Indiana continued to march towards bowl eligibility with a 35-0 shutout of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in Bloomington. The Hoosiers’ offense played well with Whop Philyor leading the way on a number of impressive catches and his ever increasing YAC statistic (yards after catch); however, the real star of the afternoon was Indiana’s defense. Below, we breakdown Philyor’s impressive day, a number of Indiana’s sacks, and IU’s third down stops.
Whop Philyor’s Knack for “YAC”
As one of two receivers in the Big Ten to have over 40 receptions on the season (the other being MSU’s Darrell Stewart Jr.), Whop Philyor is clearly becoming one of the centerpieces of OC Kalen DeBoer’s offense. In fact, Philyor has 15 more catches than the third place receiver in the current Big Ten rankings.
In the following three scenarios, you can see why Whop is a dangerous weapon to use. While he won’t be able to catch over a defender in one-on-one situations, Philyor can do the most damage when he catches the ball on the run and is able to continue his momentum. His elusiveness and speed make him very difficult to tackle if he already has a running head start.
Here in the first quarter, Whop gets the swing pass from Michael Penix Jr. He moves a few steps downfield and then immediately works an out route towards the sideline. Penix fakes the handoff to the running back which forces the linebacker to move. With just a little bit of separation, Penix can lead Philyor with the pass. The catch, with momentum, allows Philyor to beat his first one-on-one defender and get open space with the help of a Nick Westbrook block. Philyor gained 56 yards on this play.
The swing pass here is a little more obvious than the previous play. Despite the Rutgers secondary understanding the play call, Philyor has the ability to use his speed to easily gain a few yards (4 on this play) with the help of his wide receiver making a critical block.
In a four receiver stacked set, Philyor runs a crossing route against man coverage from Rutgers’ best DB, Damon Hayes. Again, Penix is able to hit Whop in motion which allows him to shake off Hayes. This play challenges defensive backs due to the initial screen set by the receiver on the same side as well as the unpredictability of whether or not Philyor is going to run downfield or laterally. Philyor also runs by the linebacker spying Penix and not paying attention to the activity behind him. That linebacker is unable to catch up to the speedy Philyor.
Sacks Charge the Hoosier Defense
Indiana’s defense got after the Rutgers quarterback for a total of six sacks on the afternoon. The defense used a combination of blitzes and stunts to get pressure in the backfield and put a damper on Rutgers’ offense. After this week’s performance, the Hoosier defense is ranked sixth in the conference with 16 sacks for 100 yards on the season.
These sacks below highlight the dominance of the Hoosier defense against Rutgers on homecoming.
The first play from scrimmage set off the fireworks for the afternoon as Indiana took advantage from the start. Defensive lineman Demarcus Elliott barrels through the Rutgers offensive line as his matchup falls to the ground giving Elliott a free shot to the backfield. The quarterback never sees the hit coming and gives up the ball on impact. Linebacker Reakwon Jones scoops the ball up for a touchdown 10 seconds into the ball game.
This first down play displays a dominant effort by defensive lineman Allen Stallings against RB Isaih Pacheco. Stallings comes off the edge at defensive end and plows his way through Pacheco for the sack. This play is all about one man going up against another and delivering for his team; Stallings did just that for the Hoosier defense.
A linebacker blitz and a blown assignment make up Indiana’s fifth sack of the day. Reakwon Jones comes downhill on the blitz and winds up in the backfield in just over a second. Rutgers center Michael Maietti did not see Jones coming as he was too busy helping with the matchup next to him and Jones took advantage. The fifth year linebacker makes first contact on the quarterback and never lets go, wrapping the legs up and bringing him down for the sack.
3rd Down Stops Secured the Win
Fun fact: As of today, only four FBS teams rank in the top 15 in both offensive and defensive 3rd down conversion %: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Wake Forest, and Indiana. The Hoosiers have moved the chains on 48.8% of 3rd downs, while they have limited opponents to just 27.5%. Against Rutgers, IU used a combination of QB pressure and tight secondary coverage to get off the field.
Up 21-0 in the 2nd quarter, co-DC and play caller Kane Wommack dialed up an exotic delayed blitz to prevent Langan from getting rid of the ball. DB Tiawan Mullen came off the edge, while play making LB Cam Jones charged through between the guard and the tackle. Even on a 3rd and 16, IU did not sit back on their heels, maintained their aggressiveness, and forced the punt.
After halftime, IU kept the foot on the gas pedal against the Scarlet Knights. On this 3rd and 7, Wommack blitzed LB Thomas Allen up the middle, hurrying Langan’s pass. Marcelino Ball blanketed the receiver, and the pass fell incomplete. Honorable mention on this play goes to Elliott, who got his hands in the air to obstruct Langan’s vision.
A consistent theme throughout Saturday’s game revolved around the long distances Rutgers had to go on 3rd down. So far, we’ve looked at a 3rd and 16 and a 3rd and 7. On this 3rd and 12, you guessed it, Wommack brought the heat. This time, Rutgers looked ready to counter the pressure with a screen pass to WR Paul Woods. However, the play develops slower than anticipated, by which time Cam Jones comes flying through, once again, to hit the QB. If IU maintains this kind of success on 3rd down against Maryland on Saturday, the Hoosiers will get win #5 on the season.