This is what Indiana needed.
A week removed from an embarrassing effort against the Buckeyes, the Hoosiers needed a bounce-back performance, one that would see them regain their confidence on both sides of the football. UConn, a team widely picked to finish last in the American Athletic Conference, proved to be the perfect opportunity for Indiana to get what they needed.
From the beginning, it was clear Indiana wanted to get the ground game going. One year after Stevie Scott set the record for most rushing yards for a true freshman in Indiana football history, the Hoosiers running attack was devoid of life through the first three games of the 2019 season.
Although the yards per carry average won’t blow anyone away, 4.5 on the afternoon, the rushing attack was a consistent weapon throughout the game, with Indiana finishing the contest with 178 yards on the ground.
Peyton Ramsey and the Indiana passing attack proved equally effective throughout the game, with Ramsey finishing with 247 yards and three touchdowns compared to just four incomplete passes on the game.
Ten different receivers got in on the action, led by junior wide receiver Ty Fryfogle along with sophomore tight end Peyton Hendershot with five receptions apiece.
Perhaps most importantly, the Indiana defense also had a much better performance in all phases, limiting UConn to just 145 total yards on the afternoon. The most important play of the game came on defense, when sophomore linebacker Cam Jones intercepted a UConn pass and took it the distance for the first Indiana defensive touchdown of the year.
“I knew our d-line was getting after them, they were bringing the pressure. And our backend guys, they were locking things up,” Jones said. “That was an opportunity for me. You can’t let those opportunities just slip away.”
Although seeing the Hoosiers respond positively and take care of business against an inferior opponent is encouraging, Indiana will now enter a stretch that sees them go on the road for three of their next four contests, including next week’s showdown against Michigan State in East Lansing.
How much we can realistically take away from a dominant victory over a team like UConn remains to be seen, but despite the victory, there remains a number of questions surrounding Indiana.
The injury to senior offensive tackle Coy Cronk during the game, arguably Indiana’s most reliable offensive lineman, could be a big factor moving forward for an offensive line that had depth questions coming into the season. Freshman quarterback Michael Penix also remains out with an undisclosed injury, and his status for Michigan State remains up in the air.
“We have to turn it up this week,” junior defensive end Michael Ziemba said. “Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, every single day. Michigan State is a great team, and we’re going to have that sense of urgency this week, too.”
Getting to bowl eligibility requires Indiana to take care of inferior opponents like they did today. Yet if Indiana ever wants to ever be more than a middling Big Ten team, matchups like next week’s show down with Michigan State provide the perfect opportunity for the Hoosiers to get over the hump.