At times, it wasn’t pretty.
IU won, 27-0. It recorded its first shutout victory since 1993. But at times, offensive miscues put the IU defense’s ability to stonewall Charleston Southern front and center Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Fortunately for the Hoosiers, even though past opponents this season had scored 38 points off IU turnovers heading into the game against the FCS-level Buccaneers, three drives set up by turnovers netted the visitors zero points.
One CSU drive even started at IU’s 27-yard-line after an interception.
“We take pride in that, and that’s huge,” junior defensive tackle Jacob Robinson said. “That’s a momentum killer for them, their momentum is real high as soon as they get the ball and for us to go out there and take that away is huge leading up to these Big Ten weeks.”
Charleston Southern only amassed 134 yards of total offense. None of those came through the air.
Two Buccaneer quarterbacks combined to throw 10 incomplete passes, and although the option attack at times found success on the ground, only five drives lasted more than three plays and eight ended in three-and-outs.
Two of the three drives Charleston Southern started after turnovers ended with three-and-outs, and the other went only 18 yards before the Buccaneers were forced to punt.
Each time IU made a critical error, Charleston Southern failed to capitalize and cut into the ever growing deficit it faced.
“That’s always an important thing for us,” junior defensive tackle Mike Barwick Jr. said. “We want to go out and get a three-and-out so we want to get off the field as quick as possible. That’s what our coaches preach.”
Although junior wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. had a touchdown catch nullified due to a pass interference call, the Hoosiers still added a field goal to take the lead in the first quarter. Later in the first half when sophomore running back Devonte Williams fumbled near the goal line, Ramsey landed on the ball in the end zone for the score.
“I was just carrying out my fake and I saw the ball on the ground,” Ramsey said. “So, I just jumped on it.”
IU Coach Tom Allen wasn’t surprised. That’s just what he expects from a guy who’s seemingly first to everything the team has going on each week.
“When the guy is like that, it doesn’t surprise you when he’s kind of right where he’s supposed to be on the field, as well, and kind of doing the little things that add to winning football games,” Allen said. “I think that’s kind of a great little picture of how he does everything.”
When a pass interference call on freshman wide receiver Taysir Mack looked like it might kill a late first half scoring drive for the Hoosiers, Ramsey found junior running back Ricky Brookins for a couple quick gains to keep the drive alive. Then he targeted Mack again.
Those second chances, compounded by the inability to take advantage of IU turnovers, frustrated Charleston Southern head coach Mark Tucker.
“You have to take advantage of every single opportunity in this type of venue and this type of game when you’re playing up,” Tucker said.
Allen plans on going over the film on each IU fumble to evaluate exactly what happened. IU works on that more than any school he’s ever coached, and if his team is going to maximize what it can do with each phase — special teams, offense and defense — fumbles have to stop. They aren’t part of the formula.
“We want to build a football team that plays to the strength of our team, and that’s from a defensive perspective, special teams perspective, and your offense,” Allen said. “All three working together to win games.”