I have no idea where the Hoosier Football team is, but the players who took the field against Florida International were clearly imposters.
The calling cards of IU Football are rapid-paced, high-scoring offense and dismal defense. Against FIU, everything flipped. The Hoosier team that put up 36.5 points per game last season didn’t score a single offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter. It wasn’t until the ten-minute mark that the offense started to come into its own.
For the majority of the game, the defense did the offense’s job for them. The first points put up by the Hoosiers came from the defense in the form of a safety, as did the first touchdown in the form of a pick-six. For the first three-quarters of the game, IU’s defense was outscoring its offense.
The defense did their job on the defensive side of the ball, too. Particularly vulnerable against the pass last year, the Hoosier defense dialed up the blitz under the leadership of new Defensive Coordinator Tom Allen. Running a new 4-2-5 scheme, the Hoosiers held the Panthers to just 248 passing yards. The Panthers were ultimately held to only 13 points, less than 35% of what the Hoosiers allowed per game last season, and 59% of what the Panthers had scored against the Hoosiers themselves.
While the Hoosiers’ final score was on par with last year’s points per game at 34, nearly half of those points came from the defense.
The only consistent part of IU’s game was the powerful rushing attack led by Devine Redding. Over 23 carries, Redding averaged 6.2 yards per rush, 38% more than last year. If Redding could maintain this pace through the regular season and a bowl game, he will not only have back-to-back 1,000+ yard rushing seasons, but will run for over than 800 yards more than he did in 2015.
Of course, not all of IU’s opponents will be play like Florida International. IU is set to compete against familiar foes Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan this season, who are all considered playoff contenders. IU kept games close last season when ranked 14th in total offense. If that offense continues to get off to shockingly slow starts like tonight, they’ll have to count on more unusually offensive performances by the defense to even have a chance.
Still not convinced that’s really Hoosiers out there,
Sports Analytics and Business at Indiana University
Statistics courtesy of ESPN and the NCAA
Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports