Previewing The Enemy: Indiana Hoosiers
Indiana (4-3, 1-3 Big Ten) will play host to Penn State (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) this weekend at Memorial Stadium, affectionately known as The Rock.
Indiana, like Penn State, is coming off of consecutive losses to Big Ten opponents. The Hoosiers fell 49-26 in Columbus to the Buckeyes before heading to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa to get knocked around 42-16.
At least the Hoosiers can say that they’ve traveled to some of the toughest venues in college football in the past two weeks. The Nittany Lions lost to Ohio State 27-26 despite leading by 12 points with just eight minutes to play in front of a White Out crowd. James Franklin’s squad then managed to play the most boring game in recent memory against a Michigan State team that had no business even sticking around in the contest.
The home-field advantage that Penn State has cultivated over the past two seasons has seemingly disappeared, so they team will have to make things happen on the road.
The Hoosiers have played poorly against good Big East teams and decently against everyone else. Over the past five seasons, Indiana has gone 2-14 against Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State, and 20-14 against the rest of its opponents.
That trend has basically held up this season. In its four wins this season, Indiana has defeated FIU, Virginia, Ball State, and Rutgers. The Hoosiers continue to beat the teams that they’re supposed to, but that doesn’t get them very far in a division as top-heavy as the Big Ten East.
Tom Allen is in his second season as head coach in Bloomington after taking over for Kevin Wilson, who resigned at the end of the 2016 season. Although Allen hasn’t had any kind of startling success, he’s at least seen some success on the recruiting trail — the No. 9 running back in the class of 2019, Sampson James, flipped from Ohio State to Indiana earlier this season.
Indiana ranks No. 75 in the nation in total offense. Yet, that’s still better than Michigan State.
Peyton Ramsey leads proceedings for the offense at quarterback. Ramsey has been very okay in 2018, completing 172 passes on 253 attempts for 1,624 yards. He’s got 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions to show for it. Ramsey fits the prototype of an Indiana quarterback, as he’s quick and agile in the pocket with the ability to make just about any throw on the field.
Ramsey likes to run the ball off of the option, but is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry.
At running back, Allen has relied on freshman Stevie Scott, who has taken 115 carries for 557 yards and four touchdowns. Scott is averaging 4.8 yards per carry and has four rushing touchdowns to his name. He struggled mightily against Iowa, running just eight times for 29 yards.
At receiver, Indiana likes to spread the wealth. Nick Westbrook, Ty Fryfogle, Donavan Hale, and J-Shun Harris II all have more than 20 catches. For comparison, there’s not a single receiver on the Penn State roster who has 20 catches or more. Westbrook, especially, has an explosive style, although Fryfogle had a great 33-yard touchdown catch against the Hawkeyes.
The defense has been nothing to behold in Bloomington and the group is giving up more than 385 yards per game. Against Iowa last week, Indiana’s defense gave up 320 yards to Nate Stanley through the air and 159 yards on the ground. Simply put, the Hoosiers got torched. On the season, Indiana has given up 27 touchdowns.
Senior linebacker Dameon Willis anchors the defense and has tallied 37 total tackles in 2018. Lining up next to Willis is fellow linebacker Raekwon Jones, a junior and Florida native. Jones is second on the squad with 4.5 tackles for loss.
Senior safety Jonathan Crawford leads the secondary with 35 total tackles. The Hoosiers run a 4-2-5 defense with one hybrid safety/linebacker, a role Marcelino Ball owns. Ball has 30 tackles, five of which went for a loss, as well as two sacks. He’s an exciting guy to watch in a very interesting defensive setup. Defensive backs Khalil Bryant, Bryant Fitzgerald, and Devon Matthews have all recorded interceptions this season.
The defensive line hasn’t been great for the Hoosiers. Jerome Johnson and Nile Sykes have two sacks each and Johnson even has an interception this season, but the rest of the line has been generally unable to get to the quarterback. In fact, those two linemen are the only Hoosier linemen to record sacks this season.
All in all, unless Penn State lays another egg, the offense should be able to put up some big numbers this week.
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