Hello from a nippy Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. Folks up here aren’t too pleased with the freezing temperatures, but I think it’s a beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky! Okay, that’s enough. Indiana is playing a must-win game today, in terms of its bowl hopes. It hinges on this and Purdue, no? Well, today has been a rollercoaster and it’s only 1:30. Away we go with my thoughts:
Can Indiana halt Maryland’s ground game?
At the end of the first quarter, Maryland outgained Indiana 144 yards to one. It was, quite frankly, an inexcusable start for an Indiana team that had two weeks to prepare for this. The Terrapins do not run an overly complicated offense — at the most, the most intricate part is pre-snap shift changes. Rarely do they throw, and it has shown. But what has also shown is how effective Maryland’s rushing offense is. Longtime starting running back Ty Johnson took five carries for 38 yards before being sidelined to injury. He has been dealing with a calf strain, but it hasn’t affected Maryland’s ability to run. Freshman Anthony McFarland has 135 yards on 16 carries, good for 8.5 yards per carry. Rarely has he been stopped in his tracks, and Indiana’s linebackers haven’t been able to keep him between the tackles.
Maryland quarterback Kasim Hill went down as well, looks to be a knee injury after Cam Jones brought him down. Tyrell Pigrome is in, and perfectly capable. Hill was 4-of-12 and an interception before his injury, so Pigrome really could be an upgrade — at least for today. He is a better threat with his legs, and really can’t be worse than Hill was at passing today. Adjustments are key, defensively, for Tom Allen’s defense. The first drive will be telling.
Another poor first-half ending
After Maryland scored, but missed the PAT to cut its deficit to 21-12 — a Terrapin player committed an unsportsmanlike penalty. Indiana returned the kickoff to its own 45 with roughly three minutes remaining. Instead of marching down the field for extra points and momentum, Peyton Ramsey was intercepted throwing off his back foot to the wrong receiver, albeit tipped and deflected at the line. Indiana has not played well this season when halftime is approaching — think Penn State, when clock management ruined the potential for points. Just something I’ve noticed, and written about a lot at halftime this year. This game should be 21-12, 24-12, or 28-12. Not 21-15.
Peyton Ramsey, dime thrower
Credit where credit is due. When Ramsey has looked downfield, he has been brilliant today. His best throws, per usual, have come down the sideline and over the shoulder. He hit Ty Fryfogle for 35 yards, and Donavan Hale for a 37-yard touchdown. He also juked out a Terrapin defender for a 35-yard rushing touchdown and his career-long on the ground. Indiana’s offense was putrid to start, but it really took advantage of a Jaylin Williams interception and Jerome Johnson fumble recovery. Both were gifted by Maryland couldn’t have come any easier for Indiana. On a day where Stevie Scott has managed only 23 yards on seven carries, we shall see what Mike DeBord does.