Rushing offense - A-
Somehow, some way, the Indiana coaching staff had confidence the Hoosiers could run the ball against Iowa. Need proof? Indiana's first seven offensive plays were runs, going for a more-than-respectable 35 yards. Ultimately the Hoosiers rushed for 158 yards on 42 carries, including a team-best 84 on 13 carries from Demetrius McCray. While Indiana averaged a modest 3.8 yards/carry, it did produce the sort of offensive balance that kept the Iowa defense guessing and from focusing exclusively on slowing down IU quarterback Kellen Lewis and the passing game. McCray was especially good Saturday, filling in for an injured Marcus Thigpen (ankle) to put together his best game as a Hoosier. All of those yards came in the final 22:10 of the contest after Thigpen was forced to depart. McCray produced three runs of at least 10 yards, including a 17-yard run on the Hoosiers' final drive that enabled them to get a first down and ultimately run out the clock and preserve the win.
Notable: After averaging just 73.5 yards rushing/game in four non-conference games, Indiana is producing 158 yards/game since Big Ten play opened. The Hoosiers' season-high total of 167 yards against Wisconsin was a bit skewed because of the team's fourth quarter productivity after the game was well out of hand, but the last two weeks have seen much better efforts on the ground. Indiana still ranks last in the league in all games with 109.7 yards/game, but ranks sixth in league games only with its 158.0 average.
Passing offense – A
After a couple of rough outings and some speculation about whether the IU coaching staff had made the right decision to make a switch at quarterback, redshirt freshman Kellen Lewis is proving the staff correct. Lewis completed 19-of-25 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns, with all of those strikes going to James Hardy. The 6-7 Hardy, meanwhile, once again looked like an All-Big Ten wideout, catching a season-high eight passes for 104 yards and three scores, marking the first time since 1983 an IU wideout caught three touchdown passes in a game. IU couldn't have asked for much more out of Lewis, who led the IU offense on two 80-plus yard scoring drives in the second half to wrestle the lead away from the Hawkeyes. He also completed 4-of-5 passes for 39 yards to march the IU offense 50 yards in the final 51 seconds of the first half to set up a 46-yard Austin Starr field goal. Lewis was the beneficiary of very good protection from the IU offensive line (zero sacks), but on the couple of occasions Iowa did pressure him he showed the ability to elude pass rushers and either throw the ball away or take off running.
Notable: Lewis has now thrown 93 straight passes without an interception. The redshirt freshman was picked off by UConn's Darius Butler in the third quarter of IU's 14-7 loss to the Huskies, prompting the IU staff to replace him with Blake Powers. But Lewis hasn't thrown an interception since Big Ten play opened, the only Big Ten starter who can make that claim. Every other conference team has at least two interceptions in league games.
Rushing defense – B-
Iowa was without starter Albert Young, but Damien Sims did a more than adequate job with 94 yards on 22 carries, including a pair of touchdowns. Shonn Green added 38 yards on nine carries while wideout Herb Grigsby had a 25-yard touchdown run on a reverse that was keyed by a tremendous block by Iowa quarterback Drew Tate on IU defensive end Jammie Kirlew. Tate also got into the mix, running five times for 18 yards, including an 11-yard scramble on 3rd-and-10 in the third quarter where he eluded IU linebacker Geno Johnson in the open field to produce a first down. The end result was 175 yards on the ground for the Hawkeyes, three touchdowns and a 4.7 yards/carry average. Indiana didn't have a tremendous amount of luck stopping the Iowa ground attack, but Austin Thomas did force a huge fumble by Sims inside the IU 10-yard line on Iowa's first series of the third quarter when it looked like the Hawkeyes would extend the lead to double digits.
Notable: One positive of the Hoosiers' run defense was they ended a four-week streak of allowing an opposing tailback to rush for at least 100 yards. Southern Illinois' Arkee Whitlock, UConn's Terry Caulley, Wisconsin's P.J. Hill and Illinois' Pierre Thomas each reached triple digits. During the Terry Hoeppner era, Indiana is 2-9 when an opponent goes for at least 100 yards and 6-1 when they don't.
Passing defense – B-
Drew Tate had a big afternoon statistically, going 23-of-40 for 292 yards and a touchdown. He was particularly good on 3rd downs, going 10-of-14 for 123 yards. More importantly, Tate was able to move the chains nine times in those 14 third-down passing attempts, helping the Hawkeyes convert a staggering 12-of-17 3rd downs overall. Tate's one touchdown came late in the first quarter on a 19-yard strike to tight end Scott Chandler on a play where the Hawkeye tight end inexplicably got behind three Hoosier defenders in the red zone for the score. As was the case with IU's run defense, though, the pass defense did produce one huge turnover – Will Meyers' diving, one-handed interception of a tipped Tate pass in the closing minutes that preserved the win. That play erased many of the miscues the secondary had on the afternoon.
Notable: Indiana afforded Tate plenty of time to throw, failing to sack the Iowa quarterback once. In three Big Ten contests the IU defense has produced only one sack, ranking them tenth in league games (Michigan State hasn't had a sack in league games). That doesn't bode well for the Hoosiers' trip to Columbus, Ohio, next weekend when they go up against a Buckeye offensive line that has allowed a league-low one sack in conference games.
Special teams – B+
In recent weeks it's been the return game that's highlighted IU's efforts on special teams, but against Iowa it was the job kicker Austin Starr and punter Tyson Beattie did. Beattie averaged 40.2 yards on four punts, including three that were downed inside the Iowa 20-yard line. None of Beattie's punts were returned. Starr, meanwhile, was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points and booted a huge 46-yard field goal into the wind with one second remaining in the first half. There's little doubt that a year ago – and possibly two weeks ago – the IU coaching staff wouldn't have had the confidence to allow an IU kicker to attempt that length of a kick, but that's changed in recent weeks. Obviously Starr's 33-yard game-winner against Illinois has given him a confidence boost, and it showed Saturday.
Notable Stat: Marcus Thigpen slipped to second in the national rankings on kickoff returns after averaging only 16.3 yards/return against Iowa. Thigpen is now averaging 37.0 yards/return, leaving him second behind Oklahoma State's Perrish Cox (37.4 yards/return). Thigpen leads the Big Ten by a large margin, as Minnesota's Dominic Jones is second in the league at 25.8 yards/return.
Overall – A
When a team beats a top-15 opponent for the first time in 19 years, it's hard to say the overall effort was anything other than excellent. While the Hoosiers' come-from-behind win at Illinois was big, this home field victory against a quality foe such as Iowa is the sort of statement result that shows fans and recruits that IU is headed in the right direction. IU verbal Max Dedmond might have been the only recruit in attendance for the win, but rest assured plenty of recruits saw the game's outcome and highlights afterwards, and it's bound to give a boost to IU's recruiting as well as the turnout for Indiana's next home game, Oct. 28, against Michigan State.
Upon Further Review - the Iowa Game
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