Bill’s Tuesday briefing

Obviously Indiana head football coach Bill Lynch was pleased with the way his team played on Saturday, when it won 27-14. The Hoosiers did all the important things — got big plays, won the turnover battle and converted 3rd downs — they couldn’t do during a three-game losing streak.

Lynch says there’s not a football program out there he respects more than Northwestern. That’s interesting.

The defense is tough and modeled after head coach Pat Fitzgerald, a former Wildcats linebacker. The offense is a true spread, run expertly by QB Mike Kafka.

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Injury updates: Safety Chris Adkins is out for at least this week and probably much longer with an elbow injury. Linebacker Will Patterson and cornerback Donnell Jones are also out this week, with a hand and an arm injury respectively.

Lynch says the injuries won’t necessitate wholesale changes in the way Indiana tries to defend Northwestern. He’s confident that Justin Carrington, who has played a lot of football during his career here, can step in for Patterson. Adrian Burks and Andre LaGrone will have to be ready at corner.

Collin Taylor, the 5th year senior who saw his first significant playing time in place of Adkins last week, will again be asked to fill in there.

Kafka is a very efficient and cerebral quarterback who seems capable of attacking a defenses’ weakness. That makes this week of practice especially important, Lynch says.

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Even though Indiana beat Northwestern last year and probably should have the year before (who can forget Ben Chappell’s interception throw off the bench? Or the play call that had him throwing that difficult of a pass?) Lynch thinks his players are focused on the challenge of this week. They didn’t get too down over the Virginia loss, and they won’t get too pumped about getting a shot at a team they have had some success against.

Despite a long career in football, Lynch admits that it is hard to tell how a team will play come Saturday. He was concerned about his club going into Virginia because of how many players were sick and missed time that week. Coming into the Illinois game, Lynch felt better about what he’d seen during the week of practice.

“You’ve got a feeling, but you never really know until you line up and play,” he says.

A few other thoughts:

  • Damarlo Belcher will “get nothing but better,” because of how raw he still is. He’s learning to use his size in a football way (remember he played a lot of hoops in high school) but has “prove he can make somebody miss.” Which, if you saw the play Lynch was referring to, is a bit of an understatement. Lynch’s dilemma is that he doesn’t believe in forcing the ball to a talented player. “You have to take what the defense gives you,” he said. Illinois gave Belcher some room, and he was able to take it.
  • Lynch said immediately after the game Saturday that Chappell probably had Mitchell Evans open in the flat on the play that he opted instead to throw a ball into the end zone, which Troy Wagner somehow got to and grabbed. Lynch, a former quarterback, obviously didn’t mind Chappell’s daring. But Lynch being Lynch, he said this: “I still want him to make the smart play and throw to the right guy.”
  • The week of practice heading into the Illinois game was one of the most physical the team has had during a regular season in some time. The key, Lynch said, is a head coach knowing what his team needs on a given day or in a given week. He has to balance the desire to be physical with the need for recuperation and the risk for new injury. Lynch joked that when he played “100 years ago” that the players were all slow and small, and teams could scrimmage all day long. Now the players are too big and strong to do that.
  • All that being said, Lynch said this week of practice will mirror last week’s. The key, he said, was the competitive situations his players faced. “That’s how you raise the level of intensity for a football player,” he said. Some of the situations will change, but I think there will be more “good-on-good” again this week.
  • When asked why Jerimy Finch was bested in the competition to replace Chris Adkins, Lynch deferred from giving an answer. “We start 22 players and we have 105, so there are a lot of guys we could talk about,” he said. Those players go out and practice and compete each week, he said, and the best ones play. He did note that Finch was named a “one-play warrior” — and award giving to outstanding special teams players — for the first time this year.
  • On goofy plays, such as the Mitchell Evans quick punt that ended up working out for IU or the interception that hit of Terrance Turner’s foot during the first drive at Virginia, Lynch had this to say. “I really do think that through the course of the year it all evens itself out. … That’s why football is a crazy game: the ball is not round.”
  • In his post-game comments last weekend, Fitzgerald made it seem like he might abandon the running game this weekend. “I saw that and the first thing I thought was, ‘They’re going to run it right down our throats,'” Lynch said.
  • There’s only one true freshman who has been told to stay ready: second-string quarterback Edward Wright-Baker would burn his redshirt and replace Ben Chappell if the starter suffered a serious injury. One of the more promising players in the class, Lawrence Barnett, is a cornerback but has not yet worked his way onto the depleted depth chart at that spot.
  • After Lynch spoke, linebacker Matt Mayberry and quarterback Ben Chappell were available for interviews. Mayberry said that he expected the team to rebound from the injuries to Patterson, Jones and Adkins. “Injuries are going to happen, especially throughout a hard-fought game like that, a physical game,” he said. “The next guy just has to be ready. We always pride ourselves on that. The next guy has to be ready to come in and play. … You just gotta keep playing. That’s why we always work the 2’s and 3’s in practice. They take almost as many reps as the starters.”
  • Chappell was asked if the was ever going to catch a pass from Mitchell Evans when the Hoosiers use the Wildcat formation. He, of course, played coy. “I don’t know,” he said with a smile. “We’ll see. We’ll see. We might have that in the game plan this week. We don’t know yet.” He said he wasn’t sure whether he was an option at all when he lined up at wide receiver this week. “I don’t know if I was the fifth or sixth option,” he said.
  • Chappell was also asked if he thinks he has thrown balls away too early when trying to avoid pressure. “There’s definitely been times I’ve done that,” he said. “Definitely. I’ve been coached not to take sacks. That’s something I’ve tried to do. Those negative yardage plays will kill you. But there’s been times I could probably hold on to it a little bit longer.”
  • Mayberry, a native of Darien, Ill., admitted that he did issue a minimal amount of trash talk to some of the players he knew on the Illinois roster during the Hoosiers’ 27-14 win on Saturday. “I had a lot of people talk junk to me last year when they beat us pretty bad,” he said. “They’re going through a lot over there, so I’m not really going to rub it in their face, but it was real nice for me and everyone else. … I gave Juice (Williams) a little bit of grief here and there, but he’s going through a lot personally. I said a little bit. … I just told him he were ready to come ready to play.”

30 comments

  1. I want to be optimistic about this game and the rest of the season. However, the one fundamental question that I keep coming back to is, does a team that loses by 40 points to a 1-3 opponent in the 6th game of the season really have the stuff to make a bowl game?

    I think that Jeremy (“…spoke-in class todaaay”) is right in declaring that it is pointless to speculate at this point. We could win 3 more games, or we could lose the rest of our games by an average of 30 ppg.

    Northwestern game should tell us a lot. They will be angry and ready for us after last year. Chappell and Lynch should look at this game as a chance to atone for the debacle two years ago, when Lynch put Chappell in for one play on a 3rd and 6 and had the trembling freshmen throw a timing route. Interception. Touchdown. Momentum swing. Game.

  2. Why is there so much concern about making a bowl game? Why should a team be placed into a bowl game that only wins a couple conference games against the bottom-feeders, defeats opponents early in the season that are no stronger than Class 4A high school teams, and has virtually nothing on a football resume to hardly even draw local media attention or viewership….Almost sounds like more of an embarrassment to play in such a contest..Why not just call these bowl games what they truly are?… Despica-Bowl..Delplora-Bowl…Whatever Bowl…Why Should Anyone Care Bowl…This is what college football has become? It’s a joke..The NCAA’s hunger for a few bucks has left the sport with no credibility.

    Why not just have the announcers purposefully rip into the teams during the broadcasts in these types of needless bowl games…They could use a giggly sarcastic and mocking tongue as they do the color commentary…referencing previous blowouts and miserable stats that highlight the chosen participants total football ineptitude….”Against the Ohio State Buckeyes, the Hoosiers compiled chunks of yardage on the ground…..Around 22 inches per carry!….Wow..The first down marker must have seemed like a longer journey than the Westward Movement across the Great Plains….The equipment manager was spotted moving the Gatorade into a covered wagon…”

  3. Ok, for the last damn time, the Chappell interception DID NOT lose that game.

    IU had the lead at half, 14-10. NW went up 24-14 then IU came back and took the lead 28-24 with 5:34 left to play. What happened next was a 12 play, 73 yard drive that took 4:50 off the clock only leaving IU :44 left to work with.

    456 yards gave up by the defense. They allowed NW to convert 12-17 3rd downs. Two Tracy Porter picks, an Austin Thomas pick and James Bailey’s kick off return were the only reason that IU was not blown clean out of Illinois that day.

    I know you think that the INT swung momentum, but look at the drive chart. The only time the defense stopped them and forced a punt was NW’s next possession AFTER the INT for a TD.

    Now GTF off of it!

  4. Settle down there, Mike. No need for Acronym Expletives. Sometimes, there are certain plays in games that ‘open the floodgates.’ Often, and application of charts or statistics ‘a posteriori’/after the fact cannot explain what a certain play meant to the overall flow of the game. IU was up 10-0 and driving the ball when that play happened, if I remember correctly. Can’t you conceive that if IU were to have scored on that drive (a TD) and taken a 17-0 lead, that it might have inflicted enought psychological damage on NU to influence its ability to bounce back?

    This is the way I see that play. It was a bad call, in my opinion, any way you slice it. Almost as bad as Sarkisian’s decision to call a pass play on 3rd and 1 with 30 seconds left in a tie game between UW and Arizona State. Did you see that? Incomplete pass. Poor punt. Arizona St. takes over at the 50 yard line. Hail Mary into the end zone – caught. Game over just like that. ASU 24, UW 17.

  5. I hope Lynch finds a way to keep some form of hitting going in practice this week. I think we need to do that to keep the edge we had against ILL and that was so lacking in both the OSU and UVA games.

    There aren’t meaningful differences between these teams statistically. Yards, points, QB rating, etc. are close. Our strength of schedule is a little stronger and the record of our pre-B10 opponents is significantly better at 8-11 v. 2-17 for NU. But I really don’t see anything on paper that jumps out.

    Normally I’d say you’d want to put a passing team like NU in 2nd and 3rd and long situations by stopping the run on first down. But I really don’t think they care and that they will throw the ball much more than they run and play a wide open style.

    So I guess what it boils down to is the basic stuff of beating the guy in front of you and staying with your assignments. Bring pressure with the D line and hope we can get to Kafka that way. Which brings me back to hitting during practice this week.

  6. Mike P,
    I can’t explain your drive charts but they are wrong. Sorry.
    You are right, IU got the ball back with 44 seconds left, but that is not when the interception occurred.

  7. Westward Offense,
    Somewhere in your Thurber-like post there are some truths. Do you think you are the first to identify the money angle? I would not put so much blame on the NCAA. What about ESPN? How about the BCS? Isn’t there enough blame to spread around?
    Since bowls do exist, what is wrong with fans and alumni wanting their team to go to bowl game?

  8. Jay-

    Does anyone really care when the basketball team makes the NIT?….Yes, we’re all the best fans on earth…Can we be honest for a change? There are about 40 bowl games. There used to be four prestigious bowl games…Rose, Cotton, Sugar, Orange. It was so difficult to determine the top eight teams in the nation that we just had to add 36 more bowl games…It’s a joke. Idea: Extend the football season a few weeks…Put the revenue of those games directly into the hands of the universities……have something similar to the NFL playoffs..First place team in major conferences get automatic bids…Make the damn schedules mean something again…No wonder teams bring it one weekend and leave their games on the bus the next…It’s too easy…too easy to be the sideshow of a Doritos commercial in a late December meaningless bowl game. We shouldn’t be measuring our football team(a team that represents a university with over 40,000 students)by squeaking into one of these farcical affairs…If we can never defeat the historically dominant teams of our conference, no Claussen Pickle Bowl game appearance should save a coach’s ass. If basketball coaches were measured by the same standard, we would be ecstatic to still have Mike Davis at the reins.

    Husky-

    You twisted the hell out of the ending of the Washington vs Arizona St. game…I wouldn’t call a complete breakdown in the Husky secondary as a “Hail Mary” pass…I watched the ending of that game at around 2:00 am..It was on one of the Fox channels ..It was not a desperation pass into the end zone….the ball was caught by an Arizona St receiver in a opening wider than two semi-trucks parked bumper-to-bumper …a gaping hole in the middle of the field with no purple and gold anywhere..Completely blown coverage!…The reliever ran another 20 yards before crossing the goal line…Nothing lucky about it…You should be wanting that bald-headed defensive coach fired….Guess you feel too much of a personal bond.Maybe the head coach, too(after not coming up with play calling that could conclude in one lousy score on ND on three separate possessions at the ND goal…12 plays with nada) …Inexcusable…IU could have punched it in given the same amount of chances..And you bark the Husky Dawg yelp for Lynch’s firing?

  9. Forgot to mention that the Arizona St. QB(a somewhat maligned QB from what I remember from the broadcasters comments…I could be wrong on that one) threw a perfect strike to a kid that had been fighting the flu for the past couple weeks…Though in total jubilation from catching the game-winning pass, he still looked rather sickly…Huskies can’t even defend guys that should be home under blankets…sipping chicken noodle soup and Canada Dry ginger ale from a straw.

  10. Westward Offense,
    As I said earlier, you make some valid points. Are you being paid by the word? There is no analogy at IU between football and basketball, that doesn’t mean that I like it that way, it’s a fact. I don’t think there’s much of an analogy at Duke or UNC either. You can argue all you want about the number of bowl games but I don’t believe they are going away. Your approach is not going to lead to solution, nut that’s not what you are attempting is it?

  11. I should chomp on some of my words up there….For some reason I thought the guy ran another 10-20 yards into the end zone..I looked at the highlight once more and it appears I exaggerated..My mistake..Still definitely not a “Hail Mary” pass of desperation thrown up for grabs…He did make the catch in full stride(at around the 4-yard line)with no defender anywhere within wide view of the trailing camera replay shot….A blown coverage completion…Nothing freakishly lucky…No gift from god.

    Fire baldy now!!

  12. “paid by the word”….I could only wish I get overtime for the absurd.

    I’m sorry for so much rambling..I’m experiencing severe basketball withdrawal and just need to do some venting…
    I just can’t stand these bowl game references…College football is a fiasco…The top Big 10 football teams have historic dismal records in the important bowl games within the fiasco…IU is never in contention for the top-tier bowl games…How much lower can the topic of IU football be on the fiasco scale?

  13. You use severe basketball withdrawal as an excuse. That’s fine.
    College football is not a fiasco. Does college football have some problems, yes! You and I are not going to solve the problem. Why not have a discussion where we exchange ideas? We may not always agree but that’s okay, no?
    Are you aware that The Big 10, at least this week is ranked as the best overall conference in the nation? This ranking is by computers, so no need to start telling people how stupid they are or how they twisted things.

  14. Westward Offense…. why so bitter? what is wrong with getting another month of practice? or testing your team against another team in your situation? or letting your fans enjoy a vacation to somewhere new to watch your team play?

    I understand your points about bowl games but they are moot…IU is not gonna win the national title or the Big 10 title in the next 5 years so we need a goal….going .500 or better and getting a chance to play an extra game seems like a good goal

  15. Excellent post RJH. More money, more exposure, more practice, a reward for the players and a trip for the fans. That’s bowling.

    Complaining about the lost status of bowls games and ruminating fondly over the good ol’ days of Darrell Royal and the SWC Champs hosting the Cotton Bowl is like complaining about how much the price of a loaf of bread has risen since…whenever.

    BTW. This is an Indiana Board. Please take that UW stuff somewhere else. Thank you.

  16. Chap threw the int in the first half. If you remember he through it on a 3rd & 6. Sorry HT, it was 6 plays and 17 yards into a drive, the were not moving down field. IU got the ball back and went 3 and out and punted to NW. On the resulting drive NW went 3 and out and had to punt the ball away. That punt was the ONLY punt the defense forced that day.

    IU still had the lead at half.

    It was after the half time adjustments that the defense gave up two scoring drives to go down 24-14.

    IU answered those two drives by putting together a 5 play 50 yard drive for a TD, intercepting a pass in the endzone (2nd of the day) then going 80 yards for a TD and taking the lead with 5:34 to go 28-24.

    What happened next was the defense yet again let NW move the ball at will, burn 4:50 off the clock and scoring the go ahead and game winning TD.

    The call to have Chap throw that pass wasn’t the right call. Obviously. I would have ran it up the gut and punted.

    However that play did not lose the game. The defense sucked, they allowed 261 yards in the 2nd half and allowed 3 TD’s on 4 2nd half drives.

    Of course that 1 play out of 135 is what determined the outcome of the game.

  17. “Of course that 1 play out of 135 is what determined the outcome of the game.”

    Good, I am glad we are on the same page : )

  18. Dictator Dave-

    No reminiscing here….Thought it was pretty much a flawed system years ago..Just more flawed today..You’re the one stuck on the same old Wonder bread..You’re just stuffing your face with more. The profitable system in place says no more about the quality of college football being played in this country than the financial success of an American Idol winner measuring the quality of music being produced..I’m sure you can never get enough bowl games…and likely never enough Kelly Clarkson.

    I would be more than happy to never hear another reference about Husky football(or basketball)…I have a feeling you’ll get to listen to many more comparisons in the future..I was simply stating a lack of validity between comparisons of two plays that were being used to further individual arguments…The UW play was not a lucky “Hail Mary”…It was a victory for Arizona St. based on total blown coverage by the Husky secondary. I read a lot of posts criticizing the IU secondary(especially a particular player)…I think those criticisms also make implications about our coach’s decisions and judgements…What is the problem with calling out someone that is not willing to put his Huskies under the same scrutiny that he places upon our own coach?…He purposefully misconstrued a final play to avoid such debate…You should be thanking me for defending our football team and our coach against a blogger that continues to rip at the head of our coach and program in the context of narrowed and intentional tunnel vision analogies….Of course, it works with you…You are so blinded by your Polyannaish support of anything IU that you don’t even recognize when there is true undermining….You are always dissecting…the guy that spreads the mayo thickly onto the Wonder(ing) about every detail bread..We all know that already….Wonder bread..Kelly Clarkson..and pointless pigskin discussions ’til the end.

    You’ll love Tom Crean…all packaging, no substance.

  19. Correction: The [Arizona St.] play was not a lucky “Hail Mary”….

    Go Hoosiers in the Q-Tip Cotton Swabs Bowl!

  20. Since I apparently missed the memo about diatribe Tuesday…rabble, rabble, rabble, unnecessary character assault on a stranger, rabble, rabble, rabble, everything sucks, rabble, rabble, rabble, unsupported conclusion, rabble, rabble, rabble, tenuous analogy, rabble, rabble, rabble, cheap parting shot!!!

  21. HT: Yes, I will use my extra sensory perception and know what not to read before I read it. I guess that makes sense in your world.

    Polite requests met by name calling from Westward Ho. I think Westward is really just HT having a discussion with himself (Your Polly’s are showing).

  22. I don’t know what has possessed me to make the stupid rants concerning nothing on topic..I apologize for wasting all of your time..I can assure you it was not Husky Tom…

    I am solely responsible for the posts identified by “Westward Offense”…Please don’t think this is what I am solely about…Again, I apologize for the uncivil discourse, unfair innuendo, and the cheap shot name-calling….especially to GFDave and Husky Tom. I would also like to commend Jay for showing dignity in the face of my tasteless and repugnant rhetoric …Your a class act.

    Once again, my apologies to all..

  23. Downing’s 5th
    I honestly don’t think apologies are necessary. Being 61 must have some advantages. I still get angry, I just manage it better.
    I was pretty sure who Westward Offense was. Husky Tom started out trying to be civil yesterday. Eventually he lost his patience. As I said being 61 does have some advantages.

  24. From my seat RJH concisely focused on the benefit of having multiple layered and levels of bowl games for more programs to build with.

  25. what is interesting to me is seeing that a blogger will rip another person for hating on Lynch and close with a negative comment about the IU bball coach! Practice what you preach!

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