BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — When your 52-point victory margin is the largest in Memorial Stadium history, you can expect that our week Report Card on the Hoosiers would be full of high marks this week. And you’d be right. There was very little to gripe about in IU’s 52-0 victory over Eastern Illinois.
It was complete and total domination from beginning to end, and the Hoosiers looked good in all three phases in raising their record to 2-0. Next up is a huge Big Ten showdown with No. 5-ranked Ohio State on Saturday in Bloomington (Noon ET; TV: FOX) that will tell a lot about how much better this Indiana team actually is.
But for now, let’s keep it to the Eastern Illinois game. Here’s how the Hoosiers graded out in my second Report Card of the season:
Rushing offense: B-minus
After struggling to run the ball a week ago in the opener against Ball State, the Hoosiers were much better Saturday against Eastern Illinois. Stevie Scott’s first three touches went for 10, 8 and 8 yards and he finished his short day with 61 yards on 12 carries and another touchdown. That’s three on the year for him already.
Cole Gest got his first touchdown of the year, but for the day, the Hoosiers averaged just 3.4 yards per carry. That’s still not good enough, and needs to get better quickly. This number might be skewed slightly because quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who was the team’s leading rusher a week ago, wasn’t looking to run at all against EIU. He is a factor, and certainly will be going forward.
Passing offense: A-minus
Penix played well and was out of the game before halftime. Peyton Ramsey, last year’s starter who was beaten out by Penix during fall camp, looked great, too. Penix was 14-for-20 passing for 197 yards and Ramsey was even better, going 13 of 14 for 226 yards. His numbers benefited from a 64-yard touchdown catch and run by Ronnie Walker Jr., right before halftime.
Penix was sharp in his limited time. For the second straight week, he threw a deep ball to a wide open receiver and it was dropped. This time it was Ty Fryfogle. There were a few other drops as well, which kept this from being a perfect grade. But having 441 passing yards is always a good thing.
Rush defense: A
Indiana’s front seven lived in the Eastern Illinois backfield the entire game. They had only 52 yards rushing on 31 carries, a paltry 1.7-yard average. Indiana has done a nice job of stopping the run the first two weeks, which is a good sign because that was a bit of an issue a year ago.
Obviously, it’s a whole new ballgame against Ohio State next week, but so far this group has exceeded expectations. The linebackers have been great, too. There was a huge emphasis all week about tackling better, and that happened. They carried what they learned on the practice field into the game. That’s always a good sign.
Pass defense: A-minus
Eastern Illinois couldn’t do anything in the air either, gaining only 64 yards on 25 pass attempts. Indiana has done a much better job of pressuring the quarterback and coverage and tackling in the secondary was much better, too.
The only ding on the grade is for not creating a turnover. That’s something that IU coach Tom Allen and defensive coordinator Kane Wommack are always preaching. It’s sort of surprising that their streak of 19 straight games with a turnover ended in this game. That was the longest streak in the nation. Now it’s time to start a new one.
Special teams: A
William Inge has to be happiest coach on the IU staff right now. His special teams groups are excelling at everything. Both coverage units have been excellent, the return game is solid and deep, and the kickers and punters continue to be perfect.
“We spend a lot of time of special teams, and it’s been paying off. We’ve been very good on special teams two weeks in a row,’’ Allen said. It’s an important part of the game, and the Hoosiers have been rock solid so far.
The goal this week was to clean up the mistakes from a week ago and that’s exactly what happened. The tackling was much better after it being a point of emphasis all week in practice.
Schemes have been great so far too, and so far this Indiana team looks great in running their stuff. There have been very few penalties and mistakes in coverage and running plays. It’s going to be very interesting to see the game plans a week from now, and how successful they can be.
What can you really say about a game like this? What’s nice about this Indiana team is that they were focused on the task at hand. They didn’t take anyone lightly and they dominated a game that they were supposed to dominate. Well done, Hoosiers.
What do you think of my grades? Feel free to weigh in on them in the comments section.
Follow Tom Brew on Twitter @tombrewsports