Madison, Wis. – The crowd of 82,330 at Camp Randall helped make the Hoosiers feel unwelcome in Madison, but the Hoosiers contributed to their own demise as well Saturday.
Indiana continued the mental mistakes that have the Hoosiers at the bottom of the Big Ten in penalties. Coming into the game with Wisconsin, Indiana had 25 penalties for a league-worst 69.7 penalty yards game. The Hoosiers were called for 12 more penalties against the Badgers for 77 yards in their 41-24 loss in Madison.
"There were just too many things that went wrong," said Indiana head coach Terry Hoeppner. "The atmosphere contributes to communication issues and that's home field advantage. It worked in their favor today."
The penalties were a large factor in Indiana losing the field position battle. The Hoosiers' average starting position was their own 27-yard line, and on three separate kick returns Indiana had holding penalties back the ball within the ten-yard line, including two in the third quarter when the Hoosiers were trying to get back into the game.
"Penalties are all mental," said senior linebacker Kyle Killion. "Some you can't help. But I'm confident we will stress that and get better. Our guys will take ownership and not make so many penalties."
The game also saw the Hoosiers lose the turnover battle with four turnovers, including three by sophomore quarterback Blake Powers. Powers threw an interception in each half to go along with a third-quarter fumble after being sacked deep in Wisconsin territory.
The other turnover came on a fumble by Yamar Washington on a rush up the middle inside the UW 20 after sophomore Tracy Porter picked off Wisconsin quarterback John Stocco to give the Hoosiers a chance to cut into what was then a 34-17 lead.
"Tracy gets an interception and we turned it right back over," said Hoeppner. "We got good field position after we held them and we turned it over again. Turnovers are never good and we finally got the field position we wanted and we squandered it."
The mental mistakes can be blamed on a number of factors. For most of these Hoosier players, it was the first time traveling to Camp Randall since Indiana had not played at Wisconsin since 2001. For Powers and most of his receivers, it was a first look at starting a Big Ten conference game.
"When you have as many penalties as we had called on us it becomes part of the game," said Hoeppner. "We had way too many today.
"We had too many untimely penalties and turnovers, but those are correctable things thing we can get better at or put people who won't make those errors on the field."
Indiana will have to use the game as a stepping stone if there are any hopes of a better record than last season. If Indiana hopes to return to its winning ways, the 12 penalties and four turnovers will not be acceptable during Big ten play.
"I didn't think we do as good a job coaching as we could of," said Hoeppner. "I didn't think we played as well as we could. But I told this team that I will not give up on them and the coaching staff won't give up on them if they don't give up on themselves. There were a lot of positives today. When you have the amount of penalties and turnovers we had, that's a lot to overcome."
Turnovers, Penalties Hamper Hoosiers
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