The Bill Lynch Radio Show

About to begin . . .

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Bill Lynch has arrived. Practice didn’t end until about 6:15 tonight, and then Lynch had to speak with the media.

So we’re at this place called Tuscany’s Bar and Grille inside the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Pretty snazzy place.

Here’s Bill.

He’s saying — and he just said this to us on the practice field — that his veteran players are ready to go and need the challenge of playing somebody else. The young players could still use some more practice time, but as a whole the group is ready to go.

About the North End Zone building: “It’s a special place,” Lynch says. “I think it will really change the atmosphere of the game. There’s no question about that.”

The weight room, Lynch said, is still only 55 percent full. More equipment will be arriving soon. He’s fired up about that. “The No. 1 thing we have to do is develop these guys,” he says.

Lynch is lauding his seniors for creating a culture in which more of the players stayed here in the summer. The players were in better shape he said, which means the coaches have been concentrating on coaching football. They’re not forced to get the team in shape.

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Lynch is discussing the maturity of his team. He’s excited to have 35 juniors and seniors.

The best teams, he says, are the ones that have a group of seniors who have their best seasons. Young guys think it will last forever; seniors have the sense of urgency that comes from facing finality.

On the Pistol formation: the veteran offensive convinced the coaching staff to let those guys get down and run block.

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Time to talk defense: the unit is healthy. That’s a vast improvement over the end of last season. There wasn’t much tinkering on the defense, other than with the staff (there’s now two guys coaching the line). Lynch thinks there’s depth at the tackles this season (this blogger might be dubious about that assertion).

Lynch says Chris Hagerup, the punter, is an NFL prospect. He also thinks Tandon Doss will be an excellent return man. Still no final decision on the kicker, though. But Lynch predicts marked improvement in two areas: coverage, because the team has better athletes, and returns. The Hoosiers have put a lot of time and effort (I can vouch for that) into special teams.

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Hey Ben Chappell’s here. Tyler Replogle, too. Don Fischer calls him “one of the best linebackers in the Big Ten.”

Chappell says the difference this year is — stop me if you’ve heard this — the leadership. The seniors and juniors changed the little things — “going to class and meetings” — and carried it through.

Replogle agrees.

Both Chappell and Replogle are studying in the Kelley School. No fluff majors here.

That’s one reason these guys are good leaders, Lynch says.

He particularly likes the way Replogle charges up the practice tunnel ready to go. Other players “saunter” and “adjust their socks.”

As for Chappell, there’s this: “Your players have to believe in the quarterback, and our guys believe in Ben.”

Hmm. Turns out there are two more Replogles. This bodes well for the Hoosiers: “Obviously, we’re going to stay close,” Lynch says. Both Tyler and Adam (if Thursday goes as planned) played as true freshmen.

For the record, they have not engaged in a fight recently. That would be quite a brouhaha.

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Questions: Talk about the offensive line.

Lynch says this is “the best offensive line we’ve had.” The players are older, of course. LT Rodger Saffold just turned 21. James Brewer, the RT, has matured and now believes in himself, Lynch says. Then there’s Pete Saxon, the old stalwart at RG. Will Matte, the center, is a bit undersized. But he does the job. Looks like Justin Pagan won’t play Thursday. Marc Damisch will step in at LG.

Another question: How are the kids prepared today compared to when you played at Butler?

Lynch: “We didn’t even play football (compared to what kids do now).” And: “Our idea of getting in shape was to go off the diving board and do a cannonball.”

Both Replogle and Chappell say that football has not been a burden. Time management is key. And passion for what you’re doing helps you get through even the most arduous of times.

Question: Any freshmen who will have an impact.

The aforementioned Adam Replogle will definitely play. The other guys battling for time are WR Duwyce Wilson, LB Damon Sims and QB’s Edward Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel.

Question: Who are the captains?

The Hoosiers will do it a bit differently this year. They’ll have game captains. The leadership council will vote for players each week. Jammie Kirlew and Will Patterson will be defensive captains Thursday, and will be joined by Rodger Saffold and Ben Chappell.

Interestingly, Lynch says that the leadership council is an ever-evolving group. It can vote players on and off at will. Certainly and intriguing group.

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Last segment. More questions.

Question: With the depth at QB and WR, at what point do you think about moving players?

Lynch basically said there’s been no talk of that, and that he likes having the depth.

Fischer asks the players whether the negative publicity — i.e. magazines picking the Hoosiers last — has gotten to him. Replogle says he doesn’t read much. Chappell says he’s aware of it but that it doesn’t change how he feels about the team.

Lynch on Eastern Kentucky: “They know how to win.” The Colonel have 31 straight winning seasons; only Florida State, with 32, has more. Lynch knows Eastern Kentucky will come in trying to make a name for itself on the national stage.

But ultimately a coach is always more concerned with how his own team will respond in game one, he said.

And that’s it.

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