Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Sammyj108)
With less than 50 days until the 2013 Indiana Football season kicks-off, we are going to start taking a look back in time. Each Thursday we will be throwing it back to 2012 and breaking down every game the Hoosiers played last year.
Indiana State Sycamores. Coming into the game the Hoosiers were undefeated in the all-time series, with a record of 2-0. The last time these two teams faced off was back in 2007 when Indiana beat their in-state foe 55-7.
Date, Time & Location:
Saturday September, 1st, 2011 | 8:00 PM | Memorial Stadium (Bloomington, Indiana)
Why They Played:
As with many FBS programs the Hoosiers decided to play an FCS opponent to try and start their season off on the right foot. Indiana and Indiana State are not rivals on the gridiron, but it is a match-up that makes sense for geographically and financially for both schools. Indiana needs an opponent that they can almost guarantee a victory against, while Indiana State makes some money, plays on TV albeit the alternate Big Ten Network channel, and has an easy 60 mile bus ride from Terre Haute to Bloomington. To the surprise of some, Indiana State usually brings a great crowd for an FCS opponent, which is important because the Hoosiers have trouble putting fans in the stands.
What The Game Meant:
While the opening game of any season is an important one to set the tone, the Hoosiers came into this game riding a 9-game losing streak dating back to the 2011 season and it was vital that they get a victory to start the 2012 season on the right foot.
Now that the Big Ten has expanded and with the advent of the College Football Playoff, the Big Ten has passed a mandate to not play FCS opponents in the future in order to beef up their strength of schedule. 2014 will be the last time the Hoosiers and Sycamores do battle in the near future.
Top Offensive Performers:
Shane Wynn, WR, Indiana- The diminutive receiver had a big game to open the season, hauling in 6 passes for 95 yards, including a 71-yard strike that went for a touchdown. Wynn's speed and elusiveness proved too much for the overwhelmed Sycamores. Wynn caught the ball all over the field out of the slot, but did not have an opportunity to return a kick during the game.
Tre Roberson, QB, Indiana- The true sophomore quarterback has an efficient outing to kick-off his second year as the Hoosier's starter. He completed 72.2% of his passes for 280 yards while throwing a touchdown and no interceptions. Roberson's throwing ability was one of the bigger questions coming in to the game after an inconsistent freshman year. Roberson did not run as much as he did in the past, added a modest 19 yards on 7 carries, but still was able to find the end zone.
Shakir Bell, RB, Indiana State- Bell came into the game saying he would play with a chip on his shoulder because Indiana did not offer him a scholarship after having an outstanding prep career at Warren Central in Indianapolis. Bell did not disappoint. He ran for a game-high 192 yards on just 24 carries, good for a whopping 8 yards per carry. Bell's biggest play, a 54-yard touchdown run, gave the Sycamores a 7-0 lead.
Top Defensive Performers:
Brian Williams, CB, Indiana- Williams finished the game with 4 total tackles and one giant interception. The pick could very well had been a game changer as it ended a drive that had already reached the Hoosier 35.
Larry Black Jr., DT, Indiana- The senior leader racked up 2 sacks and four total tackles to start the season. Black's performance was one of the few bright spots on a day for the Hoosier defense, which was allowed 387 total yards.
Jordan Bright, DL, Indiana State- Bright finished the game with four total tackles including 2 for loss. Bright anchored a defensive line that limited the bigger and more talented Hoosiers to just 3.6 yard per carry in the run game.
Special Team Performance:
Many games are won and lost on special teams. Luckily for Indiana that was not the case in Week One. Against Indiana State the Hoosiers were dreadful in the special teams department. It started with Kicker Mitch Ewald, who entered the season on the Groza Award Watch List, who went 1-3 on field goals on the day. To make matter worse one of his kicks was blocked allowing the Sycamores to gain even better field position. The lone field goal he did execute was from a mere 30-yards out. Ewald was not the only poor performer on special teams however. It carried over to Punter Mitchell Voss, who averaged a measly 32 yards on his 4 punts and he too nearly had one blocked. On their only kick return of the day, the Hoosiers were only able to muster 12 yards and did not attempt to return a punt. The lone bright spot on special teams was the fact that two of Voss' punts were downed inside the twenty-yard line. Although the Hoosiers won the game, they did so in spite of having one of the worst all-around special teams performances in recent memory.
2-0. That was the difference in the turnover battle, and the game. The Hoosiers were able to take control by intercepting a pass and recovering a fumble. In a game where neither team truly pulled away, turnovers and lack thereof, proved to be the reason the Hoosiers were able to pull of the victory. Both of the Sycamore turnovers came inside of Hoosier territory and took points off the scoreboard.
With the Hoosiers clinging to a narrow 7 point lead with 11:37 left in the fourth quarter the Sycamores had driven the ball down to the Hoosier 35-yard line. That was when corner Brian Williams came up with a huge interception on fourth-down play ending the Indiana State scoring threat. Although, the Sycamores would threaten a few more times in the games final minutes, the late game turnover provided the boost the defense needed to not surrender anymore points to the Sycamores.
The Game was Over When:
After the final play of the game. The Sycamores were driving with one last chance to tie the game and managed to get down to the Indiana 36-yard line with just seconds to play. On the games final play, Sycamore quarterback Mike Perish threw up a prayer that was knocked down by, Hoosier wide-receiver Cody Latimer, who was in the game playing defense for that very reason.
Players of the Game
Indiana - QB Tre Roberson
The quarterback accounted for 299 total yards and two touchdowns. He made the throws that he had, and limited any big mistakes leading the Hoosiers to victory. While Roberson wasn't excellent, he was efficient, completing 72% of his passes while not turning the ball over.
Indiana State - RB Shakir Bell
Bell almost stole the show in the seasons opening week. Running with a chip on his shoulder, he made sure that the Indiana defense spent their day chasing him. The diminutive back rushed for 192 yards and a touchdown, showing that he wasn't just agile but tough to bring down as well kept drives and hopes of a victory alive for the Sycamores.
The Hoosiers walked out of Week One feeling both relieved and optimistic after starting the season with a such close victory over an FCS opponent like Indiana State. While it was great to start the 2012 season with a victory, it was not quite the beginning that head Coach Kevin Wilson had envisioned during the off-season. Thanks for reading, and make sure you check back next week for when we breakdown Indiana's Week 2 match-up against UMass.