Happy to be in Happy Valley for Today’s Big Ten East showdown between Indiana and Penn State. At the half, Indiana trails Penn State 20-14. Let’s break this one down:
Mistakes will kill you in the Big Ten
The game opened up with Indiana receiving a punt following a forced three-and-out. The punt was muffed by Whop Philyor, and Penn State would take over and get a score to start the ballgame with a 7-0 lead. Later on, in the first quarter, a pass interference call on Juwan Burgess would lead to a 41-yard completion on the very next play for the Nittany lions. Listen, I know it is extremely cliche but those kinds of mistakes kill you in games, especially in this conference.
They kill you because those are the kind of opportunities a top team in the nation like Penn State won’t give back to you. They will take what you give them and try and capitalize on you in a matter of plays after the fact. Bottom line: you have top limit mistakes. Especially on the road. Especially against Penn State.
The defense needs to find more confidence
I could write a book about Indiana’s defensive effort today. The simplest way to sum it up: it was either very good or very bad. This Indiana defense has shown growth all season long. It is almost hard to believe that this is the same unit we saw in week one against Ball State. The defense has forced two turnovers today and has challenged Penn State’s offense is a way we really haven’t seen a lot of teams do to it this season.
However, the defense isn’t flawless. Penalties on third downs and big plays have been given up at crucial moments. A 38-yard touchdown by Sean Clifford on a scramble cost the Hoosiers the lead early as they continue to try and gain it back. Simply said, this defense needs to have the confidence to ride the highs and the lows that come along with playing in the Big Ten conference. A lot of that comes with age, but much of it comes with discipline in games like today.
Give Stevie Scott the ball and get out of the way
Scott over the past few weeks has been an absolute beast. His last outing was so impressive, it earned him Big Ten offensive player of the week honors. Now usually, when Ramsey is Indiana’s starter, Scott will get even more carries however today that has not been the case. At the half, Scott has recorded 8 carries for 38 yards. Sabermetric stat of the day: you can’t rush for a lot of yards if you don’t have a ton of carries. I fully expect Scott to be used more in the second as the Hoosiers try and capitalize on the fatigue of Penn State’s defense.
Something to note: It isn’t just Scott’s strength that makes him such a strong back for Indiana: it is his IQ. Watch the end of his runs in the second half. Scott rolls while being tackled. But what seems like an awkward rotation for the 6’2, 231-pound sophomore usually means an extra yard or two at the end of a play. Something to watch in the second is how the Scott workload is increased to help the Hoosiers regain momentum in this one.