Rushing offense – D-
My guess is that if there was one thing Indiana wanted to be able to do in this game, it was run the ball. That's didn't happen. The Hoosiers managed only 73 yards on 31 carries, a mere 2.4 yards per carry. They were unable to convert short-yardage situations by running the tailbacks, instead having to rely on Ben Chappell to convert a couple of second-chance sneaks to move the chains in both the 1st and 4th quarters. Demetrius McCray was the best of the group with 13 carries for 49 yards, but all four tailbacks got a chance and all struggled. The responsibility for their troubles shouldn't necessarily be heaped on their shoulders, though, and instead should be heaped on the offensive line. Indiana was missing left guard Justin Pagan, but that's still not an excuse for the inability to create more running lanes for the tailbacks. The offensive line was aided by one and two-tight end sets, but that did little to improve the situation.
Notable Indiana appeared to finally have something figured out on their final drive when Demetrius McCray went for back-to-back runs of 12 and nine yards, but that was followed by five runs for a net -2 yards. In all, 21 or Indiana's 31 rushing attempts went for two yards or less against the Colonels.
Passing offense – B
The numbers were impressive – Ben Chappell was 27-of-36 for 326 yards and a touchdown, often zipping the ball downfield. Wideouts Tandon Doss (7 catches, 117 yards), Damarlo Belcher (six catches, 97 yards, 1 TD), Terrance Turner (5 catches, 57 yards) and Mitchell Evans (3 catches, 25 yards) were every bit as good as they've looked on the practice field. Doss was a go-to receiver in the first half, and the Chappell-to-Belcher play action touchdown pass was a thing of beauty. As bad as the IU offensive line was at opening holes, they did give Chappell more than enough time to throw all night. But Chappell did throw a couple of costly interceptions that put the defense in bad spots. The first interception was returned to the IU 30, but a Matt Mayberry sack took EKU out of field goal range. Chappell's second-half interception came on a ball he threw up in the air and hoped his wideout would make a play on it. That turnover resulted in EKU's third quarter field goal that cut the lead to six.
Notable: Chappell's 27 completions tied him for eighth on IU's all-time single games list. The school record is 37, set by Blake Powers in 2005 when he went 37-of-57 at Iowa.
Rushing defense – B-
With the exception of a 36-yard scamper by quarterback T.J. Pryor and a 30-yard run by H.B. Banjoman, Indiana's defense was respectable against the run. Tailback C.J. Walker managed just 25 yards on 12 carries, and most of the Colonels' production came via runs by Pryor and fellow quarterback Cody Watts. The big runs are a concern, especially as IU prepares to go against more teams with players that have the ability run away from the IU secondary when they're in the open field. But the effort here was solid.
Notable: While two-thirds of Indiana's runs went virtually no where, Eastern Kentucky had more success producing positive plays on the ground. In all, 13 of EKU's 31 rushing attempts went for four yards or more.
Passing defense – D
Considering that Eastern Kentucky was utilizing a converted wide receiver as its starting quarterback and then rotating in a redshirt freshman that was only an honorable mention all-region pick out of high school, the fact the Colonels were able to complete 17-of-26 passes for 278 yards with a TD is a concern. There were times where the Colonel wideouts found gaping holes in IU's coverage schemes for big gains, and others when IU's defenders were seemingly in position to make a player but were unable to do so. Indiana did sack EKU's quarterbacks four times in the game, but all of those came in the first half. Indiana's ability to be solid against the pass is going to depend on its skill at getting after the quarterback, and IU didn't do that successfully enough Thursday. The one redeeming part of IU's effort here was Polk's last-second pass break up, preserving a win Indiana absolutely had to have.
Notable: Indiana didn't have any interceptions against Eastern Kentucky. A year ago, the Hoosiers ranked last in the Big Ten with only six interceptions vs. 396 opponent passing attempts.
Special teams – C
First-year placekicker Nick Freeland did his job, converting a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter and going 2-for-2 on extra points. He wasn't launching his kickoffs into the end zone, but he was getting them high enough and deep enough that the Colonels' started drives at their own 20, 22, 24 and 26 yard lines following his kickoffs. That's solid work. Chris Hagerup, meanwhile, averaged 39.8 yards on five punts and nearly pinned Eastern Kentucky deep on his final punt with 36 seconds left (the officials eventually ruled it a touchback). But Hagerup's first punt of the day was a low one that set the stage for a 40-yard return that gave EKU the ball inside the IU 15. Ray Fisher made a couple of questionable choices on punt returns, fielding one ball that was clearly going into the end zone and then taking a second one off the bounce as a defender was closing in to deliver a big blow.
Overall – D
It's a win, and Indiana will take those any way they'll come. But there's plenty to be concerned about as the schedule turns much more difficult starting with next Saturday's game against Western Michigan. The Hoosiers couldn't run the ball the way they'd hoped, they surrendered some big plays on defense and special teams, and they were holding on for dear life as the game clock wound down and hit zero. They were the beneficiaries of some very odd game management decisions by the EKU staff, which opted not to use either of its final two timeouts during Indiana's final drive that milked more than 6 ½ minutes off the clock and took the game down to 26 seconds. Another offensive play or two for the Colonels would have made the closing seconds even more dangerous for the Hoosiers.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Eastern Kentucky
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