Hoosiers have Justus for all

Indiana kicker Logan Justus isn’t looking at the uprights when he lines up an extra point or a field goal.

Justus is looking past the goal posts and into the stands for a spot he found during pregame warmups.

He found that spot, directly down the middle of the south end zone on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“There was a seat that was different than all the other seats there,” he said. “It was white with a circle.”

Justus hit his bulls-eye on his final kick Saturday, a career-long 50-yarder to seal the Hoosiers’ 34-24 victory over Ball State.

It capped a record performance for the senior from McCordsville, who tied the IU single-game record with four field goals and set a career mark three times on the afternoon.

He started with a then-career best from 48 yards in the first quarter, added a chip shot from 30 yards in the second quarter and hit a new long of 49 yards before halftime.

It added up to Indiana coach Tom Allen needing just one word to describe his kicker.

“Clutch.”

Justus had a breakout season a year ago, earning second team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and third team from the media, while hitting 15-of-18 field goal attempts.

He’s off to an even better start.

“That’s why kickers are so hard to recruit,” Allen said. “I was a special teams coordinator many years, and there are some really good programs that have trouble with kickers. Some guys have an innate ability to come through when it counts, and some have the opposite of that.

“… (Logan)’s just one of those guys. He’s had a pretty good fall camp, maybe not as good of a camp as a year ago, but he was awesome today.”

Justus was aided by a new snapper in true freshman Sean Wracher and a new holder in punter Haydon Whitehead. The trio was flawless.

“I don’t feel any pressure,” Justus said. “The team trusts me, and I trust them.”

The 50-yarder was well within his range, too.

“So this game I told the coaches I was comfortable with 56-58 yards,” Justus said. “I usually tell them what I feel comfortable with and the absolute furthest I could go.”

Redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Penix loved having such a strong option backing him up.

“I told him, ‘Man, I love you. I appreciate you putting points on the board,’” Penix said. “He told me, ‘You got me down there.’ We were working together as a team. We trust Logan and thank him for what he did today.”

The other freshman ‘QB’

Penix wasn’t the only freshman to throw a pass into the end zone Saturday.

After the Hoosiers scored to make it 29-17, they opted to run a two-point conversion. Penix tossed the ball to true freshman David Ellis on what seemed to be an end-around, but IU’s 6-foot “athlete” ended up targeting tight end Peyton Hendershot in the end zone.

“He went to his second read, which is technically his third choice,” Allen said. ”Run first. His first read was covered, then he threw it to a guy we’ve not thrown it to one time in practice, and he’s a true freshman, so that’s pretty impressive.”

Ellis also saw action on special teams, returning a couple of kicks. But his pass was probably the highlight of his day at Lucas Oil.

“I thought it was a great call, and they defended it pretty well for something we’ve never shown before,” Allen said. “That’s pretty good poise for a true freshman. He’s got something special about him.”

Special enough to be the Hoosiers’ next QB? Ellis maybe thinks so.

“I told him I did not expect him to do that,” Penix said. “He read the defense, was really quite surprising. I was real proud of him. He told me, ‘I’m coming for your spot.’”

Not having a Ball

Among the Hoosiers’ many mistakes Saturday were penalties. They were called for five at a cost of 65 yards.

Two of those were personal fouls on redshirt junior Marcelino Ball.

IU’s hybrid safety/linebacker was called for unsportsmanlike conduct when he knocked down a Ball State receiver out of bounds after the play was over. Later in the game, he was called for hands to the face, another 15-yarder.

Allen was clearly disappointed.

“I don’t get it. That’s just stupid,” Allen said. “They’re called selfish penalties, and that’s why I took him out and ripped his tail. We’ll have a nice little week with him for that. He’ll never do it again.”

Turnover streak

With sophomore corner Jaylin Williams’ pick to ice the game versus Ball State, the Hoosiers now have forced a turnover in 19 straight games.

That’s the longest streak in the country.

IU also has at least one interception in 11 straight contests.

3 comments

  1. Indoors. Justus salvaged the day for IU. Penix played well as long as he is able to build upon and develop his abilities. Those field goals were long at @ 100% shows IU ineffectiveness on offense. Defense disappointed also. However, success will depend what running game can do. Penix can keep defenses more honest. Maybe, IU defense will make big improvements. More of the same IU tradition status looking to improve at big ten (east) level.

  2. For those who criticizes on Purdue will be competitive in big ten. They play a fairly solid competitive pre conference schedule. Nevada game for Purdue is not out of the norm for Purdue. Then, Purdue will look good against some big ten teams. Don’t discount Purdue from bowl games yet. Though scores were within one touchdown + extra point last 2 years Purdue was much more physical than IU and controlled both games. IU had little chance of winning either game. By the end of this year???

  3. You have to keep in mind Penix’s day should have been much better if it wasn’t for a few key drops. He should have had well over 400 yards passing, pushing 500 yards, and at least 3 passing TDs if not 4. I think Penix played well and should have had a better stat line.

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