Lynch: Brewer still out, Willis day-to-day, rest of O-Line likely to return

Indiana coach Bill Lynch said he expects to have most of his banged-up offensive line back on the field for Saturday’s game against Arkansas State, but it will still be missing its biggest and arguably most talented member.

Senior right tackle James Brewer has already been ruled out for Saturday’s game, Lynch said. Brewer injured his ankle during practice last Tuesday and also missed Saturday’s game against Ohio State.

“As I’m sitting here right now, he’s out for this week,” Lynch said Monday at his weekly press conference. “We’d certainly love to have him back for the week after, but he will not be with us this week. … The report on James after last Tuesday was he was going to be a few weeks.”

Left tackle Andrew McDonald (neck) and center Will Matte knee went out during Saturday’s game but returned to play. Lynch said he expects both to be fine this week. Sophomore guard Marc Damisch did not attend the game because of the death of his father. Lynch said the funeral was held Monday and he expects Damisch to return to the team on Tuesday.

“He’s had a tough week,” Lynch said. “His family’s had a tough week. They’ve really had a tough period of time. … The biggest thing is, we’ve gotta do what’s best for him. Mentally and how he feels, and where he’s at when he comes back.”

With Damisch and Brewer out Saturday and McDonald and Matte missing time with injuries, the Hoosiers had to move junior Justin Pagan from right guard to right tackle and get significant minutes from reserves Josh Hager, Jordan Marquette and Pat McShane.

Being down a few men certainly didn’t help the Hoosiers’ offense, whch was held to 210 yards of offense. Lynch said he was pleased with the performance of each player and that he feels confident in his team’s offensive line depth.

“One thing we did this summer on purpose, probably more so than any team I’ve been around, is we repped our 2’s and our 3’s a lot,” Lynch said. “Every single practice, our 3’s, all the way up until our opener, and then in the bye week, we did it again with this in mind, that if injuries hit, we want guys that have been working in our offense for a long time. Some places, the 1’s and 2’s are the only guys who get the work. Sometimes the 1’s and 2’s are the only guys who get the work. Sometimes it’s the 1’s and the 2’s get a little bit. But studying our past, you run into some injuries or some depth situations. We want guys that have been running our offense, not calling guys from the scout field that haven’t run our offense since the third week of camp.”

Other Notes from the press conference.

  • Lynch said he isn’t certain about the return of sophomore tailback Darius Willis, who missed Saturday’s game with a groin injury. “Darius is a little different situation,” Lynch said. “… We took him with the idea that maybe, and it just didn’t quite work out and we weren’t going to put him out there in a game like that if he couldn’t go full speed. I think it will be day-to-day for the rest of this week.”
  • Lynch said the IU defensive staff has been trying to figure out the reason the defense has given up so many big plays, but hasn’t come up with a definitive answer. “Our goal is we want to give up four or less a game,” Lynch said. “Offensively, we’d like to have six or more. If you break it down that way we’ve given up 28 big plays on defense. We’ve got to cut that down by a couple a game. … Is there a common theme? We looked at everything from what defense we’re in, what coverage were we in? What was the down and distance? Was it a mistake? Was it a missed tackle? Was it somebody beating somebody? It was all of those things.”
  • The Hoosiers think they have “found a home” for North graduate Leon Beckum at weakside linebacker. He had been playing in the middle and occasionally on the strong side, shuffling in and out with senior Tyler Replogle and junior Jeff Thomas at those positions. On Saturday, though, the Hoosiers moved him to the weakside where they’ve been looking for more production from sophomore Chad Sherer and redshirt freshman Damon Sims. Beckum responded by recording a career-high nine tackles, including three for loss and half a sack. “He’s in space more,” Lynch said. “I just think that’s a good place for him. He’s become a physical guy. His weight’s up, but he can still run like he could when he was 190 pounds when he came. … He’s probably played all three linebacker spots in games this year. There’s not a lot of guys who can bounce from one of those spots to the other with minimal mistakes, but he’s one of those guys.”

15 comments

  1. Darius Willis should be put on the permanent day-to-day list for the rest of his career at IU just to save the coach the time it takes to explain his most recent injury. Loads of talent but he’s seemingly no better than a 50/50 chance to play every game.

  2. I completely agree, Sam. It’s unfortunate because Darius has great talent.

    When we landed him I immediately thought we’d finally gotten a back that would gain at least 1,000 yards, if not somewhere between that and 1,500, a season.

    He’s a beast when he’s healthy… I repeat, WHEN he’s healthy.

  3. There are some fundamental leadership (coaching) flaws that are exposed in the second bullet note:

    “Our goal is we want to give up four or less a game,” Lynch said. What would Mike Ditka say about this?

    “If you break it down that way we’ve given up 28 big plays on defense.” Eventually, we have to stop playing “what-if” games and “breaking it down” and start playing the actual game (i.e. win or lose). This “only a few plays away” stuff works when rebuilding and building confidence.

  4. You’ve got to love this logic:

    “Is there a common theme? We looked at everything from what defense we’re in, what coverage were we in? What was the down and distance? Was it a mistake? Was it a missed tackle? Was it somebody beating somebody? It was all of those things.”

    Basically, IU can’t play defense against anyone for any period of time. We don’t know why we’re so bad, because there isn’t anything good defensively that we’re doing that we can emphasize. We might as well on-side kick after every time we score.

  5. I hate to admit this but I had trouble sleeping and the IU/Mich game was on last night so I watched the entire game…again! The defense on a whole but mainly the secondary is not just slow but slow to recognize what particular play is being run whether running or passing…it is as if they have not watched film. The angles and tackling are just awful. I found myself wondering what in the heck I would change up if I were coach. First thing I would do is put a combo of Kiles, Kates, and Jones at the safety spots…rotate them on certain plays. I would put Evans on special teams until he makes a hit or can recognize what the offense is doing. Then I might try him at CB. At CB I would start Burks and have a try out for the other side. Ernest is just too slow…nothing against him as he reads the plays decently but he plays catch up and trails too much. A suggestion would be if they are not going to use Hughs any more than they are…let him play CB. IU needs a major change-up in the secondary. The line is getting better push than I ever imagined…still need some work vs run up the middle. The LB group is better than avg at reading plays and angles and tackling but slow. This is just my 2 cents, my opinion as an arm-chair coach. Any suggestions? Take it easy!!!

  6. Why did Cody Faulkner leave the team? How does a 5th-year senior decide to pursue things other than football in the middle of his 5th year? We sure could use that depth now.

    And don’t get me started on Lynch. What other coach in the country would say their goal is to give up 4 big plays or less? Really? Such lofty goals!!!

  7. I don’t think we’ll see too much of Willis any more. I agree about his talent, but he can’t hold up under D1 competition…a real shame, but it happens. We wish him well.

    The Arkansas State game should be a win, but they are better than the 3 teams we played prior to UM, so we will be tested.

    Then, I see a potential win with Northwestern. The other games, unfortunately, will likely be blow outs.

    At the end of the day, despite having more talent this year than prior seasons, we have neither the depth nor the coaching to hold up consistently in B10 competition. I think on any given day, we may be able to pull off an upset, particularly if opponents have a bad day and put the ball on the ground, but all things equal; this will likely be a 5-7 season at best.

  8. Mike,

    I can’t imagine it was easy for a fifth-year senior to be be the sixth guard, especially when a couple of redshirt freshmen are ahead of him. That probably goes a long ways in explaining Faulkner quitting.

  9. Faulkner suffered an injury that kept him out most of last season, spring practice and I believe summer workouts. You have to wonder if he just never fully healed, considering he was a starter 2 years ago.

    I know many of you won’t remember this or just didn’t know it to begin with, but during Willis’ senior year in high school he suffered a hamstring injury that cost him part of his senior track season and a chance at competing for a state title in I believe the 100m, but don’t quote me on the event. At the time I remember a lot of concern about the injury when it came to his future at IU and his coaches (Franklin Central) down playing it as just a strain.

    Since that injury, he has had problems with hamstring injuries. The ankle was an injury in which a piece of bone chipped and was floating, trust me when I say that is painful, I still have a small piece of detached bone in my ankle. I can’t help but wonder if that Hamstring injury in the spring of 2008 was more serious than originally thought and reported.

  10. Mike P.,

    All that makes me wonder if that hamstring injury in HS had a bearing in the decision to redshirt Willis for the 08 season. It helped limit his exposure.

  11. A hamstring injury is NOT a character defect! It is VERY common for really fast athletes, talk to some track coaches. It requires rest and specialized physical therapy, stretching, hydro-therapy, diet, etc. If your job is to run fast and take a beating, then you just are physically unable to perform with a hamstring injury. Turner, Banks, Walker-Davis have some real talent and Burgess never quits. So IU is better than average at the RB position. But we need to throw the football!

  12. Calrion,

    Marcus Thigpen & Bryan Payton, remember them? That is why Willis was redshirted his freshman year, Lynch won’t play a frosh over 2 seniors.

    BeatPurdue,

    Who said anything about a character defect? All I said is he has had trouble with hamstrings since that injury. It could be very possible the injury was worse than thought. Some athletes go their entire time and never pull one, others play for years without a pull, once they do it once, it happens more and more often.

  13. Mike P.,

    Sure do, I just never thought much of the one move style of Thigpen but the toughness of Payton was a positive.

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