Hoosiers run past Terps, 42-36

The film review of last week’s loss was cold and unforgiving.

It laid bare each of Indiana’s flaws, the shortcomings and failures of a team struggling to produce acceptable results. Confronted with the fact that undeniably poor play was becoming a pattern, the Hoosiers held a players-only meeting earlier this week in Bloomington.

They spoke in frank terms and pointed fingers. In particular, they called out their clunky and inconsistent offensive line and the men up front that were failing to get the job done.

In a few days’ time, those players responded.

Indiana rediscovered its running game in a 42-36 win over Maryland on Saturday at Memorial Stadium, riding a backfield and offensive line tandem that produced 414 yards on the ground and three 100-yard rushers.
Suddenly, the offensive stumbles of the season’s first half seemed far in the past.

“We weren’t doing what we do best,” All-American right guard Dan Feeney said. “We weren’t bringing the mentality that we need to, that old-school mentality. It was definitely a big time focus this week.”

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Indiana (4-4, 2-3 Big Ten), which combined to produce a mere 271 rushing yards across its recent skid. Saturday, IU needed only three quarters to surpass that mark against the Terrapins (5-3, 2-3).

Indiana totaled 650 yards of offense. It averaged 7.3 yards per rush and 7.8 yards per play. Running back Devine Redding led the way with 130 yards on 17 carries, and scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter. Backup quarterback Zander Diamont, who was also used as a running back Saturday, added 104 yards and closed IU’s scoring with a 52-yard scoring run in the final minute to clinch the game.

Freshman running back Tyler Natee, who took snaps as a wildcat quarterback, joined the fun with 111 yards. He, too, scored on a 2-yard carry in the second half.

In a must-win game that keeps them on a reasonable course to six wins and bowl eligibility, Indiana got its running game going at the most important time.

“Well, you got to. You need to,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said. “Again, when you got some running game going, all that stuff’s easy. When you got several weeks where you are playing good defenses, you can’t find the running game or you don’t create it, when you’re not blocking, or you don’t scheme it up and get it right, you’re playing one-dimensional, it’s a lot easier to be defended.

“The key to our games over time has been finding a run game. Fortunately we did today. That was huge.”

Last week at Northwestern, IU managed only 84 rushing yards. Two weeks ago against Nebraska, it totaled only 88.

On Saturday, Indiana scored on each of its first two drives, beginning with an 11-yard read option by Diamont, who ran around the right side of the line and dove into the end zone for the score. Redding’s one-yard dive followed.

By the end of those two drives, which featured heavy doses of Natee, IU had produced 98 yards on the ground.

“It’s all the offensive line,” Diamont said. “We called them out last week. We didn’t think that they were playing up to their standard and they stepped up big time. They had a lot of young guys. Delroy (Baker) came in. (Coy) Cronk is playing really well. Everybody, across the board — they were so impressive today. It was awesome.”

Of course it was needed on a day when Indiana was forced to match Maryland’s backfield, one of the best in the Big Ten.

Ty Johnson led eight Maryland ball carriers with 142 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown run that put the Terps on the board in the first quarter. Prior to Saturday, Indiana was one of only two teams in the country that had not allowed a running play of 30 or more yards.

But Maryland used its stable of backs to gash IU’s defense. The Terps had 10 runs that produced 10 yards or more.

“Our defense had their hands full,” Wilson said.

Maryland took a 21-16 lead into halftime, an advantage built through a one-yard scoring run by quarterback Perry Hills and a 23-yard touchdown reception by D.J. Moore.

It was an acrobatic catch by Moore, who leaped to make the grab and made sure his foot landed in bounds before the rest of his body fell to the ground.

Meanwhile, Indiana starter Richard Lagow juggled snaps at quarterback with Diamont and Natee, completing 16 of his 25 passes for 207 yards. As well as Lagow played in a bounce-back performance, Diamont, too, had to flash his passing ability to keep Maryland honest.

Diamont made a fine throw that allowed Indiana to retake the lead midway through the third quarter. Facing 2nd-and-10 at the Maryland 38, Diamont hit Ricky Jones for 29 yards on a well-timed cross over the middle. Two plays later, Lagow rumbled into the end zone on a five-yard keeper that put the Hoosiers in front 23-21 midway through the third.

Though Maryland bounced back in front on a 32-yard field goal by Adam Greene, Indiana’s offense remained in fine form the rest of the way.

The Hoosiers added three more rushing scores — a 15-yard reverse for receiver Mitchell Paige, a two-yard run by Natee and a 52-yard scamper by Diamont that sealed an important win.

“Good to get a win,” Wilson said. “That’s all it was. It was just one win. We need to get many more.”
True, but Saturday represented a statement — one the Hoosiers desperately needed to make.

9 comments

  1. I’m really happy for ZD (in spite of his stupid penalty). You just have to love his fire (and speed). Lagow played better in the second half, and I wonder if sharing snaps with ZD takes the pressure off him.
    Natee is fun to watch. Too bad he never really had the chance to throw that pass. I suspect we’ll see him do it before the end of the season.

  2. How can sports journalists miss the obvious correlation between the return of All-American guard Feeney (this was his 2nd full game after a big injury) and the return of Indiana’s run offense? Feeney is the difference maker! Plus Coach Wilson and Johns cleaver use of Natee and Diamont as a “Hoosier-cat” option to Redding and Lagow! This was an important win!

  3. Every one needs to remember that Maryland’s defense isn’t a very good run defense. Still it was fun seeing IU look good on offense especially seeing the innovations and not sitting pat on the offense. IU isn’t overpower in talent offensively but has lots of talent to spread the ball around and it as good seeing the coaches make use of of the talent.

    The team had plenty of times to let up and lose this game especially since the defense struggled against their good running game. I loved seeing IU step up an make plays to stay in the game and later to control the game. Watching the great catches today on TV [including MD’s WR] makes me wish IU had more of those receivers that make a QB look great.

    It was fun to see Zander and Natee in the backfield together and I hope they expand their offense a bit [don’t over think it as coaches can do]. Natee is a load to bring down and Zander has the speed to get around the end on runs. I hope the offense continues to excel and improve as the season continues.

  4. Yeah but northwestern isnt very good against the pass and iu was terrible throwin it last week so you cant assume iu was gonna run for 400 against them

  5. The evolution from run, run, pass with little success to the offense we saw today was really somehthing to behold. Maryland hung in there but their defense was lost.

  6. My hat is off to KW for coming up with SHAKEN ‘n’ BACON to help IU outdo any rushing #’s the turtles could muster. Also the fast tempo IU set really showed up on the turtles D in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Lots of 1st downs, lots of 3rd down conversions, decent % in the red zone were performed with a good game plan and a well called game.
    Also believe today was the 1st time I’ve seen DL Derrian Meminger and DB Wesley Green playing on D. Both made a big play or 2.

  7. HC, I hope coaches can perform the same type of results for the offense against Rutgers with the defense stepping up to get back to its previous results. Although the defense came up with needed plays they gave up more than they have at any point yet this year. I hope coaches don’t try to over work the Shaken’Bacon offense making it less effective. I do think a change or two is in order to make it even more effective but what they are getting from it now is very good.

    There is a lot of good football to be played yet but it is fun to think of next year’s team if all the skilled positions return, we know the OL will turn over although several underclassmen are getting valuable playing time this year. The defense looks to improve again next year and the offense looks to be diverse and explosive next year. I hope the offense can reach some of the diversity and explosiveness this year as they build on the Maryland game; but next year’s group is enticing.

    Coach Wilson has pushed his position coaches to get more of the back-ups into the game rotation and not be content to let them sit this year out. Like you, I noticed several getting into the game this week. Speaking of important plays, what a great find M. Ball has been for IU. It makes me wonder where Thompson has been because he was seen as a starter at the Husky position.

  8. I think he was early but most of the season the coaches just said he wasn’t consistent in practice. They were working to get him to play in practice at a high level and it sounded like some days he did but other days he was just going through practice. He has talent and it would be great for the defense if they can get him to play hard every play and help shut down the passing more often.

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