BLOOMINGTON – BLOOMINGTON – Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said his team would be different.
And it is.
IU beat Indiana State by just seven points a year ago, and on a humid night in Bloomington on Thursday, the Hoosiers walloped the Sycamores 73-35 in the season opener.
“We had a nice start – little sloppy in some areas, a lot we can hopefully build on,” Wilson said. “I thought the effort was outstanding. I think defensive effort, we got worked a couple times, but it was significantly better.”
IU set a Memorial Stadium record for points scored at the venue. It also set a record for touchdowns in a game with 10 and the 45 points the Hoosiers scored in the first half was the most on record in program history.
“I think we did really well, but I think we could do a lot better,” said senior tight end Ted Bolser, who tied a career high in catches with six, along with 78 yards and two touchdowns. “We still left a lot of plays out there that we could have scored on. There was still a lot of points left out on the field.”
That’s hard to believe.
Sophomore running back Tevin Coleman went for 169 yards and two touchdowns on a 14 carries as the Hoosiers’ offensive line pummeled Indiana State.
When Coleman wasn’t carving up Indiana State, Indiana scorched the defense through the air.
Four different receivers caught touchdowns Thursday. Bolser and receiver Shane Wynn each had two touchdown receptions, and Wynn returned a punt for a touchdown.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Tre Roberson started the game for the Hoosiers and was in for its first three scoring drives, when IU went up 21-7. After a rough hit on a run in the first quarter, sophomore Nate Sudfeld came in.
Roberson went 3 for 6 for 71 yards and two touchdowns, and junior Cam Coffman was 2 for 7 with an interception and 29 yards to his credit.
Sudfeld was the most prolific.
The 6-foot-5 quarterback threw for 219 yards and four touchdowns on a 12-for-17 day. He also threw an interception.
After the game, Roberson said the bruise to his ribs wasn’t serious. He was impressed with the way the offense performed, with and without him.
“Just to come out and make the mark that we did today,” Roberson said, “it was real nice.”
Wynn had three total touchdowns, including the 58-yard punt return. He was forced out of the game after an illegal hit in the third quarter on a punt return. Indiana State’s Carlos Aviles was ejected for the hit, which came after Wynn called a fair catch and well before the ball reached him.
Senior receiver Kofi Hughes reeled in three straight catches on the next drive, including a 48-yard gain and a 27-yard catch to make it 59-28 with 8:07 to go in the third quarter.
“We all kind of like calmed down, breathed for a second and said, ‘OK. We’re gonna come down here and score,’” Hughes said. “And that’s what we did.”
IU had 632 yards of total offense, the third-most in school history. Nine of IU’s 10 touchdowns came on four or fewer plays.
The defense stood out, too.
The Hoosiers gave up 306 total yards Thursday, far below their season average of more than 430 from a year ago. They rolled six freshmen through on defense, including T.J. Simmons, a linebacker who registered a team-high nine tackles.
IU racked up four sacks and forced turnovers on consecutive drives in the first quarter.
It sparked the Hoosiers to 21 unanswered points and a 41-7 lead. It also gave IU a cushion when the Sycamores came back with 21 of their own off a pick-six, fumbled kickoff and blown coverage.
“We just remembered what happened last year, and we didn’t want that to happen again,” senior linebacker David Cooper said. “We had to play more aggressive and execute more, just tackle.”
In doing so, IU proved it is nothing like the team that faced ISU last season.
In every way, it is better.
“We got some playmakers there,” Wilson said. “That’s evident.”