Richardson adjusting to new DT role

Bobby Richardson moved from defensive end to defensive tackle in the offseason, but it hasn't stopped him. He continues to produce. How good can the IU defense be? Richardson may play a major role in answering that question.

Bobby Richardson and the Indiana front line got dominated two weeks ago against Navy. The Midshipmen didn't punt once in the game of their way to 444 yards on the ground.

Same old Indiana defense, right? Not so fast.

The Hoosiers' defense didn't allow a defensive touchdown in Saturday's 42-10 win over Bowling Green on Saturday in the kind of bounceback performance few saw coming.

"It was kinda big because nobody was expecting us to come out as good as we did coming off a 444-yard rushing game that Navy had," Richardson said Monday. "We basically shut out Bowling Green. But we still need to do better."

Humble words out of Richardson after the unit he helps lead put together one of its best performances in years. The Hoosiers were a slight favorite against Bowling Green, and they won by 32 points.

Much of that success can be attributed to guys like Richardson, who moved inside to defensive tackle this year after playing defensive end his first two seasons in Bloomington. It's taken Richardson some time to adjust, but he took the change in stride and continues to get better by the week.

"I'll play wherever my coach needs me to play," Richardson said. "I can play end, I can play inside. It's all kind of the same thing. You gotta know your gap and be strong in your gap. You gotta be violent in your gap. If you're not, all the technique stuff doesn't work."

Richardson already has 16 tackles -- seven solo -- and 1.5 tackles for loss in the first three games. Last season, he finished with 28 tackles and five tackles for loss.

But Richardson knows how quickly things can go bad. Everybody's patting him on the back this week after a solid performance, but that could easily go away if the defense doesn't follow it up with the same type of effort Saturday against Missouri.

"We're getting a lot better, but we still have some discipline areas we have to fix," Richardson said. "We have to [keep getting better]. If we don't, we can't get the ball back to the offense. To win, we need the offense to have the ball to score."

Sounds simple enough, but defense has rarely come easy for the Hoosiers. And with the schedule only getting tougher from here, they have no choice but to continue to improve.

"We've got to find some defensive stops which the other day we did," said Indiana coach Kevin Wilson. "Maybe their stats weren't great, but to get some third down stops, scoring zone stops, and to have sudden change stops where we turned it over but they didn't get significant points out of it.

"It's getting stops, getting turnovers or vice versa."

The Hoosiers still have a long way to go to have a consistently good defense, but at least their showing signs of heading in the right direction. For at least one day, the offense and defense worked together like Wilson hoped they would.

Can they do it again? Only time will tell.

"That let us know how good we can be when we come together," Richardson said. "When we trust the offense and the offense trusts the defense, we can be dominant."


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