Indiana leads Florida International 28-14 at half. Here are a few of my thoughts at the break:
IU’s Offensive Efficiency
Indiana couldn’t have been much more effective on offense in that first half. Peyton Ramsey was accurate, albeit a forced 3rd down throw and subsequent interception on the Hoosiers’ first offensive possession. He completed 17 of his 24 first-half passes for 144 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. It wasn’t just the 270 yards from Indiana’s offense that was eye-opening, but the key play execution as well. Ramsey found Hale for a touchdown on 3rd down in the first quarter, a perfectly thrown ball with a safety defending as well … and then again connected with Hale on 4th down to give IU the 28-14 lead. Hale could be legitimate redzone target for Ramsey.
The running game was rather bland, although Reese Taylor and Whop Philyor were electric sparks on reverses and sweeps. Indiana probably isn’t going to be able to rely on 40+ passes from Ramsey each week to win games, so the running game is something to watch for the second half. Gest was useful as a receiver out of the backfield yet again, and Ramsey showcased his effective legs to boot.
Takeaways … Takeaways … Takeaways
It has to be said. Indiana took the ball away from FIU three times in the first half, most notably a pick-six interception from Jonathan Crawford — who also forced a fumble on the first defensive sequence for the Hoosiers. Indiana only picked the ball off five times last year, worst in the Big Ten.
Takeaways bailed the Hoosiers out of possessions where their defense was getting rather thrashed. Late in the first half, a fumble recovery from Nile Sykes came after big chunks of yards were gained by the Panthers. IU’s defense was historically stout a year ago, but couldn’t come up with the big, game-changing play very often, if at all. Those two characteristics might change this season, as the Hoosiers graduated key pieces in Scales, Covington, and Fant. FIU totaled 208 yards offensively, and 115 on the ground.
IU opts against 47-yard field goal
Could be a moot point, especially with how this barnburner of a half went. But there are questions at kicker with the graduation of two-time Big Ten kicker of the year in Griffin Oakes. IU had the ball at the FIU 30 yard line with six seconds left, facing the wind. Instead of trying Logan Justus or true freshman Charles Campbell, who both have not attempted a collegiate field goal, Ramsey threw the ball incomplete to the endzone.
Again, not the most important detail from what was an impressive first half from the Hoosiers. With a strong wind, inexperienced kicker, and the game being Week 1 on the road … the decision can be justified. A miss would have been somewhat expected, but Indiana chose not to even attempt. Something to keep an eye on.