Ball eager to return in 2nd half at Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Marcelino Ball was permitted to warm up with his teammates prior to Saturday’s 24-17 victory at Rutgers.

Then, he had to sit.

Because he was flagged for targeting during the second half of last week’s loss to Michigan State, the sophomore hybrid safety was forced to serve an automatic first-half suspension this week. That meant Ball had to wait out the first two quarters in the visitors locker room at Stadium while he waited for his chance to play.

When that moment finally came, Ball was ready.

“He was a caged tiger,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “He’s like, ‘Coach, I got to stay in the locker room?’ I told him sorry, that’s the rule. So he’s pacing and pacing. We had to assign somebody to him just to make sure he didn’t sneak out.”

Ball made his presence felt in the third quarter, especially on Rutgers’ second offensive series. That’s when he recorded a four-yard tackle for loss, then followed with sticky pass coverage to break up a pass.

“He was so ready to roll,” Allen said. “Matter of fact, one of his coaches took him out. I said, ‘Why’d you take him out? He’s been sitting in the locker room the whole half. Play him every play!’ So I put him back in there.”

And his teammates were glad to have him.

“He was extremely excited,” linebacker Reakwon Jones said. “He was in the locker room just waiting. He couldn’t wait. I was excited to see him back out there.”