Recap: Indiana drops home opener to UVA, 34-31

For much of the game, it appeared that Indiana would be looking for a miraculous comeback. Down 23-3, it would look more miraculous by the second.

That is, until that miracle came. With a strange turn of events that resulted in a fumble return for a touchdown, a late-game interception, and an exceptional late running game, a miracle seemed within reach. The Hoosiers had the lead, 31-23 with six minutes and change remaining.

And then, just as soon as it came, Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson stole it away. Literally.

Johnson yanked the ball out of quarterback Ed Wright-Baker’s hands with the game tied, 31-31. From there, the Cavaliers only had to spend 30 seconds of the clock and kick a field goal, and the game was theirs.

It was a game of mistake-and-response. And after so many mistakes on both sides, it was Indiana’s mistake in the game’s final minute that would be most important.

The Hoosiers’ loss gave Virginia coach Mike London the first road win of his coaching regime. But for Indiana, the loss was another tough non-conference loss, bringing the Hoosiers to 0-2 and in desperate need of a win against South Carolina State next weekend.


AUDIO: Kevin Wilson

AUDIO: Matt Perez

AUDIO: Duwyce Wilson

AUDIO: Ed Wright-Baker

AUDIO: Jeff Thomas

AUDIO: Jarrell Drane


  1. We might as well kept Lynch. He cost less and won just as many games. That powerhouse BSU that beat us last week lost to USF by 23! We are a joke like usual but the difference is we are paying a fortune for a loud mouth coach with a 7 year contract. Hope we have some big alumni step up in a few years to bail us out on this one.

    I know everyone will kill me on this and say it is only two games. Well look at Brady Hoke he came in at UM and now is 2-0 and he took over a bad program. Wilson sold us a bill of goods. He will be a bust like Cam, DiNardo and the rest.

  2. Old sports dude, I usually enjoy reading your questions on Thursday chat. You seemed to be thoughtful and intelligent. This current post is neither. He has taken over a program with no depth and inexperienced quarterbacks. All the while installing a new offensive and defensive mindset. IU showed a lot of heart and fight tonight. More than I can recall from the Lynch coached Hoosiers that lost by 40 last time to Virginia in 2009. Patience is a virtue and Wilson deserves more than two games to establish his worth. I appreciate your posts and opinion, however, I am frustrated with impatient super fans that go “chicken little” when things do not go in IU’s favor

  3. To Old Sports Dude…Dad, is that you? Usually your blanket statements are served in the direction of the White Sox or Bears.

    What a great comeback by IU but it was an unfortunate on the outcome. BTN analysts had nothing but praise for IU and Wright-Baker.

    When’s the last time we have come back like that? I’d have to say Hoeppner against Iowa in 2006 or that 1999 Illinois game with Cam.

    If anything Lynch did not have a comeback win with IU. It was score first and hold on for dear life.

    We’ll get there. Improvement from Game 1 to Game was evident. That’s all I ask right now with this new staff.


  4. You may be old, sports dude, but with your age comes no wisdom. The wise have patience and understand that it will take time to build the program. To compare what Wilson took over to what Hoke took over is a joke, not to mention Michigan will probably still struggle this season until Hoke has a chance to build a defense.

  5. I am not ant-wilson but fella that said give wilson same talent as hoke-1st he has to recruit like hoke-2nd right now i just want same talent ball state. glass please do not hire anymore football coaches that does not have head coaching experience.

  6. Bill Lynch had head coaching experience. What did that do? Gerry DiNardo, anyone?

    You cannot hold IU football to the same standards as Michigan football. Unless you want to start letting people put Michigan basketball in the same class as Indiana basketball.

    I was disappointed in the loss, but not the effort. I loved how jacked the players were on the sidelines, even when down by a wide margin. It’s that kind of attitude that keeps you in games you’d otherwise have quit on, and it’s that kind of attitude that lets you put teams away when you have a lead. I can only hope that happens soon.

    The defense just isn’t good enough. IU won’t be able to beat teams until they can stop key drives. UVA’s march down to tie the game reminded me of Michigan’s last year…a game the offense seemed to rescue, the defense let go in the end.

    The strip sack was just a ridiculous play, but Baker has to get a better sense of pressure. He had no idea it was coming, from his front side…?

    But, I digress. The defense needs to play better and get better. Pinning that on Wilson at this point is just silly.

  7. Old Sports Dude… right, it is only two games and the talent level isn’t comparable with MU or many other programs, yet. Time and patience with the program please. We would never have come back last year.

  8. It really is amazing. Hire a new coach, and all of a sudden people expect IU to be world beaters right out of the box.

    OSD, we’re all frustrated, but when you start calling for a coaches head a mere two games into his tenure, you lose all credibility.

    Has anyone thought about how last years team would have responded to being down 23-3? I think it is safe to say that it would have turned into a major beatdown. But instead, they fought back, thanks to the spirit and attitude they have adopted from their new coach. Once the new systems have had time to take root, and once the talent gap narrows (and recent recruiting success suggests that it will), then you will start seeing results on the field.

    I know IU fans are notoriously impatient….but two games? That is ridiculous even by IU fan standards.

  9. So, Old Sports Dude, the team that beat Notre Dame last week beat Ball State by 23, as was predicted by pretty much everyone. What’s your point?





  11. A team that can’t afford to make mistakes still makes mistakes. A team that hasn’t played defense in many decades, still does not play defense. Credit for making it a game and for the effort. Still a long way to go.

  12. They played great the second half. Wilson looks like he’s doing fine for his first two games. It was a fun game to watch. They will continue to come together and pull out some wins.

  13. IU has a long way to go in both major sports.The way people on this site overreact every time IU lands a Gunner or a Cody is hilarious.Optimism is fine people but the time to walk with a swagger is AFTER IU has accomplished something on the field and on the court.

  14. Now that was a big OL. Heban and Barnett each continue to enjoy the feel of the bit in their mouths. Coach Wilson and staff made a positive impact this week in the terms of enthusiasm and energy. The running game is in good hands with EWB, Perez and Roberts. Perez in particular is tougher than any RB IU has had in years. 2 FG’s, 1 blocked and 1 faked are now large in the rear view mirror. But I do like the risk/reward offered by doing something risky from time to time.

  15. Define silly?

    Putting that loss on the defense.

    Now that is silly. They played very well. Huge stop at the end of the half. Multiple turnovers, passes batted down, Heban was everywhere, run back for touchdown…

    Blame the defense. That’s getting old. THIS week they played very well–lets give a little credit there.

    Perez is a stud. Glad we got him. He needs the ball more. That will help everybody else.

  16. Growing pains. Hard lessons. There will be more of both through the 2011 season. As disappointed as I am in the loss, I’m proud of the fact that IU fought back after a disappointing start and were in position to win the game. I’m pleased they did not fold up in the second half and get blown out. They seem to have a little more fight in them. No such thing as a good loss, but as long as the players don’t hang their heads, are determined to learn from their mistakes, and continue to get better, then this young team will benefit from the experience.

    The defense is still weak, but it looks a little better. The new QB made some strides, but still has a lot of “growth” ahead of him. There are still a lot of IU fans that don’t have a clue what it takes to build a solid FB program. Comparing Wilson’s challenge to Hoke’s task is ridiculous. There were 112,000 fans in the Big House last night to watch a nationally televised game. If you’re a High School FB player being recruited by IU and Michigan, which environment would appear to be more exciting? IU had what, 42,000 at the game yesterday? It’s going to take a herculean effort for Wilson and staff to overcome decades of neglect, incompetence and bad luck by former IU administrators and trustees and transform IU into a competitive FB program. IU fans should be thankful that Glass found a coach of Wilson’s pedigree willing to accept the challenge. And we should all ask ourselves what we can do to help!

    By the way, after playing USC tough last week, Minnesota lost to New Mexico State yesterday. New Mexico State! Growing pains.

  17. Unrelated, but I now remember how happy I was when the Panthers unloaded Kerry Collins for three marbles and a half a can of warm Coke. Is Curtis Painter really THAT bad?

  18. Whats new in 50+ years? IU has NO football team. Allowing 83 points to Wisconsin last year and likely to repeat that beating in October. I am ashamed to show my IU membership in Wisconsin. Drop the sport!

  19. Hey Chet, look on the bright side. For the first time in I don’t know how long, the Colts will get a top five draft pick in the next draft!

    Collins looked like he was still retired. BP’s genius seems to be dissipating quite rapidly.

  20. Disappointed by the ending, but really enjoyed the energy and hustle. BIG improvement in one week, this team will grow and surprise. I choose to be patient and loyal to our IU teams, thick or thin. Go IU!!!

  21. Hoosier-B…if you hit the ‘Caps Lock’ key, it will return you type to minor and major case. If you press ‘Shift’ and a letter, it will capitalize and allow for sentences and paragraphs which, in English, are a good thing.

    And, if you hold down ‘Ctrl’ ‘Alt’ and ‘Delete” you’ll have made a major contribution to this blog by erasing your entire post. No one will even miss it.

  22. Old Sports Dude…I encourage you to keep sharing your comments on the Sports Chat, where ignorance about sports appears easier to gloss over. I don’t listen too it.

  23. After taking a little time to digest things I decided to comment. EWB is a great athlete, I’m not 100% on him as a QB. I remember watching him and Kiel in High School and thinking that he was K. Lewis with less accuracy. Kiel was the better “QB”, but also played on a team with a better supporting staff.

    I honestly thing Tre Roberson has better intangibles than either EWB or Kiel.

    That said, I thought EWB played solid, but not spectacular. A really bad pass for an INT to start the 2nd half, and how did he not see the Peterbuilt coming right in his face on that last drive?

    As for the fake fieldgoal, the play was there, pass was low and the receiver didn’t make the play needed to secure the TD. A promising drive had stalled, still down 23-10, at that point non of us would have ever imagined us having a 23-31 lead late in the 4th. If that play resulted in the TD, we all would be talking about how great the call was.

    You can go back to the the blocked FG on the first series, the fumble before half that gave UVA a quick FG just after a TD, or even allowing them a 15 play drive to tie the game when they were averging about 4.5 plays a possession prior to that as things that all led to this loss. Probably more so than the the decision to try and get the TD over the FG when down 13 late in the 3rd.

    I still say this team will shock at least 2 teams in the Big Ten this year, not sure who yet, but it will happen. I still see a 6-6 season as a possibility if the team shows as much improvement from Saturday to Saturday as they did this last week.

  24. Mike, As much as I’d like to bitch and cuss about not getting the call on the questionable safety or even the fake FG they are both something good teams need to be able to withstand to get a W. The focus needs to be on the mistakes the team can eliminate such as Wynn’s fumble, EWB’s opening half interception and the blocked FG. Although I am a bit lukewarm about having a Freshman receiving kicks I am sure their will be emphasis in practice this week to correct those challenges. I now feel more comfortable about EWB continuing to improve(even though I like DK more because I think he makes better decisions and makes them faster; I have seen Tre play only once). The OL can make the run game successful and when the DL neutralizes the same they will be on a road to bigger goals. I like their chances. The growth and improvement of this team will mirror the growth and improvement of the coaching staff. Boise State is good because of sound coaching. I believe Coach Wilson is fast on his feet when it comes to correcting mistakes. Maybe, maybe they can attain the W/L numbers you spoke of and I agree with.

  25. I want to watch that play again, but haven’t got around to it. What I seen was contact was first made about the 1/2 to 1 yard line, but the UVA QB turned his back to the play. What I couldn’t tell was did he fall right at contact or did he get his foot out to try and step out of the tackle. If he indeed did take the step toward the endzone that my buddy believes he did (hate when they don’t replay those plays on the scoreboard), then the officials might have got it worng. I can’t honestly say until I get to see it again.

    Protecting the ball on kick and punt returns and not allowing a kick to be blocked are little things that lead to victories. Seeing a Mack truck bearing down on your front side and avoiding the sack/fumble also help.

    While the defensive play was much better this weekend, the sustained drive in the 4th quarter shows the lack of depth that Wilson has talked about needing to develop.

    I still say the improvement from week 1 to 2 is outstanding, the issues that cost us a win against a UVA team that will turnout to be pretty solid this year are fixable with a competent staff. I said it on Saturday, if they went from 6-3 to 16-3 in the last minute before half last year, they would have lost 44-10 or worse.

  26. Guys, I am in a time crunch today but I just wanted to chime in and say that in my life time I have never seen a team so amped up to play and stay that way until the end. The energy was crazy…I watched the kids on the sideline bounce up and down the entire game. The players were up for this game and I truly feel we carried that late into the game. Let’s be honest, when has IU football ever scored that much in the 2nd half on a D 1 school or any school for that fact! I love the fakes and stuff like that, I hate conservative play but at the same time I wonder if IU should just take the points. The DB’s are improved, secondary on a whole is improved. There was not enough pass rush on D in my opinion. I actually like EWB but wow he was overthrowing receivers by a mile. I like the fact he can run, just hope we don’t start to game plan too much around it. I am sad IU lost but feel much different this game than losses in the past several years. I left with my head held high this time, I was proud of the product on the field…I was proud they never gave up!!!

  27. The D made a sizable improvement from last week even considering the field position the O put them in on occasions. By the same token the O sure turned it up when it counted during the 2nd half. ST’s are adequate but need to be weapon to enhance the improvement of the O and D even more. I believe EWB’s long ball throws are off by sometimes considerable margins is because he has been schooled hard to be very wary of the defender, interceptions and leads way ahead of the WR so as to be comfortable with his decision to throw long. I suspect that issue will get lots of work over the next 2 weeks to prep for the conference season. BL was thought of as being to conservative, I must say like the view from the top deck of this Mississippi riverboat and its crew.

  28. All Right JPat!!! I also felt pretty much what you expressed so well…”I am sad IU lost but feel much different this game than losses in the past several years. I left with my head held high this time, I was proud of the product on the field…”

    This is the beginning,…

  29. After getting to watch a replay of the game, I have to say we got seriously hosed on the safety call. The QB was clearly fumbling the ball as he went to the ground, which should have removed all talk of forward momentum. As far as the punt touching a UVA player, that one was really hard to tell. I didn’t see it touching anyone, but the camera angles weren’t the best. All that aside, I loved the energy and enthusiasm the team played with. Everyone was flying around and hitting people hard. D made a huge leap in week 2. EWB’s accuracy is just horrible, too many times his WR’s are bailing him out. I don’t know how many games this team will win, but they’re going to be fun to watch!!


    McDonald was the left tackle and he totally played it incorrectly, resulting in EWB’s fumble. The UVA DE lined up on McDonald’s outside shoulder. When the ball was snapped McDonald didn’t even make a move to block the DE, instead he focused on the UVS linebacker who ran a delayed blitz. The play was being run to the right and that was the direction EWB was looking when he was getting ready to pass. He never saw the UVA DE who came in untouched, from EWB’s blind side.

    You want to blame EWB for not doing his job, how about blaming McDonald, a senior for not doing his?

    Football is a team effort that requires everyone doing their part. A single failure by a player to perform his assignment will result in the play failing. The failure on that play was entirely due to McDonald.

    EWB did not play a flawless game, but putting the blame on him for that fumble is just wrong.

  31. mattsi4, QB had his back to me, couldn’t see him juggle the ball. I can’t wait to watch it again. A safety there would have blown that game open for the Hoosiers. Those are the breaks though.

    Camera angles or not, that ball hit a UVA player, infact it appeared to have hit 2 different UVA players. As the play was almost directly in front of our seats, we were screaming to “get on the G-D ball!”.

  32. waitingforwins,

    Do you know for sure what McDonald’s assignment was on that play? I can tell you right now, as a tackle, your assignment isn’t always an end lined up outside you, especially if you’re zone blocking, going right. His job very well could have been the linebacker with one of the RB’s assignment to pick up the end. He also could have blown the play. However, you have to see that guy coming to your front side, regardless of if the play was going to the right in its progression. Need to listen to the press conference and see if Wilson shed any light on that play or not.

  33. Mike P and Waiting,
    The audio of Wilson’s post-game press conference is up on the post-game blog. Wilson said that the line was blocking to the right and Virginia blew up the play by bringing three on the left side. I believe the backfield was actually empty on the play. Wilson took the blame for the play call, essentially saying that Virginia guessed right and found the hole. He said Wright-Baker needed to see that. That said, I think it’s pretty obvious that’s just a case of a kid being in the moment, knowing he has to make a big play and looking downfield instead of paying attention to what is going on in the backfield. It was of course, his second start and he doesn’t have it all down yet.
    Based on Wilson’s explanation, it wouldn’t sound like McDonald missed an assignment. There was going to be an unblocked man. I’m pretty sure the backfield was empty, also.

  34. Thanks DD, I don’t remember it being spread 5 out, but it could have been. I wasn’t trying to say waiting was wrong, just that blocking assignments aren’t as cut and dry as some people think, and unless you know for sure their assignment, you just don’t know.

  35. I’m not sure about that either. I’m going to have to watch that play again, but I don’t remember there being anyone in the backfield who had any chance to block Johnson.

  36. I just wanted to see progress. I felt like I saw a lot. I agree with everyone who mentioned the team being amped. Wow!

  37. I also saw a tremendous amount of progress and much greater intensity than I have seen for many, many years. There is a palpable difference in the atmosphere surrounding our team.

    One other point, after Coach Wilson made it such a point of emphasis for the offensive linemen to focus on picking out their blocks rather than “peeking around’ their assignments to what is going on around them, it appears to me that WaitingForTwins makes a good point. Lessons learned.

  38. Perez was lined up behind EWB, and when the ball was snapped Perez immediately ran to his right, so it appears that his assignment was not to pick up anyone on coming from the backside.

    #56 for UVA lined up on the outside shoulder of McDonald, in the gap between McDonald and Bolser. Bolser ran a 5 yard drag route, not even bothering to give the UVA DE a brush block to slow down his rush. An OT’s responsibility is to prevent penetration on the inside, and McDonald did exactly that. So I stand corrected, McDonald was not at fault. However this does not absolve the coaches. If you are going to allow a DE to go unblocked, thinking he will not have enough speed to disrupt the play, they might want to consider having EWB roll to the side that the play is designed and not just have him standing in the pocket.

  39. The improvements were definately noticed. The main thing to me, is that this game shows the team what it takes to compete. It is hard to do everything right during a game, and Indiana needs to do that to win. If the team keeps playing hard like they did and continues to get better, breaks will go our way. It will be nice when we are hitting on all cylinders. Very refreshing to see the effort though.
    P.S. I like the helmets.

  40. waiting, I agree 100% with your revised assesment of that play. Listening to Wilson, he admitted they put EWB in a bad position for that play. Part of EWB growing as a QB is knowing what the blocking assignments are and checking out for Perez to come out of his route into max protect or Bolser to chip block the DE before running his drag to buy that extra 1/2 second of time.

  41. Mass, Liked the white helmets. I can’t ever remember them wearing those before. Would like to see them more.

  42. Yes I too liked them but how about only for home games. Do we need the crimson hat on the road if for nothing more than the color scheme with the rest of the travel uniform?

  43. Tsao- gRATE COMMENT too HoosierB! Peeple who cant even right good American shooldn’t BE posting.

    Loved the energy level of the players (on both the sidelines and the field) and the white helmets, too. It sure made them look fast, which is what we’ll have to settle for until some new recruits come in. I also agree that the road helemts should stay red.

    Some threads ago someone commented that the uniforms should try to get closer to actual cream and crimson. I’m pretty sure that was tried (ten years ago?) and the cream just looked like dirty beige. Anyone recall that? It was in the same year(s) that the helmets had an italicized (slanted or whatever) IU on them.

    And can’t we find some soccer-playing Polish kid on the northwest side of Chgo. who can handle the kickoffs? I may be wrong, but I don’t think that Ewald has put one in the end zone this year. Think Sebastian Janikowski sans baggage.

  44. Maybe IU soccer has a walk-on that’s not getting much playing time and can kick a football 75 yards. It’s been done before.

  45. Ewald is fine, very fine…he’s one heck of a consistent field goal kicker and our kicking game is one of our strongest assets right now.

  46. Tsao- no argument about the field goals! I’ll have to look at the numbers to comment on the rest of the kicking game.

  47. David, you’re right…that’s what I intended to say. Also, as much as distance, it is important to see where the ball was eventually placed. I’d rather have a 35 yard punt that goes out at the 4 yard line than a 45 punt that goes into the end zone. Placement, time…all factors that are critical and become crucial in the kicking game. And, all of it also comes down to the one attribute we rarely mention or discuss in football because we often get tunnel vision over the physical aspects of the game and/or the players.

    That is one thing that I am really encouraged about in reading KW’s comments after games and practice. He seems to really think with depth about the game and understands, the role of intelligence and appears to transmit it to his players. Example, read the comments by Heban today. It’s really encouraging.

    Thanks…you are absolutely right and are giving the entire kicking game its proper importance.

  48. Tsao- Agreed placement is a key factor in the punting equation. Looking at the performance of kicking teams overall (am I nuts, or is “special teams” just another name for the kicking game?), however, if it is “one of our strongest assets” then we are in for a rough season. In 2011- Kick returns IU=10/165, Bad Guys=10/205. Punt returns IU=2/7 Bad Guys 3/5. Net average/punt IU=36.6 Bad Guys=41.0 Of course, the kick is only a fraction, and maybe a small one, of the formula that yields these stats- even HoosierB can figure out that coverage and tackling figure heavily into it.

    In the UVA game, Ewald’s kicks were fielded at the 2, 1, 8, 17, G, 1. This is acceptable for the kicker’s part, so I am calling off my hunt for Ewald’s replacement, but the best kick (to the goal line) was returned to the 30, and the worst kick (to the 17) was returned to the 34. I think it’s clear where improvement is needed.

    I agree that numbers are not all in the kicking game, but we are losing (slightly) the field position battle. Again, if special teams are “our strongest asset,” we are in for a rough time. Let’s hope the kickoff squad gets lots of practice in the next couple of games!

  49. Those are great stats (their value, not their result). I do think that the ‘special/kicking game- both offensively and defensively) are critical to the success (or lack of) by a team. The Bears made a living the last 3-4 years, partially because they had a couple of great return men (Hester and Knox) but because they block well, tackle very ‘offensively’ -to recover the ball) and use kick-offs and punts to establish field position. Their special teams coach is a legend in his own right.

    With Ewald, we are part of the way there. He is a very dependable 3 points from 45 yards in.

    I got very interested in kicking about 25 years ago and read nearly a dozen books and articles on the subject. I assume someone there is taking a long look at their kick-off and their punting game and their approach to both. Especially in these, I do believe technique (therefor coaching instruction) is every bit as important as strength. It is all physics. The plant-foot determines fulcrum (accuracy). Ewald, I think, does everything correctly with his plant foot.

    But, he has a habit of wanting to see where the ball is going on long kicks and tries to lift his eyes, raises his head up too quickly and, thus, cuts-off his swing/follow-through way too short. It costs him a good deal of distance. I knew and was friends with a very well known kicking coach who used to have the kicker put a small wad of cotton on the ground a foot a foot or so in front of the ball and make the kicker keep his eyes down on the cotton. It forced a better follow through (leverage)by keeping him from throwing his neck back.

    Sorry for the treatise. I’m just fascinated by the technique aspects of kicking. If you watch the plant foot, you can call where the ball is going 95 percent of the time, even before the kicking foot strikes the ball.

    A lot of coaches; college and pro, have been retained or fired because of win-loss records dependent on the kicking game. Not many think about how important that issue is even though it puts food on their table.

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