Under the Radar Defensive Contributions Help Hoosiers to Victory

Image: HoosierScoop.com

Image: HoosierScoop.com

Nick and Sammy have had excellent coverage of IU's week two victory over the Florida International Golden Panthers. While their recaps were quite extensive, there are a couple of things that I didn't want to go unmentioned before we move on to the Hoosiers week three matchup against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. 

1. Dawson Fletcher Stepped In and then Stepped Up

Late in the fourth quarter, Florida International was driving and threatening to tie the game at 29. The Hoosiers defense had played much better than the horror show that was seen in week one but many had to be fearing a repeat of the SIU game as the Panthers marched down the field. On 2nd and Goal from the IU 4-yard line, Alex McGough lofted a pass towards Jonnu Smith in the back of the end zone. Smith looked wide open but Dawson Fletcher, a seldom used redshirt junior linebacker, read the play perfectly and extended his arm to bat the pass away. Two plays later, Marcus Oliver forced McGough to throw a wobbly pop up that was intercepted by Jameel Cook Jr.. Cook Jr. streaked 96 yards down the sideline and the Hoosiers secured the victory.

“I thought Dawson Fletcher’s play was one of the huge plays in the game,” Wilson said after the game on Saturday night. “He had great anticipation and recovery to get his hand on the ball, and that was awesome for a fourth-year player.”

Dawson Fletcher hasn't played very much in his career and he probably won't see a ton of playing time for the remainder of the season but on Saturday night, he made an invaluable contribution that shouldn't be forgotten.

2. The Return of Green and Latham

The Indiana Hoosiers played the Southern Illinois Salukis without their top two interior defensive linemen and they were gashed repeatedly by inside zone read running plays. They also failed to get pressure on quarterback Mark Iannotti and created virtually no disruption in the SIU backfield. On Saturday night, both Ralph Green and Darius Latham returned from suspension and the defense was noticeably more disruptive thanks to their presence. 

IU's coaching staff emphasized getting vertical as a defense and creating more havoc in the opposition backfield. Against Florida International, the emphasis, along with the return of Green and Latham, made a large difference. The Hoosiers were able to sack McGough twice and pressure him multiple times. The defense was also able to make some impact plays, forcing three turnovers.

Make sure to read the in-depth coverage from Sammy Jacobs and Nick Holmes and check back for our recap podcast. Plus, we'll start looking forward to the week three clash against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.