Rushing offense – A
After struggling to get the ground game going in the first two weeks, Chris Taylor and the Hoosiers couldn't be stopped Saturday. Chris Taylor's 176 yards on 17 carries (10.4/carry) was a career-best, eclipsing his previous career-best of 102 yards by early in the second quarter. The team's 306 yards on the ground, meanwhile, helped the Hoosiers control the clock – Indiana owned a 41:37-18:23 edge in time of possession. While Taylor was easily the best he's looked all season, much of the credit also goes to an offensive line that drew some criticism for the running game's woes against CMU and Nicholls State. The Hoosier front five dominated the line of scrimmage. Perhaps no play was more symbolic of that than on a fourth-and-one midway through the third quarter, when Blake Powers took to snap, put his head down, and followed his blockers for a four-yard gain before the Cats could bring him down.
Notable Stat: Chris Taylor had four runs of at least 20 yards in the first half. In IU's first two games, it had only two runs of at least 20 yards – a 32-yarder by Yamar Washington late in the CMU contest, and a 22-yard scramble by Powers in the fourth quarter against Nicholls State.
Passing offense – A-
The yardage totals weren't as impressive as in Weeks 1 and 2, but Blake Powers likely had his most efficient, error-free game of the season. Powers completed 17-of-22 passes for 135 yards and four touchdowns, giving him eight touchdowns in the last two weeks and 11 on the year. He spread those 17 completions out among eight different receivers, with four different players catching touchdown throws. Powers didn't work deep down the field very often as he has in other games, instead relying on underneath routes. His only completion for more than 15 yards was a 19-yard completion to James Bailey, which came on a 4th-and-4 play midway through the first quarter. But he took what the defense gave him, and led an offense that was 8-of-16 on 3rd down conversions, including 6-of-9 in the second half.
Notable Stat: Over the course of the final 20 minutes of the game, Powers was 7-7 throwing for 50 yards. In all, Powers was 8-of-9 passing in the second half for 59 yards and two touchdowns.
Rushing defense – A-
Kentucky tailback Rafael Little did finish with respectable totals of 17 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown, but the Wildcats were never able to win the battle at the line of scrimmage and control the game on the ground. IU nose guard Russ Richardson set the tone early when he dropped Curtis Pulley for an eight-yard loss on a reverse on Kentucky's first play from scrimmage, and the IU defense spent plenty of time in the UK backfield, totaling eight tackles for loss. Unlike last week against Nicholls State, there were few blown assignments and only a handful of missed tackles. A pair of big plays were made in the third quarter against the run - Troy Grosfield made a nice open field tackle on Little for no gain on a 3rd and 1 to force a punt, while Leslie Majors stepped up and stuffed Little for a one-yard loss on a sweep play on a 4th-and-1.
Notable Stat: Indiana entered the game ranked 115th out of 116 Division I teams in rushing defense, surrendering 287.5 yards/game. Indiana is still just 103rd nationally against the run, but by yielding only 77 yards on the ground to Kentucky, the Hoosiers cut their average to 217.3 yards/game.
Passing defense – B+
Take away the 79-yard touchdown pass from Andre Woodson to Scott Mitchell in the third quarter and the Hoosiers held Woodson and the Wildcats to just 54 yards through the air. Some of the reason for that success is the fact that Kentucky's crop of wide receivers have been decimated by injuries in recent weeks, but other than the one big strike IU was sound against the pass. Credit also goes to the defensive line, which put pressure on Woodson. Senior Victor Adeyanju had a particularly big day, recording a pair of sacks and 2 ½ tackles for loss. The only time Woodson appeared to have the IU defense on its heels was during a late second quarter drive when the Wildcats went no nuddle, but that drive stalled inside the Indiana 10-yard line when Majors stopped Little on a 4th-and-1 play.
Notable Stat: Only three of Kentucky's 11 pass completions went for 10 yards or more.
Special teams – B+
IU Coach Terry Hoeppner had to be pleased with the fact Joe Kleinsmith converted his first field goal as a Hoosier, getting IU on the board early in the first quarter with a 22-yard field goal. Lance Bennett, meanwhile, broke free for a key 86-yard kickoff return in the third quarter after Kentucky had cut the lead to 17-7. Bennett would have scored, but tripped himself up inside the UK 15. One area that wasn't as good as it's been in weeks past was IU's coverage teams on punts and kickoffs. Little averaged 30.5 yards on a pair of punt returns and might have scored on one if not for a saving tackle by punt Tyson Beattie. Kentucky also had three kickoff returns of at least 29 yards and averaged just under 26 yards/kick return overall.
Overall – A
Terry Hoeppner said afterwards that there were still plenty of areas to improve on, but it's hard to find fault in a game that IU dominated throughout, on both sides of the ball. Indiana owned a 278-67 edge in total offense in the first half when it took control of the game. Any hint at a UK comeback was quickly squashed, first by a 86-yard kickoff return by Lance Bennett, and then by a 16-play, 80-yard scoring drive that put the game away midway through the fourth quarter. While the win was big because it pushed the Hoosiers to 3-0 heading into the bye week, the more important thing is that this was the sort of performance that will give the team the sort of confidence that it can win some ball games in a very difficult Big Ten slate.
Kentucky Report Card
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