BLOOMINGTON – Indiana scored 76 points in its first two games, victories over Western Kentucky and Murray State. The Hoosiers’ defense was so good last week that the Racers didn’t run a play in IU’s territory in the second half.
But it will be awhile before IU returns to action. The Hoosiers are off this week and next play Sept. 20 at home against Ball State.
So is the bye coming at the wrong time for IU?
“I don’t think there’s such a thing as a bad bye week,” quarterback Kellen Lewis said after Saturday’s 45-3 victory over Murray State. “Physically, you can always use a break. It helps us in the same as it hurts us. Obviously, we have momentum now with running the ball, and the offense is rolling pretty well and the defense is shutting people down. It gives us another week to look at Ball State and figure out what they are doing.”
What Ball State has done is open 2-0 after a 35-23 nationally televised victory Friday at home over Navy. Ball State plays Saturday at Akron.
IU coach Bill Lynch hasn’t been surprised with the early success of the Hoosiers.
“I think this is a good defensive team. I think this defensive team will play fast,” he said. “Offensively, you are always a little bit of a work in progress. We said that we could spread the ball around with different receivers and I think we’ve been able to do that. (Murray State) did a nice job of trying to keep (the receivers) in front of them again (Saturday), so we’re not going to force cranking it down the field just to be cranking it down the field. And (on) the offensive line, there are three new starters out there (Alex Perry, Cody Faulkner and Dennis Zeigler) and with each game they will get better.”
The offensive line had no penalties against the Racers. In fact, no Hoosiers were penalized, the first time IU had no penalties since playing Michigan on Oct. 3, 1981.
The line also opened holes that led to six rushing touchdowns: Marcus Thigpen (two), Bryan Payton, Demetrius McCray, Ben Chappell and Zach Davis-Walker. It’s the first time IU had five players run for touchdowns in a game since playing Pittsburgh on Oct. 22, 1949.
Even in Saturday’s 42-point win, Lynch saw room for improvement.
“I thought we kind of sputtered around to start the game offensively,” he said of the team’s two three-and-outs to start the game. “I thought the kickoff return (a 50-yard return that led to Murray State’s only points) hurt us. … .
“We weren’t great in third-down conversions (4 for 13). There’s a lot to work on. I know it’s going to get a lot tougher down the road with the people we are going to play. There’s nobody in that locker room fooled about that. It is nice when you work in the offseason as hard as these guys have worked to get a couple of wins going into an off week.”