After a slightly turbulent victory to open the season against Ball State at Lucas Oil Stadium, IU football dominated Eastern Illinois, 52-0, resulting in the largest margin of victory in Memorial Stadium history. Quarterbacks Michael Penix Jr. and Peyton Ramsey exhibited their strengths, the defense cleaned up its tackling and shut out the Panthers, and overall, IU gained some confidence that will be helpful in Big Ten play, which starts next week against #5 Ohio State, in Bloomington.
Michael Penix Jr. aired it out on Saturday
In his second career start, Penix once again showed why head coach Tom Allen chose him as IU’s starting quarterback. Penix completed 14 of 20 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. More impressively, he spread the ball around to seven different receivers: Whop Philyor, Ty Fryfogle, Peyton Hendershot, Donavan Hale, Miles Marshall, Stevie Scott, and Cole Gest.
Receivers love it. They always come to me and appreciate it when they get the ball, and I love throwing it to all of them. They all work extremely hard in practice. Whoever’s open, I tell them they’re going to get the ball.”IU QB Michael Penix, after the 52-0 win
Also, as evidenced by his 9.85 yards per attempt, Penix was not shy to let the ball fly in somewhat windy conditions.
For the second straight week, Penix was victimized by another drop by an open wideout on a deep ball. If IU cleans that up, Penix’s numbers could really take off.
The defense improved its tackling
After head coach Tom Allen called his team’s tackling “terrible” against Ball State, the Hoosiers cleaned up that aspect of the game against Eastern Illinois.
Against Ball State, the Hoosiers missed 25 tackles, accounting for about 180 Cardinal yards. In week 2, IU accumulated 48 tackles, with Reakwon Jones and DeMarcus Elliott leading the way with four solo tackles each. Within 20 seconds of his postgame press conference (included at the end), Allen highlighted tackling as one of the things IU did better against the Panthers.
The shutout means something
Regardless of who the opponent is, holding them to zero points is a notable accomplishment. Consider these scores from week 2:
- New Mexico State scored 10 points at #2 Alabama
- Murray State (FCS) scored 17 at #3 Georgia
- South Dakota (FCS) scored 14 at #7 Oklahoma
It’s difficult to keep any team off the scoreboard, especially in 2019, when rules are tailored to help the offenses. Furthermore, shutouts are even rarer when looking at it through the prism of the IU football program. Yes, Eastern Illinois is an FCS team; however, that should not take away from the overall performance of the defense and the ability to sustain that performance until the final whistle.
The shutout was IU’s largest since a 54-0 win over Nebraska in Bloomington on October 14, 1944. The game took place at the old Memorial Stadium (aka Tenth Street Stadium), which now is home to the arboretum.
The takeaway streak ended
While the fans at Memorial Stadium enjoyed the improved tackling and the shutout pitched by the defense, one concern was that IU did not force an Eastern Illinois turnover, snapping a nation-leading streak of 19 straight games of forcing one. The Hoosiers’ best chance came on a 3rd quarter pass play when an EIU pass bounced off a few IU players before falling to the ground.
One negative: we didn’t get takeaways. We broke that streak we had going. If we could catch, we would have probably had that one that bounced off three different guys. I was going to jump out there myself and catch it.”Head coach Tom Allen after the game, discussing takeaways.
IU has forced one turnover through two games; that has to improve in order to beat Ohio State and future Big Ten opponents.
Interestingly the defense was almost too good, which ultimately led to the ending of the takeaway streak. The Eastern Illinois Panthers only had an opportunity to run 52 total offensive plays, including seven three-and-outs.
IU gained beneficial confidence moving forward
Ultimately, this win gave the Hoosiers a boost in confidence going into the remainder of their schedule. Indiana exceeded expectations against Eastern Illinois, playing a near-perfect game and keeping the Panthers off the scoreboard.
A number of players got involved for the first time in their careers, and IU came out of the game generally in good health. One example would be Miles Marshall who had his first career catch, which ended up being an opening touchdown delivered by Mike Penix.
Coach Allen decided to pull the plug on Mike Penix and as a result, backup quarterback Peyton Ramsey got action, as well as third-string quarterback Jack Tuttle. While we have a great film study article on Jack Tuttle, we finally have some meaningful film on the transfer from Utah after this Saturday’s game.
All in all, the Hoosiers got an opportunity to utilize players that we may or may not see for the rest of the season. With the redshirt rule now extended to four games – players can play up to four games without needing to burn their redshirt – expect more trial throughout the season with younger players.
Game Highlights and Press Conferences
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ