We’re back after a one-week hiatus. The chart against Ohio State looked like that Color Rush game between the Bills and Jets that wreaked havoc on colorblind people. Which is more havoc than Indiana wreaked in that game so I figured it was probably just best to move on.
- This game could have been a lot worse. Several things went well for Indiana to keep them competitive.
- Overall, Indiana’s success rate on passing downs was dismal. The drives that IU was able to overcome a passing down were the drives that the Hoosiers scored all 35 points. Indiana had a slightly-above-average 36% success rate on passing downs on the 6 point-scoring drives and a 0% on the other 8 drives.
- They overcame these passing downs with big plays. Davion Ervin-Poindexter had a 14-yard run on 3rd and 10 late in the 2nd quarter where the Hoosiers seemed content to punt. That conversion got Indiana to the Maryland 45 and led to Charles Campbell’s 55-yard field goal. Indiana faked the punt in the 3rd quarter which resulted in a 1st down and ultimately another field goal. Finally, Indiana scored a touchdown on a 2nd and 11 when Donaven McCulley found Peyton Hendershot for his first touchdown. Not that any of the plays are particularly lucky, but it’s also easy to envision a scenario where the first two plays getting stopped and Indiana doesn’t get any points off those drives.
- It wasn’t just passing downs where Indiana had big plays. Stephen Carr had the longest run by an Indiana running back on a long time. McCulley had passes of 52-yards to Ty Fyfogle, 41-yards to Miles Marshall, and a pair of 31-yard passes to Peyton Hendershot. All 8 of Indiana’s explosive plays came on their 6 scoring drives. Probably not a coincidence.
- Donaven McCulley had a nice game, both from a statistical and real-life perspective. But the reliance on explosive plays that results in lofty numbers isn’t sustainable without an increase in efficiency. Indiana’s 36% success rate on pass plays will lead to a lot of 3-and-outs. However, he did show a second-half passing success rate of 47%, up significantly from a first-half 28%. Hopefully a combination of McCulley getting comfortable and Nick Sheridan figuring out how to best use his freshman quarterback is a harbinger of things to come.
- Stephen Carr had his big run which inflates his yards per carry, but he was pretty efficient in this one anyway. His opportunity rate (carries gaining 5+ yards) was 48%, by far his best mark as a Hoosier. His season-long average is just 30% with a previous high of 33% against Penn State. Without his 66-yard run, Carr averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, but he kept Indiana out of passing downs more often than not. Hard to say how much of this improvement is Carr himself playing better, the reshuffled IU offensive line generating more push, or just a vulnerable Terrapin front 7. All likely played some role.
- Peyton Hendershot has been Indiana’s best and most efficient pass catcher this season and it really isn’t close. It’s good to see after a down 2020. He probably needs more than 6 targets/game the rest of the way.
- Just not nearly enough havoc by the Indiana defense. The defensive line just didn’t get enough pressure put on Taulia Tagovailoa and the secondary is basically treading water without a playmaking safety in addition to the depleted cornerback group.