Rushing offense – B-
On paper, a 217-yard, four-touchdown effort from the ground game looks solid. Kellen Lewis led the way with 59 yards on nine carries, but Bryan Payton (11 carries, 56 yards, 1 TD) and Trea Burgess (10 carries, 50 yards, 1 TD) also had solid outings. While Marcus Thigpen finished with only 35 yards, he had 31 of those yards on the opening drive of the third quarter that helped IU go up 38-7. The disappointing stat was that Indiana struggled on the ground early, eventually wearing down the undersized Sycamores by the fourth quarter. The Hoosiers rushed for only 30 yards in the first quarter and 14 in the second before getting untracked in the second half. But IU did have the offensive balance that Coach Bill Lynch and Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada have been looking for.
Notable: Indiana rushed the ball 51 times Saturday, equaling its season-high from a year ago. The Hoosiers rushed the ball 51 times for 185 yards in the 46-21 drubbing of Michigan State a year ago, easily the most running plays IU amassed in a game last season. The 217 yards also surpassed last season's high for rushing yards in a game, which was the 215 IU had in the 28-19 loss at Purdue.
Passing offense – A-
Judging by the fact Kellen Lewis is currently ranked eighth in the nation in passing efficiency, it's hard to find a great deal of fault with his effort in IU's season opener. Lewis was 12-of-21 for 285 yards and three touchdowns, which works out to 13.57 yards per passing attempt. Compare that to Indiana State's Reilly Murphy, who was 20-of-36 for 130 yards, or only 3.6 yards/attempt. Lewis' two long touchdown strikes to James Hardy got IU going early, but Lewis completed passes to seven different receivers Saturday evening. Other than an ill-advised throw along the sidelines in the second quarter that was picked off, Lewis' season debut was just about everything the Hoosiers could have hoped for. While some are more concerned about Lewis' ability to run, he's now passed for at least 200 yards in six of his last eight games dating back to last season.
Notable: With his two touchdown catches, James Hardy moved into seventh place on IU's all-time touchdowns list with 22. With Saturday's effort he passes both Lonnie Johnson (1978-80) and Alex Smith (1994-96), both of whom scored 21 touchdowns. Hardy also stands second on the school's all-time list in touchdown receptions, trailing only Jade Butcher who scored 30 times from 1967-69. IU's all-time touchdown record is well out of reach, though, as Anthony Thompson scored a then-NCAA-record 68 touchdowns from 1986-89).
Rushing defense – A-
The Hoosiers didn't get off to the best of starts, yielding 46 yards on the ground in the first quarter on 11 carries. But from that point forward, the Sycamores couldn't do anything with the ground game. During the game's final three quarters, Indiana State rushed 18 times for zero net yards. Thanks to a deeper defensive line and stable of running backs, IU was able to rotate more players in, which paid off in the second half. Sycamore tailback Tony West had a 15-yard run during ISU's touchdown drive in the first quarter, but the Hoosier defense didn't allow another run of longer than eight yards the rest of the evening. While ISU is a I-AA program, the Hoosiers did surrender 244 yards to I-AA Southern Illinois a year ago in the 35-28 loss in Bloomington.
Notable: Indiana amassed 10 tackles for loss, with eight different players getting at least tackle behind the line of scrimmage. That's the most tackles for loss by an IU team since it had 11 in last year's season-opening 39-20 win over Western Michigan.
Passing defense – A
Indiana did a lot of things well Saturday, but the pass defense might have been the area the staff will be most pleased with. ISU quarterback Reilly Murphy completed 20 passes, but those passes went for only 130 yards and his longest completion was only 15 yards. Compare that to IU, which had seven of its 13 completions go for 16 yards or more. The IU secondary was at its best when it mattered most, limiting ISU to a 2-of-15 effort on third down conversions. Finally, the Hoosiers generated a much-needed pass rush as well. Indiana amassed five sacks, including a pair from sophomore defensive end Greg Middleton.
Notable: The Hoosiers have been experimenting with different personnel groups in an effort to get a more consistent pass rush, and it appeared to work Saturday. Indiana had five sacks, which is more than one-third of last year's season total of 14. Greg Middleton led the way with two, but he was far from the only player pressuring Murphy. While he didn't have a sack, converted linebacker Ryan Marando performed very well in his first game at defensive end, finishing with four tackles, one tackle for loss, and generating plenty of pressure of his own that forced Murphy to throw ahead of schedule a couple of times.
Special teams – A-
This is an area that continues to develop into a strength of the Hoosiers. The one question mark was punter Michael Hines, and he had a very solid debut. The fifth-year senior made his first collegiate appearance and averaged 42.3 yards on three kicks, including a pair of punts inside the ISU 20-yard line. He didn't allow ISU to get much in the return game as well, as the Sycamores averaged just three yards on two returns. Placekicker Austin Starr continues to impress converting 34 and 41-yard field goals to go along with a 6-for-6 effort on extra points. The one shortcoming was a pair of kickoffs that went out of bounds and gave ISU the ball at the 35-yard line, but Starr did show he's able to get his kickoffs inside the opponents' five-yard line. While Marcus Thigpen didn't get any opportunities to return kicks in the opener, Tracy Porter had a solid 18-yard punt return that gave the Hoosiers field position near midfield.
Notable Stat: With his two field goals in the opener, Austin Starr has now made nine out of his last 10 field goals dating back to a year ago. The streak began with his 33-yarder to win the game at Illinois Oct. 7, 2006. His only miss since then was a 26-yard attempt in the Hoosiers' loss to Purdue in the 2006 season finale. For his career, Starr is 14-of-17, or 82.4 percent. His 80 percent success rate a year ago (12-of-15) marked the first time an IU kicker converted at least 80 percent of his field goals since Andy Payne was 10-of-12 (83.3 percent) in 1998.
Overall – A-
The 48-point margin of victory was IU's largest since a 51-point win over Missouri in 1990, so there's not a whole lot to be disappointed about. Indiana amassed more than 500 yards of total offense and limited Indiana State to 176, including just 72 in the game's final three quarters. Kellen Lewis and James Hardy showed off the short of big-play capabilities that the Hoosier offense has, while the IU defense was much more stout against the run and didn't give up any plays of more than 15 yards. It was a big debut for the Hoosiers, one that should give them a great deal of confidence as they head to Kalamazoo, Mich., for next weekend's contest against Western Michigan.
Upon Further Review - Indiana State
Peegs.com Top Stories
Northwestern week: Coach William Inge Q&AIndiana assistant coach William Inge talks to Peegs.com about how he thinks the defense has performed through the first half of the 2016 season, and what they need to do this week…
Hoosier Hysteria visitor listA five-star player on an official visit headlines nearly 20 basketball recruiting prospects who have confirmed their plans to attend Indiana's Hoosier Hysteria on Saturday.
Following the Future: IU commits in actionPeegs.com recaps how each member of the 2017 Indiana recruiting class performed in their most recent game, and what is next on the schedule for every Hoosier commit.
5-star to attend Hoosier HysteriaIt's looking like Indiana will have a nice group of basketball visitors for Hoosier Hysteria. Five-star Billy Preston headlines a group that includes other five-star players.