BLOOMINGTON – Takeways have been few and far between for the Indiana defense so far this season.
But the Hoosiers posted a big one Saturday when sophomore linebacker Cam Jones returned an interception for a touchdown during IU’s 38-3 win over Connecticut at Memorial Stadium.
The play began with IU putting heat on Connecticut quarterback Jack Zergiotis. Escaping from pressure, Zergiotis lofted an ill-advised flip pass Jones snatched out of the air and returned 44 yards for a touchdown. It was IU’s first interception return for a touchdown since Jonathan Crawford returned an interception 36 yards Sept. 1, 2018, against Florida International.
“It builds momentum for our defense, and also it pumps up our offense,” Jones said. “It lets them know that we’ve got their back and they’ve got our back. We’re going to keep emphasizing takeaways every single game, every single practice.”
After posting 26 takeaways last season, IU has just three takeaways in four games so far this season. Jones felt he could have another interception in the fourth quarter, but he misjudged the pass.
Jones, a former two-way player in high school who played wide receiver, said defensive players work on the JUGS machines every day, catching balls.
“Every single practice and after practice,” Jones said.
Jones had a solid all-around game defensively for the Hoosiers with four tackles, one tackle for loss and one pass breakup. Last week, IU coach Tom Allen praised Jones’s dedication in returning from a lower leg injury to play last week against Ohio State. Jones was in the training room three-to-four days in a row, eight-to-10 hours per game, trying to work his way back onto the field.
“I knew how important it was for the team to be back on the field,” Jones said. “They look at me, and I have to show them that I’m working. They are going to work hard for me as well.”
OFFENSIVE LINE RESHUFFLING
With left tackle Coy Cronk going down with a leg injury, IU was forced to do some offensive line reshuffling.
Redshirt sophomore Caleb Jones moved from right tackle to left tackle, with redshirt senior DaVondre Love taking over at right tackle. True freshman Matthew Bedford also saw his first snaps of the season on offense at right tackle in the second half. Bedford could appear in up to four games and still redshirt, but Allen sounded like that won’t be the likely option if Cronk’s injury is season ending
“If Coy can’t come back, the redshirt is gone,” Allen said. “So to me that’s my mindset I would have. I’m not bashful to say that because we gotta have our guys ready to go. We’ve got to have depth there.”
JUSTUS STILL PERFECT
With a 27-yard field goal in the first half, IU senior kicker Logan Justus remained perfect on the season.
Justus, on the Groza Award watch list for the nation’s top kicker, is 6-for-6 on the season and 14-for-14 on extra points. Of Justus’s six field goals, three have been from 40 yards or longer, including a long of 50 yards.
Justus is 21-of-24 on field goal attempts in his IU career.