Notebook: IU Takes Deep Dive Into Turnovers And Takeaways

Stu Jackson, Staff Writer
The Hoosier
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Rich Barnes / USA TODAY Sports Images

IU head coach Tom Allen has little tolerance for a lack of ball security or missed opportunities with takeaways.

So with Big Ten play resuming against Michigan, which boasts one of the top defenses in the conference and the country, Allen and the rest of IU's staff conducted an audit of the turnovers on offense and missed chances for takeaways on defense from IU's first five games for added emphasis.

"Ball security is huge," Allen said. "Dropped a pick six, which we can't do. Dropped another pick. We left two picks we felt like out there on the field, so continuing to emphasize that. Worked on judgment scenes more yesterday, and we're going to continue to get what we want from that."

On defense, Allen estimated the Hoosiers had "over 30" opportunities for a takeaway - an interception or forced fumble and fumble recovery. So far, they have had one interception (fewest in the Big Ten) and recovered three of the four fumbles forced.

On offense, the IU staff wrote up a log comprised of exactly what happened on the turnover, why the turnover occurred and what they're going to do to get it fixed.

The take-charge approach comes at a critical time.

Michigan and IU are No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in 3-and-outs forced according to Allen, which makes ball security and takeaways all the more important in taking advantage of the limited opportunities both offenses could have this Saturday.

Furthermore, both teams rank second-to-last and last in turnover margin in the conference at -5 and -7 respectively.

"Going to take a proactive approach to getting what we want," Allen said. "We know as we get back into Big Ten play, those turnovers, those turnovers takeaways are going to be huge in each and every game."

Thomas Expected To Play Saturday, Others Questionable

Indiana is expected to get a key starter on offense back for Saturday's homecoming contest vs. Michigan, while the statuses of others remains up in the air.

Allen on Monday said senior tight end Ian Thomas is "probable" to play Saturday. Allen is also "hopeful" redshirt senior defensive tackle Nate Hoff will be able to play as well. Both sat out last Saturday's 27-0 win over Charleston Southern.

Others who did not play last week remain "questionable at best," according to Allen. Junior wide receiver Donovan Hale and redshirt sophomoreright guard Simon Stepaniak were two other players who did not play in last Saturday's victory.

Allen said it's still early in the week and he'll likely know more about the statuses of certain players by Thursday. He also said it's in the best interest of both the injured players and the program not to rush them back.

"There was a couple of guys in there that could have gone had we been in a situation where it was a must-go," Allen said. "Regardless, we're always going to take the high road with them, and I told one of them yesterday, you're not going to come back until you're healthy. We're not going to bring you back before then ... Our training staff does an excellent job of closely monitoring them and making sure they're (getting) back to health."

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