Three things you need to know about the Indiana Hoosiers

Elizabeth Soza / Panther Press

Saturday, September 1, 2018

By Brett Shweky/Sports Director

 

 

Kickoff to the 2018 season is here for the FIU Panthers as the team hosts the Indiana Hoosiers in a Conference USA vs. Big Ten matchup.

FIU and Indiana have squared off against each other twice, with the Hoosiers having completed a clean sweep in 2015 and 2016. In their last game, Indiana blew past the Panthers in a 34-13 victory at Riccardo Silva Stadium.

The two teams were set to face off against one another last season, however, with the unexpected arrival of Hurricane Irma the game was canceled. The game has been rescheduled for Aug. 31, 2024, in Bloomington, Ind.

Last year for the Hoosiers, the team posted a 5-7 record and ended the season with a 2-7 conference record. The Panthers matched their program record for wins in a season with an 8-5 record and will attempt to build off the success from the previous season.

Here are three things you need to know about the Panthers’ opening opponent.

1. The Hoosiers must overcome the suspension of their lead rusher

Last week on Friday, Aug. 24, Indiana announced that sophomore running back Morgan Ellison will be suspended indefinitely from all football-related activities.

Ellison was the Hoosiers’ leading rusher a season ago with him having rushed for 704 yards and six touchdowns.

Redshirt sophomore Cole Gest will start in place of Ellison and will attempt to build off a disappointing 2017 season. Gest was second in the rotation for the Hoosiers and finished the year with 428 rushing yards and only one touchdown in 10 games.

Seniors Mike Majette and Ricky Brookins will comprise the backfield behind Gest.

Majette missed seven games last season due to a hamstring injury and finished the season with just 22 carries. Brookins saw limited playing time during 2017, however, made the best of his attempts by finishing with 88 yards and one touchdown on just 11 carries.

2. Similar to FIU, Indiana will be breaking in a new starting quarterback

Indiana head coach Tom Allen announced that redshirt sophomore Peyton Ramsey will be the starting quarterback heading into the game against the Panthers.

Ramsey appeared in 10 games for the Hoosiers and even started four as a redshirt freshman. Last season, the Cincinnati, Ohio native completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 1,252 yards, 10 touchdowns, and five interceptions.

The signal caller’s best game came against Virginia when he came off the bench and rallied the Hoosiers to 34-17 win. Ramsey followed by starting four mid-season matchups before suffering an injury.

The redshirt sophomore managed to edge out graduate transfer Brandon Dawkins and true freshman Michael Penix for the starting job during training camp.

3. Indiana is only returning four starters on the defensive side of the ball

The Hoosiers will need to replace their entire linebacking corps from a year ago.

Chase Dutra was the leading tackler for Indiana last season and finished the 2017 campaign with 96 total tackles. Linebackers Tegray Scales and Chris Covington also graduated from the program and led the team in tackles for loss. Scales was even the team leader in interceptions and tied for the lead in sacks.

Redshirt senior linebacker Dameon Willis, Jr. will be a lead candidate to help replenish the linebacker position as he played in 10 games during the previous season.

Defensive lineman Robert McCray III is another critical loss for the Hoosiers as he was a cornerstone of their defense a season ago. McCray III concluded the season with six sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss.

Senior defensive tackle Jacob Robinson returns to the program and will be leaned on to compensate for the loss of McCray.

Defensive back Jonathan Crawford is one of the lone returning starters for Indiana and will look to improve upon his stellar sophomore season. In 2017, the six-foot-two strong safety led the team in pass breakups with eight and finished fourth on the team in total tackles with 62.

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