Over the last month, Indiana has charted its defensive production. Everything from deflections and pass break ups to tackles gets counted.
A special emphasis has been placed on getting takeaways in defensive coordinator Tom Allen's new 4-2-5 scheme, and that emphasis was rewarded on Friday night to the tune of three takeaways in the Crimson's 21-17 victory over the Cream in the Hoosiers' 2016 spring game.
"It's good to see," IU coach Kevin Wilson said. "You need to get the ball. We've been a pretty good protect-the-ball offense. It's nice to create (those takeaways)."
It started with fifth-year linebacker Dawson Fletcher intercepting redshirt sophomore quarterback Danny Cameron in the second quarter. A botched snap by Cameron resulted in a fumble recovery by redshirt freshman defensive lineman Joe Belden later on. Redshirt junior linebacker Marcus Oliver capped off the night returning a fumble for a touchdown after ripping the ball from redshirt sophomore running back Alex Rodriguez late in the game.
The performance was reflective the defense's newfound confidence under Allen. Fifth-year wide receiver Ricky Jones notices it from the offense's perspective as well.
"He's a different type of dude," Jones said. "You would think he was 20 years old with the way he acts. He's jumping on top of all the guys, getting them crunk. He's added a lot of swag to us this year."
Oliver notices the same swag as well. The previously mentioned charted productivity has made the defense confident and competitive.
Oliver said the team had meetings before the game to see who was at the top. Three players were near the top of the charts with five takeaways, according to Oliver, and sophomore defensive back Jonathan Crawford led the way with six. Oliver said he and junior Tegray Scales were each looking to get their sixth and seventh takeaways of the spring Friday night.
"It's more of a competition between us," Oliver said, "and that's just what you need to have as a defensive mentality."
That competitive attitude remained after the game.
"I hope it's not a trend (that) our offense is getting sloppy, and it's good to see defensively," Wilson said. "I know Coach Allen will tell you he wanted five, so he's disappointed we didn't get two more."
Quarterback competition update
The quarterback position remains a work in progress as Indiana finds a suitable successor to Nate Sudfeld, which Indiana will lose to graduation.
Junior college transfer Richard Lagow took a game-high 21 snaps, unofficially finishing 9 of 15 for 123 yards. He opened the game with a 46-yard completion to junior wide receiver Simmie Cobbs.
Lagow's first drive was arguably his most impressive, as he started 3 of 6 for 60 yards.
"Richard started very well, and I was very pleased with his poise," Wilson said. "I didn't think he forced a lot of things."
Cameron played the second-most snaps, followed by redshirt freshman Austin King. Sophomore Donavan Hale, who played wide receiver his freshman year at IU after playing quarterback in high school, was back at quarterback in the spring game and also saw a handful of snaps. Redshirt freshman Mike Fiacable also earned a few snaps as well.
Although five different quarterbacks earned playing time during the spring game, one experienced candidate was left out.
Junior quarterback Zander Diamont had ankle surgery in mid-March and was forced to miss the rest of spring ball as a result. When he returns, Indiana will get its top playmaking quarterback back.
"It's going to be exciting to get Zander back into the mix, because he's the guy who's made the most plays," Wilson said. "We'll need a good May and a good summer. They've had a good spring."
Wilson said redshirt junior running back Camion Patrick's surgery this week was done to repair his ACL after injuring his knee in a non-contact drill.
Beyond Patrick's 5-6 estimated recovery, Wilson said other injured players are where they need to be in their recovery process.