Early in the second quarter, the Hoosiers were already struggling. IU football was down 14-3 to No. 6 Ohio State and had the ball on their own 18 yard line facing a 3rd and 15. Not ideal. However, junior receiver Whop Philyor beat Ohio State sophomore cornerback Shaun Wade to create space on a wheel route.
All that was left to complete the big play was a decent pass from junior quarterback Peyton Ramsey. But instead, Ramsey severely under threw Philyor, forcing the Hoosiers to punt. The punt was blocked by the Buckeyes and went out of the back of the endzone for a safety.
“We had the chance right before the blocked punt and just needed to get that completion,” IU head coach Tom Allen said. “It was just kind of a critical missed opportunity with the deep ball that I thought really could have changed with how the game felt at that point.”
The two play sequence defined IU’s 51-10 blowout loss to Ohio State.
Instead of a huge gain or possibly a touchdown to pull the Hoosiers within four points with the Buckeyes, Ohio State used the momentum to score a quick touchdown after the safety to open up a commanding 23-3 lead, and would never look back.
Yes. A lot went wrong for IU against Ohio State.
Ohio State had 528 yards offense, including 314 on the ground. Junior running back J.K. Dobbins ran through Hoosier defenders like they were grade schoolers, rushing for 193 yards and a touchdown, along with catching another score.
The Hoosier run game was nonexistent. IU put up a total of nine rushing yards in the first 30 minutes of the game, and only finished with 42 total rushing yards on the day.
But while Saturday’s loss cannot be pinned on one specific player, it became clear early and often throughout the day that if IU is going to have a successful season, Ramsey can’t be the man taking first team offensive snaps.
Ramsey does have some positives at quarterback. He is extremely accurate on short throws, is mobile and has a lot of experience. But Ramsey’s inability to throw the ball down field was exposed as a fatal flaw against the Buckeyes.
With Ramsey running the offense, Ohio State recognized the Ohio native’s weakness and took full advantage.
The Buckeyes routinely loaded the box to take sophomore running back Stevie Scott effectively out of the ball game and played press coverage against IU receivers to eliminate the short, quick hitting passing game that Ramsey excels in.
On a majority of plays, Ohio State would have ten of their eleven defenders within five yards of the line of scrimmage. On a handful of other snaps, the Bucks would cram all eleven defenders near the neutral zone, just begging for the Hoosiers to complete a downfield pass.
To Ramsey and offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer’s credit, they did at least try to take advantage of the extremely tight coverage.
IU tried on various occasions to throw the ball down the field, but most either ended up under thrown, like the 3rd down pass to Philyor, or thrown late, such as Ramsey’s pick six on the last play of the third quarter.
“You need to be able to create some of those chunk plays against this kind of a team," Allen said. "You’re not going to be able to just move the chains for 75-80 yards. We need to get those chunk plays to be able to create that momentum and also get down the field better.”
Penix missed Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury, and Allen said postgame that he does not believe Penix will be out long term, and that the injury will be monitored on a week by week basis.
But if the Hoosiers are hoping to make it to a bowl game, they will need Penix to steer clear of any setbacks—as well as avoid another injury—and play better than Ramsey did today whenever he returns.
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