Week two of the college football season is here and many teams had comfortable first games while others had some too close for comfort. Indiana fell right in the gray area between the two. With a 10-point win against Ball State on Saturday, the Hoosiers displayed signs of improvement from last season as well as potential weaknesses. If those weaknesses are not fixed it could haunt them down the line in Big Ten play. Before Tom Allen’s team has to worry about facing Ohio State in an early season showdown next week, they have a date with the Panthers from Eastern Illinois back home in Bloomington this weekend.
How to Watch: Indiana Hoosiers versus Eastern Illinois Panthers
|Week 2: Indiana Hoosiers versus Eastern Illinois Panthers
|3:30 pm ET / Saturday, September 7, 2019
|Memorial Stadium (Bloomington, Indiana)
|Find the Lowest Ticket Prices on SeatGeek
|Big Ten Network
|IU Radio Network
|IU -34, O/U 62.5
Meet the Panthers
Eastern Illinois is an FCS team that plays in the Ohio Valley Conference. Last season, the Panthers went (3-8) with a (3-5) conference record and a tie for sixth place with Austin Peay in the OVC. Under the coaching of Kim Dameron, the Panthers averaged 32 points per game with a high mark of 52 twice last season. However, the defense gave up an average of 40 points per game with the worst being a 55 point outburst by FBS team Arkansas in the first game last season.
A team like this that has a ton of tradition — being a Midwest guy, I know all the great quarterbacks they have had, and a lot of really great players and coaches have come through there and they have a next head coach coming from Northwestern, a program that does things the right way, physical, well-coached and well prepared.Head Coach Tom Allen discussing Eastern Illinois
The head job was revamped for 2019 with a new but experience coach in Adam Cushing. The first year head coach worked at Northwestern under Pat Fitzgerald for 15 seasons. Cushing coached the offensive line, tight ends and halfbacks during his tenure and was a recruiting coordinator from 2008 to 2010 when he was twice named one of the Big Ten’s Top Recruiters by Rivals.com and ESPN.com.
As an offensive line coach with the Wildcats since 2009, Cushing coached seven All-Big Ten offensive line selections.
The 2019 Panthers are a very young team but do have some retuning depth. Freshman make up 49 percent of their full team, sophomores are at 23 percent and juniors and seniors round out the remaining 28 percent. This is a young FCS team that should not be taken lightly because their offense is capable of putting an abundance of points on the scoreboard.
2019 OVC Football Preseason Poll
1. Jacksonville State (14 first-place votes) – 126 points
2. Southeast Missouri (4 first-place votes) – 115
3. Eastern Kentucky – 98
4. Austin Peay – 70
5. Murray State – 61
Tennessee State – 61
7. UT Martin – 60
8. Eastern Illinois – 35
9. Tennessee Tech – 22
In their first game of the season, the Panthers lost a road battle to Chattanooga 24-10 starting their first season with a loss. As an offense they put up 354 yards of total offense with only one score and their defense gave up 350 yards and three touchdowns.
Get to Know the Eastern Illinois Panthers
Key Offensive Players
Offensively, the Panthers use two quarterbacks in their system, redshirt-junior Harry Woodberry and senior Johnathan Brantley. In their first game of the season they combined for 26-of-47 with 224 yards and one touchdown. Both quarterbacks threw 13 completions each, Woodberry threw for 18 more yards at 121 but had an interception. Brantley completed less of his passes than Woodberry with a 52 percent completion percentage and he threw the Panther’s only touchdown of the day.
Cushing’s team rushed for 130 yards on 36 carries averaging 3.6 yards per carry. Brantley led the team in carries with 12 while Freshman running back Jaelin Hayes-Benefield recorded the most yardage with 49 on six carries. Senior Chris Walker received most of the remaining carries totaling for 27 yards on five attempts. Having a quarterback as one of your most used back shows the dual threat capability in Brantley and Indiana should be aware of the Panther’s rotations at running back.
Brantley and Woodberry have targets to throw to with three players hauling in multiple receptions and totaling at least 35 yards during their week one loss. Sophomore wideout Xander Richards corralled in five catches for 67 yards while senior tight end James Sheehan recorded 38 yards on three catches. Freshman Marques Ray is also capable of making plays with his abilities catching four receptions for his team.
They will come here and give us everything they got, and I fully understand the dynamics of it all and you just say, hey, we step out there and we play Indiana Football and that’s our focus.Head Coach Tom Allen discussing Eastern Illinois
Key Defensive Players
One Panther to watch defensively is senior defensive lineman Terrell Greer. At 5-10 and 305 pounds, Greer is a smaller defensive player height wise but he already has an edge because he is shorter most offensive lineman. That ability gives him an edge because he can stay low and use his body to push his man off his block and make the tackle.
Greer had 48 tackles a season ago and is one of seven returning starters on the defensive line for the Panthers. This past summer he was named as a 2019 Preseason All-OVC pick for his defensive line play.
In the secondary, sophomore safety Bryce Dewberry picked off Chattanooga’s Nick Tiano last week for a 15 yard return. Dewberry recorded an interception last season as well for the Panthers.
Week 2: What to watch for against the Eastern Illinois Panthers
1. Indiana’s Offense versus the Panthers Defense
This matchup should be one that Indiana is looking forward to. It is a chance to give quarterback Michael Penix more time to get accustomed to playing as a starter against a defense that gave up 350 yards to Chattanooga. He can keep developing the chemistry amongst his receivers so they can clean some of the dropped balls that were displayed against the Cardinals. Running back Stevie Scott should be looking for a more explosive game like fans saw last season, now that Penix and his playmaking ability will be noted by the Panther’s defense. If Indiana can clean up some of the offensive miscues they endured last week and open up the running game for their backfield depth then there should be no question of what the offense can do against Eastern Illinois.
2. Indiana’s Secondary versus the Panthers Quarterbacks
Defensively, the Hoosiers need to be on the look out for the Panther offense. They only scored 10 points last week but with their almost balanced attack and the ability of Brantley as a dual threat, Indiana needs to be ready to tackle better and stop those short catches from breaking wide open. The secondary can use this week to sharpen things up and be game ready so there are not any surprises. However, if the defense comes out slow and low energy, the Panther passing attack can find the holes in the Hoosier secondary and make them pay, leading to a closer ball game than anticipated.
Week 2: Indiana Hoosiers versus Eastern Illinois Panthers Predictions
38-10 Indiana. The Hoosiers will clean things up on the defensive side and shut down the Panthers offense, only giving up one score. Stevie Scott has a big game and Penix keeps the Hoosier offense going. Indiana will look a lot better as a team heading into a week three challenge against Ohio State.Andrew Rude
48-10 Indiana. Indiana has one chance to clean up their game across the board before going up against Ohio State to kickoff conference play. Michael Penix is again going to throw for 300+ yards, but this time with a lot more help from Indiana’s defense. IU controls the game early and will stay in control against a lower tier OVC team.Rob Jiang
34-6 Indiana. The Hoosiers slow things down offensively and focus on cleaning up the run game. The defense shores up the tackling as well and does not allow EIU to get into the end zone. The Hoosiers move to 2-0 with the Buckeyes coming to town in week 3.Nithin Krishnan
34-10 Indiana. The Hoosiers have their home opener against an FCS opponent in Eastern Illinois who has 17 new coaches, 38 freshman, and 5 transfer players. They are replacing their entire offensive line as they recently fell to Chattanooga. This is a chance for the Hoosiers to have a relatively mistake-free game by tackling the opponent and running the ball more consistent. This is a great opportunity for Penix to continue to get reps and confidence. I believe the defense holds the Panthers to under 300 total yards and 10 or less points, as the Panthers only put up 10 points and 354 yards against Chattanooga.Noah Freeman
Featured Photo: Nelson Chenault / USA TODAY Sports