Sitting at 2-6 on the season, when expectations were high after a 6-2 campaign in 2020, Indiana football is struggling to right the ship. The performance of its offensive line has been among those struggles.
Indiana had six offensive linemen drafted into the NFL from 2010-2020. Rodger Saffold III was named second-team All-Pro in 2017 and currently starts for the Tennessee Titans.
But now, Indiana is starting multiple transfers on its offensive line. Graduate student Dylan Powell played for Stanford University and senior Luke Haggard played for Santa Rosa Junior College, both of whom played for Indiana last year as well.
Indiana also brought in sophomore Zach Carpenter from Michigan last offseason. Carpenter returned from injury to play against Maryland last Saturday, allowing no pressures.
Be it a lack of recruiting or development, Indiana’s offensive line hasn’t performed as well this year as it has in the past.
Here are some key stats on the line’s struggles this season:
Nobody in the Big Ten East is allowing more pressure against its quarterbacks than Indiana. The Hoosier quarterbacks have been pressured 100 times this season, second in the conference only to Nebraska with 131.
Those 100 pressures are 19 more than the second-place team for pressures allowed in the East: Penn State.
As for sacks, Indiana has allowed a total of 12. That ranks fifth-best overall in the conference and second in the East to Penn State. However, Indiana is second in the conference in quarterback hurries, allowing 76.
A quarterback hurry is defined as a quarterback being forced to throw the ball earlier than intended or scrambling due to pressure, according to Pro Football Reference.
Among players who have taken at least 250 pass-blocking snaps, senior Caleb Jones has allowed the most pressures, sacks and hurries on the team. Jones has allowed 25 pressures, 17 hurries and five sacks.
Graduate student Dylan Powell has allowed the least pressures and hurries with nine and seven, respectively. Senior Luke Haggard has allowed zero hits and sophomore Mike Katic has allowed zero sacks, leading the team in those respective categories.
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All that pressure has affected Indiana’s passers. Of its quarterbacks’ 10 interceptions this season, six have been thrown under pressure. Both of those numbers lead the Big Ten.
Run blocking doesn’t have stats as concrete as pressures, sacks and hits for pass blocking. Rather, Pro Football Focus uses a grading system for both the line as a whole and individual linemen.
The grades are on a 0-100 scale, with higher grades meaning better results.
Indiana’s offensive line as a whole ranks 48th in the country at run blocking. Only one lineman who has taken at least 190 run-blocking snaps has a grade above 65: Haggard with a grade of 74.1. Notably, Haggard’s grade jumps to 86 on zone run plays.
Overall, Haggard’s 74.1 ranks 98th nationally among offensive linemen with at least 190 run-blocking snaps.
The line’s results in the running game add more detail. Indiana’s 1,119 overall rushing yards and 4.3 yards per attempt both rank 11th in the Big Ten.
All statistics cited in this piece were sourced from Pro Football Focus.