FORT WAYNE – Indiana had just one sack in its four nonconference games last season. The Hoosiers collected five in the 24-17 season-opening victory over Indiana State on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
IU didn’t have to wait long for the first. Chase Hoobler sacked Mike Perish for a 10-yard loss during the opening drive.
We were running a blitz and luckily they ran a quarterback roll out and I got to him before he threw it, the sophomore linebacker said during a phone interview Monday.
Hoobler finished with seven tackles against the Sycamores.
Chase finished last season very, very strong, Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said during the Big Ten teleconference Tuesday. We need him to continue to improve to take his play up to quality, Big Ten linebacker play.
I thought he finished the year strong. It was nice to see him get off to a nice start the other night.
Hoobler played in all 12 games last season and made eight starts. He finished with 48 tackles, two sacks, five tackles for loss and one forced fumble. Hoobler earned a spot on the Yahoo Sports and BTN.com Big Ten All-Freshman teams.
Personal accolades aren’t really a big thing to me, Hoobler said. I’m trying to help the team out any way that I can. I feel like it’s more of a team kind of award. It’s a defensive unit. We need everybody. It’s us as a unit, not as individuals.
The 6-foot-2, 246-pounder from Orrville, Ohio, thought the defense had a pretty solid performance against the Sycamores.
We let up a couple of big plays that we need to eliminate, he said. I felt we played well when our offense needed us, when our team needed us. We got the five stops at the end of the game to seal the deal.
He pointed to the team’s ability to stop Indiana State on third downs (the Sycamores were 3 of 12 on third-down conversions) as a sign of improvement from last year.
The additions of linebackers Jacarri Alexander (from Iowa Central Community College) and David Cooper (from Coffeyville Community College in Kansas) helped. Cooper had seven tackles and Alexander had three.
They’ve come in and have done a really good job so far, playing physical, Hoobler said. There was a lot of competition at a camp and the preseason. It brings a lot of depth in our group.
Hoobler has worked hard to improve his game, too.
Last year, I was out there just trying to do my job. I feel like I know what’s going on better this year as a whole, the defensive schemes, what the coaches want out of us, Hoobler said.
Hoobler is also trying to take on more of a leadership role.
We need everybody to be there and do their jobs for us to be successful, Hoobler said. Try to be more vocal, do my job and get everybody else to come along.