TERRE HAUTE —
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Indiana State’s red zone offense “ain’t” broke, in fact, the Sycamores are ranked 10th in the Football Championship Subdivision in red-zone offense scoring percentage.
Still, last Saturday’s 38-37 loss to Tennessee Tech stung a bit more considering that the Sycamores had chances they didn’t cash in against the Golden Eagles in scoring range.
ISU was in the red zone six times. It scored touchdowns on three occasions, settled for a field goal twice and didn’t score at all on another red-zone possession.
Given that ISU’s red zone scoring percentage is at .933 for the season, there’s no reason to panic, but given that ISU less than the margin of a field goal away from being 2-2 instead of 1-3, converting red-zone opportunities into touchdowns is paramount for the Sycamores as they embark on Missouri Valley Football Conference play on Saturday against Youngstown State in the annual Homecoming contest.
“We have to take advantage of our opportunities. We were good in the red zone prior to this game, but we have to score touchdowns,” ISU coach Mike Sanford said.
To note that execution is the key to success in the red zone is not exactly revelatory, but it’s still something that is constantly worked on by ISU’s coaches. So how does a team make itself better?
Half the battle is recognizing that it’s a different game inside the 20. ISU’s spread offense, for example, is hemmed in by the short field. Precision — particularly in throws and pass routes — become paramount as the defense can more easily defend the limited space.
“Once you get down in the red zone, the field is short. Defensive backs aren’t afraid to get beat deep. You have to react a bit quicker and be on top of your game. Everything’s quicker,” ISU quarterback Mike Perish said.
Sanford noted that it’s a week-to-week process to maintain red zone success. Every team defends a short field a bit different. Film study will usually reveal, as it has regarding Youngstown State for Sanford and his staff, what can be attempted to exploit a weakness.
While the passing game changes one thing doesn’t when it comes to moving the ball anywhere on the field.
“You have to run the football well in the red zone. When we ran well in the red zone, we scored. When we didn’t, we didn’t score,” Sanford said.
ISU’s red zone scoring percentage is in the top 10 nationally, but it is possible that the Tennessee Tech game was more indicative of things to come than the Sycamores would like to admit. ISU ranks 103rd in third down conversions (.304), and obviously, converting third downs or avoiding third down altogether are important to red zone success too.
As long as ISU’s offense is productive — it had 554 total yards in the loss last Saturday — it will have chances to score. The Sycamores just want to make sure those chances are cashed in.
“It’s all about attitude. It’s an attitude we have to have that we don’t accept anything less than a touchdown. When you have that attitude, it gives you that extra step to make a play,” Perish said.
“We did a lot of good things [against Tennessee Tech]. We moved the ball, we made a lot of big plays, but what we’re focused on is that we had a few mistakes that really hurt us. It kept the game closer and we ended up losing the game for us. We want to be more consistent,” he added.
n Assessing the nonconference season — ISU played four nonconference games and all four were different in their way. ISU suffered an ugly blowout loss, triumphed in a blowout win, and had two close losses, though the tenor of each setback was different.
ISU will play its next eight games against Missouri Valley Football Conference competition, starting with YSU. Despite a 1-3 record, the Sycamores feel they’re better than they were when they began their season journey at Indiana on Aug. 29.
“We showed a lot of progress. You can see it from the Indiana game to now. We’ve improved a lot and we’re still improving,” Perish said.
At various stages of the nonconference season, injuries took away six Sycamores who started against the Hoosiers in the season opener, five of those players from the defensive side.
The upshot is that a lot of ISU’s young players got to prove themselves.
“We’ve got a ton of experience for our young players. With the injuries we’ve had, we’ve moved young guys into playing roles and the experience has helped them,” Sanford said.
n Injury report — ISU’s defense continued to suffer more injury blows. Safety Phil Wilson and linebacker Jordan Jackson, both of whom played in place of other injured ISU starters, are doubtful on Saturday, according to Sanford.
Sanford said wide receiver Demory Lawshe, who suffered a concussion on a controversial second quarter hit on Saturday, has cleared his concussion test and should be done with his four-day waiting period by Saturday’s game.
It is hoped that the beleaguered secondary will get a boost if starting safety Donovan Layne makes his long-awaited return from an ankle sprain. Other stricken Sycamores could return as well.
“Donovan Layne is the best he’s been. A guy who’s been getting ready to play, but hasn’t is Chris O’Leary. Mark Sewall played, but wasn’t 100 percent, but he’s getting better and better,” Sanford said.
TERRE HAUTE —
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Ramblin’ On: Sycamores use defensive stops to reach Missouri Valley semifinals
It sounds counter-intuitive, but to go forward in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament you must first get stops. In Friday’s MVC Tournament quarterfinal against Loyola, ISU followed that bit of zen to a tee. The Sycamores never let the Ramblers get comfortable offensively and put a hammer-lock on Loyola standout Milton Doyle. ISU rode its defense to an easy 75-62 victory at Scottrade Center.
ISU baseball looking to carry success home
Indiana State had pitching questions coming into the season, having lost its entire starting staff from a year ago.
So far anyway, those questions have been answered. The Sycamores are 9-1 going into their home opener today against Western Illinois.
Metro sports: Rose-Hulman picks up baseball win
A late run in the eighth-inning broke a 4-all tie and proved to be the game winner for Rockford College in a 5-4 decision over the Rose-Hulman baseball team Friday at the Chain of Lakes Complex.
Indiana State women move within one win from MVC title
Senior Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir had 23 points to lead Indiana State to a 73-71 win at Drake on Thursday. The point guard led four Sycamores in double figures in the win.
Anna Munn, Jasmine Grier and Chelsea Small each chipped in 11 points as ISU shot 10-of-21 from 3-point range as a team.
Sycamores rejuvenated heading into MVC Tournament quarterfinals
Indiana State point guard Jake Odum is sick-and-tired of being sick and tired.
He’s tired of hearing about the team’s three-game losing streak. He’s tired of the Sycamores playing below par. He’s tired of the team not fulfilling its potential.
He plans to do something about it this weekend. Second-seeded ISU begins its Missouri Valley Conference Tournament trek at 7:05 p.m. tonight against either No. 10 Loyola.
Rose-Hulman seniors lead Engineers into NCAA Division III Tournament
For Rose-Hulman’s six senior men’s basketball players, this weekend will mark the beginning of their third and final appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Having left Terre Haute by bus Thursday, Rose (22-5) will open the Division III four-team regional at Hope College in Holland, Mich., today against Wheaton College (19-8) at the unique time of 5:30 p.m.
Coach Jim Shaw’s Engineers are coming off Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) regular-season and tournament championships for the second consecutive year.
ISU women seek top MVC seed
Defense and rebounding are the staples of Teri Moren’s fourth Indiana State team, a squad that hits the road trying to defend and rebound its way to a regular-season conference title. The Sycamores women’s basketball can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference with wins tonight against Drake and Saturday against Northern Iowa.
Nebraska completes sweep of Indiana
Indiana’s slim hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid are all but done, unless the Hoosiers can win the Big Ten Tournament. Nebraska never trailed Wednesday night, completing a season sweep of the Hoosiers with a 70-60 win. The loss ensures a losing conference record for IU (17-13, 7-10 Big Ten) while boosting the Huskers’ chances at an at-large berth.
ISU reserve Smith earns two MVC honors
Indiana State sophomore Khristian Smith has been named to the Missouri Valley Conference’s All-Bench and Most Improved Teams, according to an announcement by the league office Wednesday.
Two Sycamores with Scott during Saturday incident
A Vigo County’s Sheriff’s case report of Brenton Scott’s arrest last Saturday indicated that Scott, an Indiana State basketball player, tried to pass himself off as his twin brother and that two of his teammates were with him at the time of the incident.
Metro Sports: Sycamores to be represented at NCAA indoors
Three members of the Indiana State track and field team will compete in the 2014 NCAA indoor championships March 14-15 at Albuquerque, N.M. Senior Greggmar Swift will represent the men, while sophomore Katie Wise and senior Mary Theisen will represent the women.
Rose meets Wheaton in NCAA opener
Rose-Hulman will open its third straight trip to the NCAA Division III basketball tournament at 5:30 p.m. Friday when the Engineers play Wheaton in a four-team regional hosted by Hope College.
Metro: No ISU baseball today; home opener now Friday
Indiana State’s baseball home opener that was to be played today has been pushed back, according to Sycamore head coach Mitch Hannahs.
ISU's Scott booked for OWI, possession
Indiana State men's basketball player Brenton Scott was booked into the Vigo County Jail on Saturday for operating while intoxicated, possession of marijuana/hash, possession of paraphenalia and false reporting/informing.
Odum can't get roll on game-winning attempt on Senior Day
The storybook was ready to be opened at Hulman Center on Saturday.
Down two with 4.5 seconds to go, Indiana State rebounded a free throw miss by Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle. ISU senior point guard Odum timed his dash perfectly up the floor. He released his shot from just behind the 3-point line at just the right second. The shot was true and online.
TODD GOLDEN: Lansing's belief in his team has not wavered
In the wake of Indiana State’s 71-69 loss to Northern Iowa on Saturday, and the three-game losing streak that comes with it, ISU coach Greg Lansing wanted to get one point across crystal clear in his postgame press conference.
VIDEO: Munn has made her mark on ISU women's program
Anna Munn has been a dependable leader in the Indiana State women’s basketball program. Her leadership has helped coach Teri Moren build to back-to-back 10-or-more win seasons in the Missouri Valley the last two years.
Rose-Hulman wins third straight HCAC tournament crown
Tied with Hanover 26-26 at halftime of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball championship game Saturday night, host Rose-Hulman knew it had a couple of things in its favor.
Rolling along: Third straight victory helps Sycamores tie for second in MVC
Aside from Teri Moren sticking with her pink Chuck Taylor shoes on the sideline for superstitious reasons, Indiana State’s three-game winning streak can be explained by strong play in nearly every aspect of the game.
Sycamores stay positive in face of adversity
After Indiana State’s 77-59 loss at Illinois State on Wednesday, ISU players had an idea of how the tone of Thursday and Friday’s practices would be prior to today’s regular-season finale against Northern Iowa.
Engineers, Hanover to vie for HCAC title
For the second year in a row, the men’s basketball teams of Rose-Hulman and Hanover will square off for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship in Terre Haute.
Metro: ISU softball win streak reaches 6
Indiana State improved its college softball winning streak to six games Friday by beating Wright State 4-3 and IUPUI 3-2 on the opening day of the Holiday Inn Hilltopper Classic.
Odum's final chapter is here; how will he author the ending?
If you compare a college basketball career to a book, Indiana State point guard Jake Odum has been a page-turner from day one.
Odum has dazzled ISU fans from the time he became a starter during the first weekend of his first season in 2010. The Sycamores have not had a losing season during the Odum era, a run of success unprecedented in ISU’s Division I history.
VIDEO: Indiana State women looking to add to winning streak at home
Indiana State looks to put a three-game winning streak together tonight against Loyola, who topped the Sycamores behind 30 points by senior forward Troy Hambric for one of the Ramblers’ nine wins this season.
The Sycamores’ women’s basketball team stifled Missouri State last Friday and knocked off first-place Wichita State on Sunday for a pair of road wins last weekend. They'll look to build upon that momentum tonight at home.
Sheehey's career-high 30 helps Hoosiers over No. 20 Iowa
Will Sheehey scored 19 of his career-high 30 points in the first half and Stanford Robinson added a career-best 17 to lead Indiana over No. 20 Iowa 93-86 on Thursday night in a game that was postponed last week.
A.J. Reed picks up multiple NCAA baseball honors
Kentucky junior pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed has been named National Hitter of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and a National Player of the Week by NCAA.com, according to separate announcements.
A member of the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List, the Terre Haute native was named National Hitter of the Week by the NCBWA, with VMI right-hander Reed Garrett earning NCBWA Pitcher of the Week.
Redbirds dominate Sycamores 77-59
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is running out of answers for its recent woes ... and it’s running out of time to fix them. The slumping Sycamores added defensive problems to their offensive slump on Wednesday at Illinois State. The Redbirds made the Sycamores pay dearly for their poor all-around effort out of the gate as the Sycamores fell 77-59.
Rose coach expects wide-open race for HCAC title
Both Rose-Hulman basketball programs hope their teams will still be talked about in the Wabash Valley media after this weekend when they compete in their Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournaments.
No. 16 Michigan rallies past Purdue
Glenn Robinson III got a late bank shot to roll in as time expired Wednesday night, giving No. 16 Michigan a 77-76 overtime victory at Purdue.
Metro roundup: Hutson awarded USA Track and Field grant
Terre Haute native and 2016 Olympic hopeful Kylie Hutson was awarded a $7,000 grant from the USA Track and Field Foundation.
- More College Headlines
- Ramblin’ On: Sycamores use defensive stops to reach Missouri Valley semifinals