Missed tackles, out-of-position players plague Hoosier defense
By Nathan Hart
That was about all that went wrong for the Cavalier offense Saturday afternoon. The IU defense, on the other hand, could hardly do anything right.
Virginia, ranked third worst in the country in total offense entering the game, totaled 536 yards against a Hoosier defense that missed tackles, played out of position and seemed one step behind throughout the Cavaliers’ 47-7 rout.
IU senior defensive end Jammie Kirlew said the defense struggled in all areas Saturday. When asked what was most disappointing about the performance, Kirlew said, “It’s hard to pick one.”
Sewell torched the Hoosiers secondary with 308 passing yards and one touchdown, while Virginia running back Mikell Simpson rushed for four touchdowns before leaving the game with a neck injury.
In one stretch spanning the second beginning of the fourth quarter, Virginia scored points on six consecutive possessions. Each of those drives averaged 61 yards, as the Cavaliers posted 47 unanswered points.
“From the beginning, through the game and at the end, that wasn’t our play,” Kirlew said.
The Hoosier defense did not start well. Following the dropped pass by Torchia on Virginia’s first offensive play, Sewell connected on a 22-yard pass to Kris Burd. Simpson gashed the IU defense on the next two plays, finishing with a 5-yard burst into the end zone.
Following a three-and-out by the IU offense, Virginia took advantage again with a five-play, 68-yard drive that ended in a Sewell touchdown pass. The Cavaliers led 14-0 just six minutes into the game.
Several of the IU players and coaches mentioned that the defense’s struggles directly effected the team’s offensive production. With the score favoring the Cavaliers, the Hoosier offense was forced to rely on the passing game and to play from behind, which it could not do.
“We didn’t play well enough,” IU coach Bill Lynch said about his defense. “They ran it and they threw it on us. We didn’t create any turnovers, and we couldn’t get them off the field.”
Prior to this game, the Cavaliers struggled to move the ball offensively. The team averaged just 272 total offensive yards, including 93 rushing yards – both stats ranking in the bottom 20 in the nation.
The Cavaliers had also allowed 17 sacks, but the offensive line yielded only two on Saturday.
Junior linebacker Tyler Replogle did not make any excuses after the game.
“In a game like that, there are a lot of mistakes,” Replogle said. “But you have to give credit to Virginia. They came out and played better than us today.”
And those Hoosier mistakes were costly. While Kirlew said the defensive troubles were not effort issues, he admitted that players were making too many mistakes.
“We weren’t all clicking at the same time,” Kirlew said. “It might have been plays where ten guys were on it and one guy was off.
“We could’ve came out stronger and set the tone. We didn’t do it in the beginning, and it bit us.”