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‘The team trusts me’: Logan Justus again shows importance to Indiana

Following Indiana’s 34-24 win over Ball State on Saturday, there was one name buzzing above all — Michael Penix. 

The redshirt freshman quarterback was excellent. Penix threw for a touchdown and had 326 passing yards while completing 24 of his 40 passes on the day. Additionally, he was the Hoosiers’ leading rusher with 67 yards on the ground. 

Penix’s play and poise deserved to be praised, but the Indiana player who was arguably just as important in Saturday’s win came from the special teams unit. 

Logan Justus. Kicker. 

The fifth-year senior was an instrumental part of why the Hoosiers are 1-0 on the season. In the win, Justus went 4-for-4 on field goals and 2-for-2 on extra points. Three times in the game he set a new record for a career long field goal. 

The first field goal was from 48 yards out. Right before half, he knocked one in from 49. His final kick of the game — and new personal record — was from 50 yards. All of them, he hit easily too. Justus said he felt like he could’ve kicked the ball even farther than 50 as well.

“This game I told the coaches I was comfortable with 56-58,” Justus said.

In conjunction with the impressiveness of his ability to kick for distance, his kicks proved to be essential in earning a win. If Justus doesn’t convert on those field goals, the outcome of the game could’ve been a lot different. No matter the situation of the game or importance of the field goal attempt, Justus handled it with ease.

“I don’t feel any pressure,” Justus said. “The team trusts me, and I trust them.”

The kick that stood out the most was the 50-yarder with 2:15 to go in the fourth quarter. That field goal put Indiana up double digits and gave the Hoosiers the insurance points they needed to seal the victory. Prior to the kick, the game was still up in the air, as Ball State was only down 31-24 after scoring a touchdown with over six minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Indiana Head Coach Tom Allen came away impressed with his kicker, especially with his ability to kick in the clutch.

“To me, some guys have that innate ability to just come through when it counts when the pressure is on,” Allen said. “He was awesome today.”

In addition to being great Saturday, Justus had plenty of success last year too. He converted on 15 of his 18 field goals in 2018, which placed him with the third highest field goal percentage in the Big Ten. Justus was also named a Lou Groza Award — a national award for the best kicker in college football — semifinalist while making the All-Big Ten team as well for both coaches and media. 

If Justus can continue to improve upon what he did a season ago, the senior kicker has a chance to make 2019 a career season for him. 

Justus is already on track to do that, as he was named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for his week one performance. Additionally, he was awarded as one of four Groza Stars of the Week, an honor handed out by the Lou Groza Award. This was the second time Justus had been named a Groza Star of the Week in his career.

Justus’ reliability and accuracy from long range could be crucial for Indiana’s chances at a bowl. While the Hoosiers’ non-conference schedule might be manageable, playing in the gauntlet of the Big Ten East is no cakewalk. If Indiana is going to eclipse the six-win mark, the team is likely to going to need Justus at his best and ready in the clutch.

While his profile is growing and the accolades keep coming, Justus is not concerned. He’s just going to take it one kick at a time.

“Just staying calm, like seeing every single kick as just another kick and making sure everything’s right,” Justus said.

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