Youth, Depth Advantageous for IU Defense

With a tough stretch of Big Ten Conference games ahead, the Indiana defense will rely on the depth that the emergence of some younger players has offered.

Indiana named two freshmen defense players of the week against North Texas.

True freshman linebacker Tegray Scales and redshirt freshman safety Chase Dutra earned the honors, each grabbing an interception in the 49-24 victory over the Mean Green on Saturday.

Neither player is a starter for the Hoosier defense, but both have seen the field a considerable amount, especially Scales, who has recorded 23 tackles, 14 solo, and one sack on the season. Dutra has 10 tackles, 9 solo, to go along with four pass breakups in his first year on the field.

Youth on the Indiana defense is allowing it to be two deep at multiple positions, which could prove to be favorable heading into the thick of Big Ten play.

“We play a lot of people, just to keep each other fresh,” Scales said at Monday’s player availability. “That way we can be 100 percent most of the time. That’s what our coaches goals were, just to make sure people can give their all.”

As a football season wears on a team, injuries naturally occur, often because of being over played. With the emergence of some of these young defenders, IU will have an easier time keeping players fresh and healthy.

“We have a big depth chart,” Dutra said “I think it will help us throughout the season with soreness and getting tired and banged up. With all the people we have, it’s just an advantage to us.”

“The linebacker corps, we feel pretty fresh due to our rotation,” Scales said. “We all get about 35 plays each, so when we get it we give 100 percent. And our practice formula is meant to keep us fresh for games.”

Scales has been impressive since game one, and has given solid performances all season. His best came in the upset victory against Missouri, where Scales recorded five tackles and an important sack down the stretch to help seal the win.

Dutra is the most recent young guy to step up, as the safety’s two tackles and interception in under 30 snaps on Saturday showed what he is capable of doing.

The interception came late in the third quarter, deflating the already low-energy Mean Green and guaranteeing the victory. Dutra was all smiles as he talked about his first career pick.

“It was actually really crazy,” Dutra said. “I was kind of speechless, but all my teammates went crazy, the coaches, it was just really crazy.”

While the coaching staff has been happy with what they have seen out of Dutra, there is still a lot of work to be done mentally. However, Head Coach Kevin Wilson warns to not rush a first-year player.

“Chase is a young guy,” Wilson said. “He sometimes is not exactly where you want him to be, but as a young player he’s playing hard, harder than a lot of guys have played.

“Because of his energy and effort, he’s making some plays for us. We sometimes want him to be a little cleaner, but be careful because if you coach him too much he’ll slow down.”

Keeping the defense fresh will be important if the Hoosiers want to pull of another upset on the road this week, as they head to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes. Defensive coordinator Brian Knorr said that moving forward a good rotation will serve as a key to success.

“I think it’s important, especially with the type of football we’re going to play,” Knorr said. “It’s going to be physical, especially this week, going on the road, you have to have fresh bodies in there.”


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