INDIANAPOLIS – Going into the locker room with a 21-0 deficit, Indiana football head coach Tom Allen made up his mind to change course shortly thereafter.
“I was planning on kicking an onside kick to start the second half,” Allen said postgame. “That was something that we put in at halftime and already made a decision within being in (the locker room) for about one or two minutes.”
While Indiana received the opening kick, its offense was unable to convert on a third and 10 as junior punter James Evans pinned Louisville deep inside its own territory at the eight-yard line.
Although they came away without points, the Cardinals’ first drive capped off with a missed field goal marked their only drive that didn’t result in a touchdown in the first half. Allowing 21 points in the opening half put Indiana in a hole, something Allen attributes to the corners’ lack of eye discipline.
“Eye discipline,” Allen said. “One of our young corners was the first culprit and I think he’s just leaping on a play fake. He’s playing deep third, which can’t happen.”
Allen’s halftime schematic adjustments sparked Indiana’s defense to a successful second half.
“Scheme-wise we were able to attack them a little bit differently,” sixth-year senior Aaron Casey said postgame. “I believe that’s kinda how Coach (Guerrieri) made adjustments and we were able to stop the run pretty well in the second half and stop them, ultimately with a shutout in the second half.”
Although successful schematic adjustments are an attributing factor to Indiana’s second-half shutout, the demeanor in the locker room at halftime also played a critical role.
“It was serious,” Casey explained. “We knew that we were beating ourselves more than they were beating us. We all just started to lock in and trust each other, play our responsibilities and really just focus and hone in on what we had to do.”
Allen's decision to opt for an onside kick was described by redshirt freshman quarterback Tayven Jackson as “ballsy.” Although not all his teammates knew about the upcoming play, senior defensive back Louis Moore knew he could recover the kick.
“We executed it twice (in practice),” Moore said. “I seen whoever it was and then before we went off, I was like ‘In Jesus name’ and then I knew I was going to get it.”
Indiana’s pass rush increasingly pressured Louisville sixth-year senior quarterback Jack Plummer in the second half. Allen felt they could’ve applied more pressure if it wasn’t for sixth-year senior defensive lineman Andre Carter being held.
“I was very frustrated with the lack of that being acknowledged,” Allen said. “Got a really good pass-rushing, No. 1, I think his jersey right now is almost ripped in half. Don’t ever recall seeing anything with that. That’s a frustrating thing.”
Although Casey explained that the defense struggled to secure the edges in the first half, Allen believes the defense secured them in the second half.
While the onside kick sparked a comeback that ultimately came up short, Indiana’s defensive backfield’s performance in the second half is something Moore believes they can build upon.
“I like the way we played,” Moore said. “In the first half, the busted plays we had were detrimental and in the second half we didn’t bust any covers.”
Indiana has fallen to 1-2 this season with Saturday’s 21-14 loss to Louisville. The Hoosiers will return to Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23 to face off against the University of Akron.