Notes and quotes from Indiana’s 13-7 loss to Penn State

He saw the screen, then he saw the end zone.

Indiana safety Mark Murphy blew up a screen pass from Christian Hackenberg in the second quarter Saturday, intercepting the Penn State quarterback and returning it 47 yards for Indiana’s only score in a 13-7 loss to the Nittany Lions.

It was the second touchdown of Murphy’s career. The senior recorded a 31-yard score at North Texas on Sept. 24, 2011, which was also the last time a Hoosier ran an interception back for a touchdown.

“We had a two-man blitz coming off the strong side,” Murphy said. “The coaches did a great job of putting us in position to be successful. Credit my teammates for flushing Hackenberg out, and I saw he was going to throw the bubble (screen). I made sure it was going to go through me, and was able to bat it and return it.

“It was coming in so hot … (I tipped it to myself) a little bit.”

SENIORS STAY MOTIVATED
They have only three games left in an IU uniform, and for players like Murphy and Bobby Richardson that’s enough motivation as any to keep them focused down the stretched.

Murphy and Richardson were a couple of the standouts in an encouraging Indiana defensive effort, considering Murphy’s pick-six and Richardson’s fine day in Penn State’s backfield. Richardson finished with three tackles, including two for a loss and one sack. The senior improves his team-best total to 5.5 on the year and 11 in his career, and he also leads the Hoosiers with 20 career tackles for loss.

“It’s not hard,” Richardson said of keeping his focus. “We have to because it’s our final games. We still have young guys who have to develop here and we still have to play for each other so we just have to play ball.”

Murphy added: “I have three more as an Indiana Hoosier. If we win those three, I can get another shot so it’s not hard to stay motivated. We just have to keep fighting and keep coming.”

SACK ATTACK
Indiana posted a season-high five sacks against the Lions, marking the first time IU has recorded at least five sacks since recording seven at Illinois on Oct. 27, 2012.

Richardson had one, as did Flo Hardin, Nate Hoff, Ralph Green III and Antonio Allen.

Hardin’s was the second of both his season and career. He shared the team lead with six tackles. Hoff picked up his third sack, while Green and Allen went back-to-back in the fourth quarter. Green now has 1.5 in 2014 and 2.5 in his career, while Allen collected the first of his career.

“Got our hands on some balls, got some pressure, (and) those kids played hard,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said. “It’s something to build on.”

REVOLVING DOOR AT QB
Had Zander Diamont left the game for any amount of time Saturday, Wilson would have played fellow true freshman Danny Cameron under center. Beyond Cameron, Wilson may have needed to experiment.

Freshman Zeke Walker, who is listed as a safety on Indiana’s roster, was taking snaps with Diamont prior to the game. Walker, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound product of South Carolina, played both defensive back and quarterback in high school. Walk-on Bryce Smith also dressed for Indiana on Saturday.

“That’s kind of our next deal,” Wilson said. “It would be Danny first. We just got Zeke Walker from high school to do some of that stuff, and then we’ve got Bryce Smith, the walk-on. So that’s the four bodies we’ve got right now. That’s what we’re working. But Danny is the second guy right now.”

STONER SITS
Senior receiver Nick Stoner did not play in Saturday’s game due to a hamstring injury, Wilson said after the game.

Stoner warmed up and was available to play, but Wilson said it was offensive coordinator Kevin Johns’ decision to hold him out of the game.

Freshman Simmie Cobbs started in his place.

“He warmed up and looked good and, as a matter of fact, he kind of went in thinking he wasn’t going to go,” Wilson said. “He was available, but at the same time he actually tweaked a ham last week, he didn’t — he did some light work all week. We really warmed him up and he looked very good in warm-ups. I asked him if he was ready. He said yeah. I think Kevin just felt not having practiced in all of that time, and it wasn’t nothing he had done. But the way he warmed up, I sense he’ll be good to move forward this week.”