In this weeks Five Step Drop, we focus on last weekends game verse the Cincinnati Bearcats and their game on Saturday at WKU.
The Hoosiers lost in front of one of the largest crowds in Memorial Stadium history. Falling 38-24 to the Cincinnati Bearcats, IU found a multitude of ways to shoot themselves in the foot and cost themselves a top 10 win.
From the opening kick until the 5-minute mark of the 2nd quarter, the Hoosiers were well on their way to dominating, leading 14-0. At that point, UC had only crossed the 50-yard line once and IU had squandered a redzone opportunity that would have given the Hoosiers at least a 17-0 lead. Then, on a 3rd and long, Micah McFadden drew a targeting call that led to his ejection and a UC first down. From that point on, it was all Bearcats thanks to the Hoosiers continually getting in their own way with 4 total turnovers, 2 of which in the redzone. The most difficult part of this game to swallow for fans will absolutely be the fact that if you change 1 or 2 plays, it is completely conceivable that the Hoosiers win.
First Step – Week 3 Offense
Another game, and another inconsistent performance by the Hoosier offense. Do you blame the play calling? Quarterback? The overall execution? Honestly, in this game it came do simply shooting themselves in the foot. The Hoosiers had a total of 4 turnovers and failed to score on 3 redzone trips. This game was winnable. THAT is the most difficult thing to explain. The offense showed signs of returning to last seasons level, but still lacks consistency. The key cogs to the Hoosier attack all had inconsistent days. Ty Fryfogle had arguably his worst game as a Hoosier, with only 1 catch and 4 drops. Michael Penix went 17-40 with 3 interceptions. Stephen Carr also joined the inconsistent crowd by collecting 52 yards on 21 carries with a long of only 7. Simply put, this was a very poor overall performance by the offense and the offense continues to be the glass ceiling on this team.
Second Step – Week 3 Defense
For the third straight game, the Hoosier defense showed signs that it can hang with good offenses. Sadly, things got a little messy in the closing minutes of the first half following the ejection of Micah McFadden following a targeting penalty. I’m sure many fans were frustrated with how drastically it seemed the fortunes changed for IU following the ejection. The thing to realize is that McFadden is probably the most important singular piece on the defense given his role. When he was on the field, the group was flying around and creating havoc. While things did get messy and the defense ended up surrendering 31 points, they held the Bearcats to 328 total yards and 3.3 yards per carry. Simply put, the defense put forth a plenty strong effort for the Hoosiers to have walked away with a victory. If this is what the defense can provide going forward, IU can still have a successful season.
Next on the schedule for IU is the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Coming off a bye week, WKU welcomes IU to their house hoping to score a big upset on a Big Ten squad. The Hilltoppers will look to use their bye week to tighten up their defense and take advantage of the slightly turnover prone Hoosiers!
Third Step – Week 4 Offensive Preview
For as prolific as Western Kentucky’s offense is, their defense is close to the polar opposite. Their defense surrendered 21 points to UT-Martin and 38 points to Army. Naturally, their defensive metrics are skewed thanks to playing the run heavy option attack of Army. Regardless, this defense appears to present a nice opportunity for the Hoosier offense to get back to the basics. For the Hoosiers, the gameplan will likely look similar to the Idaho game. Expect to see a heavy dose of Stephen Carr with a nice sprinkling of Michael Penix with some play action and shot plays. However, I would love to see a few changeups from OC Nick Sheridan. If the Hoosiers could utilize some tunnel and bubble screen action or jet motion/pop pass to get the best athletes the ball in space, it could help open up the inside run game.
Fourth Step – Week 4 Defensive Preview
Western Kentucky historically is an all gas, no brakes style of team. They’re going to spread you out and throw the ball a ton. Through 2 games this season, the Hilltoppers have scored 94 points and have over 900 passing yards. Senior transfer Bailey Zappe is the key cog in the WKU attack, throwing for 10 touchdowns this season and 83 total touchdowns in his career. For the Hoosiers, the key will be about creating pressure on Zappe and having good communication in the secondary. If IU can force WKU into longer drives, they should be able to create some negative plays.
Fifth Step – Player Spotlight
Last weeks players we spotlighted both had great first halves. Sadly, following Micah McFadden’s ejections, things went downhill. This week, the spotlight is not on one or two players, but an entire unit. Verses an inferior opponent with a less than stellar defense, IU’s offensive line MUST step up on Saturday. This is arguably the last “get right” game on the schedule and it’s time for some gelling to happen.