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Indiana University

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Indiana
vs. Iowa
When: 3:42 p.m. Saturday
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 1250 AM, 102.7 FM
Indiana University photos
IU defensive end Ryan Phillis, No. 25, had four tackles and a sack Saturday.

Hoosiers defender sees work pay off

Phillis, left, a 6-foot-3, 261-pound sophomore, has 30 tackles and 2 sacks while starting all eight games for the Hoosiers this season.

– Illinois made a late push in an attempt to get back into Saturday’s game against Indiana.

Trailing 31-17 with a little more than two minutes to go, the Illini reached the Hoosiers’ 4-yard line. On first down, Indiana defensive end Ryan Phillis sacked Nate Scheelhaase for an 11-yard loss, ending Illinois’ momentum.

“I play hard every play, no matter if it’s the beginning of the game or the end of the game. That’s how I was born and raised,” Phillis said in a phone interview after Tuesday’s practice. “I just knew we needed a big play, and I knew our defense would step up. Not me necessarily being the guy to do it, just playing every play. I knew I could get around him and I could make a play to seal it.”

IU won its first conference game of the season against Illinois. The Hoosiers go for Big Ten win No. 2 Saturday against Iowa. IU has the second-best conference record among eligible teams to represent the Leaders Division in the Big Ten Championship game. Wisconsin is 3-2. The Hoosiers are 1-3.

“It’s a big game Saturday,” Phillis said. “Knowing that we’re in contention (in the Leaders Division), that pushes us very hard. But we get pushed hard every day. No matter what, we’re going to keep pushing.”

Phillis has 30 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 ½ tackles for loss while starting all eight games this season. He had four tackles and one sack against the Illini. “I needed to improve the most on pass rush, even coming into the season,” said the 6-foot-3, 261-pound sophomore. “I worked all summer on it, and I try to keep working every day on it in practice. It’s starting to pay off. (Defensive ends) coach (Jon) Fabris is doing a good job teaching us and stunting us around and giving the offensive line different looks. It’s helping our pass rush, and it’s helping our whole defense.”

The Hoosiers have 19 sacks this season, one more than last year’s season total.

“The guys are competing and playing with better leverage and technique. Ryan is one of those guys who has bought in,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said during the Big Ten teleconference. “We talk about playing hard, playing relentless and fighting; that’s how he did at the end of the game.”

IU recorded seven sacks against Illinois, the most for the team in a game since 2008.

“It was game planning, a great job by the coaches, and just hustling every play and not giving up on the play when the quarterback is scrambling. Getting around the tackles and making some moves to get to the quarterback,” Phillis said. “It was a good job by the secondary and linebackers. Everybody was doing their jobs. It worked out.”

Note: Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld continue to compete at quarterback. Sudfeld replaced Coffman in the first quarter against Illinois and played the rest of the game. “We’ll see how the week goes as far as which one goes out first,” Wilson said. “They are both 1A and 1B.”

lpope@jg.net

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