Rushing Offense - D
Indiana headed into the game thinking its passing game could produce some success on the ground, but it didn't come to fruition. Indiana totaled just 86 yards on 44 carries, averaging a shade under 2.0 yards/carry. The thought was that by using the likes of James Hardy and James Bailey on sideline patterns, they could spread outside linebackers Chad Greenway and Edmond Miles out as well, thus softening the middle of the Hawkeye defense. But Hawkeye middle linebacker Abdul Hodge wound up with a game-high 18 tackles, and Indiana didn't have a run of longer than 11 yards all afternoon. While it's easier to blame tailbacks Chris Taylor (17 carries, 39 yards) and Yamar Washington (13 carries, 17 yards), the Hoosier duo didn't have many holes to run through. Credit goes to the offensive line for a solid job pass protection, but they didn't have as productive a game in run blocking. That's a cause of frustration for the Hoosiers, as they have had a couple of big games on the ground (306 yards vs. Kentucky, 205 yards vs. Illinois), but they've also been held in check a quartet of times (109 yards vs. CMU; 114 vs. Nicholls State; 125 vs. Wisconsin; 86 vs. Iowa). Until Indiana gets consistent production from the ground game, it won't be as effective offensively as Hoeppner would like.
Notable Stat: Of Indiana's 44 rushes, 12 went for negative yardage. Even when you take away Iowa's three quarterback sacks for 13 yards in loss, nine of Indiana's other 41 carries went for negative yardage – approximately 23%.
Passing Offense – A-
Take away an ill-advised Blake Powers throw on a go route in the corner of the end zone in the third quarter, and it was mission accomplished for the Indiana passing game. Powers established school records for completions (37) and attempts (57) while also moving into the top-10 on IU's single-game yardage list with 360. He and Coach Terry Hoeppner went into the contest knowing they could pick apart the Iowa defense with sideline passes and intermediate routes, which they used to not only throw for a boatload of yards, but to also convert 15-of-26 third-down attempts. Much of the postgame attention was on James Hardy for his 12-catch, 203-yard effort, but Powers also used James Bailey a great deal (9 catches, 65 yards) on sideline passes, and senior Jahkeen Gilmore made a pair of tough, clutch catches early. Indiana didn't take many looks deep down field, but Hardy's acrobatic 40-yard catch at the Iowa one-yard line set up one of the Hoosiers' three scores.
Notable Stat:In an almost unheard of statistic, Iowa cornerbacks Jovon Johnson and Adam Shada combined for 30 tackles Saturday, including 26 solo stops. By comparison, Indiana starting cornerback Leslie Majors and Tracy Porter combined for four tackles…on IU's third-quarter 18-play, 94-yard touchdown drive that cut the lead to 24-14, Powers was 4-for-4 passing on 3rd downs for 32 yards, converting all four of the 3rd down attempts. Powers converted a fifth 3rd down play on the drive with a three-yard quarterback sneak.
Rushing Defense – C+
The Hoosiers would get an A if you could take away three touchdown runs of at least 25 yards. Starting tailback Albert Young ran for 125 yards on 26 carries (4.8/carry), but 57 of those yards came on identical plays – a 31-yard touchdown run around the left end late in the first quarter, and then a 26-yard scamper around the left end midway through the fourth quarter that put IU up 31-21. Minutes later, backup tailback Damian Sims went virtually untouched straight up the middle for a game-sealing 30-yard touchdown run. If you take away those three runs, Iowa managed just 63 yards on 30 carries – or 2.1/carry. But…you don't get to take away those three runs, and Iowa wound up piling up 160 yards on the afternoon, including 95 in the decisive fourth quarter. After Young fumbled on his first carry of the fourth quarter, Iowa averaged 9.8 yards/carry on its other 10 carries in the fourth quarter. Fatigue isn't an excuse for the IU defense, as the Hoosiers controlled the ball for more than 40 minutes in the game. The Hoosier defense should have been fresh in the fourth quarter after a third quarter during which the IU offense was on the field for 12:37. Indiana was hurt by the fact that usual starting nose tackle Russ Richardson wasn't at 100 percent and was limited Saturday.
Notable Stats:One the Hoosiers' biggest concerns heading into the game was the scrambling ability of Drew Tate. The Iowa quarterback is proficient in eluding pass rushers and either scrambling for positive yards or buying himself enough time to find a receiver open downfield. But Tate finished with just seven yards on four carries, with a long run of only four yards.
Pass Defense – C+
Again, take away a couple of plays and the Hoosiers were extremely solid Saturday. While Indiana cost itself a chance at an upset two weeks ago against Wisconsin with turnovers and penalties, the thing that hurt the Hoosiers the most in Iowa City was a pair of blown coverages. Iowa opened a 24-7 third quarter lead when there was a miscommunication between IU safety Troy Grosfield and an IU cornerback when Clinton Solomon slipped behind the IU secondary for a wide open 42-yard touchdown play. Another costly secondary miscue came midway through the third quarter, when IU safety Aaron Mitchell fell down while covering Hawkeye tight end Scott Chandler, who wound up with a 37-yard gain to move the ball inside IU territory. Those are obviously correctable plays, but proved pivotal in Saturday's outcome. Otherwise, Indiana did a solid job in the secondary. Tracy Porter in particular had a couple of nice pass breakups, including one on Solomon when it looked like he might get free for a touchdown. Same goes for Grosfield, who delivered a big hit on Chandler that rung the Iowa tight end's bell. Making it tougher on the IU secondary was the fact the front four didn't generate much of a pass rush – Victor Adeyanju had the team's only sack, and Tate generally had time to throw.
Notable Stats:After Iowa went 2-for-3 on 3rd down conversions in the first quarter, the Hoosiers limited the Hawkeyes to just 1-of-6 the rest of the way. A big reason for that was their ability to contain Tate on 3rd downs. Tate dropped back to throw on third down four times the rest of the game, and he was 0-for-2 throwing, was sacked once by Adeyanju, and was forced to scramble for a minimal three-yard gain in the other attempt. That ability to get off the field helped Indiana to a 40:09-19:51 edge in time of possession.
Special Teams – D+
The Hoosiers didn't hurt themselves in special teams, but they didn't help themselves, either. The biggest thing that jumps out is two of IU's three first-half drives that stalled at the Iowa 29, and the Hoosiers opted to go for it on fourth down, failing each time. The inability – or more appropriately, the lack of enough confidence - to be able attempt a field goal outside of 40 yards is hurting the Hoosiers. Indiana also had another couple of potentially disastrous plays on returns that were averted – Lance Bennett fielded a third-quarter kickoff along the sidelines and was tackled at the IU 6, forcing Indiana to go 94 yards (which they did, in 18 plays). Had Iowa been able to keep IU pinned back with the 17-point lead, the game could have been over. Meanwhile, Troy Grosfield slipped on a fair catch on a punt return, yet still managed to catch the ball while lying on his back.
Finally, Tyson Beattie averaged just 37.4 yards on seven punts, and his net average of 26.9 yards was anything but stellar. He also had a second quarter punt partially blocked by Andy Brodell, resulting in just a 20-yard punt.
Overall – B-
There were plenty of positives in Iowa City, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Indiana controlled the ball with its possession passing attack, running off 101 plays compared to just 57 for Iowa. That's a recipe for an upset on the road in the Big Ten. Defensively, though, there were too many big plays that were given up in both the running game and the passing game. Iowa averaged 4.8 yards per rush and 11.0 yards per pass attempt, which adds up to 7.5 yards/play overall. Iowa had six offensive plays of at least 25 yards, four of which went for touchdowns. Indiana, meanwhile, had only two plays of at least 25 yards – a 66-yard pass play from Blake Powers to James Hardy, and then a 40-yarder between the same duo.
Indiana lost at Iowa and Wisconsin by identical 17-point margins, but its performance in Iowa City was much better. Indiana was able to bounce back from a 24-7 deficit to cut the lead to 24-21 with less than 10 minutes remaining, giving itself a chance to win in a very hostile environment. That's a very positive step and sign for the Hoosiers, who still have road trips to Michigan and Michigan State looming.
Indiana vs. Iowa Report Card
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