Indiana Daily Student

Defense is offensive against North Carolina State

Team blows 12-point fourth quarter lead in home loss

Everything was going according to plan. \nAll the hype surrounding the football team before its season opener Saturday against North Carolina State seemed to be true. In two possessions, the Hoosiers' offense had easily posted two touchdowns ' the second of which was a 57-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Antwaan Randle El to senior receiver Jerry Dorsey.\nMore importantly, the IU defense looked solid as it applied pressure to freshman Wolfpack quarterback Philip Rivers. And once the Hoosiers stuffed NC State's offense for the second straight time to open the game, senior defensive tackle Paul Mandina waved his arms in the air, encouraging the crowd to get up. The fans rose to the occasion, awarding the defense for its efforts.\nIndeed, in coach Cam Cameron's fourth year at IU, everything seemed to be falling into place just like he said it would. Then, a funny thing happened to the Hoosiers as they were on their way to victory and the start of a promising season. It all fell apart.\nRivers and the Wolfpack shredded the IU defense for 401 yards passing and five touchdowns as NC State rebounded from deficits of 21-3 and 28-13 to shock the Hoosiers with a 41-38 victory. The defense that was supposed to be improved actually had an encore of the last season's standard performance when they allowed 40 or more points five times.\nFirst-year defensive coordinator James Bell and his new system were embarrassed by the 18-year old Rivers. After the game, Mandina, wearing a look of complete disbelief, didn't have too many answers for what had just happened on the field.\n"We made some mistakes," Mandina said. "You can't say it any other way. Obviously, we have some things to work out."\nAfter building a 21-3 lead with 13:22 left in the first half, IU began to lose the steam that seemed to push it early in the game. With IU working mostly out of a base 4-3 defense with the secondary in zone coverage, Rivers hooked up with sophomore tight end Willie Wright and sophomore receiver Koren Robinson on a consistent basis.\nWith the secondary playing more zone than man-to-man and Bell sending junior linebacker Justin Smith on a number of blitzes, the short passes were open for Rivers and he took advantage, connecting on 31 of 52 pass attempts. Smith was effective in getting to Rivers and applying pressure while recording a sack, but Rivers and NC State coach Chuck Amato figured things out.\n"There were holes on the outside and the middle, and we knew going into the game that's where we got to attack," Rivers said. "Early, they did a good job of covering the middle, but late they were so worried about the drive."\nOn the ground, the Hoosiers held the Wolfpack to 73 yards rushing on 23 attempts. Still, Cameron said he wants improvement.\n"We didn't play as well as we wanted to, especially defensively," Cameron said. "We all know at times you have to outscore people."\nEven though things began to fall apart for the defense in the second and third quarters, the Hoosiers had a 35-26 lead when the defense made one last attempt to save the day. On a second-down play from the Wolfpack 30-yard line, IU senior linebacker Joslin Goodman intercepted Rivers at the 40-yard line and returned it to the NC State 12-yard line with 6:06 remaining in the game. \nThe Hoosier offense moved the ball to the one-yard line before settling for a 25-yard field goal by senior Andy Payne. Randle El said the offense needed to help the defense by getting a touchdown in that situation.\n"We have to make some plays," Randle El said. "It's a team thing. We lost that one together."\nTrailing 38-26, NC State quickly scored to close the gap to five before Rivers threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Robinson with 54 seconds left in the game. On the play, Robinson split junior cornerback Sharrod Wallace and sophomore safety Ron Bethel.\nAfterwards, Bell said the defense just didn't do the things it needed to do in order to stop the Wolfpack in the end.\n"Players got to make plays," Bell said. "We didn't make plays."\nWith his fists clenched Mandina made a guarantee to IU fans everywhere that things would not continue in this pattern. He committed to leading a defensive improvement.\n"We're going to make this thing happen," Mandina said. "Don't back out on us yet. I guarantee you I will be a liar if you come up here and we are still a losing team. We'll take care of it."\nDespite the fact the offense scored 38 points and still lost, Randle El foresees no resentment towards the defense.\n"That unity will always be there," Randle El said of the bond between the defense and the offense. "We don't give up on one another"

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