Hoosiers have evolved since 2011 season
IU’s football team is off to a 2-0 start in 2012 following a 1-11 season in 2011.
Offensive production is higher. The defense is allowing fewer points.
Saturday night, IU’s improvement will be tested to its core when the Hoosiers face Ball State at Memorial Stadium.
The Cardinals have beaten the Hoosiers in two consecutive games.
“I don’t know if anyone is perfect for us to be playing, because it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we’re on the wrong side of the ledger,” IU Coach Kevin Wilson said. “It is a great opportunity to play those guys again, and a lot of those guys who played well against us last year are back.”
The Cardinals beat the Hoosiers 27-20 in last year’s opener at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Ball State had three players rush for more than 60 yards while quarterback Keith Wenning added three touchdowns.
The Hoosiers, however, were kept at 375 yards all game and allowed four sacks.
In their first game with a new coach in a new system of offense, things did not go according to plan.
Fast forward 12 months, and the Hoosiers are quite changed from the two schools’ last meeting.
“I think last year, we were learning ourselves,” Wilson said. “We’re better, but we’re still learning and growing, and we’ll keep doing that every day, both coaches and players.”
One of those changes has been seen on the Hoosiers’ offensive side of the ball.
In the first two games of the 2012 season, IU averaged 16th in the country in rushing yards.
Against a Ball State team that gave up only 103 yards on the ground to the Hoosiers last year, a clear sign of change within IU’s offense will be if it is able to run successfully Saturday night.
In the 2012 season, the Cardinals have allowed on average 167 rushing yards per game.
“Schematically, I don’t think they have changed a ton from a year ago,” IU Assistant Offensive Coordinator Kevin Johns said. “But you’re seeing kids that can run. They’re a year older, and they’re a year stronger. It will be a great challenge, and I know both teams will be ready to go.”
In the first two games of the 2012 season, IU’s rush defense improved. Ranked 59th in the nation, IU has allowed only 127 rushing yards per game compared to more than 243 yards per game in 2011.
In their first two games, Ball State’s three-headed rushing attack of Jahwan Edwards, Horacio Banks and Barrington Scott has ranked amongst the top 10 in the nation in yards gained.
“They’re all good, physical runners,” IU Co-Defensive Coordinator Doug Mallory said. “You get nervous when a running back breaks through and a defense like Clemson can’t catch them, and that happened last week. We’ve got to do a great job of keeping the ball inside and in front.”
While Ball State’s strengths have remained similar since their last meeting with IU, the Hoosiers’ have changed.
With new personnel at nearly every position, this 2012 IU team is not the same as the 1-11 team that lost to Ball State in 2011.
Whether those changes will result in a Hoosier win Saturday night will be realized though, when the two teams take the field at Memorial Stadium.
“Everybody talks about improving from week one to week two,” Wilson said. “But when you’re a young team and if you’re a good team, you improve week after week. We expect that against Ball State, too.”
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