Bowl Opponent Preview: Indiana Hoosiers

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    2019 Record: 8-4 overall (5-4 Big Ten)

    Head Coach: Tom Allen (3rd year, 18-19 overall)
    Location: Bloomington, Indiana

    Leading Passer: Peyton Ramsey (Sr.) — 184-of-266, 2,227 yards, 13 TD, 4 INT
    Leading Rusher: Stevie Scott III (So.) — 178 carries, 845 yards, 10 TD, 4.7 YPC
    Leading Receiver: Whop Philyor (Jr.) — 69 receptions, 1,001 yards, 5 TD
    Leading Tackler: Micah McFadden (So.) — 56 tackles (38 solo), 9.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks

    Total Offense Rank: 31st (443.6)
    Passing Offense Rank:
    13th (308.7)
    Rushing Offense Rank: 100th (134.9)
    Scoring Offense Rank: 41st (32.6)

    Total Defense Rank: 37th (350.4)
    Passing Defense Rank: 45th (211.7)
    Rushing Defense Rank: 46th (138.8)
    Scoring Defense Rank: 49th (24.5)

    Here’s a complete preview of Tennessee’s bowl game opponent, the Indiana Hoosiers.

    Offense

    Indiana’s offense ranks second in the Big Ten in total offense (443.6, 31st nationally), pass offense (308.7, 13th), time of possession (34:05, 5th), completion percentage (68.6, 9th), first downs (23.9, 18th), completions (301, 9th), and pass attempts (439, T-30th). Their offense ranks third in the conference in fumbles lost (6, T-31st) and pass yards per attempt (8.4, T-24th), tied for third in turnovers lost (14, T-29th), fourth in pass efficiency (153.8, 21st) and third-down conversions (48.2, 11th), tied for fourth in pass touchdowns (24, T-35th), tied for fifth in sacks allowed (1.92, T-57th), sixth in scoring offense (32.6, 41st), tied for sixth in interceptions lost (8, T-40th), and seventh in red zone offense (84.8, 57th).

    The Hoosiers have scored at least 30 points in nine games this season, tying a program record. Led by Kalen DeBoer at offensive coordinator, Indiana eclipsed 500 total yards of offense in four games. DeBoer accepted the head coaching position at Fresno State following the regular season, but he will coach the Hoosiers in the bowl game.

    Former Tennessee commit and current redshirt freshman Michael Penix Jr. was named the Hoosiers’ starting quarterback to begin the season and started six games for Indiana this year. On Nov. 2 in a win over Northwestern, Penix suffered a right sternoclavicular joint injury that cost him the remainder of his season.

    Penix was twice named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for his performances against Ball State and Michigan State. He was 110-of-160 (68.8 percent) passing for 1,394 yards, 10 touchdowns, and four interceptions. Penix rushed for 119 yards on 22 attempts and two touchdowns.

    Peyton Ramsey took over at quarterback for the Hoosiers after Pennix was injured. Ramsey is a past honorable-mention All-Big Ten recipient and has started 22 times over the course of his career. He’s appeared in 31 games.

    This season, Ramsey is 184-of-266 passing (69.2 percent — 9th nationally, 2nd in the Big Ten) for 2,227 yards, 13 touchdowns, and four interceptions. His 69.2 completion percentage ranks second in the Big Ten and ninth nationally, while his pass-efficiency rating of 152.6 ranks 21st and 4th, respectively. Ramsey has rushed for 198 yards and six touchdowns on 80 carries.

    Whether it was Ramsey or Pennix at quarterback, Whop Philyor thrived in the slot. As a second-team All-Big Ten selection, Philyor ranks second in the Big Ten with 6.3 receptions per game and third with 91.0 yards per game. He finished the regular season third in the conference with 69 catches and fourth with 1,001 yards to go along with five touchdowns.

    Philyor is one of four receivers to catch at least 20 passes and have 350 receiving yards for Indiana this season. Nick Westbrook is seventh in program history with 16 career touchdowns and eighth with 2,178 career yards. This season, Westbrook caught 38 passes for 524 yards and five touchdowns (T-1st on the team). Ty Fryfogle was third on the team with 42 catches and 541 yards. Fryfogle caught three touchdowns.

    Donavan Hale had surgery prior to the regular season finale at Purdue and is out for the season. Hale finished the year with 22 catches for 373 yards and three touchdowns. Hale averaged a team-best 17.0 yards per catch.

    Peyton Hendershot is a big pass catching threat at tight right for the Hoosiers. Hendershot entered the season with 15 career receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games. This season, the third-team All-Big Ten selection caught 46 passes (2nd on the team) for 555 yards (2nd) and four touchdowns (3rd) in 12 starts.

    Indiana’s starting running back, Stevie Scott III, is a second-team All-Big Ten selection. Scott is 18 yards away from becoming the 14th Hoosier to rush for 2,000 yards in a career, and he is just 155 yards away from becoming the fifth Hoosier with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

    Scott missed the regular season finale against Purdue due to injury. He finished the regular season having rushed for 845 yards (5th in the Big Ten) and 10 touchdowns (T-4th) on 178 carries. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry, and is fourth in the conference averaging 76.8 yards per game. He’s also a capable pass catcher.

    Along the offense line, Indiana used five different combinations this season, including four over the last six weeks. The Hoosiers used three different left tackles during that stretch. Despite the juggling act, Indiana is second in the Big Ten in sack rate, allowing just one sack every 19.1 pass attempts. For the season, they’ve given up 23 sacks in 439 passing attempts.

    Coy Cronk, Indiana’s senior captain and starting left tackle, suffered a season-ending lower leg injury against Connecticut on Sept. 28. It was a big loss for the Hoosiers, as Cronk had started all 40 games in which he had appeared.

    True freshman Matthew Bedford had filled in for Cronk in the seven games following the injury. Bedford missed the regular season finale due to injury, however.

    Fifth-year seniors Simon Stepaniak, who was named to the All-Big Ten third team from his right guard position, and center Hunter Littlejohn carried the O-line in Cronk’s absence. Stepaniak, a team captain, accepted an invite to the 2020 East-West Shrine Bowl and has started 23 of the last 24 games. Littlejohn has started 11-of-12 this season.

    Harry Crider starts at left guard and has appeared in 26 career games. Redshirt sophomore Caleb Jones starts at right tackle to fill out the O-line. Crider and Jones are the only two Hoosier linemen who have started all 12 games this year.

    Defense

    Indiana’s offense is the strength of the team, but its defense is no slouch. This year, the Hoosiers held four opponents to three points or fewer. Those opponents were Eastern Illinois (52-0), Connecticut (38-3), Rutgers (35-0), and Northwestern (34-3).

    Fifth-year senior Reakwon Jones is a key cog to the Hoosier defense. He’s started 22 straight games from his weak side linebacker position. Jones ranks third on the team with 50 tackles and second with 2.5 tackles for loss. He has led the team in stops four times.

    Sophomore Cam Jones also plays a key role from his linebacker position. Jones has recorded 33 tackles, 22 solo tackles, two sacks, 4.5 tackles for a loss, a pick-6, one forced fumble, two pass pass breakups, and two quarterback hurries. All-Big Ten honoree Micah McFadden leads the team with 56 tackles from his middle linebacker spot. Nine of his tackles have come for a loss.

    James Miller also chips in from the linebacker position playing behind McFadden. He’s made 30 stops, tallied 18 solo tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a half-sack, and two forced fumbles.

    Marcelino Ball plays the Husky position in Tom Allen’s defense. Ball is the team leader in career tackles (197) and solo tackles (139). He also shares the top spot for interceptions (3), pass breakups (13), and tackles for loss (15.5). This season, Ball has 43 tackles (4th on the team), two sacks, three TFLs, two PBUs, and six quarterback hits (1st on the team).

    Indiana’s group of corners are very experienced. Fifth-year senior Andre Brown Jr. has 34 starts in 44 games to his name, junior Raheem Layne has played in 36 games, and sophomore Jaylin Williams has played in 24. The Hoosiers also welcomed back sophomore Reese Taylor to the defensive back room. Taylor started last season at corner as a true freshman before moving to the offense.

    Despite the experience returning, true freshman Tiawan Mullen is Indiana’s best defensive back. Mullen shares the league lead with 12 pass breakups and as a result, was named to the 247Sports True Freshman All-American team, The Athletic’s Freshman All-American team, and was an honorable-mention All-B1G selection. For the season, he has 25 tackles, 22 solo tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, and two forced fumbles.

    Khalil Bryant and Bryant Fitzgerald start at safety for the Hoosiers. Bryant has started the last seven games at free safety, while Fitzgerald’s six career takeaways tie for the team lead.

    Along the defensive line, Allen Stallings IV and Jerome Johnson lead the front line. In 36 career games, Stallings owns a team-high 10 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss. This season, Stallings leads the team with five sacks. He also has 25 stops, six tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery. Johnson, on the other hand, has 8.5 career sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss. This year, Johnson leads the line with 37 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and four sacks (2nd on the team).

    Sophomore Demarcus Elliott plays alongside Johnson in the interior of the D-line. In his first season at Indiana, Elliott has 32 tackles, five tackles for a loss, three sacks and one forced fumble in 11 starts.

    Sophomore James Head Jr. starts at the defensive end spot opposite of Stallings. In 12 starts this season, Head has 20 tackles, five quarterback hurries, and four tackles for a loss.

    Special Teams

    At kicker for the Hoosiers, fifth-year senior Logan Justus was named a Lou Groza Award semifinalist and second-team All-Big Ten honoree for the second-straight season. Justus is Indiana’s all-time field goal percentage leader. This season, he was 14-of-17 on field goal attempts and missed one extra point. For his career, Justus is 29-of-35

    Haydon Whitehead serves as Indiana’s punter. Whitehead is a three-time Ray Guy Award candidate and was a 2019 honorable-mention All-Big Ten recipient. This season, Whitehead has landed 29.8 percent (14-of-47) of his punts inside the 10-yard line, which ranks second in the country. He’s averaging a career-high 42.1 yards per punt, with 21 landing inside the 20-yard line. Whitehead had a career-long of 65 yards earlier this year.