Murphy says IU defense is more aggressive

Mark Murphy has started 28 games at safety in three seasons at Indiana. He's looking forward to the new 3-4 defense and what it may bring in 2014.

Mark Murphy has been front and center in the Indiana University defense his entire four seasons of college.

Some may look at that as a good thing and others as a bad thing. The reality is that IU’s defense has struggled for several seasons in Bloomington.

But as a player who has started every game at safety the past two seasons and 28 games at that position in his first three years at IU, Murphy is confident that IU fans will see a different defensive look when the Hoosiers open the season Aug. 30 against Indiana State at Memorial Stadium.

There has been a lot of talk about IU switching to a 3-4 defense after years in the 4-3 and the Hoosiers have a new guy running the defensive show in defensive coordinator Brian Knorr. That means new schemes, new terminology and lots of learning for the players on the defensive side of the ball.

But Murphy said the differences are subtle.

“I’d just say we’re playing a lot more aggressive,’’ Murphy said. “They have us playing a lot tighter. They’re putting us in good positions to make plays. We have a lot of guys coming back in the secondary between Tim Bennett, Michael Hunter and Kenny Mullen, and then a bunch of young guys who are going to be able to contribute.

“I just like the feel of the team at this point in the preseason.’’

Murphy said in the 3-4 the differences are less for the secondary players than the front seven.

“We always say there are only so many coverages you can have so it doesn’t really change anything that much for us,’’ Murphy said. “It’s more terminology than anything else and our coaches have been great going back to the spring to getting us quickly up to speed on that and having us ready to go in camp.’’

One change for Murphy this season is the expectation that he will be one of the teams’ leaders.

“We have a few seniors on defense and we want to hold the defense accountable,’’ Murphy said. “We’ll make sure everyone is doing their job and getting better every day. Make sure that everyone is staying focused and keeping that attitude up. We need to keep that mentality that we’re not going to back down from anyone.’’

Murphy showed off that focus when asked at one point in the interview what he thought he would be doing this time next season.

“I’m really not thinking about anything like that,’’ he said. “The only thing I’m focused on is Indiana State. There will be lots of time to think about other stuff when the time comes.’’

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