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Indiana Cornerback Noah Pierre Makes the Most of First Career Start in Huge Game vs. Michigan State

During his three-plus years at Indiana, redshirt junior Noah Pierre has seen some action on special teams, but hasn't seen the field much in the secondary. But he got the start Saturday against Michigan State and had his first career interception and a team-high nine tackles.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — It's taken a while for defensive back Noah Pierre to get on the field at Indiana, but the redshirt junior from Hialeah, Fla., has arrived in a big way so far this season.

Pressed into duty with injuries to cornerbacks Tiawan Mullen and Reese Taylor, the versatile defensive back had a team-high nine tackles and his first career interception during the Hoosiers' 20-15 loss to Michigan State. Pierre has played on special teams most of the time the past two-plus years, but can also play multiple positions in the secondary.

He's come up in a big way when the Hoosiers have needed him the most this season.

"A kid rewarded for persevering," Indiana coach Tom Allen said Monday when asked about Pierre's big day. "He came here and he wanted to play. Especially after you're here for a couple years, you really want that."

The 5-foot-11, 182-pound Pierre redshirted during the 2018 season and then played in 10 games in 2019, mostly on special teams, and appeared in all eight games a year ago.

Saturday was his first huge day for the Hoosiers. Despite wanting a more expansive role — like all players do — Allen said Pierre has stayed the course, working hard and waiting on an opportunity.

In fact, Pierre remained humble and hopeful even before his big game. "Humble beast, lack of worries" runs across his Twitter header. His pinned tweet from Oct. 5 reads, "Always stayed patient because I knew I was made for this."

As if he predicted he'd have his best game against Michigan State game, he even retweeted motivational advice about the best days are yet to come.

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Allen said when they were recruiting Pierre that the first thing that stuck out about him was his competitive toughness and his ability to cycle between positions, making it easier to utilize his talent.

"Some guys, you move them from one position to another, and It takes too long for them to pick things up. He's not that way,'' Pierre said. "Has a really high football IQ, he understands the game and he anticipates. What he might lack in size, he makes up for in toughness. He's a very good tackler, and you saw that on Saturday."

Allen especially admires Pierre's commitment to the program. Over the years, the two have had great conversations about his future within the team. Not seeing the field  much can scare away athletes, but not Pierre. He wants to graduate and get a degree from Indiana, and finish what he set out to do on the field.

Defensive coordinator Charlton Warren thinks of resiliency when describing Pierre.

"Three weeks ago, we asked him to play corner, and then he goes in the (Michigan State) game and plays corner against the second-most productive pair of receivers in the Big Ten," Warren said. "Big hats off to him. The guy was a third-string safety, and now he's a starting corner versus some pretty good football teams."

Pierre will get another challenge Saturday against Ohio State. The No. 5-ranked Buckeyes are averaging 563.2 yards per game and have scored 153 points in its three Big Ten wins. (Indiana, conversely, has scored 21 in its three league losses.) 

Allen said Mullen and Taylor would both be game-time decisions on Saturday, so Pierre could very well get another start against what might be the best collection of wide receivers in the country.

"All those reps he was taking in the past, whether it was a backup or in spring football or fall camp, this is his moment to be able to step up at critical times to be able to make game-changing plays, just consistent plays," Allen said.

  • REPORT CARD: Indiana is turning into a lopsided team right now, with the defense playing well enough to win, but the offense struggling to get things right. Our grades reflect that in a big way. CLICK HERE
  • TOM BREW COLUMN: Indiana's offense is terrible, and it's not just the coordinator or line or quarterback, it's everyone. There's plenty of blame to go around. CLICK HERE
  • TUTTLE TAKES BLAME: Indiana quarterback Jack Tuttle said his three turnovers "are my responsibility'' and he vows to make this offense better. Here's the story on his postgame comments. CLICK HERE
  • GAME STORY: Indiana kept Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker in check, but turnovers once again were an issue in the Hoosiers' fourth loss of the season to a top-10 team. CLICK HERE
  • TUTTLE DRIVE CHART: Here's what Jack Tuttle and the Indiana offense did on every drive Saturday against Michigan State. CLICK HERE
  • LIVE BLOG: Here's how the game played out in real time, with play-by-play and analysis of Indiana's 20-15 loss to No. 10 Michigan State. CLICK HERE
  • TAILGATE TALES: video director Haley Jordan caught up with fans prior to the game during tailgating around Memorial Stadium for her first ''Tailgate Tales'' video. CLICK HERE