Indiana football’s season opener against Iowa included three interceptions, no touchdowns, 77 rushing yards and a loss. Offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan took the blame for the poor performance during a press conference Monday.
“We didn’t get enough yards and score enough points,” Sheridan said. “We turned the ball over and gave them 17 points. So we need to do better — I need to coach better.”
Indiana will look to improve in multiple areas during practices this week, including fundamentals for junior quarterback Michael Penix Jr, communication for graduate student running back Stephen Carr and penalties for the entire team.
Head coach Tom Allen said Penix had multiple high throws against Iowa and will need to work on getting more comfortable working in the pocket. Allen added that Penix is 100% recovered after tearing his ACL last November.
Sheridan said he needs to do better preparing Penix for Indiana’s game plan with fundamentals, such as the quarterback’s footwork, drops into the pocket and timing on throws.
“Michael obviously can play a lot better than he did Saturday,” Sheridan said. “I shoulder most of the burden on that. I didn’t do a good job putting him in positions to be successful and didn’t prepare him well enough for the moment.”
Penix faced pressure on 37.5% of his dropbacks with 8.3% of his dropbacks resulting in a sack, according to Pro Football Focus. His completion percentage from a clean pocket was 55% but dropped to 27.3% when under pressure.
All three of Penix’s interceptions were thrown outside of the left hash and within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Those three interceptions were also his only three attempts in that area of the field.
Immediately after the game, Penix cited poor execution on his interceptions and senior wide receiver Ty Fryfogle described Indiana’s receivers as sloppy and unable to get open for Penix to throw.
Carr’s 57 rushing yards included 35 yards after contact according to PFF. He said he needed to work on running harder against a defense while making more decisive cuts and communicating with teammates on the sideline.
Against Iowa, Indiana committed seven penalties totaling 67 yards. Starting senior offensive lineman Caleb Jones was called for two false starts and one holding penalty. Allen said reducing penalties would be a point of emphasis in practice this week.
“I mean, you’ve gotta eliminate mistakes,” Allen said. “Those just killed drives, especially on our offense. It just really, really, really set us back.”
Indiana’s matchup against the University of Idaho will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. The game will broadcast on the Big Ten Network and over the WIUX radio station.