Allen's message getting through to Indiana defense
Tom Allen loved every second of it.
Indiana’s new defensive coordinator couldn’t help but contain his enthusiasm after he saw his team intercept three passes, return two for touchdowns and hold FIU’s offense to just three points in the second half.
During Kevin Wilson’s time in Bloomington, the Hoosiers defense has been an afterthought in the B1G. It ranked last in the conference in points allowed per game (37.6) and yards per game (509.4). So many times over the past four years, games have been squandered because of defense.
On Thursday, though, it was the reason Indiana won.
Allen’s emphasis on takeaways all offseason was the difference.
The Hoosiers offense struggled in the first half. A unit that led the B1G in scoring last season was sputtering. While Indiana’s new personnel were still getting acquainted with one another, the defense held strong.
With 13 minutes left in the second quarter and leading 5-3, junior Rashard Fant intercepted an Alex McGough pass and returned it 34 yards for the game’s first touchdown. It was the only time the Hoosiers would reach the end zone until the fourth quarter.
And when the Hoosiers finally started clicking offensively, the defense held strong.
Up 27-13 with less than four minutes to play, Tegray Scales iced the cake with a 16-yard pick-six to solidify the victory for Indiana. Just for good measure, junior Ben Bach intercepted McGough’s final pass of the game.
"A little bit of Hoosier Hysteria from new defensive coordinator Tom Allen." pic.twitter.com/FCrixXuidC
— Jeff Rabjohns (@JeffRabjohns) September 2, 2016
The Hoosier defense is gulping down the Kool-Aid that Allen has concocted.
It wasn’t just the turnover category where Indiana’s defense was excelling. It was one of the program’s best all-around performances in years.
FIU was held to just 286 yards of total offense, the first time Indiana’s defense has held an opponent under the 300-yard mark since the 2014 season-opener against Indiana State. The Panthers’ 13 points were the fewest scored against a Hoosier defense in 16 games.
FIU converted on only 4 of its 14 attempts on third downs.
You think Allen’s arrival is making a difference?
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We shouldn’t start praising Indiana’s defense as if it had just shutout Ohio State. FIU’s offense is a far stretch from anything Allen and company will see in a few weeks when B1G play begins. There’s still plenty of work left to be done.
But this was a good start. After all, this is the same team that tallied more than 400 yards and scored 22 points against the Hoosiers in Bloomington last season.
During spring workouts, Allen posted a sign that read, “Hoosier takeaways, it’s all about the ball.”
It was about more than just the ball on Thursday, though. Indiana was solid in all facets defensively through most of the contest. It had little trouble getting pressure on McGough and shut down the running attack. At the end of the night, FIU had just 63 rushing yards on 21 carries.
The turnovers were big. The overall performance was bigger.
Assessing the progress of Indiana’s defense after a single contest – and against FIU – is difficult to do. The Hoosiers looked better defensively and appear to be taking Allen’s message to heart.
Indiana’s defense started the season off on the right foot.
it certainly had Allen excited.