Improving Indiana looks to break through with win

Improving Indiana looks to break through with win

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) The age-old question has arisen for Indiana's football program: ``Are we there yet?''

Three weeks ago, Indiana trailed Northwestern 27-0 in the second half, rallied to get within eight points before losing 44-29. The next week, the Hoosiers led Michigan State 27-17 at the end of the third before losing 31-27.

Last week, the Hoosiers (2-4) trailed No. 7 Ohio State big before scoring two late touchdowns and losing 52-49.

So, are the Hoosiers there yet?

Coach Kevin Wilson's answer is a resounding no.

``I told my kids the other day as a team, `Don't start acting like my kids when they were little, and every time we were going somewhere, they say, `Well, when are we going to get there?''' he said. ``My answer was, `We're going to get there when we get there. We've got to keep going because we're not going to win, we're not going to get there until we get there, and we've got to keep going.

``So, just like my little kids complaining about it, if we stop, we're never going to get there. So quit worrying about it, quit complaining about it, let's keep fighting, let's keep going down the road and see if we can get there.''

Wilson believes there is something to be said for almost being there, he just doesn't want his team to be satisfied with it. There's some buzz in Bloomington because the program hasn't been successful enough in recent years for fans to be too upset with the losses, and being close is an improvement.

Competitive might be good enough for the fans, but not for Wilson.

``We're trying to address it just internally that too many people maybe around here can congratulate you on almost winning because we have struggled,'' he said. ``And at the same time, that needs to be a sign of confidence. You're getting better. You should feel good about yourself, but you need to keep pushing.''

It won't be easy Saturday at Navy. The Midshipmen (3-3) have bounced back after getting pummeled 50-10 against Notre Dame in Ireland and 34-7 against Penn State and have won three of four, including a 28-21 overtime victory over Air Force two weeks ago.

Coach Ken Niumatalolo's team averages 231.7 yards rushing per game using the triple option; the Hoosiers are allowing 221.2 yards rushing per contest and have struggled against mobile quarterbacks. Northwestern's Kain Colter ran for 161 yards and three touchdowns against the Hoosiers. Last week, Ohio State's Braxton Miller rambled for 149 yards and a score.

Navy quarterbacks Keenan Reynolds and Trey Miller have combined for 390 yards on 128 carries in six games this season.

Wilson said he went out to Air Force over the summer to learn how to run the option in hopes of figuring out how to stop it. He said Navy's wishbone is tough to defend because it is capable of gaining chunks of yardage on play-action passes. Reynolds passed for 134 yards on just six completions last week in a 31-13 win over Central Michigan.

``This team is very difficult,'' Wilson said. ``Everybody talks about their option, their wishbone, but what really makes it difficult is how they put it all together.''

If the Hoosiers don't play disciplined defense against Navy, the positive vibes built from three weeks of improved football could vanish. Wilson said this week's game will offer a test of his team's mental approach.

``Just because you got close or just because you made some strides, if you don't keep coming, you were just a pretender,'' he said. ``You gave a nice try, but you gave in. Really good teams get tougher, stronger, better down the stretch. As we build, the guys have to embrace that. We'll see if we can.''

Quick Links

Redskins Trey Quinn and Jordan Reed were ready for emergency quarterback duty after Alex Smith's injury

Redskins Trey Quinn and Jordan Reed were ready for emergency quarterback duty after Alex Smith's injury

FedExField — The last we saw Redskins rookie wide receiver Trey Quinn was the third quarter of the first game of the season on Sept. 9. 

Sunday afternoon against the Houston Texans, in his first game back from a right ankle injury, Quinn found himself a heartbeat away from playing quarterback. 

That wasn’t the plan when the day started. But no one could have known that starting quarterback Alex Smith would sustain a broken leg. With backup Colt McCoy in the game and taking shots all over the place, Quinn and tight end Jordan Reed were the options if another injury struck. 

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Quinn was his guy if McCoy went down. Third-string quarterbacks are rarely active anyway, but Washington doesn’t have one on its 53-man roster or its practice squad. 

“If it came to that I’d have to go in there and make some plays,” Quinn said. “I was ready.”

Quinn is no quarterback, but he is a great athlete. At 12 he pitched in the Little League World Series and threw a no-hitter. He still holds the Louisiana state record for receptions (357) and receiving yards (6,566) and played two years at LSU and two more at SMU before the Redskins drafted him in the seventh round with the final selection of the 2018 draft. 

Quinn hurt his right ankle feeling a punt in the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1 and just returned from injured reserve this week. 

Reed actually was a quarterback in high school and was recruited at that position by the University of Florida. He even played there some as a redshirt freshman and had three touchdown passes to one interception, but quickly moved to tight end. He, too, was ready – but the coaches weren’t exactly telling him to warm up. 

“Nah. Because you don’t even want to put that in the atmosphere” Reed said.

Jinxes aside, Quinn and Reed didn’t need to step in at quarterback to contribute. Both had big days. Reed caught seven passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. Quinn moved right into the slot receiver position vacant for so long with Jamison Crowder hurt and caught four passes for 49 yards. 

Reed and Smith, before his injury, did have a hiccup in the end zone. A pass intended for Reed was intercepted and returned 101 yards for a touchdown by Texans safety Justin Reid. On that 3rd-and-8 play, Reed ran what Gruden called a “swoll” route. But Smith had to step around Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney and the nose tackle was looping toward him as well. Reed took an angle toward the ball Smith didn’t expect. 

The quarterback didn’t have clear vision of where his tight end was and had to rush the pass. The result gave Houston a 17-7 lead instead of what could have been a 10-10 game or even a Redskins’ lead.

Reed more than made up for it with his touchdown catch one play after McCoy had to come in for the injured Smith. That catch cut the Houston lead to 17-14 with 4:47 left in the third quarter. 

Quinn, meanwhile, caught a 15-yard pass on a 2nd-and-11 to get the ball down to the Houston 15 with 47 seconds left in the first quarter. Three plays later running back Adrian Peterson was in the end zone and the Texans’ lead was cut to 10-7. 

Quinn also had a 13-yard catch on a 3rd-and-6 in the second quarter to get the ball to the Houston 16. That came on the ill-fated drive that ended with the 101-yard interception return. 

Quinn’s 11-yard catch with 33 seconds to go was Washington’s last one of the game and got the ball to the Houston 45. Three plays later, kicker Dustin Hopkins’ 63-yard field goal attempt to win it fell short.

Quinn was also immediately inserted into the lineup as the punt returner, but the only Texans punt went out of bounds. Expect him back in that role against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.  

“Trey had a real big game for us,” Reed said. “He’s a good player. He’s a real good player.”


Quick Links

What a rush: Lamar Jackson ran for 117 yards in win

USA TODAY Sports Images

What a rush: Lamar Jackson ran for 117 yards in win

The opening drive set the tone.

Stepping on the field for the first time as a starting quarterback in the NFL, Lamar Jackson led the Ravens on an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown to get the team out to an early 7-0 lead over the Bengals.

In that drive, the rookie from Louisville did not attempt one pass. His legs did the work as he rushed for 46 yard on five carries. 

That was the type of day it was for Jackson. While his passing numbers (13-19, 150 yards, 1 INT) were pedestrian, the 117 yards rushing are what left the Ravens fans and the Bengals defense with their heads on a swivel.

Showing the lighting quickness that help make a name for himself in college and made him such an intriguing prospect coming into this year’s draft, Jackson was the team’s leading rusher in the much-needed, come-from-behind 24-21 win over the Bengals.

It was clear head coach John Harbaugh and his staff came into the game with a run-first game plan. Jackson’s 117 yards, along with Gus Edwards’ 115 yards led the way for Baltimore’s 265 yards rushing on the day. 

Jackson got the start in place of Joe Flacco who was sidelined due to a hip injury.

While Jackson has seen time on the field in various offensive packages this season, his first start and win as an NFL quarterback came at a crucial time for the Ravens as the playoff race is heating up.