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.
- Indiana State University
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Odum rises to WSU challenge
When you’re getting ready to play the No. 2 team in the country — the undefeated No. 2 team in the country and the best Missouri Valley Conference team in a generation — the unwritten rule says you’re not supposed to rile them. That you’re not supposed to poke the hornet’s nest.
Clock problems delay start of Indiana State semifinal game
Time stood still in Scottrade Center on Saturday.
Not by design.
Sycamores advance to Arch Madness title game
No one said advancing to the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament championship game was going to be easy.
ISU women grab share of MVC regular-season title
The preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite lived up to its expectations, as the Indiana State women’s basketball team grabbed a piece of the regular-season title with an 85-72 triumph over host Northern Iowa on Saturday afternoon inside McLeod Center.
ISU headed to MVC title game
Indiana State defeated Southern Illinois 62-59 on Saturday to advance to Arch Madness championship game.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Odum, Smith, Arop recognized by MVC
Indiana State point guard Jake Odum doesn’t play baseball, but he did go 4-for-4 in his Sycamore career.
His 4-for-4 performance came in regards to his All-Missouri Valley Conference selections. Odum has been named to the all-MVC team in each of his four seasons, and for the second time in a year, Odum was named to the MVC’s first team.
Teammate Khristian Smith also received a major individual honor. Smith, a sophomore, earned the MVC’s Sixth Man Award. Senior Manny Arop also was named as an All-MVC honorable-mention selection.
ISU’s Odum earns first-team All-MVC honors
ST. LOUIS —Indiana State guard Jake Odum earned a spot on the 2014 All-Missouri Valley Conference first team, which was announced today as the Sycamores prepare for this week’s MVC men’s basketball tournament.
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.
Senior Day Success
Indiana State shot just 35 percent from the field Sunday in Hulman Center compared with 46 percent for the visiting Bradley women, but that was almost a good thing.
ISU teams sweep titles in indoor track
Indiana State’s track teams swept the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships on Sunday at Northern Iowa, the men leading all the way and the women surviving a three-way battle.
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.
Red-hot ISU baseball wins eighth straight game
Indiana State broke away from a tight ballgame with four runs in the fifth inning and went on to post their eighth-straight victory of the 2014 campaign with a 10-3 triumph over New Orleans Saturday.
David Stagg (3-0) was the winning pitcher for the Sycamores as he went seven innings. He allowed two runs, scattered nine hits and struck out eight.
ISU men’s track leading in MVC indoor championships
Indiana State’s men’s track and field team took the lead Saturday after the first day of the Missouri Valley Conference indoor championships Saturday at Northern Iowa, while the Sycamore women were second.
Seeking their second straight championship, the Sycamore men have 64 points to 37 for Illinois State. Indiana State’s women are just two points behind Southern Illinois, 50-48.
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.
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.
Mayor Bennett takes students’ questions
Mayor Duke Bennett fielded some tough, thoughtful questions on topics that included potholes, neighborhood safety, abandoned homes and railroads Thursday.
Metro roundup: ISU track ready for MVC indoors
The Indiana State track and field teams will head to Cedar Falls, Iowa, this weekend for the Missouri Valley Conference indoor championships.
The men are defending champions and the women were runners-up a year ago.
- More Indiana State University Headlines
- FROM THE PRESS BOX: Odum rises to WSU challenge