Indiana was roughed up this past weekend with a 45-14 loss to Penn State. The offense really struggled, finishing the day with four turnovers, and only completing 5.5 yards per pass. The secondary struggled as well, giving up 315 yards passing to the Penn State offense. The story going into the game was Saquon Barkley’s continued dominance of college football, but Indiana’s front seven had other plans. Barkley was held to a season-low 56 yards on 2.8 YPC. This kept Indiana in the game longer than they should have been. Let’s look at how the front seven dominated in the run game.
Indiana is fortunate to have future top 100 pick Tegray Scales. Scales had another outstanding game, collecting 11 tackles and 3 sacks on the day. His instincts and ability to fill his gap responsibility really helped keep Barkley in check throughout the game. The play above shows off his mental processing to dissect run plays quickly. Scales is lined up as the inside linebacker on this play, and at the snap, he explodes quickly into the C-gap. This is where Barkley is designated to go originally, but Scales forces him back inside, right into Chris Covington for the loss on the play.
This next play was one of the best plays Scales made all game. Here, he is playing Will linebacker, and Penn State is running inside zone with Barkley. Scales does well to fire his hands quickly on the Guard who is coming up to the second level. This allows him to easily shed the O-lineman and get his arms around Barkley for the tackle- what a play.
Indiana also threw a lot of run Blitzes at the Penn State offensive line on first down. It was very effective in keeping Barkley under control in the run game. On the play above, Indiana lines in the nickel defense to matchup versus Penn State spread. Penn State is again running inside zone with Barkley. This time, Tony Fields is coming on the blitz and shoots the B-gap to disrupt the play. Of course, Barkley, who isn’t human, breaks Fields’ tackle, and almost breaks Greg Gooch’s tackle as well, who has to hang on for dear life to bring him to the ground.
An unsung hero for the run defense was senior Nate Hoff. Hoff was beating offensive linemen off the ball all game and was creating lanes for his linebackers to fill into the gaps. On the play above, you see his impact on the run game. Hoff is lined up as a 1-technique, which means he is slightly to the left side of the center. At the snap, he quickly engages the center, staying low, with good hand placement, and gains leverage. He is then able to drive the center out of the A-gap. This allows the linebacker, Chris Covington, to fill the A-gap and make the tackle on Barkley. Even though he did not make the tackle, Hoff created this play.
Even though it was a blowout loss, the play of the front seven should help Indiana win some games going forward.