Rushing offense – D
For the second straight week, Indiana struggled to get anything established on the ground, running for 114 yards. Chris Taylor led the way with 48 yards, with 42 of those coming in the first half. Indiana averaged just 3.3 yards/carry and had only three runs of 10 yards of more. Two of those were from quarterback Blake Powers on scrambles, including the biggest run of the day – a 22-yarder on a 3rd-and-18 on the game's deciding drive late in the fourth quarter. A lot of the struggles fall on the offensive line, which had a decided size advantage over the Colonels up front.
Notable Stat: Indiana averaged 3.2 yards/carry on 11 first down runs
Passing offense – A-
Quarterback Blake Powers continues to impress, throwing for 307 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Perhaps most impressive, though, was the fact he oversaw a decisive 10-play, 89-yard scoring drive in the game's final four minutes. Indiana's wide receivers, meanwhile, have been the biggest surprise of the early going. Once thought of as a concern heading into the season, they now appear to be the team's greatest strength. James Hardy (8 catches, 122 yards, 1 TD) is rapidly emerging as an elite wideout with big-play abilities who plays his best in the big moments. Jahkeen Gilmore, meanwhile, had the first 100-yard game of his career. James Bailey got into the mix as well, doing some good things after the catch. While the IU offensive line has been taking some heat for its inability to open up holes for IU tailbacks, it did do a solid job of pass protection, surrendering two sacks on Saturday.
Notable Stat: On 3rd down situations, Powers was 4-7 for 52 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a seven-yard strike to Hardy in the corner of the end zone to secure the win.
Rushing defense – D-
Indiana had no answers to the Nicholls State triple-option attack. The biggest problem was the defense's inability to stop fullback Broderick Cole (23 carries, 99 yards, 1 TD) up the middle, which in turn opened up big-play opportunities on the outside. Indiana did have to play without John Pannozzo (9.5 tackles) for much of the second half, and it was breaking in true freshman Geno Johnson (7.5 tackles) into the starting lineup at outside linebacker, but that's still no excuse for surrendering 408 yards on the ground on 65 carries (6.3/carry) to a I-AA team. The saving grace was Tracy Porter's play late in the fourth quarter when he stood up Cole along the sidelines and then stripped the ball to give Powers, Hardy and Co. and opportunity for the game-winning drive.
Notable Stat: Nicholls State had 12 rushes that went for at least 10 yards Saturday, including five that went for at least 25…After totaling nine tackles for loss against Central Michigan, the Indiana defense mustered only two against Nicholls State.
Passing defense – C-
IU's secondary wasn't tested often, as Nicholls QB Yale Vannoy was just 4-of-10 for 51 yards. He didn't complete a pass until early in the fourth quarter, and that "completion" was really a forward lateral on an option pitch. The Hoosiers draw a low mark, though, because Vannoy was able to march the Colonel offense to the IU 30-yard line in the game's final minute on 3-of-5 passing for 44 yards. That included a 32-yard play to Patrick Gordon that gave Nicholls an opportunity to air one out into the end zone as the game clock expired.
Special teams – C
Tyson Beattie and the punt coverage team were solid, averaging 40 yards/punt and not allowing the Colonels to return any of Beattie's four kicks. Indiana also averaged 28.3 yards/return on three kickoff returns, very solid numbers. But the placekicking situation remains a big concern, as Joe Kleinsmith missed a 37-yard field goal badly early in the fourth quarter with the Hoosiers trailing, 31-28. The true freshman has hooked each of his two field goal attempts this year badly. Kickoff specialist Austin Starr, meanwhile, had a pair of touchbacks and the IU coverage team yielded only 14.7 yards/kickoff return, but Starr did have one kick go out of bounds. The usually reliable Lance Bennett, meanwhile, had a costly fumble on a punt return midway through the third quarter that gave Nicholls State the ball at the IU 42.
Overall – D+
A win is a win, and Terry Hoeppner is right that there are a lot of teams in college football that would like to be 2-0 right now. But…Saturday's performance shows there remain a lot of buts about this team. Other than the passing game, everything still appears to be a serious work in progress. Indiana couldn't run the ball, and Nicholls unconventional running attack gave the defense fits. The struggles of Joe Kleinsmith are also a big concern. On the positive side, the Hoosiers made players when they had to get a win for the second week in a row. Hardy and Powers were unstoppable on IU's final drive, and if it hadn't been for Porter's strip, the Hoosier offense wouldn't have had the chance to put together the game-winning drive.
Nicholls State Report Card
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