MEMORIAL STADIUM (IUSTV Sports) – The Scarlet Knights become bowl eligible for the first time since 2014 as they spoil the Homecoming festivities of the Hoosiers by exploiting the run defense and eating the clock.
“Being bowl eligible is just one step of the journey,” said Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano.
Indiana has now completed over half of its season and it seems to have regressed in certain aspects of the game as the year has gone along. In the Homecoming clash between the Hoosiers and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, there were too many disastrous plays that set the Hoosiers back.
“That was a disappointing loss,” said Indiana Head Coach Tom Allen.
In the first half there was some promise as Brendan Sorsby who played in his first FULL game as a Hoosier led two scoring drives that included his first career rushing touchdown.
Outside of an opening drive touchdown by the Scarlet Knights, the defense of the Hoosiers was looking solid, but it was the special teams atrocity that shifted the momentum entirely.
At the beginning of the second quarter Indiana had their backs to the wall as the punting unit took the field in hopes that James Evans could flip the field. The result however, was a seven second play leading to a touchdown by Rutgers. Shaquan Loyal of the Knights broke free and got every bit of James Evans punt as Eric Rogers played cleanup crew to get the points on the board in what was a tie now saw Rutgers beginning to pull away with all the momentum on their side.
In a separate special teams nightmare Rutgers was punting away with under a minute to go in the first half as Jaylin Lucas ran up to attempt a return and in doing so muffed the punt which was returned by Rutgers in the red zone. The defense of the Hoosiers held Rutgers to only a field goal, yet the 10 points of special teams saw the Hoosiers trailing 17-14 at the break.
Besides the two very memorable plays on special teams it was the run defense of Indiana that failed to adjust to a Rutgers team that would go on to run the ball 55 times for 276 yards and three touchdowns on the day.
The Hoosiers sit last in the Big Ten in rush yards allowed (1221), yards per carry (4.2), and touchdowns (14).
“We have to be better on first downs…there were too many second and third and shorts that we gave up,” said Allen.
The frustrations were growing from the opening drive that the Scarlet Knights had where they went 75 yards in 15 plays that included 13 on the ground for 67 of the total yards resulting in one of three Gavin Wimsatt rushing touchdowns.
The Junior Quarterback only needed to throw the ball 12 times which resulted in only five completions as it was his legs that got the job done for the Scarlet Knights.
Wimsatt rushed the ball 16 times for 143 yards and the three scores and was highlighted by an 80-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter giving the final score of 31-14.
“That was quite a run by Gavin…I was behind the play so I didn’t realize how close he was to the goal line,” said Schiano.
It wasn’t just Wimsatt who carried the load as Junior Running back Kyle Monangai who leads the Big Ten in rushing yards (744) contributed 109 yards on 24 carries as the pair of Wimsatt and Monangai averaged 6.2 yards per carry on the day.
“It starts up front, the guys have gotten better every single week…Kyle (Monangai) is a tough tough guy,” said Schiano.
To be able to command a ground attack to the extent that Rutgers did served a huge benefit as the Scarlet Knights held the ball for over 37 of the 60 minutes. The reality of the Hoosiers season is sitting in more through the past few weeks as Indiana has been outscored 127-38 in their last three outings.
“There’s a lot of the blame that stems back to me to be able to execute at a higher level each week,” said Allen.
Ultimately Indiana can only continue to try and grow each week as a big change is not likely. With tough road tests still ahead including next week in State College, the Hoosiers will have to put their best foot forward and be able to win the battles put in front of them. The hopes of the locker room may still remain, but the fans have been dwindling.