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Rapid Reaction: Indiana 38, Florida International 28

As anticipation boiled over, the 134th season of Indiana Football commenced Saturday night in Miami against FIU with a 38-28 win.

Though the Golden Panthers hung around well into the second half of the season opener, it was the Hoosiers who were able to stay ahead and contribute in all phases. My quick thoughts from Indiana’s first performance of 2018:

Keep ‘Em Guessing

Dare I say it, but in whatever weird way it needed to happen, Mike DeBord and his offense managed to make it work in game one of the season. Whether it be throwing both Ramsey and freshman Michael Penix interchangeably onto the field, or spreading the wealth (on the night, 10 different Hoosiers caught the ball for positive yardage), it worked.

Bloomington might have another quarterback battle to talk about this fall after all. Peyton Ramsey, efficient in his time on the field tonight, completed 20 of 27, throwing for 156 yards and three touchdowns on the night. Though a first half interception may ever so slightly cloud the sophomore’s maiden appearance in 2018, efficiency is something that wasn’t evident at all times a year ago, and it’s a sign of crucial improvement.

Oh yeah, that Penix guy? We saw him too. Having the freshman at DeBord’s disposal this season will be critical once conference play gets underway. Perhaps most importantly, Penix showed no signs of tentative play (as a typical freshman might) and didn’t shy away from the lights in his debut, completing 8 of his 10 passes, throwing for 96 yards and a touchdown.

Defense? TBD

I know it’s early. Call it harsh. But — should we be worried about surrendering 28 to FIU? I really don’t know, and no one will for at least another few weeks. It remains to be seen how the IU defensive line will handle much tougher tasks during the rest of 2018, but early on, the holes are evident.

Though IU applied the pressure by forcing an early turnover, FIU’s Anthony Jones — one of the quickest guys I’ve seen out of a college backfield in a long time — still rushed for as many as 36 yards on a single carry, finding the endzone twice.

On the flip side, the secondary, which will undoubtedly be lead by senior captain Jonathan Crawford, looks much cleaner, and there’s a much clearer idea of how that unit will compete this season. Crawford, who returned an interception 33 yards for a score in the first half, appears as fit as ever.

)If that play alone is any indication of how Tom Allen’s takeaways will materialize in 2018, Indiana should stay competitive. In facing an unfamiliar FIU unit which included throwing two different quarterbacks at Indiana, there were slips at times. All in all, the secondary handled it well. The way the Hoosier offense clicked tonight didn’t hurt, either.

This Running Game Thing Could Work

It seems that regardless of Morgan Ellison’s future with the program, IU can do it either way. The Indiana backfield was perhaps the biggest question mark of mine heading into the season opener, but on Saturday night, the Hoosiers proved to make it work with what they’ve got.

Out of the backfield came the likes of Mike Majette, starter Cole Gest, and maybe the greatest surprise of the night, Stevie Scott, as Indiana totaled for over 200 rushing yards. Regardless of who Tom Allen elects to play under center, the jet sweep, if utilized properly, could be a huge thing for IU all season long. Gest has proven capable not only with the handoff but also in the slot and will certainly need to keep it up moving forward.

 

Connor Hines

I am a sophomore from San Diego, California studying in Indiana University's Media School. Beyond my work with The Hoosier Network, I'm a broadcaster for WIUX 99.1 FM, IU's student radio station, and BTN Student U. I previously served as beat reporter for Indiana Softball during my freshman year, and I look forward to continue to deliver fresh and innovative content with softball and much more during this year. Last summer, I interned with San Diego's Mighty 1090, the flagship AM sports radio station in my hometown. Tweet me your hot takes @ConnorHines17. Email: cohines@iu.edu

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