Indiana Notebook: Defensive Backs Struggle, Kevin Wilson Returns To Bloomington And Robert Landers' Score That Wasn't

By James Grega on September 1, 2017 at 6:00 am
Denzel Ward

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - While plenty went right (in the second half) for Ohio State in the season opener against Indiana, it wasn't exactly a picture perfect performance for the Buckeyes against the Hoosiers. 

Ohio State saw three defensive backs leave the 2016 squad for the 2017 NFL Draft, and it showed Thursday night. 

Breaking in three new starters on defense, the Ohio State secondary allowed Indiana starting quarterback Richard Lagow to complete 40-of-65 passes for 410 yards and three scores. 

The defense did force a pair of interceptions, but Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was openly disappointed in the performance by the Buckeye defensive backs. 

"Our defense was exposed big time in the first half, our pass defense was awful," Meyer said in his opening statement following the 49-21 win over Indiana. "It was not complicated, they were just picking on the corners. The corners have got to step up, and see what's coming in nine days against Oklahoma."

Indiana wide receiver Simmie Cobbs particularly had a big night, catching 11 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. Luke Timian added 10 catches for 72 yards from his slot receiver position, and tight end Ian Thomas caught a pair of touchdowns as well. 

The performance was not without a few bright spots, however, as Jordan Fuller collected his first career interception off a deflection from corner Kendall Sheffield in the first half. He returned the interception 40 yards to around midfield. Fuller also earned his first career start at safety, but split time with Erick Smith for most of the contest. Fuller finished with five tackles to go with his big interception. 

The other interception came from Ward, who recorded five pass deflections in addition to his fourth quarter pick. He added five tackles, but was also beat on a jump ball by Cobbs in the first half for a touchdown. 

Wilson's Return To Bloomington

For the first time as a visitor, Kevin Wilson returned to Memorial Stadium in Bloomington and helped lead his new team to a 28-point victory.

He was asked about returning to his old stomping grounds after the game, and said he enjoyed the experience of being back and winning with his new team. 

"It was difficult. We worked hard to keep our focus on the job, and we knew it would be a tough job," he said. "They did a great job defensively early with some things and different looks. 

"We have moved our family, (but) we had a great time here. I saw my two daughters last night and where they live (on campus at IU as students) and that was kind of cool," Wilson continued. "Matter of fact, my one daughter went and picked up a pair of bifocals today since my specs were broken. It was nice to be in friendly confines for the first road trip."

Wilson's offense put together a performance that saw quarterback J.T. Barrett throw for 304 yards and featured freshman running back J.K. Dobbins burst onto the scene with 181 rushing yards in his first collegiate game. 

Robert Landers' Touchdown Called Back

With just more than six minutes to play in the third quarter, Ohio State defensive tackle Robert Landers got the opportunity every big man dreams of, the scoop-and-score. 

Landers took advantage of what was, at the time, a fumble by Lagow near the Indiana 35-yard line. The Huber Heights Wayne High School product rumbled, and stumbled for a touchdown, only to have it called back after a video review showed the fumble was actually an incomplete pass by Lagow. 

Middle linebacker Chris Worley said from his vantage point, he thought the play should have counted. 

"I thought it was a fumble. I didn't see his arm go forward," Worley said. "That is probably selfishness in me though. We had momentum on our side even after that."

Plenty Of Firsts

As there is with any season-opener, the Buckeye's trip to Bloomington saw a plethora of firsts for Ohio State athletes. What follows are some of those firsts. 

  • The season opening win against saw nine Buckeyes make their first starts, not including punter Drue Chrisman and kickoff specialist Blake Haubeil. 
  • Wide receivers Austin Mack and K.J. Hill, Dobbins and right guard Branden Bowen got their first starts on offense while defensive ends Jalyn Holmes and Nick Bosa, cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Damon Arnette and Fuller walked out with the first-team defense Thursday night. 
  • Other firsts included Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon each collecting their first career touchdown receptions, covering a combined 134 yards. 
  • Running back Antonio Williams collected his first and second rushing touchdowns of his career, as he scored the first and last touchdown of the game for Ohio State against Indiana. He finished with seven carries for 44 yards.
  • Tight end Luke Farrell made his first career reception for 14 yards in the fourth quarter.
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