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Monday, Feb. 26
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Hoosiers lack discipline in last 2 games

When the dust settled and the pads came off, the Hoosiers walked away beating the Western Michigan Broncos, but they nearly gave the victory away.

Again.

In last week’s victory against Eastern Kentucky, pundits saw a big problem in the abundance of penalties called against the Hoosiers. The thought was, however, that the first game caused the team to make dumb mistakes, and it would be corrected by the next week.

It only got worse, though. 

At the end of the game, IU was flagged for 13 total infractions, seven of which came before the snap of the ball. 

It didn’t take long for the Hoosiers to get on the wrong track. On the second play of the game, junior tackle James Brewer, who really struggled against EKU, got flagged for holding. 

On the next drive, IU was flagged for two consecutive false starts, and later in the game, senior tight end Troy Wagner committed the same crime by himself.

Junior quarterback Ben Chappell knows that penalties before the play must come to an end.

“It’s something we have to get fixed, no question,” Chappell said. “We can’t have pre-snap penalties. It just kills you.”

While every penalty hurts, the Hoosiers showed an inexcusable lack of discipline late in the fourth quarter after Nick Freeland’s kick was blocked, giving the Broncos a chance to cut into their 23-17 lead.

On the drive, the Hoosiers committed four penalties, and three of them were 15-yard personal fouls. Linebacker Tyler Replogle’s face mask with two men already making the tackle was the worst of those mistakes.

The Hoosiers gave away 47 free yards before the drive was halted by a forced fumble courtesy of senior defensive end Greg Middleton.

To add insult to victory, the Hoosiers were flagged one more time after they regained possession for too many men on the field – perhaps the easiest of all penalties to avoid.

Combined with last week’s performance, IU has been flagged 21 times, something head coach Bill Lynch takes the blame for. 

“Penalties are on me,” Lynch said. “I’ll hold my hand up on that one.”

The silver lining in the Hoosiers’ gray cloud is that Saturday’s game showed their close finishes against lesser opponents have nothing to do with lack of talent.

After all, Demetrius McCray ran for a career-best 134 yards, Ben Chappell completed 64 percent of his passes, and the defense added two more sacks and one more takeaway to their totals. 

The Hoosiers were also sparkling in ball possession, holding the ball for over half the game and not turning it over once. 

The only things that kept IU from breaking the game open were red-zone efficiency and discipline.

The former is a mystery, as all five of Chappell’s career touchdown passes have been from 10 yards or more outside the red zone. Until he completes one for a score from less than 30 yards away, it’s hard to have confidence in the unit. 

The latter would seem to be correctable, but a five-penalty increase from last week makes it seem less likely it is. Only time will tell if the Hoosiers can beat a team without making it unnecessarily difficult in the process. 

Next time, they may only beat themselves.

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