IU Insider Blog: Defense answers questions

All eyes were on the Indiana defense this week after a poor showing last week against Navy. And IU answered a lot of questions in a convincing 42-10 victory over Bowling Green.

After the defense in particular had produced a mixed bag in a big win over Indiana State and a sieve-like effort against Navy, the general feeling was that Saturday's performance against Bowling Green would tell us a lot about where the Hoosiers would stand moving forward.

Lay an egg against Bowling Green and IU could have been on its way to a long, long season. Play well and obviously things would look a little different.

But what we didn't really plan for was a dominating performance.

Yes, the IU defense surrendered 409 yards of offense but time after time it was able to get Bowling Green off the field.

The Hoosiers limited Bowling Green to 8-of-20 on third down and 2-of-6 on fourth down. It held the Falcons vaunted rushing game reasonably in check with 136 yards on 36 attempts. It held a Bowling Green offense that was average 37.5 points per game in the first two games to one made field goal. The Falcons' only touchdown was scored on a blocked punt.

All in all, it was an impressive effort by a Hoosiers team that a week ago was reeling after giving up 444 yards on the ground against Navy.

"It's good because last week they were the worst defense in the history of the universe and now they're going to be the greatest thing ever,'' said IU coach Kevin Wilson in a tongue and cheek response in his press conference.

The big key for Indiana on defense was the fact that they were simply able to get Bowling Green off the field. Last week against Navy that never happened.

This week it happened time and time again. On four drives, Bowling Green Indiana limited the Falcons to 15 yards or less. And four of Bowling Green's drives ended with the Falcons turning the ball over on downs.

Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson had an interesting point when talking about IU's defense. He said because of Indiana's ability to move the ball so quickly on offense, the Hoosiers will always struggle to do well on defense simply because the other team will be on the field more.

With what they do on offense they're never going to have great numbers on defense,'' Clawson said. "Their offensive system doesn't ever allow them to have great defensive numbers. People can be critical of it and they're never going to have great numbers but they got off the field today.

"They caused two turnovers, they stopped us on third down and they stopped us in the red zone. The nature of their offense, when you run plays that fast, you're never going to have great defensive numbers. They're a well coached defense. They're stout up front and they're very sound. And they beat us today.''

Clawson's points are well made. And he may be right.

But if IU can continue to put up offensive numbers like it has to this point in the season, and the defense can do a reasonable job stopping an opponent, Indiana could quickly begin to look like a bowl team again.

We're just three games into the season and Indiana is 2-1. A win next week over Missouri will put Indiana in good position heading into Big Ten play.

The important thing Saturday was that we learned a lot about this IU football team. And the biggest thing we learned is that the defense we saw last week against Navy is maybe not the one you should expect to see throughout the season.

Saturday, the IU defense was pretty darn good.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch

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