Bloomington, Ind. – Pancakes weren't the only thing left off the menu for Saturday's IU football scrimmage – touchdowns also weren't being served.
IU officials scratched the pancakes from the annual Pancakes and Pigkins football scrimmage due to near-freezing temperatures at Memorial Stadium, but it was the IU defense that kept the Hoosier offense from getting a taste of the end zone. During the 100-play scrimmage, the Hoosier offense came up with nary a touchdown as the defense dominated.
"It's a day where the defense needs to control the game," said IU Assistant Head Coach Bill Lynch. "If you're playing an opponent in conditions like that, you don't expect to move the ball up and down the field."
The offense certainly didn't have its way Saturday. The No. 1 offense opened the scrimmage with three straight three-and-outs, managing only a combined eight yards on those three series. The defense set the tone from the outset, as defensive end Jammie Kirlew sacked Kellen Lewis on the scrimmage's opening play.
Things didn't get much easier for the Hoosiers' No. 1 offense during the 2 1/2-hour scrimmage. Lewis finished 11-of-18 for just 91 yards, while his top target a year ago, James Hardy, caught just two balls for 17 yards. Bryan Payton, meanwhile, led the Hoosiers' running backs with 11 carries for 37 yards.
The No. 1 unit came close to scoring on its final drive of the day. Lewis completed 5-of-6 passes for 46 yards on the drive, including a 21-yard completion to Blake Powers that moved the ball to the Red's 3-yard line. The offense went with some trickery on the next play, as Josiah Sears took the shotgun snap and handed the ball off to Lewis, who was lined up at wide receiver. Lewis scored, but the touchdown was wiped out by a penalty, and the defense's perfect day remained in tact.
The No. 2 offense had a bit more success, although it was also unable to get the ball across the goal line. Ben Chappell completed his first six passes on his way to a 9-for-18, 104-yard day, and his top target was Terrance Turner who finished with four catches for 57 yards.
The offense wasn't the only unit that struggled. Special teams was also an issue, as Austin Starr missed a 28-yard field goal on his first attempt of the day, and Tracy Porter and Fabienne Boone each blocked field goal attempts as well.
Punting was also a problem. The struggles continued for true freshman Chris Hagerup, who is hoping to take over for Tyson Beattie in the fall. But Hagerup had a couple of shanks and was unable to handle a bad snap and was subsequently tackled behind the line of scrimmage on another attempt.
But Lynch wasn't ready to dwell on some of the day's negatives, instead focusing on the positives he saw from the Hoosier defenders.
"I though the defense made strides all week," Lynch said. "There are a lot of young guys out there rotating in with some veterans. Up front I think we're getting better and better, the linebackers seemed really active today, and coming along at safety is important for us because the experience on the back end is at corner."
Part of IU's plan at safety now includes sophomore Nick Polk, who said he was moved from slot receiver to free safety Tuesday. Polk worked with the No. 1 defense Saturday, and appears to be the odds-on favorite to start next to Austin Thomas once the season rolls around in the fall.
"We felt we needed more depth at safety," Lynch said. "When you look at where we had the most depth, it was at receiver…we thought he could make the transition."
Polk worked in with a defense that recorded 15 tackles for loss Saturday and grabbed some of the attention away from an IU offense that figures to be plenty explosive once the season arrives.
"Coming in this spring, leading up to the scrimmage, the corners came out, we don't get a lot of publicity or talk about us," said Tracy Porter. "The corners said we were going to come out and get excited on the defensive side of the ball. We came out, made big plays, the defensive line gets a sack, we get high five-ing. We came out with the mentality we were going to set the tone for the defense, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that."
Rushing –Payton 11-37, Sears 9-33, Fisher 1-29, Burgess 6-21, Thigpen 5-19, Means 1-15, McCray 7-9, Lewis 8-7, Chappell 3-2, Bailey 1-(-4).
Passing – Lewis 18-11-0 91, Chappell 18-9-0 104.
Receiving – Turner 4-57, Fisher 5-32, Powers 1-21, Walker-Roby 1-19, Hardy 2-17, Bailey 2-17, Banks 2-16, Sears 1-11, Burgess 1-3, Means 1-2.
Defense Dominates Pigskins Scrimmage
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