Rushing offense – A
This is what the Indiana ground game is supposed to look like. Marcus Thigpen got things going early with a pair of long touchdown runs, and IU's other stable of running backs filled in later on to produce a couple of long, sustained second-half drives that chewed up a majority of the game clock. Indiana's rushing total of 254 yards on 53 carries was still a bit shy of last week's total, but it came without any contributions from quarterback Kellen Lewis. Lewis carried for a two-yard loss on the first offensive play from scrimmage and then didn't run the ball again. While Murray State did what it could to keep Lewis from doing much damage on the ground, the IU staff was likely careful as well to avoid risking an injury in an easy win. While Thigpen led the way with 100 yards on seven carries, nice efforts were also turned in by Demetrius McCray (8 carries, 47 yards, 1 TD) and Zach Davis-Walker (8 carries, 40 yards, 1 TD) as well. Five tailbacks Saturday, and it's a good bet IU will be sticking with its rotation as well as Thigpen as the starter for the foreseeable future.
Notable: Indiana's six rushing touchdowns is the most since 2001, when IU ran for seven in a 63-32 win over Wisconsin. IU's stable of running backs, meanwhile, have already run for five touchdowns this season, approaching last season's total of nine (4 by both Bryan Payton and Josiah Sears; 1 by Trea Burgess).
Passing offense – A-
The big play wasn't there, but both Kellen Lewis and Ben Chappell were efficient with the ball and managed to move the chains all evening. Lewis was 15-of-21 for 170 yards, including 14-of-18 after IU went three-and-out on its first two possessions. He spread the ball around to seven different receivers, headlined by Andrew Means' four catches for 40 yards. Lewis exited the game with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter and Chappell was every bit as efficient while completing 6-of-7 throws for 52 yards. Chappell was on the field for three drives and orchestrated a 13-play, 90-yard TD drive; a 7-play, 29-yard TD drive; and then led the IU offense on a 19-play, 12-minute drive that ended the game inside the Murray State five-yard line.
Notable: Indiana has five running plays this season of at least 30 yards, but zero passing plays longer than 26. That's a big difference from a year ago, when James Hardy had a couple of 50-yard plus touchdowns in the first half of the season opener against Indiana State, and the big play was a big part of the IU aerial attack. The big plays could start to come as the roles of freshmen Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher continue to expand, but IU really hasn't taken many looks downfield in the season's first two weeks.
Rushing defense – A
There's not a whole lot to complain about when the opposing team manages only 28 yards on 27 carries. Other than a 12-yard keeper by quarterback Nico Yantko, the longest run from scrimmage for the Racers was seven yards, and Murray State had to all but abandon the run game due to the scoreboard and its inability to do anything against IU's front seven. After being susceptible to the big play in the ground game a year ago, Indiana hasn't given up a run of 10 yards or more yards to a tailback in its first two weeks. Greg Brown (four tackles) and Deonte Mack were very good in the middle of the line, while Jammie Kirlew (7 tackles) and Matt Mayberry (6 tackles) also played their part in stopping the ground attack.
Notable: The Hoosiers are giving up only 45.5 yards/game rushing, ranking them sixth nationally behind Tennessee, TCU, USC, Michigan and Alabama. That's a good sign, but there's no reason to proclaim IU as one of the best run stoppers just yet. A year ago IU ranked seventh in run defense nationally after two weeks (38.0 yards/game) and ended up yielding nearly 160 yards/game by the time the season came to a close.
Passing defense – A
There was some "bend but don't break" to the IU defense a week ago, as Western Kentucky's K.J. Black completed 13-of-20 throws for 189 yards in the final two quarters. That didn't happen this week. Nico Yantko was held to 16-of-24 passing for 95 yards in the game, and only 3-of-7 for 21 yards in the second half. He eventually gave way to back-up Chris Franklin, who was 2-for-3 for 11 yards on one drive that ended with a punt. The big play was non-existent in the Murray passing attack, with the longest completion gong for 14 yards (there was a 15-yard completion on a first-quarter fake punt). The IU defense, meanwhile, turned in some big plays of its own against the pass, intercepting Yantko once, forcing him to fumble deep in Murray State territory, and sacking him four times. It was a dominant effort by both the IU secondary and the defensive front.
Special teams – B-
Let's start off with the good news – Chris Hagerup was solid. His 39.3 yard average on three punts isn't going to win him any All-Big Ten honors, but it is going to keep his job secure. Hagerup struggled badly in his debut last week against Western Kentucky, but bounced back from a 30-yarder on his opening punt Saturday to add punts of 50 and 38 yards afterwards. Indiana can live with this sort of performance on a weekly basis. The bad news came elsewhere. IU fumbled a punt for the second straight week, this time by Jerimy Finch who should have called a fair catch with the Murray defenders bearing down on him. It was an inconsequential play in the 45-3 win, but the type of miscue that could prove costly down the road. Austin Starr, meanwhile, missed for the first time this year on a 37-yard field goal.
Notable Stat: Austin Starr set out to improve his kickoffs in the off-season and it showed Saturday. After having only 15 touchbacks in 79 kickoffs last season, Starr had five on his eight kickoffs Saturday. He has now produced touchbacks on 50 percent of his kickoff this season (7-of-14), compared to the 19 percent a year ago.
Overall – A
This game had no business being close and it wasn't. Other than going three-and-out on its first two drives the Hoosiers dominated on both sides of the ball and the game was never in doubt. Indiana scored 45 points without Kellen Lewis have a hand in any of the scores, and that's a good thing for a team that doesn't want to be completely reliant on its star quarterback for all of its point production. Defensively IU didn't give up any plays longer than 15 yards and it didn't surrender a touchdown for the first time since Sept. 13, 2003 (IU beat Indiana State 33-3). The play of Chris Hagerup was probably as important as anything, since the punting game had been a big concern heading into the week two contest. There's no doubt that Bill Lynch and staff feel a lot better about that situation after Saturday's performance.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Murray State
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