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Sunday, June 16
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Team discovers winning formula

Second-half turnaround finds Hoosiers winning four of last five games

The formula for success at IU last season wasn't an effective one: Score at least 40 points or lose.\nAnd that formula seemed to be the case again early this season.\nThe football team won only one of its first six games, and the lone victory was a 63-32 offensive onslaught against Wisconsin.\nBut somewhere between a late October loss to Iowa and Saturday's victory against Kentucky, IU learned how to win.\nNot how to score 40-plus points and win. Just how to win.\nThe Hoosiers won four of their last five games, and three of those victories were close ones -- the kind IU football teams haven't won since Cam Cameron arrived five years ago.\nIU outfought Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich., and shut down dangerous Purdue and Kentucky offenses to end the season.\nThe team that beat Kentucky 26-15 Saturday isn't the same one that lost to North Carolina State in its season opener.\n"I think we learned how to win," senior quarterback Antwaan Randle El said. "That was the biggest thing. And not just offense doing well and defense playing average, and not offense not playing well and then defense playing exceptionally well.\n"I think we together realized it takes offense, defense, special teams, and we just continued to put it all together."\nThe turnaround started after a bye week Oct. 27. IU beat Northwestern after the bye and gradually played better as a team each week.\nPersonnel changes also helped. Cameron revamped his defense before the Northwestern game, and the new look worked.\nFreshman Herana-Daze Jones stepped up as a linebacker, as did safety-turned linebacker Ron Bethel, a junior. Junior A.C. Carter filled Bethel's role at safety, and senior Marcus Floyd also helped the secondary as a starting cornerback.\n"It's just guys were sitting the bench at the beginning of the season," said Floyd, who started the season as a backup. "They really were hungry and wanted to play. Then when we got an opportunity to play, we were hungry, and we were coachable.\n"We just wanted to go out and help the team. We saw some of mistakes that the guys in front of us were making, and we said we're not gonna make those mistakes when we got into the game."\nThe defense indeed cut down on mistakes during the last five games. Points-wise, the last two games of the season were IU's best defensive performances.\nNow the trick is to get next season's team to build off of the late-season surge.\n"It means a lot to finish off the year with two wins, not only for us as seniors leaving but also for the guys coming back," senior center Craig Osika said. "That gives them momentum going into the offseason to know that we did turn it around this year. We proved that it can be done.\n"It's great for the whole program. It's great for the coaches. It's great for us. It's great for the underclassmen"

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