BLOOMINGTON – Despite a horrid defensive day, Indiana was still in its game against Navy with a few minutes to go in the fourth quarter during a 41-35 loss Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Much of the credit goes to sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld.
Sudfeld went 31 for 42 with four touchdowns, 363 yards and an interception. The completions, attempts and yards were career highs, and his four scores tied a career high set in Week 1.
The 6-foot-5 signal caller also ran for a team-high 35 yards.
"That first drive, I was just trying to make a little bit too much happen," said Sudfeld, who threw his pick on that drive. "After that, I felt like I kind of got in a rhythm. Our offense was just kind of clicking."
The Hoosiers found that flow a bit too late. IU trailed 17-0 before its first touchdown, a 45-yard pass from Sudfeld to senior wideout Kofi Hughes.
Despite the big offensive day, in which IU amassed 481 total offensive yards, senior tight end Ted Bolser was disappointed with the slow start. He was, however, pleased with the effort to crawl back into the game.
"We came up short, obviously," Bolser said. "A lot of previous Indiana teams that I've been on would have folded at the end and not even given it a shot."
With Sudfeld at quarterback, IU got that shot. And while coach Kevin Wilson has started redshirt sophomore Tre Roberson in both of the Hoosiers' games so far, Sudfeld has played most of the snaps.
When he's out there, the offense looks more fluid. Bolser, who nabbed two touchdowns from Sudfeld on Saturday, is definitely a fan.
"I love him back there," the senior said. "I hope he's back there more often."
IU defense stumped by triple-option
The IU defensive line took a beating Saturday against an undersized Navy team.
Much of that had to do with the Midshipmens' blocking, and in particular, the cut blocks that come with the triple-option offense.
"It took awhile for us to adjust," senior linebacker David Cooper said. "We just didn't execute. You can't practice their tempo and everything. That's something that they perfect."
Despite all the preparation that went into Navy, including time working on the triple-option in spring camp, preseason and moving the Week 1 Indiana State game to Thursday, the IU defense gave up 444 rushing yards and 515 total yards.
Wilson's just happy he doesn't have to put in that kind of preparation again.
"I've been trying to get them off the schedule for two years," he said.
You can see why.
Senior safety Greg Heban was also disappointed, and surprised, with the lack of execution defensively.
"We didn't come out nearly as ready to play as we needed to," he said. "We prepared for them a year and a half, even going back to spring ball, and it's just a little discouraging that we didn't come out and play as well as we needed to. In the fourth quarter, we sort of stepped up and showed a little heart and attitude, but that's something that we have to come out of the gate with."
Hoosiers can't make crucial stops
IU made stops when it needed to on third down and stopped Navy on seven of its 11 tries.
But the Hoosiers couldn't stop the Midshipmen on fourth down, which proved costly several times – including the final drive of the game, where Navy converted on fourth and 1 and ran out the clock.
"When you play this team, they're going for it on fourth downs," Wilson said. "They were 3 for 4 on fourth down, so as the game went on we just came up short."
The Hoosiers came up short on a pair of onside kicks from senior kicker Mitch Ewald, as well. Both were close calls that IU could have grabbed.
"It went back and forth just like last year," when Navy won 31-30 in Annapolis, Midshipmen coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "There's no doubt in my mind that Indiana is going to win a lot of football games this year, so to come to their place and finish out the end made me super proud of our kids."
IU had a moment of silence before kickoff in honor of Niumatalolo's mother, who died Thursday. … The 108 points scored by the Hoosiers in Week 1 and Week 2 set a record for most points in consecutive games in program history. … Fifth-year senior kicker Ewald set the IU record for career extra points made. He reached 120 makes Saturday, surpassing the 117 mark set by Scott Bonnell from 1989-92. Ewald has missed one extra point try in his career. … Navy sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds had his third career game with more than 100 yards rushing and his third three-touchdown day with the Midshipmen.