Football team loses 52-0 against Indiana


Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News Kylan Cole breaks through Indiana’s offensive line to try to tackle the running back. Eastern was shutout 52-0 Saturday at Indiana’s Memorial Stadium.

JJ Bullock, Editor-in-Chief

The Eastern football team was expecting to find a team that was big, fast and strong headed into its Saturday matchup against Indiana.

When the Panthers did eventually step on the field, they indeed did find a team that was big, fast and strong, and in many cases more so than them, in a Hoosier squad that beat Eastern 52-0.

The most notable and impactful difference in size between Indiana of the Big Ten conference, and Eastern of the Ohio Valley Conference, came on the offensive and defensive lines where the Hoosiers drew a big advantage in size.

Indiana’s starting offensive line entered the game weighing an average of 326 lbs and standing at six-foot-five, Eastern’s offensive checked in at an average 289 lbs and six-foot-three.

On the defensive front, the Hoosiers were an average of 287 lbs; the Panthers were 271. The difference was notable on the roster and also with the naked eye watching the game.

Indiana’s offensive line held tight in the game allowing no sacks while giving its quarterbacks ample time to throw and its running backs large lanes to run through.

The Indiana offense totaled 555 yards, 441 in the air, 114 on the ground.

The Indiana defensive front did not make Eastern’s day much easier. The Hoosiers tallied just two sacks, but had Eastern quarterback Johnathan Brantley under pressure for most of the game and held Eastern to just 52 yards rushing, 116 total yards in the game.

When the Hoosier’s line wanted to go left, they went left; when they wanted to go right, they went right. It was mixture of size, good coaching and fundamentals that led to Indiana’s repeated winning in the trenches, said Eastern head coach Adam Cushing.

“A little bit (of it was size) yeah,” Cushing said. “Size doesn’t matter if you don’t play with pad-level and all that stuff and it looks like they took advantage of both.”

Eastern’s offensive line started three freshmen, Elkhanan Tanelus and Anthony Sottosanto at left and right guard and Chad Strickland at left tackle. Redshirt-sophomore Ben Solomon started at center and redshirt-junior Cole Hoover started at right tackle.

Hoover, the eldest member of Eastern starting offensivc line, said on Saturday that there is not much he has to say to the freshman after a game like Saturday. Despite them being young, Hoover said they are a great group of kids who seem to have their heads in the right places.

“Really not that much, they’re young kids, they were just playing high school ball,” Hoover said. “So, they’re happy, they’re excited about the opportunity that they get. They’re upset with the loss, but they have got the right mindset, they’re ready to go for next week already.”

The key now for the offensive line after the 52-point loss Saturday is to just learn from the mistakes they made, watch film and get ready for week three against Illinois State, Hoover said.

Signs of maturation of the three freshmen, and in Hoover and Solomon themselves, started to show through in week two when compared to week one.

“I thought we communicated better as a young offensive line (in week two),” Hoover said. “But it is going to get week-by-week better. They were recognizing more stuff on the sideline; their head wasn’t spinning as much because it wasn’t their first college game.”

Hoover continued: “And even me and Ben Solomon, who are kind of older guys, we haven’t played a whole lot, so we’re getting better with that kind of just communicating and seeing what we’re seeing on the sideline and what coach is seeing and kind of giving our input on what we think my work and what we think could help us.”

What Indiana was able to do purely because of its size was out of Eastern’s control.

What Eastern could control, however, was its own technique and awareness on the field. This was something that Hoover recognized as a reality.

“(Indiana is) a Big 10 team, their d-line is big, they’re strong, they’re fast,” Hoover said. “We are a young o-line right now, but I think for the most part we did the best we could communicating, making sure that we were assignment-wise perfect and technique-wise you have to be great because against guys like that is all you can ask for. If you get beat one-on-one just being because a guy is bigger, faster, stronger than you, I can’t get mad at a teammate for just losing a one-on-one battle like that.”

The Panthers’ defensive line had a similar story.

It could not control how big Indiana was, it could only control itself. This is why, despite the 52-0 loss, Eastern defensive lineman Terrell Greer was proud with what he saw from the young unit he played with.

“A lot of the young guys actually stepped up,” Greer said. “The young guys, they made me proud today, they stepped up and faced a challenge today, which is good.”

Freshmen like Dominic Moore and Cameron Leach saw the field on defense for the Panthers along with other young players like redshirt-sophomores Austin Johnson and D’Mitri George.

The volume of young defensive lineman that got to play for Eastern on Saturday offered valuable experience to the line moving forward, Greer felt.

“Facing the best competition will get you ready for conference,” Greer said. “You face high D-I like that and that is going to get you ready for that conference game and our goal is to win conference and go into the playoffs and go further. But facing a big opponent like that is always helpful.”

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]