Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports

IU defense steps up in overtime

In the 24-21 overtime win for Indiana over Michigan State it was the Hoosiers' defense that stepped up late and made crucial plays when they needed to.

Indiana defensive lineman Patrick Dougherty talks about the IU win over Michigan State:

It has been a long time since an Indiana football team has been able to lean on their defense to get a win. In the Hoosiers’ 24-21 overtime victory over Michigan State it was the defense that came through with a couple of huge sacks in the extra period.

One of the two sacks IU recorded in overtime was recorded by redshirt junior Patrick Dougherty. The Ohio native said the focus in practice this week for the defensive line was finding ways to generate more pressure on the quarterback.

“We actually focused on pass rush a lot this week,” Dougherty said. “Just trying to get on edges and all that kind of stuff. It was a real big emphasis for the D-line this week because we felt like we didn’t play up to our standards last week.”

Fifth-year senior defensive lineman Ralph Green said the coaches challenged him this week to step-up and be a leader for the rest of the D-line.

“We knew as a defense that it was going to be on the defensive line to get after the quarterback, pass rush, that we did a horrible job of last week,” Green said. “We just keyed on that the whole week. Coach (Mark) Hagen was harping on that. He told me that it was going to be up to me to lead my troops. I’m a fifth-year senior so it started with me. All of the young guys just followed my lead and I showed them that was a great outcome.”

Dougherty said on both sacks a great deal of credit goes to the coaches for putting him and his teammates in a position to make those plays.

“It was two really good plays,” he said. “It was the play-calling, our coaches put us in great position to get those sacks. They just said keep playing hard. No matter what the outcome just keep playing hard. I feel like we did that, both me and…I think it was Nate Hoff that got the second one.”

After giving up a touchdown late in regulation that tied the game up the Indiana defensive players were anxious to redeem themselves in overtime.

“Even after the touchdown (at the end of regulation) the coaches and the players made sure that we stayed confident in what we were doing and play hard,” IU safety Jonathan Crawford said.

Dougherty said that the defense knew if they did their job the offense would go out and do theirs and they would get the win.

“We were pumped and we were confident going in knowing that if we get a stop here we have a real good chance of winning the game,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty said the confidence the defensive players have is a direct result of things that defensive coordinator Tom Allen preaches to them every day.

“He is full of confidence all the time,” Dougherty said. “It really shows because it reflects on everybody. Everybody is just playing a lot more confident than I have ever seen since I’ve been here, including myself. It’s been great and he has so much energy and it just helps a lot. Like even if we have bad plays now and then it is unbelievable how positive he is all the time. It’s great and it just helps us bounce back.”

Linebacker Tegray Scales said the players feed off of the seemingly endless amount of energy that Coach Allen displays on a daily basis.

“Coach Allen overall, he just brings the energy to us and he would never let us go down,” Scales said. “It’s just constant, constant throughout the whole game.”

Not only are the defensive players showing more confidence in one another, but head coach Kevin Wilson is feeling more confident in the IU defense.

"There are some things that happened last week that kind of got my attention about, hey, just quit worrying and let our guys go play,” Coach Wilson said. “Put together a good plan, quit worrying about the defense. You know, last week when it's a 12-point game we had talked if we don't do something really fast, we had planned to call timeouts. But mathematically, odds are if I would have went for it on third and fourth down, we'd have a greater chance of winning. Now the deal is is your defense going to stop them? And I shared it with the defense. I didn't know if it was the old D or the new D. And I told them tonight, I was going to play the like new D. That's why I went for it on 4th and 2 early. Most people say I'm going to try to score touchdowns because you need touchdowns in a game like this, and I thought our defense could get stops.”

Green said that it means a great deal to him as an older player to hear his head coach say that he has total confidence in the defense.

Being a fifth-year guy that was precious,” Green said. “It was the first time he was sticking his neck out and saying that he depended on our defense. Like Coach said, we’re not the same defense we were the last four years, last five years, since I’ve been here. And Coach Wilson depends on us and he’s got the confidence that we’re going to get those stops and we’re going to make those plays.”

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