Robert McCray emerging at important time #iufb

He was flagged for a facemask penalty late in the third quarter of Saturday’s game at Wake Forest, but Robert McCray’s weekend won’t be defined by one mistake.

McCray was a visible presence rotating onto Indiana’s defensive line in a 31-24 win in Winston-Salem, and with defensive tackle Darius Latham’s indefinite suspension looming over this week’s game against No. 1 Ohio State, McCray could see more opportunities to make an impact on Saturday.

The sophomore moved from outside linebacker to defensive line this summer, giving the defensive front another athletic pass rusher in the mold of former IU defensive end Bobby Richardson. Although his time on task at the position was limited this summer by a minor injury, McCray has caught the attention of position coach Larry McDaniel.

“He’s still in that infancy stage, but he showed some flashes (on Saturday),” McDaniel said. “It’s just a matter of him and I getting together, learning the position and learning the nuances of the position. There’s obviously going to be a learning curve there. I like where he’s trending right now, but he’s got a long way to go.”

At 280 pounds, McCray has already come a long way in the weight room, adding 30 pounds since the start of his freshman season in 2014. That’s also the kind of frame McDaniel is looking to add in abundance to his defensive line.

Along with an emphasis on geting to the passer, McDaniel wants his group to be able to play in space, so having a collection of guys who weigh less than 300 pounds like McCray, Nick Mangieri and Zack Shaw helps. To that point, McDaniel says McCray shares similarities with Richardson, who weighed 285 last year and used a blend of quickness and athleticism to generate his push.

It’s that degree of leverage that intrigues defensive coordinator Brian Knorr, who likes that McCray has experience playing in space as an outside linebacker, but also has the skill set to play up front.

Prior to Latham’s suspension on Tuesday, McCray was listed as his backup at defensive tackle. Given Latham’s expected absence against the Buckeyes, McCray should have a chance to follow through on his debut performance this week.

“I think he gave us a spark (on Saturday),” Knorr said. “That was really his first game back, so we’re looking for more and more.”

One comment

  1. McCray has to step up fill the spot that Latham is out of for now. The whole front 7 has to step up along with the rest of the team. I hope they play as well the whole game like did the first three quarters. I hope the offense controls the clock to keep OSU offense off the field and our offense finishes drives to score TDs.

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