Bloomington – Don't think for a second that Larry Black has forgotten about last season's near misses for the IU football team.
During the Hoosiers' Oh, So Close 4-8 campaign, there was a career's worth of heartbreaking setbacks. From the 36-33 near-miss at Michigan to the squandered 28-3 lead at Northwestern to the fourth-quarter collapse against Iowa, Black hasn't forgotten what those losses felt like.
"This summer every lift, every run, I'd think about (those games)," Black said. "The Michigan game, the Northwestern game, you pump it in your head. It's a great motivator. We know what we have to do to get better."
What they have to do is finish what they started. Black's belief is that last year's tough breaks will serve as not only a motivator, but also as valuable experience when they get into tight games in the fourth quarter this fall.
When Indiana does find itself in that spot, Black will be one of the players the defense counts on to come up with a big play. With Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton now gone, Black is suddenly one of the most experienced players on the defensive line. He earned Freshman All-America and All-Big Ten honors as a redshirt freshman last fall, totaling 29 tackles and 1 ½ sacks while also ranking fourth on the team with 7 ½ tackles for loss.
"It's going to be a lot different now because there's a lot more on my shoulders," the 6'2", 309-pounder from Cincinnati said.
One of the things that will be on his shoulders is helping some of the younger players learn the ropes. With 12 starts to his credit and now in his third fall camp, he's developed a familiarity with what to expect that he can now share with some of the team's new faces.
"It's weird because now the freshmen are asking me questions," Black said. "It's a lot different taking on a leadership role, but I like it. I've always been a leader since high school, so it's good to have people looking up to me and be able to be an example."
Those young players will know where to find Black when he's off the field, but on the field is different story. The Hoosiers' new 3-4 defense will give Black the flexibility to play a variety of spots up front and go against a variety of players throughout the course of a game.
That's already been the case this fall, as Black has found himself lined up opposite Justin Pagan, Marc Damisch and Cody Faulkner depending on where co-Defensive Coordinator Brian George opts to station Black.
"I'll be at nose, end, tackle, I'll be all over," Black said.
Black's excited for that opportunity, and he's equally enthused about what he thinks the Hoosier defense can do this fall. He's well aware that most have circled the defense as the question mark about IU's chances this fall, but he says that only provides a little more motivation to prove people wrong.
"We love being the underdog," Black said. "We'll let the offense have all the flash, but at the end of the day, we all know defense wins games. If we hold opponents to 14 points a game, no one is going to beat us."
Black Ready For New Role With IU Defense
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