A few early special team mistakes proved costly for Indiana, as they fell 45-14 at Penn State on Saturday.
TheHoosier.com looks at what media members are saying from both sides the day after the game.
"IU coach Tom Allen’s renewed focus on special teams had been paying dividends early in the season, helping the Hoosiers to wins over Georgia Southern and Virginia. On Saturday, that unit took a collective step back.
"It started badly, star Penn State running back Saquon Barkley returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. And it got worse when IU's J-Shun Harris — two-time Big Ten special teams player of the week — fumbled a punt return that bounced into the arms of a Penn State player who cruised into the end zone for an easy score. A roughing the punter penalty also gave new life to a Nittany Lions drive that eventually found the end zone.
"Erase even two of those three mistakes and, in theory, it’s 14-14 going into halftime.
"But it extended to more than just those three plays. Haydon Whitehead posted the lowest punt average of his young career. Devonte Williams wasn’t a factor on kickoff returns. Jonathan Crawford’s late field goal block tilted the balance back slightly, but too much damage had been done by that point.
"Generally, Indiana started badly on special teams and never really improved, setting the tone for a tough day."
Mike Miller, Bloomington Herald-Times: Ugly Start Buries Indiana In 45-14 Loss At Penn State
"The frustration bubbled inside Tom Allen as his special teams unit imploded during a wretched first quarter.
"After watching Penn State’s third touchdown of the period, the product of a fumbled punt return by J-Shun Harris, the Indiana coach fixed his gaze upward, as if the clouds above Beaver Stadium held the answers to why IU’s special teams play suddenly looked so inept.
"The Hoosiers didn’t put so much as a finger on Penn State star Saquon Barkley during his 98-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff, and Harris’ mistake on punt duty moments later felt like a throbbing gut punch after IU’s special teams platoon had played so well across the past two weeks.
"Those first-quarter lapses, along with an offense that failed to consistently start and sustain drives, buried Indiana in a 45-14 loss to No. 4 Penn State before an announced crowd of 107,542 on Saturday."
"Against Ohio State, IU senior quarterback Richard Lagow played well. For a bit more than a half he gave his team a shot to win the game, and although the Hoosiers ended up losing, freshman quarterback Peyton Ramsey played a minor role as a foil and not much more.
"At Virginia, Lagow struggled. Ramsey’s hot hand led his pace to become IU’s pace, and the Hoosiers won. The two sung each other’s praises as teammates do. It didn’t matter who got the credit.
"Florida International got cancelled. Georgia Southern was, well, Georgia Southern.
"Then Lagow gets the start against No. 4 Penn State and struggled again. Ramsey didn’t lead IU to victory this time, in fact he struggled after leading IU to a touchdown as the clock wound down in the second half, but before the game finally got away, he gave the Hoosiers a spark that cast further doubt into how much the two might split time in the future."
"Running Back: It wasn’t the best of days for Barkley on the ground - 20 carries, 56 yards, 0 TDs, 2.8 YPC - but that was hardly his fault, as Indiana’s front four got the best of PSU’s offensive line. However, he also added 51 yards receiving on four receptions and threw a touchdown pass late in the game. Oh, and that kick return to start the game was pretty special, too."
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