INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana redshirt senior kicker Logan Justus had a feeling it was going to be his day when he booted a career-long 48-yard field goal just six minutes into Saturday’s season opener against Ball State.
“It built a lot of confidence,” Justus said. “I felt really good after that, and I was telling the coaches, like, I’ll just keep them rolling.”
Justus outdid himself two more times, connecting on a 49-yard field goal at the end of the first half and a career-long 50-yard field goal with 2:15 remaining, a key score in IU’s eventual 34-24 win over Ball State at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Justus went 4-for-4 on the day, also hitting a 30-yarder in what amounted to a big day for IU’s special teams. Senior punter Hunter Whitehead averaged 51.7 yards on three punts, including a 63-yarder, and pinned Ball State twice inside its 20-yard line. Freshman receiver David Ellis averaged 26 yards on four kickoff returns, including a 33-yarder.
Other than Nathaniel Snyder’s two kickoffs that went out of bounds, IU football coach Tom Allen was pleased with the performance. Allen also noted the performance of freshman long snapper Sean Wracher in his debut, who was crisp on all of his snaps and made no mistakes.
“Really encouraged with our special teams,” Allen said. “We had those two kicks out of bounds, which pretty much stunk, but other than that it was a great special teams performance.”
A second-team, All Big Ten kicker last season, Justus has now made 19 of 22 field goal attempts in his IU career.
“He was awesome today,” Allen said. “I trust him, too. Every time I send him out there.”
SPREADING THE WEALTH
IU redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Penix was able to connect with seven different receivers. New IU offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer’s scheme included more throws to running backs and tight ends. Sophomore tight end Peyton Hendershot had a career-high 69 yards receiving on four catches, while sophomore running back Stevie Scott III had three catches for 28 yards.
“It was great to be able to show off my hands,” Scott said.
Indiana finished with 474 yards of total offense in DeBoer’s debut.
“I believe in what we’re doing here offensively,” Allen said. “He does a good job of distributing the ball to a lot of guys. Our tight ends are expected to be a big part of our offense. I just think that’s how you make it hard on defenses.”
IU went sleight of hand in completing a 2-point conversion to go up 31-17 with 13:47 left. On the play, Ellis, a former option quarterback, found Hendershot in the end zone.
“He was supposed to run in,” Allen said. “Then he checked his first read and went to his second read.”
Sophomore defensive back Reese Taylor, who only recently returned to practice after injuring his hand in camp, did not play. … Senior linebacker Reakwon Jones recorded a career-high 11 tackles. … Allen was not happy with defensive back Marcelino Ball’s two personal foul penalties. “They’re called selfish penalties, so that’s why I took him out, ripped his tail,” Allen said. “We’ll have a nice little week with him for that. He’ll never do it again.” … Captains for the game were senior receiver Nick Westbrook, Jones, senior left tackle Coy Cronk and senior right guard Simon Stepaniak. … Cronk made his 37th start at left tackle in 38 games.