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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, September 08, 2018 1:00 am

Indiana expecting different kind of attack from Virginia

MICHAEL MAROT | Associated Press

Indiana vs. Virginia

When: 7:30 p.m. today

Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington

TV: Big Ten

Radio: 1250 AM

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall sees the growth all over Indiana's football program.

He detects a more defined identity. He senses more confidence, and he can tell there's more continuity on the Hoosiers' offense and defense this season.

Mendenhall doesn't need a game tape to explain what's changed – he knows it's a natural progression in Tom Allen's second full season as coach.

“I think there is just a little bit more certainty as to who they are,” Mendenhall said. “Under a new head coach, Year 2 always seems to bring some momentum, brings a little bit more clarity.”

It also makes today's matchup more intriguing.

A year ago, the Cavaliers were caught off-guard when Indiana's backup quarterback, Peyton Ramsey, replaced Richard Lagow and went 16 of 20 with 173 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score in a 34-17 victory. Three weeks later, he won the starting job.

“A year ago we spent so much time preparing for the starting quarterback, and when Ramsey came in it was a completely different style,” Mendenhall said. “So the alteration of the plan – and I remember exactly what that was like and adjusting midstream.”

This year, the Cavaliers (1-0) have their own dual-threat quarterback, Bryce Perkins. The junior college transfer threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 108 yards and two more scores in his FBS debut last week – a blowout victory over Richmond.

Allen was impressed.

Perkins “took that football and just split the defense right down the middle on 50 yards,” Allen said. “He is fast. So a great athlete, throws the ball good enough that you have to honor that. He's a good, really good quarterback and he's big and strong.”

Allen hopes the Hoosiers (1-0) learned at least one lesson from last year when they missed out on a bowl bid. Nothing should be taken for granted.

“It's a totally different football team than we played last year, offensively,” Allen said. “The quarterback last year was ball control, was not a runner, very accurate and really just a completely different philosophy. So they're going to be much different.” 

Indiana has won 14 of its last 16 home openers and has been even better in nonconference play lately. The Hoosiers have won 12 of 13 against nonconference including four straight – tied for the school's second-longest nonconference streak since 2000. A win today would break the tie and put the Hoosiers in position to match the longest such streak by beating Ball State at home next weekend. Indiana also won six straight from 2014 to 2015.

Indiana fans will see a new-look Memorial Stadium in the home opener. It will be the first game played since the south end zone project was completed, enclosing the open end of the stadium with the Excellence Academy, which was dedicated Friday.