EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Hoosiers were unable to come up against Michigan State in a wire-to-wire finish in East Lansing. Despite a spirited effort by the Hoosiers, a 21-yard field goal with 8 seconds on the clock from Michigan State would end Indiana’s story on the road against No. 25 Michigan State. A time-expiring “final play” resulted in a Michigan State defensive touchdown to wrap up the game at 31 to 40. Indiana moves to 3-2 (0-2 Big Ten) on the season and have an opportunity to get healthier during next week’s bye.
Optimistically, the Hoosiers displayed signs of significant improvement relative to their only other Big Ten showing this season against Ohio State. Indiana’s offense showed the signs of their potential ceiling when a four-quarter approach to the game executes properly. However, again under head coach Tom Allen who has yet to have a ranked win during his Indiana tenure, the Hoosiers got close but were not able to breakthrough.
Leading into Indiana’s first true road test of the season, the biggest question of the day surrounded the potential return of Indiana QB Michael Penix. Penix has sat out the last two games against Ohio State and UConn due to an undisclosed should injury. Warm-ups looked good for the redshirt freshman under the first-string players until it was finally announced that he would be the starting quarterback this afternoon.
All day, Indiana’s quarterback played impressively well, reinforcing the reasons why he got selected to be the starting quarterback. The Hoosiers’ receiving core has certainly gotten more adjusted to Michael Penix’s ability to deliver passes with some zip. In fact, during the game, Penix strung together a total of 20 consecutive completed passes.
Penix finished the day with three touchdowns, 286 yards, 32 of 41 throwing (78%), no interceptions, and a QBR of 159.3.
Kalen DeBoer’s offensive playbook is starting to take shape with the Hoosiers and the players seem to be more confident in the scheme. Very clearly, the game intentionally opened up with sweep sets, rushes up the middle, and various screen passes by the Hoosiers. That trend continued into the second and third quarters. By spreading the offense, Indiana was able to keep the Spartan defense on their toes consistently. Seams opened up for check downs that mostly benefited RB Stevie Scott.
Whop Philyor was the star of the receivers today. Indiana offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer has made it readily apparent that the he wants to use Whop as much as possible. Whop’s combination of speed and catching ability has made him a focal point of Indiana’s offensive attack. He seemed to be the first option in the majority of plays this afternoon.
Philyor finished with a game high 14 receptions and 142 yards. He tacked on two impressive touchdowns as well.
Defensively, the Hoosiers had a lot of trouble holding down senior quarterback Brian Lewerke from making critical plays. The responsibility was less about Indiana’s defensive line that was not able to record a sack all day, but rather the Indiana secondary. Indiana came into today with a number of depth chart rotations, including DB Reese Taylor and DB A’Shon Riggins sitting out due to injury.
Lewerke had 300 yards on the day on 50.0% completion. What hurt the Hoosiers most were large plays for sizable amounts of yardage. Indiana forced missed catches, but the soft secondary let up a number of plays for 20 yards or greater.
In the second half of the game, the Hoosiers just had no answer to the offensive attack from Michigan State in the air. They held their ground on the floor, allowing only a total of 142 rushing yards. Open spots in a secondary allowed Michigan State to drive freely down the field at the very end. In just five plays, Michigan State marched 72 yards using 1:55 of play clock.
After the bye-week, the Hoosiers return back home and will face a 1-3 Rutgers team that was completely shut out against Michigan this week with a final score of 52-0. That game will be Indiana’s homecoming game and it is scheduled for noon.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ