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Saturday, Feb. 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

IU running backs break out against Western Michigan

Running Backs

After last week’s close victory against Eastern Kentucky, the biggest question regarding IU was its lack of production on the ground.

IU senior running back Demetrius McCray answered that question during the Hoosiers’ 23-19 win against Western Michigan on Saturday.

His 134 yards rushing – including a 59-yard scamper down the left sideline for a touchdown in the second quarter – demonstrated why he was named the top running back in the four-player rotation this offseason.

“We knew our run game was going to get moving,” McCray said. “We got into a flow, and our offensive line kept doing a great job. I got to the second level and was able to get some good runs in.”

But McCray was not the only IU player to make a significant impact rushing the ball against the Broncos.

With freshman running back Darius Willis sidelined with an ankle injury, senior running back Bryan Payton made the most of his increased time on the field.

Payton carried the ball five times for 29 yards and 5.8 yards per carry – an increase from his 1.2 yard per carry average during last week’s contest.

IU junior wide receiver Mitchell Evans also added to the Hoosiers’ ground attack.
A former quarterback, Evans lined up behind center at different times and proceeded to rush for 35 yards on six carries. His one pass in the fourth quarter was incomplete to sophomore wide receiver Tandon Doss.

In total, the Hoosiers rushed for 187 yards on 33 carries with two touchdowns.

The offensive production on the ground against Western Michigan was significantly better than against the Colonels, in which IU averaged only 2.4 yards per carry.

McCray said the protection up front contributed greatly to Saturday’s win.

“The offensive line did a better job,” McCray said. “I know I was seeing linebackers before I was seeing defensive tackles.”

One aspect utilized against the Broncos was Evans’ versatility.

The 6-foot, 3-inch receiver had 66 yards of total offense while running, throwing and catching the ball Saturday.

When Evans appeared behind center rather than IU junior quarterback Ben Chappell, the Western Michigan defense was forced to quickly alter their scheme.

“It’s just something that we looked at this week that we thought could help the offense,” Evans said. “It definitely caught the defense off guard at first. The coaches had enough confidence in me, so I tried to make the most of it.”

IU coach Bill Lynch said having Evans in the backfield adds a unique dimension to the offense.   

“We might not have gotten big yardage, but it’s one more thing the defense on the sideline has to draw up and make adjustments,” Lynch said. “It gave us a little bit of flexibility. That’s the kind of balance we feel like we got to have in our offensive attack.”

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