Chappell sporting walking boot

Ben Chappell seemed to dress to avoid the question. At Bill Lynch’s weekly press conference on Wednesday, he had on long gray sweatpants that matched the color of the new apparatus he was wearing on his foot. When he walked from the side of the room to the podium it was hard to tell he was wearing it.

But reporters off to the side of the podium could see the walking boot he was wearing on his left foot, so he had to explain it after all.

“I’m just trying to keep it immobilized for now,” Chappell said. “Keep moving on it, but I’ll be fine.”

Asked what exactly the injury was, whether it was the ankle or the foot, he said “A little bit of both.”

Chappell continued to shake off specific questions of his health, though he’s been admitting for several weeks that he’s been sore. Usually a film room rat, Chappell said Monday afternoon that he hadn’t watched film of Saturday’s game yet because, “I didn’t get out of bed much yesterday.”

But Chappell said he doesn’t think he’s any worse off than anyone else in the Big Ten.

“I’m alright,” he said. “I’m a little beat up, but I think everyone else in the league is too. Just gotta get through it.”

As you would expect out of the two of them, though, both Chappell and Lynch denied that Chappell’s recent drop in efficiency has anything to do with his injuries.

“I’m not going to blame anything on injuries so no,” Chappell said. “I didn’t play well enough on Saturday. The offense as a whole didn’t. I missed some throws obviously, so I’m not blaming injuries. Everyone’s injured, so yeah.”

Lynch has pointed out, though, that he’s still been good when he hasn’t been hit or had to dodge pressure.

“When he’s able to set his feet, step and throw, his percentage of completion is way up here,” Lynch said. “It’s when he’s off balance and not able to step into his throw, or after the throw he’s thrown to the ground. There’s a lot of those hits that aren’t illegal hits. It’s not like I can look back and say they’re not protecting the quarterback. But they’re that close to him when he throws. That’s the biggest difference.”

Lynch’s hope is that the return of James Brewer will keep more defenders out of Chappell’s face. The 6-foot-8, 331-pound senior was back in action Saturday against Northwestern after three weeks out. Lynch said he still wasn’t 100 percent, which was the reason Brewer alternated drives with Marc Damisch.

“We need James Brewer back in there,” Lynch said. “From an offensive standpoint, we lost Brewer at a very critical time going into the Big Ten. He’s a difference maker. There aren’t many of those guys out there. He was one of those guys that sucked it up Saturday and went, and probably wasn’t totally ready. That’s why we rotated him, but we certainly need him in there because he’s a great football player.”

Chappell definitely wants him back as well.

“It was great just getting him on the field as much as we can and as much as we can,” Chappell said. “… I was saying after the game. Brewer’s my guy. I feel comfortable behind him. No question. He’s a great football player.I love how much he’s improved. We’re roommates. Been roommates for forever. That’s my dude.”

Other notes from Lynch’s press conference:

  • Lynch didn’t say much about junior cornerback Andre Kates’ suspension. Only reiterating that “he’s suspended indefinitely.” Asked if it was in fact because of things he posted on Twitter and Facebook, he nodded, but didn’t address the issue further.
  • Lynch praised junior cornerback Richard Council for his return to the field less than a month after knee surgery. He injured the knee against Michigan on Oct. 2 but returned to the field in a backup role on Saturday. “It is very, very important to him,” Lynch said. “I’ve seen other guys with similar situations who are fifth year or whatever and have a knee injury with knee surgery and that’s the end of their career. They’ve had enough and they fade off into the sunset so to speak. It’s out of their control. From the day he had surgery, he worked as hard as you could work to get back in there because it’s important to him and he wants to be a part of this. That’s the way he worked. I was totally amazed that he’d be back in that football game. … That was sheer effort.”
  • Lynch was asked about what factor seniority plays into his decisions for who gets playing time. “We play the guys that give us the best chance to win,” he said. “There isn’t any question in my mind. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I don’t of any coach I’ve ever been around that doesn’t play the guys that give him the best chance to win.” He did explain further, though and said seniority plays a factor because of the value of their experiences. “Obviously, you would hope your older guys are better prepared to play than some young guys, because they’ve practiced over and over again,” Lynch said. “There are situations where talent overcedes that whatever situation it may be.” Asked specifically about how that affects the running back situation with freshman Antonio Banks showing some skills that Trea Burgess doesn’t necessarily have, Lynch said Burgess has become better as a blocker as a fifth-year senior. “The biggest thing in our offense is pass protection. We are a passing football team, and there are a lot of things that go into pass protection. That’s probably the thing that experience that obviously Trea Burgess has of doing that  over and over and over again. Antonio is getting better and has played better. Part of it is just number of running attempts. We haven’t had that many attempts in the past couple of weeks.”