Allen receiving early returns from new Indiana defense #iufb

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MIAMI — Tegray Scales was in the end zone and Tom Allen was in the clouds.

Scales’ 16-yard interception return for a touchdown in the final minutes of Thursday’s win at Florida International was exactly the type of play Allen has demanded during his first few months on the job.

Takeaways, and lots of them. In the season opener, that’s what the Hoosiers gave their new defensive coordinator.

After Scales’ pick, Allen was overjoyed. He ripped his hat from off his head and spiked it into the turf, then leaped in the air and pumped his fist with zeal. These were the moments Allen came to create at Indiana, and in his first opportunity to see his charges in action, he had plenty of moments to celebrate.

IU picked off three passes, returning two for touchdowns. There was added buzz generated by 17-year-old hybrid safety Marcelino Ball, who at one point forced a fumble while he was engaged with a blocker. The play didn’t stand — the catch in front of Ball was ruled incomplete — but his approach and athleticism was noted.

Indiana forced seven three-and-outs, and held FIU to 4.9 yards per play and 331 yards total.

“I thought we played a lot of numbers, played a lot of guys on defense,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said. “Our goal coming into it was we were trying to keep our best defensive player, Marcus Oliver, under 35 plays because we were going to play Chris Covington. We were going to play Dameon Willis and we did the same thing at running back.”

With that, there was a higher and more sustained uptick in energy and aggression across the defense. A’Shon Riggins impressed at corner, the defensive line held its own despite the suspension of starting defensive tackle Ralph Green III. Scales looked the part as one of IU’s best defenders. Fant played strong at corner, nevermind the pass interference call that went against him.

Yes, there were mistakes. Tyler Green got burned in one-on-one coverage down the sideline and Ball was out of position on the second play of the game, leading to a big gain for the Panthers.

But particularly in Ball’s case, it was his response to the hiccups that proved he was worthy of an enhanced roll as IU’s starting hybrid safety.

“He had a big bust and wasn’t where he was supposed to be on a new formation,” Wilson said. “Next play, they ran a bubble play and he smoked a blocker. … So it was a good comeback. He was dead wrong on their second play that went for (27) yards. It was something he hadn’t seen and got caught in. He’s a 17-year-old guy, so whatever. He’s strong, he’s talented, he’s got the look of a ballplayer.

And on Indiana’s first night to put Allen’s behind-the-scenes work into play, the Hoosiers looked like a defense ready to begin the uphill climb to respectability.

12 comments

  1. The defense did a great job for the first game. They give us hope of winning more games this year as the offense improves and starts to click. IU’s defense had talented players that never lived up to their ability until a DC taught them how to care about each other and live up to their standards.

    Now it is time to come out against Ball State and do a better job as players get more comfortable with the defense. It was good to see them playing solid all four quarters and not just in spurts. Without this defense IU would have been behind by a couple of scores and coming up short losing the first game like many thought they would. Instead this defense gave the offense time to come together and give them boost until they got in the endzone.

  2. Davis, Your comment does state an obvious fact. Last year FIU against the Hoosiers avg. 5.1. So not much improvement in that 1 raw fact. But there are so many more suggesting positive promise for the future. Such as last year FIU ran 80 total plays vs. 68 this year, last year they rolled up 406 net yards after committing a bunch of penalties vs. 331 this year. It only proves the importance of Allen’s philosophy of takeaways; 3 Int.’s and a safety and with the exception of 1 blown pass coverage there were no string of big plays given up by the D. The D I thought definitively got off the field much more than passed seasons. Throughout the whole game I never sensed any fear IU was not in control of the game. I did not feel that way last year in any game but Rutgers for the 1st 3 quarters. For the 1st time in many seasons I see players on the D I would state are building themselves into “stud” status, Crawford, Ball and Fant. I believe 1-2 more will surface as the season progresses. I know about “what ifs” but what if Big Ralph had kept his ass out of trouble would the raw stat avg. been 4.9? He and Hoss Hoff are to my thinking formidable in the middle.

  3. HC- I do agree that the defense looked better. Giving up 13 in this year’s opener is much better than 47 in last years. And I agree about Green; I’ve liked him since the UVA game a couple of years ago.

  4. davis, There are many ways to look at how a defense does but the best way is how many points it gives up since scoring is how we determine the winner. Add in the three ints with two being returned for TDs and it adds up to a great start. Another way to look at it was the defense scored 16 points FIU 13. When was the last time our defense outscored our opponent? There is need for more improvement but this is a good first step and I hope they use this past game to make the needed improvements.

  5. There really should be no question about whether IU’s defense showed significant improvement in this year’s season-opening game. They are improved and will continue to improve. Coach Allen and his staff are doing great work to drive improvement. But the real question is, can IU’s defense improve enough to contribute to a higher win total this season over last? Given that IU now plays nine Big Ten Conference games, they will have to be much better (and deeper) just to give IU a chance to win six regular season games. If the offense can reproduce last year’s level of productivity, and assuming the defense is not decimated after playing MSU and OSU back-to-back, we have a chance to produce at least one Big Ten upset against NW, PSU or NE.

  6. I think the punting game was far improved….Pinning a team inside the 15 can cause an opposing QB to force the issue. The early field position advantages likely helped our defense take some gambles that led to those interceptions(the points attributed to our defense that v13 mentions). Can’t ignore the pointing game. The new lanky kicker was aiming nicely for the sideline(and he’ll only get better). Can’t remember one he put into the end zone for a touch back.

  7. Po, the key is how well does the offense develop when Patrick returns. I think with our receivers and RBs the offense will be as explosive as last year then any defensive improvement will lead to more wins. The way the defense played, compared to last year against FIU was, much better considering how often they were on the field. One thing pick six interceptions do is the defense gets right back on the field. Those two interceptions led to two less offensive drives where the defense could rest and adjust for the upcoming defensive series.

    H4H, it was good to see the punting effort, not having the ball go into the end zone because the punter was just kicking as hard as he could. In this game he showed he was a team player as some of the short fields limited his punting average but helped the team succeed.

    BSU will be a good game to see how much the offense and defense improves. BSU will present some challenges the team will have to rise up and meet if they are to win the game.

  8. V- BSU will be a test but I think we beat them handily. Their QB is a big kid and a good athlete but he has trouble reading defenses and arm strength isn’t great. I think we make BSU one dimensional and force them to run. Our defensive front is better than originally thought and it definitely isn’t Georgia State bad. Secondly, their defense is too small to keep up with our line, our backs and are larger receivers. Look for Cobbs and Westbrook to both have big days. Also, you can tell KW has had this game circled on the calendar. He’s not talking about rotating in a bunch of players like the last game. I think this one is a little personal and I think we pull away in the second half for a lopsided victory. Lagow is the key- needs to keep drives going. 500+ yards offense amounting to only 18 offensive pts is not good. If we struggle its because we shoot ourselves in the foot too often.

  9. I’ll bet TE’s play an explosive part in the IU O in the 1st 1/2 for sure. Also look for Allen to turn the boys loose for sacks and keep that QB guessing. Their RB can cause problems if IU does not tackle well. If he is contained it should be a big IU day.

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