Rushing offense – B-
Indiana piled up 256 yards on the ground, but it would still be hard to say it had its way on the ground. The majority of the yards came from quarterback Kellen Lewis, who rushed 25 times for 148 yards and a touchdown. While Lewis did make things happen with plenty of designed runs, some of his yardage totals came as a result of improvisation when he couldn't find any receivers open downfield. The tailbacks continued to alternate, with Demetrius McCray carrying eight times for 37 yards, Marcus Thigpen going for 34 yards on eight carries, and Bryan Payton chipping in 28 yards on six carries. That adds up to 22 carries for 99 yards, which is solid production from the tailback position. But Indiana didn't get any big plays out of the tailback position (the longest run was a 16-yarder by Thigpen), and in six third-and-short situations it ran the tailback only once – instead it relied on Lewis to run the ball instead.
Notable: In three games, IU has had a tailback carry 10 times or more only once – Payton's 13 carries against Murray State. A year ago, Indiana had a tailback carry the ball at least 10 times in 10 of its 12 games (exceptions were vs. Illinois and at Michigan State).
Passing offense – D-
Other than two big pass plays to Andrew Means, the Hoosier passing attack was non-existent. In the first half Lewis completed only one more pass to IU players (3) as he had intercepted (2), and the ball he had intercepted by Sean Baker and returned for a touchdown before the half clearly gave the Cardinals the momentum heading into the locker room. While Lewis wasn't sharp, his receivers weren't, either. There were a couple of passes that IU wide receivers got their hands on, but were unable to come up with a big catch to help their quarterback. Other than Means who caught four passes for 103 yards, no other IU player caught more than one pass. It's obvious that Indiana misses James Hardy a tremendous amount, and it has been unable to find a go-to receiver to this point in the season.
Notable: Lewis completed only 11-of-25 passes, marking the first time he's completed less than 50 percent of his throws since Nov. 11, 2006, when he was 16-of-33 for 105 yards in a 34-3 loss at Michigan.
Rushing defense – F
Indiana limited Ball State to an average of 54.0 yards rushing in the last two seasons, but the Cardinals amassed 224 Saturday night at Memorial Stadium. MiQuale Lewis did the majority of the damage, running for 166 yards and four touchdowns. While Lewis gets most of the credit for his performance, it was the Ball State offensive line that controlled the line of scrimmage and gave Lewis a chance to make plays. Priority one for the Hoosier defense had to be shutting down the Ball State running attack to make them one-dimensional, but htat simply did not happen. That's of real concern for the Hoosiers, who will have to go up against Michigan State's Javon Ringer next week. Ringer has run for 699 yards and 11 touchdowns in the season's first four weeks and is ranked second nationally with 174.9 yards rushing/game.
Notable: Indiana dropped from 6th to 35th nationally in run defense thanks to Ball State's effort Saturday night. Indiana was surrendering only 45.5 yards/game entering the Ball State, but that number jumped to 105.5 yards/game.
Passing defense – C-
Make no mistake…Ball State quarterback Nate Davis is the real deal. His performance was actually much better than his statistical line of 16-of-25 for 239 yards and a touchdown would indicate. He was accurate on his throws, eluded IU's pass rushers consistently, and even added in a couple of clutch quarterback scrambles on third down to move the chains. He showed off an ability to make plays on the move, and he was every bit as good even after Dante Love was injured early in the second quarter. The good news for IU is it's hard to imagine it will have to go up against a more talented quarterback all year. As good as Davis was, IU didn't do much to make things difficult on him, either. The Hoosiers managed only one sack, and their coverage schemes gave the Cardinal wideouts plenty of cushion to work with.
Notable: Indiana's pass defense figures to face plenty of challenges now that Big Ten action is set to get underway. The team's No. 1 cornerback, Chris Phillips, could potentially be out for the season with a serious knee injury, while free safety Nick Polk also suffered a knee injury and it's unclear how long he'll be sidelined.
Special teams – C
Looking for a bright spot in Saturday's game, I've found one…Chris Hagerup. The redshirt freshman averaged 50 yards on three punts and downed one inside the 20. It's also worth noting that Hagerup didn't get any cheap ones, either – two of his kicks were fielded and a third went into the end zone for a touchback. The rest of the Hoosiers' special teams play was mediocre at best. Austin Starr was 2-of-3 on field goals, but his 43-yard miss early in the fourth quarter was a big one. A conversion would have cut the Ball State lead to 28-23 and given IU some momentum. Instead, he missed and Ball State put together an 11-play, 74-yard touchdown drive to give Ball State a 35-20 lead. IU also got a blocked punt from Jerimy Finch on Ball State's first drive, but were only able to convert that into a field goal.
Notable Stat: The return was supposed to be a strength for IU this season, but it wasn't Saturday. Marcus Thigpen averaged less than 20 yards/return on kickoffs, while Ball State averaged 24.5 yards on two punt returns and 29.0 on kickoff returns. Ball State's B.J. Hill would have had a punt return for a touchdown if it weren't for Hagerup's touchdown-saving tackle on the opening drive of the second half.
Overall – F
Ball State is a good team that probably has a legitimate shot at running table and going undefeated, but a 22-point setback at home is still entirely unacceptable for an IU team that won seven games last season and went to a bowl game. The Cardinals were better in every facet – they piled up 42 points against the IU defense by amassing more than 200 yards through the air and on the ground. Indiana's offense, meanwhile, really only produced 10 points since seven points were scored on a fumble return and the game's opening field goal was set up by Finch's blocked punt. It was a head-scratching performance on both sides of the ball for the Hoosiers, who will see the competition continue to get better and better with the start of Big Ten play.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Ball State
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