 215-pound redshirt freshman ran a great route to score the Hoosiers' first touchdown, and then used his athleticism to make a highlight catch to set up Indiana's second score. With the Hoosiers on their heels early on, it was Hardy that turned the tide. Hardy entered the press room afterwards with a noticeable limp so his Achilles remains an issue, but when he's on the field, he's looking like a go-to receiver, someone whose confidence is on the rise.

- Blake PowersPowers' first six drives as a starting college quarterback resulted in 6-of-14 passing for just 39 yards and ultimately six punts. Twenty minutes into the game the Hoosiers were trailing 3-0, and there was already talk in the press box about whether or not back-up Graeme McFarland would be given a chance to play in the second half. But Powers bounced back, throwing for 276 yards and three touchdowns. He also recovered from his slow first-half start to complete his final five passes of the first half for 97 yards and two scores.

Powers did have an ill-advised throw that was picked off in the corner of the end zone, and he also had another ball that he was trying to throw away that was nearly picked off along the sideline. In addition, he had two fumbles that could have been huge in the second half. All are things that must be addressed as the competition will be stiffer in the coming weeks. But for a first start that started slowly, Powers bounced back in fine fashion.

- Ben IsholaIn his first career start, Ishola finished with only three tackles, but he had one of IU's two sacks and also forced CMU QB Kent Smith into an intentional grounding call. He was also excellent in pursuit, chasing down running backs and even receivers from behind to get in on tackles. As an up man on IU's kickoff team he had a fumble that could have proven costly if not for a illegal procedure penalty, but his play on defense was huge.

- Defensive Line – One of IU's biggest problems in recent years was its inability to pressure the quarterback. That wasn't an issue on Friday night. The Hoosiers wound up with just two sacks (John Pannozzo, Ben Ishola), but had another play that resulted in an intentional grounding call. The front four consistently put pressure on Chippewa quarterback Kent Smith, and it didn't lose containment – Smith finished with -14 yards on eight carries.

STILL LEFT QUESTIONING…
- Offensive Line - Indiana's offensive line, which returns five players with at least 10 starts to their credit, was supposed to open plenty of holes and provide plenty of protection for first-year starting quarterback Blake Powers. But things didn't go exactly as planned. Chris Taylor carried the ball four times in the first quarter for -7 yards. Indiana didn't have a positive rushing play until Yamar Washington went for four yards four minutes into the second quarter, and Indiana had just nine yards on 11 carries in the first half. Some better play from the front five in the second half helped Washington finish with 108 yards on 20 carries, but 32 of those yards came on one late (and very critical) fourth quarter carry.

Central Michigan wound up with 10 tackles for loss, including three sacks. On back-to-back plays in the second half, a collapsing pocket resulted in a Powers fumble that the Hoosiers recovered. Things were better in the second half, but Hoeppner wants to be able to establish the run early so that IU can stay balanced. That falls on the front five to do a better job of controlling the line of scrimmage.

- Zero Turnovers – Terry Hoeppner said that he challenged his defense to score 10 defensive touchdowns this season, but there was little sign of that big-play capability on Friday night. Instead, CMU quarterback Trent Smith threw for 216 yards on 18-of-36 passing, and he had a couple overthrows on deep balls where his wideout had beaten IU's secondary badly. For a defense that was adept at creating turnovers during fall camp, it didn't show the same propensity to do so in the season-opener. The only ball that appeared destined to be intercepted went through the hands of safety Will Meyers, and the junior mistimed his jump and let the ball go through his hands.

Placekicking-After converting his first two extra points, Joe Kleinsmith had his third attempt blocked when the offensive line let the CMU line get on Kleinsmith quickly, and Kleinsmith also missed a 35-yard field goal attempt badly. Coach Terry Hoeppner obviously still has some real questions about the team's placekicking – with Indiana leading by seven in the final two minutes, IU's coach opted to pass on a 41-yard field goal attempt that would have all but sewn up the victory, and instead went for a 4th-and-13 from the CMU 24-yard line. While IU earned a first down following a pass interference call, the decision said a lot about where the Hoosiers' placekicking situation is right now.

TELLING STATISTICS…
- After losing the time of possession battle in the first half, Indiana controlled the ball for 21:40 out of a possible 30 minutes in the second half. Indiana ran off 51 plays in the second half compared to just 26 for the Chippewas…

- The two teams combined to go just 6-of-35 on 3rd down conversions (IU 3-17, CMU 3-18), leading to an eye-opening 21 punts in the game and 14 three-and-outs.

- IU scored just 1-of-5 in its trips inside the red zone. One of those trips was in the closing seconds of the game when IU started taking a knee, but IU missed one field goal, had one pass intercepted in the end zone, and had another trip result in a punt after a pair of Daniel Bazuin sacks moved the ball back close to midfield.

- On Indiana's 33 first-down plays, it ran the ball 22 times and threw the ball 11 times. Those 22 rushes resulted in 64 yards (2.9/play), while the 11 passes resulted in 108 yards (9.9/play).

Did You Know:
- Indiana started the game with a defense that included six defensive backs – cornerbacks Leslie Majors, Tracy Porter and Buster Larkins, plus safeties Will Meyers, Troy Grosfield and Will Lumpkin.

-Three true freshmen played in the season opener – kicker Joe Kleinsmith, outside linebacker Geno Johnson and wide receiver Brandon Walker-Roby. In addition, true freshmen Emile Bass, Nick Polk, Kellen Lewis and Jammie Kirlew made the trip, but didn't play.

QUOTABLE:
"We definitely wanted to keep the ball out of (Lance Bennett's) hands (on kickoffs). However, in retrospect, not kicking the ball to him put our defense in tough position because we did not execute the squib well enough." – CMU Head Coach Brian Kelly. Central Michigan only netted an average of 22.2 yards on its four kickoffs, meaning IU's average starting position after CMU's four kickoffs was its own 43 yard line. On a pair of pooch kickoffs, Josiah Sears returned a kickoff 23 yards and Tyler Altman returned one 21 yards.

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