After IU’s comeback win over Western Kentucky, the Hoosiers now possess a 3-0 record at the quarter-pole. The schedule now gets much, much tougher. With three weeks’ worth of data points, which Hoosiers have stood out in PFF’s grading system to this point? Are there opportunities for Tom Allen, Walt Bell, and Chad Wilt to tweak personnel going into Saturday’s matchup at Cincinnati?

PFF grades are out of 100. We used a threshold of 30 snaps played as a minimum. As a reminder you can view all of PFF’s data by subscribing here.

Top five Hoosiers on offense this season

PositionPlayerGradeSnap Count
WRD.J. Matthews74.3129/243
LTLuke Haggard71.7235/243
RBJosh Henderson71.371/243
WRDonaven McCulley68.862/243
QBConnor Bazelak68.2243/243

Takeaways for IU on Offense

  1. It doesn’t take an advanced statistical model to tell you that DJ Matthews has been excellent for Indiana this season. PFF agrees with that sentiment. Allen and Bell have managed Matthews’ snaps, even as recently as the WKU game, as Matthews played on 44 out of 95 plays against the Hilltoppers. The majority of Matthews’ snaps have come in the slot.
  2. Luke Haggard has expectedly led the IU offensive line. Haggard’s pass blocking (84.4) has vastly exceeded his run blocking grade (59.7), so there is even more upside for the NFL Draft prospect.
  3. Giving Josh Henderson the football is a good idea. When Allen spoke to the media earlier this week, he referenced a “two-headed monster” at the running back position. Currently, Shaun Shivers has played 160 snaps to Henderson’s 71; yet, Shivers’ PFF grade sits at 61.7, while Henderson’s is at 71.3. Evening out the workload more can help IU’s offensive efficiency. Henderson’s blocking grades out better than Shivers’ as well.
  4. Connor Bazelak’s story is fairly clear: keep pressure out of his face. When “kept clean,” Bazelak has a 66.7% completion rate, for 811 yards, five TD, and one INT, equivalent to a 99.8 NFL passer rating. When “under pressure,” Bazelak’s completion percentage steeply drops to 26.5% (9-for-34), good for 80 yards, one TD, and one INT, equivalent to an NFL rating of 37.1. As a point of reference, if Bazelak threw the ball into the ground on every play, that would be a rating of 39.6

Top five Hoosiers on defense this season

PositionPlayerGradeSnap Count
LBCam Jones80.8177/250
CBTiawan Mullen70.8212/250
CBNoah Pierre66.6160/250
EDDonaven McCulley65.9117/250
LBBradley Jennings, Jr.64.995/250

Takeaways for IU on Defense

  1. What more can you say about Cam Jones? IU’s star linebacker is the highest-graded player on the team, and the fourth-best LB in the Big Ten. Jones especially thrives in run defense, where he has a sparkling grade of 86.6
  2. Tiawan Mullen’s usefulness to IU’s defense cannot be understated. Not only does he have the second-best grade on the defense, he’s showing steady improvement. His 71.3 grade vs. Western Kentucky was easily his strongest performance of the season.
  3. Noah Pierre is on track to become a game-changer as a “husky” in Tom Allen’s defense. His coverage grade is solid at 68.8, but where he shines is a pass-rusher, recording a 79.5 grade. If he can make some improvements in tackling, he could become a star in the Big Ten.
  4. Dasan McCullough has obviously acclimated himself well to FBS football in his true freshman season. Only 13 players in college football more sacks than McCullough (3.0). That’s it. Just as impressive is McCullough’s consistent performance in various aspects of the game. His PFF grade in coverage, pass rush, defending the run, and when tackling are all about the same.

Photo of Josh Henderson by Indiana Football

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