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Know Your Foe, Week 5: Indiana Hoosiers

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Who’s your opponent? The Indiana Hoosiers, that’s who.

NCAA Football: Georgia Southern at Indiana Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana University

Location: Bloomington, IN
Enrollment: 110,436, university-wide
Home Stadium: Memorial Stadium
Head Coach: Tom Allen, first year, 2-2 (.500)
Conference: Big Ten (East Division)

Series History

First Game: November 6, 1993 (Penn State won 38-31)
Last Game: November 12, 2016 (Penn State won 45-31)
Overall: Penn State leads 19-1
Current Win Streak: 3, Penn State

Last Season (6-7 overall, 4-5 Big Ten)

The Hoosiers started 2016 with two wins against Florida International University and Ball State and a loss to Wake Forest. The next game was an exciting overtime win against then No. 17 Michigan State, but Indiana fell in their next three games against No. 2 Ohio State, No. 10 Nebraska and Northwestern. The Hoosiers had a pair of wins against Maryland and Rutgers, then a pair of losses against No. 12 Penn State and No 4. Michigan.

After beating Purdue, Indiana earned a spot in the Foster Farms Bowl, then dismissed head coach Kevin Wilson, replacing him with defensive coordinator Tom Allen. With Allen at the helm of his first game as head coach, Indiana lost 26-24 in their bowl game to Utah.

Last Week

This Saturday, Indiana defeated Georgia Southern 52-17. Highlights of the game included freshman tailback Morgan Ellison rushing for 186 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns in his first college start, and J-Shun Harris II returning a first quarter punt 70 yards for a touchdown. Harris was named the Big Ten Special Teams player of the week and Ellison was named Big Ten Freshman of the week for their performances Saturday.

The Hoosiers scored twice on fumble recoveries last week after wide receiver Simmie Cobbs and cornerback Andre Brown Jr each claimed a score on a recovery.

Offseason and Recruiting

In addition to former defensive coordinator Tom Allen being promoted to the head coach, Indiana football welcomed Mike Debord as the new assistant head coach and offensive coordinator from the University of Tennessee, and promoted William Inge from co-defensive coordinator to the defensive coordinator spot.

A number of Indiana players left for the NFL including All-American offensive guard Dan Feeney and running back Devine Redding

Indiana’s 2017 class ranked as the nation’s 62nd recruiting class (13th in the Big Ten Conference) as compared to PSU’s 2017 class ranked at 15th in the nation and third in the Big 10.

Offense

Last year, Indiana was 28th in passing offense and 56th in total offense. But they were 126th in red zone offense, 92nd in rushing offense, and allowed 29 sacks in 2016 (and allowed nine sacks so far in 2017).

With just five returning starters on offense and a depleted offensive line, Indiana is relying heavily on returning quarterback Richard Lagow, and several returning runningbacks and receivers.

Lagow was second last year in the Big Ten in passing yards (3,362 yards), with a 57.8% pass completion rate and 19 touchdowns. Lagow was also second in the conference in interceptions with 17. So far this year, Lagow has only had three interceptions and has completed 58% of passes for 564 yards and four touchdowns.

The Hoosiers have also been rotating in backup quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who has completed 21 of 31 passes for a 67.6% completion percentage, throwing for 238 yards and three touchdowns.

Replacing runningback Devine Redding has been a big task for the Hoosiers this year, with several runningbacks seeing time on the field . Morgon Ellison currently leads the team this year in rushing yards with 257 yards and two touchdowns. Behind Ellison is Peyton Ramsey with 74 yards and a touchdown. Mike Majette has also run the ball for 21 yards.

Wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr., who missed most of 2016 due to injury, returned this season, racking up 18 receptions for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Luke Timian is also a target, with 17 receptions and 112 yards, as is tight end Ian Thomas who’s had 11 receptions for 163 yards and three touchdowns.

Defense

Last year, Indiana’s defense was 45th in total defense, 19th in FBS in tackles for loss, 28th in passing defense, forced 23 turnovers, and this year is returning nine talented starters. No, I’m not worried.

But Penn State's offense will be on their toes, especially with linebacker Tegray Scales, one of the best in the conference and in college football. Scales led the Big Ten in 2016 with 126 tackles, was first in FBS with 93 solo tackles and first in FBS with 23.5 tackles for loss. Scales is the current tackle leader for Indiana with 26 tackles and five sacks so far in 2017. Senior linebacker Chris Covington is just behind Scales with 21 tackles for 2017.

Indiana’s secondary is strong, returning all four starting players from last year, including defensive back Marcelino Ball who had a stellar 2016 with 75 tackles and two interceptions. Also keep an eye on returning defensive back/safety Tony Fields and safety Jonathan Crawford, who had 142 tackles between them in 2016.

Cornerback Rashard Fant, one of the best in the conference and in FBS, was top in the Big Ten and second nationally in 2016 with 17 pass breakups (and three interceptions and 34 tackles). So far this year, Fant has easily handled two pass breakups and five tackles.

Special Teams

After two years of ACL injuries to both knees, redshirt junior punt returner J-Shun Harris II returned and is already turning heads with two touchdowns on punt returns this season (and two weeks straight as the Big Ten Special Teams player of the week).

Fifth-year senior kicker Griffin Oakes returns, after a strong 2016 making extra points (33 of 35 for a 94.3% average) but struggling on field goals (16 of 26 for a 61.5% average). Oakes has turned out a perfect performance so far in 2017, 14 of 14 on extra points and three of three on field goals. Oakes is now Indiana’s all-time leader with 55 career field goals and is the leader in FBS on field goal percentage.

Blog

Read more about Indiana football at the SB Nation blog Crimson Quarry.