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Monday, Feb. 26
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Frustrated: Football team falters on 3rd downs in loss to Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS – Coming into Saturday’s matchup against Minnesota, it looked as though the IU football team’s offense might be able to score big against the host Golden Gophers.

The Hoosiers (2-3, 0-2) came into Saturday’s game ranked second in the conference in both total offense and rushing offense.

By contrast, Minnesota entered the contest ranked ninth in both total defense and rushing defense. Statistics aren’t always what they appear to be.

Despite the difference in rankings, the Gophers prevailed to defeat the Hoosiers, 16-7.
In the first half, the Hoosiers only held the ball for 9:27, and out of their seven possessions in that frame, the visitors from Bloomington went three-and-out four times, and none lasted more than three plays.

As a result, the Hoosiers were limited to 17 first-half plays as opposed to the 40 plays the Golden Gophers ran.

IU coach Bill Lynch said getting into third-down situations limited what the Hoosiers could do offensively.

“We were just three-and-out,” Lynch said. “Sometimes, when you run a play and get first downs, you can go to (different plays), but when you don’t get a first down (because) our first three of four (possessions) were three-and-out – that’s 12 plays, and four of the twelve are third-down plays, where you have to be more specific about what your doing. We just didn’t play well enough in the first half.”

Senior running back Marcus Thigpen followed up Lynch’s remarks on how the Hoosiers could not keep offensive continuity in a game that saw them reach the red zone just once.

“It seemed like we would sustain a drive, but then we would end up killing ourselves with a penalty or a sack,” he said. “It was tough with all of our three-and-outs and mental mistakes to keep something going, but I give a lot of credit to the Minnesota defense as well.”

Another issue that plagued the IU offense was third-down conversions – the Hoosiers were a dismal 1-of-10 on third downs.

“They came in and made big plays when they needed to,” junior quarterback Kellen Lewis said. “On the big-play downs, third downs, they would have a nice little run on first down and make sure they got it on second down. They played a great game out there today.”

Minus two big pass plays of 77 and 47 yards from sophomore quarterback Ben Chappell and Lewis, respectively, the Hoosiers only managed 169 total yards.

Still, although their offensive production was not where the Hoosiers would have liked it Saturday, Lewis said he feels his team needs to continue to do what it has been doing.

“We think we need to just get better at doing what we do,” he said. “We had four or five drives where we were driving and driving and we would shoot ourselves in the foot or have a lack of preparation for ourselves when we would miss a block, and we’ve been blocking since camp.

“They did a good thing switching things on defense and moving guys around.”

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