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IU’s special teams will get special attention in practice

The Big Number

There is one regular-season game between the Big Ten and the SEC this season. There are three bowl games scheduled to pit Big Ten vs. SEC.

They are the Gator Bowl, the Capital One Bowl and the Outback Bowl.

The Extra Point

Stephen Houston and Tevin Coleman became the first IU running back duo to each rush for 100 yards in a game since 2008 on Saturday. But Kevin Wilson isn’t satisfied.

“Our running game still has to be better,” Wilson said.

“We had nine negative rushing plays the other day, nine times and that’s way too many. That gets you to too many third-and-longs that we were really very fortunate to get last week.”

Updated: October 19, 2013 7:29PM



BLOOMINGTON — Last week, it was Indiana’s defense showing a marked improvement from the previous game.

Now it’s the special teams’ turn.

The Hoosiers (2-1) allowed a blocked punt for Bowling Green’s only touchdown on Saturday and fumbled away a kickoff for the second time in three games. That didn’t hurt much in IU’s 42-10 win over the Falcons, but with Missouri coming to Bloomington this week, Kevin Wilson knows any mistakes will be magnified.

“Those errors in the kicking game are going to haunt us this week, playing a tremendous team in Missouri, and when we get into Big Ten play,” Wilson said Monday.

The Hoosiers had a second punt blocked by the Falcons, but a roughing-the-kicker penalty negated it.

“(The first one) they came into an attack, a blocked look, we were counting on our spread and trying to down it,” Wilson said. “I don’t think we prepared our guys properly and we didn’t execute it right. The second one, we had a guy get beat in his protection.

“It’s something that we work on daily. But it needs to be better. Bottom line, those people need to do their jobs or we’ve got to look at new people or new schemes.”

IU’s special teams got off to a good start this season, with Shane Wynn returning the first punt of the season 58 yards for a touchdown. It was the first punt return touchdown for the Hoosiers since 2006.

But that’s the only punt he’s been able to return all season. While the Hoosiers have forced 12 punts, 10 of them came in the season opener. All four of IU’s punt returns came in that game, with Mitchell Paige handling the other three.

IU hasn’t exactly been dynamic on kickoff returns either. The Hoosiers are averaging 18.2 yards on 11 returns, with a long of 30.

It won’t get easier with Missouri’s Andrew Baggett kicking off against IU this week. Thirteen of Baggett’s 16 kickoffs this season have been touchbacks.

Of course, IU’s Mitch Ewald has 14 touchbacks in 22 kickoffs, and opponents are averaging just 17.6 yards on seven returns.

“We’re not getting much out of kickoff return at all, cover units keep improving,” Wilson said. “They’ve got good skill guys in the return game and we’ve had issues in kicking. So we’ll get challenged in all three phases.”

Marcus Murphy returned three punts and a kickoff for touchdowns last season for the Tigers (2-0), but he’s been held in check so far this season: seven punt returns for 37 yards (5.3 average) and three kickoffs for 63 (21.0).



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