The Hoosiers will be looking for a 2-0 start on the season when they host the Ball State Cardinals on Saturday. Peegs.com spoke with Indiana safeties coach Noah Joseph about the win over FIU in game one, and what problems Ball State will present this week.
Q - Talk about how you thought the defense played against FIU, and what were the positives and negatives from that game.
Coach Joseph: The numbers we were decently pleased with, but with how we played we were not. There were just a lot of busts and a lot of missed tackles. I think we gave up a lot of opportunities that they didn’t necessarily take advantage of that we’ve got to learn from because that could come back and bite us bad if we don’t get them corrected and fixed.
We definitely played hard. The three things we talk about are effort, takeaways, and tackling. Our effort was very good, and obviously we did a great job with our takeaways, but we didn’t tackle as good and we didn’t execute like we need to. But if we have to worry about effort we’re going to have issues on defense.
Q - There were a few instances where the receivers for FIU were able to get behind your defensive backs. What was the issue there and how easy is it to fix?
Coach Joseph: A lot of it comes down to two things, one is technique and then the other is understanding situations and kind of what’s going on with the course of the game and what to expect. The good thing is those are easily fixable and we’ve just got to continue to do that. That is one thing we were not very good at last year, giving up big plays, and we’ve got to make sure we continue to improve on plays on that.
Q - How encouraging is it for you and the rest of the defensive staff that the defense did not play its best game but still held a pretty good FIU offense down for much of the night?
Coach Joseph: We talked as a defensive back unit and as a defense and as a staff after the game about how encouraging that is. Their quarterback is really good, and they have a great wide receiver and tight end, and the running back is a proven player, so it was nice to say we didn’t play very well but we did some great things. You hope that you can improve the most from week one to week two.
Q - Talk about how you thought Jonathan Crawford and Tony Fields did at safety against Florida International.
Coach Joseph: Tony played very, very well. On the play in the end zone when he prevented a touchdown there was actually a missed assignment and he covered up for somebody so it was even a better play than you can imagine based on those circumstances. I’m just really happy for Tony because he’s been through a lot. He’s been here now three years and he has never taken that step, and I think he has just kind of changed his mindset. It started last off-season when he just had a belief and confidence in himself and just went out there and did everything full-speed and he had fun and just let things happen. He has been one of our best and most consistent defenders on the defense this year so it has been fun to watch him progress like he has.
Jonathan is starting to understand what it takes to be great and how consistent he has to be and take care of his body and be a professional at all times. He is a young kid still but he is growing and maturing and we need him to act older than he really is as a true sophomore.
Q - Marcelino Ball got the start at Husky against FIU. In his first game at this level how do you think he performed?
Coach Joseph: He played like a true freshman on Thursday. It was his first game out there and he had some mental busts that were caught in the heat of the moment. But the thing with him is he has great instincts and he is a great competitor and he wants to play ball. He is harder on himself than what we can be as coaches, and anytime you have that you have a chance to be successful.
Q - You didn’t have Chase Dutra for the first game but should have him back this week. How big will his return be for the safety position and for the defense as a whole?
Coach Joseph: It’s good. He’s been battling the foot injury and trying to come back from that, and then he had the (off the field) hiccup, so it will be good to have him back. What he does is he plays hard, and he does a great job of being vocal and leading the defense back there so it just gives a little bit more confidence, and obviously a lot more depth.
Q - What have you seen on tape from the Ball State offense? What are some things you guys as a defense need to focus on taking away?
Coach Joseph: When you look at them on offense it is a chance for us to play another good quarterback. Riley (Neal) is a big, tall guy and he can make all the throws, and he is a lot more athletic than you think. At receiver they have a couple guys that are great players. They run good routes and they catch the football. At running back those guys are small and shifty and they make people miss and have big play capabilities. We have our work cut out for us to be on top of our assignments and play fast and physical.