Indiana Hoosiers linebacker Tegray Scales 8 celebrates his interception for a touchdown with Indiana Hoosiers wide receiver Ricky Jones 4 and football operations manager Billy Ray Johnson during the Indiana Florida International football game at the FIU football stadium in Miami Fla. Thursday Sept. 1 2016. Chris Howell Herald Times

Indiana’s defense steps up in 34-13 win at FIU #iufb

MIAMI — Indiana flipped the script in its season opener.

It was a successful debut for Tom Allen’s new 4-2-5 defense. The debut of Indiana’s new-look offense was much less crisp.

But when the Hoosiers needed new quarterback Richard Lagow most, he delivered.

Lagow engineered a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives, helping Indiana claim a 34-13 win over Florida International on Thursday at Ocean Bank Field at FIU Stadium.

Season openers are often funky, and this one was no different.

IU’s prolific offense was toothless for much of the night, while its maligned defense returned a pair of interceptions for scores and displayed the approach necessary for improvement.

All told, Indiana’s defense scored more points (16) than FIU’s offense and intercepted three passes. The Hoosiers returned two of those picks for scores, marking the first time since 1966 they took multiple interceptions to the house in a single game.

Lagow finished 18-for-27 for 240 yards, though he occasionally looked every bit of the fresh-faced signal caller that he is. The junior college transfer made good reads, but struggled to polish his throws with the necessary touch.

All that mattered was his finish, which included a 21-yard touchdown throw to Danny Friend and his six-yard keeper that helped IU put this one on ice.

But for a long while, the Hoosiers had no bite on a steamy night in a lifeless, half-full stadium.

They drove their coach mad, crossing midfield only to stall in enemy territory on seven trips. Griffin Oakes hit a 22-yard field goal, but also missed one from 26 yards. Another attempted field goal was squandered on a botched snap in the third quarter.

Then there were the mental mistakes by an experienced and heralded offensive line, which committed four false starts.

Devine Redding offered a solid performance as IU broke in its new quarterback, picking up 135 yards on 22 carries.

On the other side of the ball, Indiana brought the vigor new coordinator Allen has sought to instill in the Big Ten’s worst defense of 2015. It did so despite losing key starters Chase Dutra at safety and Ralph Green III at defensive tackle.

The Hoosiers’ first big defensive play of the night was set up by their punter.

Joseph Gedeon debuted as IU’s new starter at the position and pinned FIU at its own 1-yard line on his first chance of the night. Two plays later and Indiana recorded a safety when FIU guard Trenton Saunders was flagged for holding in the end zone. It allowed Indiana to cut its deficit to 3-2 midway through the first quarter.

After Oakes’ field goal put Indiana in front 5-3, Rashard Fant intercepted a pass and took it 34 yards for the score. By that point, IU’s defense had outscored its offense, 9-3.

The defense yielded a one-yard touchdown to Alex Gardner on the ensuing possession, but later held the Panthers out of the end zone at the end of the third quarter.

FIU rolled downfield with a pair of explosive passing plays engineered by quarterback Alex McGough, but a false start at the Indiana 8 forced the Panthers to back up. McGough threw a pair of incompletions and IU stuffed Gardner, forcing FIU to settle for a 29-yard field goal.

Austin Taylor’s kick gave the Panthers a brief 13-12 lead at the end of the third quarter.

That’s when Lagow and Indiana’s offense were awakened.

Lagow led IU 74 yards on five plays, capping its initial fourth-quarter drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to tight end Danny Friend. His next chance to drive Indiana’s offense was more methodical.

The Hoosiers killed clock, eating four minutes while they traveled 80 yards in nine plays. Lagow took care of the finish, keeping the ball for a six-yard score that boosted IU’s lead to 27-13.

Then the defense — yes, Indiana’s defense — made sure this trip to Miami ended in its favor.

Tegray Scales picked off McGough and returned it 14 yards for the touchdown that sealed Indiana’s fifth season-opening win in its last five tries.

22 comments

  1. Adjusting to The Scoop’s (a.k.a., Hoosier Sports Report) new format, again, is kind of like IU’s defensive players adjusting to their new DC’s scheme. It looks a lot better from the very start, but will it hold up?

    I thought Wilson’s post-game comments were right on target and very well stated.. He gave a lot of credit to a lot of his players and the coaching staff, but stated that his team has a lot of things to clean up. I found it interesting that he specifically referred to how the defense responded after making mistakes with calm discussion, and then made the necessary adjustments. I also found it interesting when he said that before the game, he was “scared” about playing FIU. My guess is that he remained scared for about three quarters of last night’s game.

  2. This game shows many things for the future of this season. I hope people now know Lagow can do more for the offense as he protects the ball and does well once he settled down. The offense needs to focus on its playmakers and get the ball into their hands. Westbrook showed he can be one of the playmakers this year. We have a number of good backs but I don’t know if we have a dominate back until Patrick makes it back.

    Ball, Cronk, A. Riggins, and Gest showed freshman can make a big contribution on this team. Many of the sophomores that played last year did a very good job this game along with Scales showing he can really be a playmaker. Not to be out done, Fant showed he is much better this year along with being more physical.

    The defense showed there is promise this year and not just a holding year until new players come in. The DL showed a lot of promise and I don’t think they are going to be such a weakness for this defense. Clearly the DL could use more talent but it showed they have talent to use this year. What I loved the most about the defense is there were very few plays where one player had to make the play. Almost every play had three or more there to make a play and that has been missing in the past.

    It is time to take this first game and build on it to do even better against Ball State.

  3. Even with the offense not being smooth and finishing drives I had no fear of FIU getting out of hand when I saw the D not making a habit of over running plays, some solid tackling and not making a habit of giving up big plays. Fant INT was also a sign of good things to come. You just knew Wilson would get that IU offense hooked up and into the end zone. With IU at full strength with Dutra, big Ralph and Simmie I feel sorry for the Lembo-less Cardinals. Lagow’s 1st completion to Westbrook would have broke fingers on the hands of a lot of WR’s. What an arm and more than decent feet too. Mildly impressed with DL. Hagan is earning his $. Most impressed with Mike Majette and Marcellino Ball. But game balls goes to Coach Allen and Wilson for hiring him.

  4. I understand Wilson did not want to give Ligow too much in the first game, but did anyone else think that Lagow could have had several more big runs? The way IU’s running backs were shredding FIU’s defense, I thought there were several opportunities in the second half for Lagow to keep it and run for significant yardage. I also think he moves a lot better than Wilson said he did. I mean, he’s not Michael Vick in his prime, but Lagow looks like he runs the ball pretty well, and a lot better than Sudfeld did.

    Really like Magette, but he needs a little more patience as he approaches the line of scrimmage. Some times it seemed as if he got there before the O-line had a chance to open the holes. But man is he quick. Can wait to see him break a big one this year.

  5. I like a QB who can extend a play but I don’t want a game plan of him running or 1 that thinks he is the lead back.. After the FIU game it is for certain I want RL at QB and ZD on the bench. We don’t need an injury to reverse that positive. I would suspect Majette will set up a 1/2 step deeper in the future to gain that patience(opening). Damn I like that D’s energy and am just realizing the in-game adjustments Allen and staff made successfully. I’ll bet Green gets extra instruction this week to eliminate the really only blown coverage IU gave up for the game. Holding NFL prospect Jonnu Smith to 8 catches and just over 80 yd. with no TD’s I’d say was a damn good job.

  6. After watching Northwestern lose at home to one of the MAC schools in Michigan, I’m feeling better about IU’s win at FIU, but concerned about next week’s game against Ball State (has Wilson ever beaten Ball State since arriving in B-town?) I’m sure Wilson is using that game’s outcome to make sure his players are not taking Ball State lightly. And while I’m sure they will improve a lot in the next six weeks, I’m feeling better about IU’s chances of beating NW in Evanston.

    Boy oh boy, did Oklahoma screw-up its season this morning? Houston outplayed and out-coached OK and pretty much ruined the #3 ranked team’s season.

    1. Po, I believe Ball State has won last three meetings with IU. Beat Wilson’s teams in 2011 and 2012. I’m sure he’ll remind folks around the facility about those two losses this week.

  7. As he should, Mike. Honestly, it’s time for a Wilson coached team to give Ball State a beat down. I’m tired of my BSU alumni friends rubbing my nose in the outcome of those games. I don’t want to run up the score, but a robust ass-whuppin is overdue. Lets just say all of IU’s players should get into the game after a five touchdown margin is established. Is that wishful thinking? Well, it’s time Wilson’s teams start winning games against MAC teams by a significant margin.

  8. On the off-topic subject of other programs: is there any school in the country that is as consistently good across the two major sports as Wisconsin? Goodness gracious. They NEVER have an off year. When they are predicted to be mediocre, they are good. When they are predicted to be good, they are great.

  9. Tom, I can think of a few that can match Wisconsin; Michigan, MSU, and Ohio State. I hope IU gets added to the list in a couple of years. I get your point about Wisconsin but I think it is more a B1G thing as our schools seem to excel in more than one major program.

  10. Vesuvius13, good point, but Wisconsin is more impressive to me in that they seem to do it without the same volume of 5 star recruits; they recruit a lot locally and always seem to have great coaching. Yet, they are always there in the thick of it with their double-B named white guys.

  11. A perfect example of what Indiana Football faces year after year….I was watching some of the Michigan vs Hawaii game yesterday… I catch one of the commentators talking of how excited Harbaugh is over his ‘diamond in the rough,’ FRESHMAN, 3-star, running back. And where is this little speed demon with oodles of skill from…? Indianapolis, Indiana. If Michigan, OSU, MSU, ND offer a kid from Indiana who isn’t on the big recruiting board radar, it’s going to take a miracle to put that young blossoming talent in a Hoosier uniform. I’ve heard people on these boards complaining about Wilson being unable to land a local 4 or 5-star talent? But to hear of a 3-star running back from Indianapolis who will still pick Michigan rather than an Indiana where he’ll likely get the ball on every snap…? Doesn’t matter our coach..Doesn’t matter our claimed resurgence on the hypothetical cusp of turning the longest corner in the history of football as we negotiate a curve bigger than Jupiter around the sun; going from suck team…to ugly duckling….to barely mediocre…to milestone of being average…..to a pipe dream of standing equal to the powerhouses of the BIG. Is there enough talent to ever get around the corner when your slow orbit around the sun operates with so many quality programs(programs always in top 10’s and national champ consideration) acting as stronger gravity for every diamond in the rough on comet-like path…and every shining star?
    Sadly, this used to be only a football recruiting issue. Now MSU, Michigan, ND, and OSU also pluck many of the top basketball players from our borders….They get key pieces from Indiana to take them to Elite 8’s and Final Fours. They find talent in the Chicago market as well..while Crean plans his next banner reunion to lure diamonds in the rough hundreds of miles away from the state. We rule nothing of our own kingdom. Football is a toleration we’ve always had to stomach. But to lose on local top talent to Michigan, MSU, OSU, ND, and UK is beyond vomitroicious.

  12. oops…
    But to lose [as well] on local top [basketball] talent to Michigan, MSU, OSU, ND, and UK is beyond vomitroicious.

  13. 7 players from California
    11 from Florida
    10 from Illinois
    3 from Georgia
    1 Freshman OLB from Carmel, Indiana(probably one of those diamonds in the rough)
    4 from Minnesota
    5 from Ohio

    That merely highlights some totals per state of the 64 names on a Wisconsin roster not from Wisconsin. More than 50%. I counted 55 on the roster actually from Wisconsin( a huge number nonetheless)

    Hilarious note: On the roster you can click a “pronunciation guide” for some of the roster names. Much higher percentage for the pronunciation guide landing next to a homegrown boy.

  14. Peter Roy
    rhymes with boy

    No kidding…That one was actually included as a roster name with a ‘pronunciation guide’ requirement. Must have been one of those trick questions…or a control stop?

  15. ^Good research Harvard. Just out of curiosity, how many B+B names were there? Bryce Bolden? Brodie Bohanon? Brett Brimsley or Brant Butch?

    For a correct assessment of all these types of Wisconsin nordic waspy names and others, let us defer to the great George Carlin once again.

  16. Thanks for that one. George Carlin is one of the all-time greats.

    Always loved ‘The Arrogance of Mankind’ routine.

    Chris Evans is the one kid from Indiana on Harbaugh’s Michigan…A lousy 3-star from Ben Davis h.s…Now he’s stealing the show as the freshman phenom in Ann Arbor. Really? All the blowbags on here constantly attempting to undermine Wilson, truly have no idea what he’s up against. And how much difference will a couple coaches with old roots from Indiana mean? When Michigan, OSU, ND, or MSU call, the hills of Bloomington might as well be on the moon. Doesn’t matter if it’s the coach’s damn nephew….Doesn’t matter if it’s some diamond in the rough who lives a 40 minute drive from Bloomington with zero guarantee of an one ounce of PT at Michigan.

  17. Bobby Bohanon….Bill Bucksweiller…..Ben Bankiwitz….Brad Brosterman…Bonner Bodinski….and Blake Braegendoheiser. ….are the ‘B +B’ names I found.

  18. Wednesday, December 26, 2012 – 12:30 PM UTC Chet wrote:
    No Mendacity? Merry Christmas, Rico. All the best.

    Happy Labor Day Chet Fields and Double Down! Hope you enjoyed the IU Football ticker. All the best.

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