After a humbling defeat to Ohio State last week, Indiana (3-1, 0-1 B1G) bounced back by thumping the Connecticut Huskies (1-2), 38-3, in front of 40,084 at Memorial Stadium. IU won its ninth consecutive non-conference game, the school’s longest such winning streak since 1915. However, the victory came at a cost. Left tackle and four-year starter Coy Cronk suffered a serious leg injury in the first quarter. See what we learned below from IU’s comfortable victory.
Coy Cronk’s Injury Will Sting for the Hoosiers
On a running play with 9:50 to go in the first quarter, IU RB Stevie Scott sprinted left for a first down to keep IU’s second drive of the game alive. In an effort to make the tackle, UConn LB D.J. Morgan, a Notre Dame transfer, inadvertently dove into the back of Cronk’s leg. The cart came out, Cronk needed an air cast, and in the blink of an eye, IU lost not just its left tackle, but one of its key team captains.
IU finished the drive by scoring a touchdown, and they would score 38 in a row to blow out the Huskies. For the rest of the game, senior DaVondre Love and true freshman Matthew Bedford split time opposite starter Caleb Jones, as IU reeled off 38 straight points.
After the game, most thoughts focused on Cronk. “It doesn’t look good,” head coach Tom Allen said. “It’s going to be a tough one. He came in when I got here. He was in that initial class when I was hired as the DC. He means a lot to our program.” Fellow senior and WR Nick Westbrook mentioned, “You fight a lot harder when it’s not just about you. When he went down, it took (our fight) to a whole another level.”
IU has not made an official announcement on Cronk’s injury, but given the above comments, he could miss the remainder of the season. If that happens, Cronk would be eligible for a redshirt to play next season, as he played only three games.
The Defense Responded, Including a Pick-Six
On the first drive of the game IU TE Peyton Hendershot had the ball ripped out of his hands, and UConn converted the takeaway into an early field goal. After that blip, the Hoosiers did not concede a single point. The defense suffocated the Huskies all afternoon, holding them to just 145 yards and 3-for-14 on 3rd down.
Sophomore LB Cam Jones stood out as the defensive player of the game. Jones, who missed IU’s week 2 win over Eastern Illinois, recorded 4 tackles, one TFL, one PBU, and most impressively, a one-handed interception that he returned 44 yards for a touchdown.
“We can’t let those opportunities slip away. Secure (the ball) and keep running,” Jones said of his pick-six. “He’s definitely our most athletic linebacker,” Allen said. “When he committed to us first, he committed as a wide receiver.” That would explain the smooth catch on the INT.
IU Scored, Scored, then Scored Some More
After a week where IU manufactured nothing offensively, they kept their collective foot on the gas pedal Saturday afternoon, accumulating 430 yards of offense. The Hoosiers placed extra emphasis on the running game; they carried the ball for a season-high 178 yards, including 97 from Scott. “That was something we keyed on in practice,” Scott said. “It’s time to build off of this. Now, we’re getting into Big Ten play.”
On IU’s five scoring drives (excluding the Jones interception), they traveled 75, 70, 68, 90, and 70 yards. IU punted just once all day. QB Peyton Ramsey threw three touchdowns and distributed the ball evenly, with 10 players recording a reception. The Hoosiers had the advantage in time of possession, 36 minutes to 24, and went 8-10 on third down. The offense rebounded from the poor showing versus Ohio State, and next week, they will face a tougher defense, Michigan State, on the road.
IU’s Offensive Focal Point: Peyton Hendershot
After an era where IU underused 4th-round NFL Draft pick TE Ian Thomas, new OC Kalen DeBoer made it a point to get the tight end position more involved at Indiana.
“Kalen loves using the tight ends. He had a tight end last year (at Fresno State) who caught 52 balls. That position puts a lot of stress on the defense. It’s a position we have a lot of value in. (Hendershot) is a special player.”IU head coach Tom Allen
Not only did Hendershot catch a career-high-tying five passes, he routinely helped blocking in the run game, and he recorded his third touchdown of the season. Take a look at Hendershot’s added involvement this year:
2018 (11 games): 15 catches, 163 yards, 2 TDs
2019 (4 games): 18 catches, 234 yards, 3 TDs
He has already eclipsed last year’s numbers. If he keeps this up, the North Salem, Ind. native and Tri-West High School grad could play his way into the NFL Draft conversation, like Thomas did in 2017.
Coach Tom Allen UConn Post-Game
Indiana Hoosiers UConn Post-Game
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ