The Hoosiers are knocking at the door of a bowl game in large part due to their balanced game plan against Maryland. On a day where the game was close across all four quarters, Indiana managed to pull off the victory in the final moments of the game. Game tape in close games can be more revealing and useful than film from Indiana’s blowout wins or losses.
In our game tape review for this week, we take a deeper dive into Stevie Scott’s ability to navigate through the box, Indiana’s usage of TE Peyton Hendershot, the increased blitz plays in the second half, and how the Hoosiers handled Maryland’s ground attack.
Stevie Scott Battered the Terps
One of the most encouraging developments from Saturday’s win over Maryland involved RB Stevie Scott. Scott regained some of the form he showed in his freshman year, when he ran for 1,137 yards and 10 TD. In an interesting twist, Indiana actively tried to throw the ball to Scott, especially early.
In the above 2nd quarter sequence, OC Kalen DeBoer set Scott in motion on consecutive plays. On the first pass from QB Peyton Ramsey, Maryland DB Antoine Brooks diagnosed it and tackled Scott for a loss. That didn’t affect the play-calling, though. On 2nd down, Scott goes out wide before the snap. Notice the linebacker not completely lining up with Scott. This likely gave a hint to Ramsey that Maryland planned on playing zone. The route combination had Brooks caught in two minds, and Ramsey, trying to set up a 3rd & short, took the easy throw. Scott, as usual finished the run hard, and nearly picked up the first down. Scott ended up with a career-high five catches in the game.
In the running game, Scott pummeled Maryland, especially after halftime. After running for just 12 yards in the first half, Scott nearly tripled that amount on his first carry after the break. Simon Stepaniak made a nice combination block, nearly taking out two defenders by himself, and Scott did the rest. His refusal to go down added nearly 20 yards to this carry. Maryland needed four guys to take him down.
Indiana continued feeding Scott all 2nd half. Late in the 3rd quarter, Indiana started a drive by feeding Scott on back-to-back plays. Here, RT Caleb Jones bulldozes his guy out of the way, opening up a huge lane for Scott. He breaks a tackle, then finishes strong for a gain of 27.
Hilariously, DeBoer called the same exact run on the next play. Jones does his job again, and Scott nearly breaks off another huge run. If he didn’t stumble on the first guy’s tackle attempt, this may have been a TD. Scott ended up scoring on the drive. As the weather gets colder and the games get closer, Indiana will have to rely on Scott from some hard yards in Big Ten play.
Kane Wommack dials up the defensive pressure in the second half
The first half was not a great defensive performance for the Hoosiers. They had three touchdowns scored in a little over 15 minutes of game time and they needed answers quickly or the game would get out of control from the strong Maryland offensive attack. Defensive Coordinator Kane Wommack relied heavily on increasing the pressure and blitzing Maryland QB Pigrome in the second half.
In these two videos, we see the pocket closing around Pigrome and him being forced to release the ball in under 3 seconds and throwing poor passes to his target. The increased pressure did not stop the whole second half.
In this play, we saw Pigrome struggle again against an onslaught of six Hoosiers and a quickly collapsing pocket. You can see how he was frustrated at the end of the play as he was not able to find any target in a short time frame.
Even on early downs, Wommack started to predict the Terrapins’ plays as noted in this example when Raekwon Jones disrupted the play leading to an easy tackle for the Hoosiers even though he was not able to secure the early tackle himself.
Once again, too many Hoosiers swarmed Pigrome making a easy 2nd and 1 into a tough 3rd down for the Terps. Pigrome was not able to see the pocket collapsing from his blindside and it led to an easy sack for the Hoosiers.
Wommack had a rough first half, but the second half overall showed that he is able to pick apart weaknesses in opposing offenses. Maryland was only able to reach the endzone one time and it was ultimately due to a breakaway play that was stopped just short of the goal line. There were several times the increased pressure led to easy gains for the Terrapins off of short quick passes, but overall, mixing up the defense’s look proved to be valuable for the Hoosiers securing a tough victory on the road.
Peyton Hendershot Leads the Receiving Core
It did not matter who was at quarterback for Indiana as tight end Peyton Hendershot stepped up to lead the Hoosiers in receiving Saturday afternoon. The redshirt sophomore hauled in six receptions totaling 95 yards for a 15.8 average with his longest reception being 28 yards. These plays below display Hendershot’s catches on the day as he found holes in the Terrapins secondary and piled up yards after the catch.
On this play, Indiana lines up in a doubles formation with two receivers on the line-of-scrimmage and then two in the slot. Hendershot is in the slot position at the bottom of the screen and the Terrapins are in man-to-man coverage against the Hoosier offense. At the start of the play, the North Salem, Ind. native runs a four yard out route to the sideline where he makes the catch and then runs for a 15 yard gain. His teammate, Nick Westbrook aids him on the play as he takes his man and leads him into Hendershot’s man leaving the Hoosier tight end wide open to complete the catch.
This is just a simple play by Hendershot for a positive gain on the play. He is lined up at the bottom of the screen and runs a short six yard dig route to the middle of the field. The defender plays off coverage and then Peyton Ramsey is able to fire the ball into his target setting up Indiana with a third and short inside two minutes remaining in the half.
This first down play has Hendershot lined up in the backfield as an F-back. In this formation, a tight end can be used as a blocker in many cases to aid on running plays. However, Penix fakes the jet motion coming from the left side and the offensive lien blocks down to the right with the jet motion. This brings the defense out of position as they were fooled by the fake and then Hendershot leaks out to the other side of the field. He catches the pass from Penix and runs for a 15 yard giving Indiana a first down with goal to go.
The key to breaking a zone defense is for receivers to find the holes within that zone and waiting for the quarterback to deliver with the throw. Here, Hendershot is in the middle of the screen and runs a short six yard route to the middle of the zone. The two Maryland linebackers drop back into coverage but the underneath is wide open for Hendershot to sit in before Penix gets the ball to him. After the catch, he uses his size and athleticism to gain extra yardage on the play for the first down.
A look at Indiana’s ground defense
While the Hoosiers did a fairly decent job controlling the air against Pigrome, the rushing attack from Maryland, specifically by Javon Leake, sliced through the Hoosier line on multiple occasions. Leake finished the game with 156 yards on 23 carries, inclusive of two touchdowns. The next section focuses on the Indiana rushing defense against the Terrapins.
Indiana rushes with six in this play early in the first quarter of the game. The linebackers play their lanes and Micah McFadden actually gets an opening directly at Leake. Leake’s speed allows him to force the missed tackle from McFadden. Juwan Burgess ends up getting past the Maryland blocker and acts as the proper safety valve for the Hoosiers to end the sweep right.
Indiana shows the blitz early but that does not stop Maryland from continue to attempt the run. Indiana again fills in the lane and is able to make the stop by following assignments. Indiana’s secondary also sniffs out the play early which allows them to jam the box.
Javon Leake in this play does a great job of hiding behind his blocker to wait for the opportune time to attack. Once the play develops and the gaps reveal themselves, he finds an angle that’s good for 6-8 yards. Michael Ziemba does a good job of rolling off the line to find the rusher, but unfortunately misses the tackle. The play ends with an impressive solo tackle from Burgess.
In the explosive play from the second quarter that resulted in a Maryland touchdown, Indiana rushes with five that get tied up immediately by good blocking from Maryland. The Terrapin tight end moves from the edge to make the critical block in the box. The spread receivers create enough space for Leake to pick up momentum – enough to allow him an easy run into the endzone.
In the last film review for this section, the rusher is actually Tayon Fleet-Davis. Indiana elected to simplify the defense and run only a small number of coverages. They also dialed up the number of blitz packages. The Hoosiers do a great job of filling in the lanes and they were not tricked by Pigrome’s fake. The result is a tackle behind the line of scrimmage on a critical second down.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ