Indiana’s complete game against one of the lowest-rated FBS teams gave the Hoosiers one last bit of a confidence injection before they are fully thrown into the Big Ten gauntlet. Like their match up against Eastern Illinois, these tune-up games are difficult to use as a proper gauge on how Indiana will perform against conference rivals, like the one they have upcoming on the road against No. 25 Michigan State.
The topics we have identified for this week’s Game Tape Rewind series display notable qualities of this team that we believe will continue into Big Ten play. We dive into the Hoosiers’ aggressive defensive line pressure, Peyton Ramsey’s throwing velocity, and the ways Kalen DeBoer took advantage of the UConn secondary.
Hoosiers’ Aggressive D-Line Pressure
Indiana’s defensive line brought pressure to the Huskies’ true freshman quarterback, Jack Zergiotis, causing multiple missed throws on the afternoon. The Hoosier defense had two sacks on the day with three quarterback hurries against Zergiotis. These plays below highlight the defensive line and the pressure they brought on Saturday.
On this first down play, Zergiotis drops back to pass and the pass coverage by Indiana’s defense leaves no options for Zergiotis to get the ball downfield. Linemen Shamar Jones and Juan Harris bring pressure up the middle by driving their matchups back and collapsing the pocket. With no one to throw to and red jerseys in his face, Zergiotis takes off but is brought down by lineman Allen Stallings IV for the sack.
This play broke the game open for Indiana just a few minutes into the second half. Linebacker Micah McFadden and lineman Shamar Jones execute a stunt that leads to pressure on Zergiotis. McFadden lines head up in front of the center and goes right into the A-gap at the snap. Jones then twists around him into the other A-gap causing Zergiotis to move left in the pocket. Once Zergiotis moves left, McFadden sheds off his blocker and has a free lane to the quarterback. McFadden makes contact with Zergiotis who then flips the ball to a near by receiver. The bad pass is picked off by linebacker Cam Jones who then returns it 43 yards for the touchdown.
Peyton Ramsey’s Air Time
When Michael Penix was named the starting quarterback for the 2019 Hoosiers, he was chosen for his ability to throw deep and his notable arm strength. When Penix throws the ball, there is significant zip on the ball and higher velocity. He can get the pigskin quicker to his targets, relative to Ramsey. While it has led to more dropped passes, the Hoosiers want to take advantage of that skill.
Of course, Penix did not play against UConn due to his injury, so in this next section, we take a look at Peyton Ramsey’s “hangtime” of the ball when he throws passes. In each of the following three throws, take notice of how long it takes for the ball to ultimately reach its target. While it potentially makes the throws more catchable, Ramsey requires a lot more separation for his targets than Penix would. All of this is significantly caused by the exit velocity of his throws.
Contrast these above passes with Michael Penix’s showing against Eastern Illinois. There is a noticable difference between the speed of the passes from both quarterbacks. The arm strength not only helps Penix with deep throws, but there are also benefits in the short and mid-range as well.
Below you can find highlights from Michael Penix against Eastern Illinois. The first handful of clips show Penix’s arm strength very clearly.
Gaps in the UConn Secondary
Even with some slower throws, QB Peyton Ramsey finished with a passer efficiency rating of 191.3, his highest ever in a game that he has started. Ramsey succeeded not only due to quick decisions and accurate throws, but also thanks to some unique formations drawn up by OC Kalen DeBoer to free up receivers.
Midway through the 1st quarter, on a key 3rd and 5 in UConn territory, IU deployed a 3×1 setup, with Nick Westbrook, Whop Philyor, and Ty Fryfogle on one side of the field, with Peyton Hendershot aligned as the tight end to the right. On the snap of the ball, all four options went on a series of crossing routes, and UConn, in a man-to-man defense, could not keep up. First down, Hoosiers.
Later in the drive, IU lined up in the same formation, 3×1, just with Donavan Hale and Matt Bjorson on the field instead of Fryfogle and Hendershot. This time, UConn deployed a zone defense, but it offered little to no resistance. Philyor, a junior, recognized the coverage, sat down in the soft spot of the defense, and Ramsey connected with him for six. On a side note, OT Caleb Jones did an excellent job in pass protection here, stepping in for Coy Cronk, who left the game a couple minutes earlier.
In the second half, IU expanded on their lead by using, you guessed it, a 3×1 formation on a red zone third down. In this situation, UConn was in a man-to-man defense, and Ramsey delivered an accurate ball to Westbrook for a touchdown. Notice UConn freshman DB, Myles Bell (#2). He starts the play lined up eight yards off Westbrook, but he gets caught in the mesh and cannot track Westbrook until it’s too late. MSU likes to mix man and zone concepts, so keep an eye out for the 3×1 look against the Spartans on Saturday.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ