The Daily Hoosier
The Hoosiers have started the season on a high note after taking care of business this weekend, beating Ball State 34-24. Here are some key takeaways from the game to keep in mind as the season progresses.
The Hoosier’s Aren’t Afraid to Push the Ball Down Field
One of the big complaints from the fans last year was the conservative offensive approach. That is no longer the case this year with Michael Penix taking the snaps. He has incredible arm strength as evidenced by his 75-yard touchdown pass to Nick Westbrook that flew at least 50 years in the air. Penix’s ability to push the ball downfield will all the offense to be more dynamic and unpredictable than it could be last year.
The Defensive Line Needs Work
IU’s defensive line really struggled to get pressure on Ball State quarterback Drew Plitt, resulting in only three sacks and a handful of quarterback pressures. Though the strength of the Hoosiers’ defense lies in its linebackers and safeties, it will be important going forward to see some type of pass rush emerge from the defensive line.
The Hoosiers missed a lot of tackles. I don’t know the exact number, but according to defensive coordinator Kane Wommack, missed tackles gave Ball State 181 extra yards. Those 181 yards are worth at least another touchdown, if not two touchdowns. Thankfully, the Hoosiers were playing Ball State and not Ohio State where that 181 extra yards could easily balloon to well over 200 hundred. If the Hoosiers expect to win 6 or more games and possibly pull an upset over a big brand team, minimizing the number and impact of missed tackles will be key.
Both placekicker Logan Justus and punter Hayden Whitehead had outstanding games this weekend. Justus booted in four field goals, while Whitehead had a 63-yard punt that pinned the Cardinals deep in their own territory. Special teams is looking like a strength for the team going forward and should help the Hoosiers stay in games and perhaps win a few.
Though shaky at times, the Hoosiers did what was necessary to come away from the weekend 1-0. With an offense that looks like it still has room to grow behind quarterback Michael Penix and a defense that should only improve as the season progresses, the Hoosiers appear on a path to get back to a bowl for the first time in three years.