BLOOMINGTON, Ind. —
"We have to be physical," defensive lineman John Laihinen said. "That's what we can bring to the table. We have to pop them in the mouth, shock them a little bit. How close we really are is what bothers me the most. We have to make those tackles and get off those blocks two seconds quicker."
Tailbacks aren't the only problem, however. In a 63-47 loss on Oct. 19, the Hoosiers struggled to tackle Michigan wide receiver Jeremy Gallon or quarterback Devin Gardner, who constantly faked out defenders and spun away from would-be sacks. Gallon posted a Big Ten-record 369 yards receiving and Gardner rushed for 81 yards and three touchdowns.
The breakaways by Gallon and Gardner continued a troublesome trend for Indiana. The Hoosiers have allowed 18 plays of 20 yards or greater over their last three games. When defenders have been in position to make a play, they frequently have missed the tackle.
"On those big plays, a lot were missed tackles," Richardson said. "We've got to wrap up. If one guy messes up, you don't know where your teammates are, and he's gone."
Defensive coordinator Doug Mallory spent the bye week going over all this. After the Wolverines broke nine plays of at least 20 yards - two of which gained 70 - Mallory said there is no excuse for Indiana's recurring breakdowns.
"We had nine plays that totaled over 300 yards," Mallory said. "That's the No. 1 sign you're getting your butt kicked. At times on some of the passes we got hit on double moves or weren't able to get enough pressure on the quarterback. One time it was a busted coverage."
Mallory emphasized that Indiana's defense must be fixed and added, "That starts with me."