In an incredibly odd home opener, Indiana leads Virginia 20-9 at the half. Everyone is soaked, IU’s student section has dwindled since kickoff, and the brand of football has been rather strange. Here are a few of my thoughts at the break:
Speedy Stevie Scott?
Whoa, where did that come from? On a beautifully designed play, true freshman Stevie Scott found a gaping hole and sprinted to the endzone for a 40-yard touchdown on Indiana’s first offensive possession. For those who aren’t aware, Scott is 6-foot-2 and 236 pounds — and we really hadn’t seen that type of speed from him during the summer or early fall. Against Florida International last week, Scott took 20 carries but only averaged 3.5 yards a carry in the season-opening win. With his size, he seemed best used as a bulldozer, power-back. But after that carry, maybe we’re underestimating his burst? Scott out-ran Virginia’s defense to the house, and was able to find a hole with Whop Philyor running in motion and taking a few Cavaliers with him to the outside.
Scott finished the half with eight carries for 64 yards, and while head coach Tom Allen said pregame that senior running back Mike Majette would start in the backfield, it was Scott who took the first carry Saturday evening. Based on what Scott brought in Miami, and again in this first half, it’s safe to say that Allen has the most confidence in the true freshman.
Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins can flat-out fly. We knew that going in, considering the junior-college transfer sprinted for 108 yards against Richmond last week. He showed his wheels early, on a 47-yard designed quarterback draw on the game’s first possession. That scamper led Virginia to an impressive touchdown drive. Virginia’s offense is really interesting, and can compare to military offenses with how the Cavaliers use various option plays.
The Hoosiers have, more or less, done an excellent job at containing Perkins. But it’s not just UVA’s quarterback that is a threat in the backfield, senior back Jordan Ellis can run too. For Indiana to only allow 107 rushing yards in the first half, on 22 carries, is impressive given how much Virginia relies on the run. And that’s not even considering the weather conditions, which I’ll get to in a minute. The Hoosiers had six tackles for loss in that first half, and blew up a few plays that Virginia used to run all over Richmond last week. For as much criticism as IU’s defense received after last week’s win, it played a fairly sound first half.
Oh, The Conditions
It hasn’t been a pretty first half, folks. And as I type this, Indiana’s student section has legitimately dwindled down to a few rows. I can’t really blame them, as the rain and wind have not let up today in Bloomington. The adverse conditions, as expected, have seriously altered this game. Virginia bobbled and fumbled a kickoff return, which allowed Indiana to score when Peyton Ramsey linked with sudden sensation Donavan Hale for a touchdown. But then the Hoosiers had a PAT blocked, which was returned to the endzone for two points. Let’s see, what else …. oh, J’Shun Harris muffed a punt return but luckily for him, bounced out of bounds. Virginia receivers have dropped plenty of balls tonight, including what could have been a 30-yard play from Perkins to lead receiver Olamide Zaccheaus on the opening possession.
I’ll say this, though. Indiana has won the battle of the weather, and it hasn’t been close. The Hoosiers are certainly the better passing team, but I’ve been impressed with how Ramsey has connected with his receivers despise strong winds and unrelenting rain. He’s 11-of-13 for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns, which is what we’ve grown to expect from Indiana’s starter. We haven’t seen Mike Penix yet, and we certainly could again in the third quarter like last week. But Ramsey has managed the game quite well, and hasn’t tried to do too much with the conditions. All in all, an impressive first half from Indiana, The Hoosiers will receive the ball to begin the second half, looking to go ahead by three scores.