The Hoosiers held North Texas to 348 total offensive yards, which was enough for IU to pull out a commanding 49-24 victory on Saturday.
An interception on the third play of the game by freshman linebacker Tegray Scales set the tone early, giving the offense the ball on the North Texas 31-yard line. They would respond with a touchdown, giving the Hoosiers a 7-0 lead right off the bat.
“I was man-to-man on weak-2, and I just followed him all the way across the field and jumped the pass,” Scales said after the game. “It was a late adjustment that our coaches made at the hotel, that on the play we called I have to stay him.”
Scales has been impressive in his first collegiate season, racking up 23 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, and a sack. It’s a huge help to the linebacker corps, as he gives more depth to the group than they’ve had in past seasons.
“He’s been developing really well,” senior linebacker David Cooper said. “He’s one of our most athletic linebackers we have. He learns really quick, still has a lot of room to improve, but he’s been doing really well with us.”
Redshirt freshman safety Chase Dutra, who grabbed an interception of his own in the third quarter, had a strong opinion on Scales’ abilities after the game.
“I think he deserves to be a freshman All-American,” Dutra said. “He’s a student of the game, he plays hard. I’ve never even seen him miss a tackle.”
The defense let its foot off the gas pedal late, however, as they allowed two straight North Texas touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. While the setback occurred late in a game that was pretty much over, it wasn’t encouraging to see.
“I think we let our guard down a little bit,” Cooper said. “People were getting a little too calm, too relaxed. They took advantage of it, and we can’t let that happen. We just have to stay consistent. It’s something we have to work on.”
“I think we just relaxed a little,” Dutra said. “There were two or three drives where they really capitalized on us, but I think we got our heads back on straight and finished the game strong.”
Consistency has been an issue under Kevin Wilson. In fact, Indiana hasn’t earned back-to-back victories since 2012. For Wilson, they want to do more than just be able to win two in a row.
“Our deal is not doing it back to back,” Wilson said. “Our deal is doing it as much as we can. You can get more than just back to back, so we're not going to make a big deal of going back to back.
“We're going to make a big deal of when you play hard, you can play with a lot of people. When you don't, you're very vulnerable, and we're just trying to teach our guys how to keep learning, keep growing, and keep playing hard.”