Rushing offense - B
The Hoosiers' big horse had a big game, as Darius Willis posted his fourth career 100-yard effort with a 14-carry, 102-yard, two-touchdown effort to lead the Indiana ground attack. The highlight was a 49-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, as Willis broke into the open field, froze a Towson defender at around the 10-yard line, and then dove across the goal line to put Indiana ahead 14-0. While that big run was the run that people were talking about, Willis also showed off an ability to break tackles and get some important 4, 5 and 6 yard gains as well. While Willis was as good as expected, the player many expected to split carries with him, Nick Turner, did very little. Turner was limited -2 net yards on three carries. Trea Burgess (2 carries, 17 yards) and Zack Walker-Davis (2 carries, 28 yards) both looked better in limited duties as Indiana ran for 155 yards on 26 carries (6.0/carry).
Notable: IU Coach Bill Lynch opted to burn the redshirt year for freshman Antonio Banks, who carried two times for four yards. The decision to play Banks suggests Indiana is still trying to figure out who will be the team's second running back behind Willis. Lynch has said he wouldn't play true freshmen unless they figured prominently into the team's plan, so Banks should expect to get a handful of carries per game moving forward.
Passing offense – B+
Ben Chappell was efficient, effective and sharp while completing 16-of-23 throws for 182 yards and two touchdowns. His numbers would have been even better had Damarlo Belcher (team-high seven catches for 92 yards and a touchdown) not dropped back-to-back passes in the second quarter. With Tandon Doss sitting out with a groin injury, Belcher bounced back from the drops to have a solid game, but the biggest surprise was the play of redshirt freshman tight end Ted Bolser. The Cincinnati native caught four passes for 68 yards and the game's first touchdown. Bolser has added 40 pounds since he arrived on campus last fall and showed signs of being a big weapon in the Hoosier passing attack. While those were positives, a negative was probably the play of redshirt freshmen quarterbacks Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker, neither of whom were able to move the offense after Chappell exited midway through the third quarter. In three series Kiel was just 1-of-5 for 21 yards, while Wright-Baker was 1-of-2 for two yards. In the four drives with the duo under center, IU managed just one first down and went three-and-out three times.
Notable: The 50-point barrier isn't something Indiana football threatens often. The 51 points was the most scored by an IU team since 2007 when IU scored 55 against Indiana State. The Hoosiers' 38 first-half points, meanwhile, is the most they've scored in a half since ripping Northwestern for 42 in the opening half in 2001.
Rushing defense – D
The Hoosiers didn't have many answers for Towson's mobile quarterback Chris Hart, who piled up 123 yards on 16 carries against the IU defense. Whether it was a designed run or a passing play that broke down, IU's defensive linemen were unable to corral Hart, and on at least one occasion the IU secondary was incapable of chasing him down after he got into the open field. That's not the best of signs considering the Hoosiers will face their fair share of mobile quarterbacks in the Big Ten, starting off right away in the conference opener against Michigan's duo of Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier. As a team Towson piled up 227 yards on 42 carries against the IU run defense, which means the Hoosiers have plenty of things to work on in that facet of the game.
Notable: Towson's 227-yard rushing effort against IU marked the first time in five years that IU has yielded more than 100 rushing yards in its season opener. In 2009 (Eastern Kentucky – 100 yards), 2008 (Western Kentucky – 63 yards), 2007 (Indiana State – 46 yards) and 2006 (Western Michigan – 72 yards) the IU defense bottled up the opposition on the ground. That wasn't the case Thursday night.
Passing defense – B+
There was a lot of good when it came to IU's pass defense. The Hoosiers picked off Hart three times, all which led to Hoosier touchdowns. The highlight play came midway through the third quarter when first-year starter Matt Ernest stepped in front of a Hart throw and raced untouched for a 56-yard touchdown. Of course, big blunders are nothing new to the Towson offense, which had five of the 27 interceptions that its quarterbacks threw in 2009 returned for scores as well. As good as Hart was on the ground Indiana generally bottled him up through the air, where he was just 16-of-35 for 165 yards, two touchdowns and the three interceptions. There were a couple of negatives, though, for the pass defense. The biggest was a 64-yard touchdown pass from Hart to Hakeem Moore when a couple of IU defensive backs bounced off each other to open the door for the big-play score.
Notable: The loss of Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton created some concerns about whether or not Indiana would be able to pressure the quarterback, and in the opener IU failed to record a sack. There were numerous times when defensive linemen were able to get some pressure on Hart, but each time the defensive front was unable to corral the elusive quarterback. That could be a problem moving forward and the schedule becomes more challenging.
Special teams – A-
The special teams were sound all night long. Chris Hagerup averaged 42.8 yards on five punts and had one booming 53-yarder in the second half. Nick Freeland converted 24 and 36 yard field goals and also consistently booted his kickoffs inside the opponents' five-yard line. As an added bonus, redshirt freshman Mitch Ewald – whose been competing with Freeland for the kicking job all spring – kept the competition close by converting a 32-yard field goal in the fourth quarter for IU's final score. In the return game, both Nick Turner (38 yard kickoff return) and Duwyce Wilson (46-yard kickoff return) had big gainers to give the offense very good field position.
Overall – B+
Indiana dominated Towson, as it should have. Offensively Indiana generally did whatever it wanted, despite not having arguably its best offensive player – Tandon Doss – on the field. Darius Willis had a big game and stayed healthy, a new offensive weapon emerged in Ted Bolser, and Ben Chappell continued to show off the ability to spread the ball around and make good decisions. The biggest concern coming out of the game is the fact the defense yielded a couple of big plays and Towson's mobile quarterback gave the Hoosier defense fits all evening long. But all in all, the offense appeared to be every bit as good as advertised, and the defense made up for some of its gaffes by creating three turnovers that led to touchdowns.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Towson
Peegs.com Top Stories
Feeney happy to be back on the fieldIndiana offensive lineman Dan Feeney spoke to the media about his first game action in more than a month.
Coach TV: Johns talks offensive woes, TerpsEarlier today offensive coordinator Kevin Johns met with the media as Indiana works to solve its offensive woes and prepares for the challenge ahead with Maryland on Saturday.
Video intro: Sophomore walk-on Johnny JagerToday we begin our video profiles of some of the Hoosier newcomers with an interview with walk-on transfer Johnny Jager.
Hoosiers in the NFL: Week 7Each week Peegs.com checks in on the all the action in the NFL and how former Hoosier players are doing around the league. This week we take a look at how eight former Indiana…