Lynch: ‘We can play better than that’

Bill Lynch had no problem admitting that the reason Indiana was blown out Saturday night was that it played a superior football team in Ohio State.

After watching film, however, the IU coach found a lot of things that weren’t quite up to par for IU, and in particular he found defensive mistakes, that, if fixed, could have kept the Buckeyes from some of the big plays they had.

“I think overall defensively, we missed some real fundamental run fits,” Lynch said. “When I say that, in the running game, everybody’s got a gap, and you’ve gotta make sure that you’re in the right spot. We didn’t have the right fits on some of their bigger runs early in the game.”

And even though bringing down quarterback Terrelle Pryor and running back Brandon Saine was no easy task, Lynch said the Hoosiers could have done a better job.

“I think at times we didn’t tackle as well,” Lynch said. “And you can use it as, ‘Well, their were some awfully good guy we were trying to tackle, including Pryor,’ but that’s really not an excuse.”

Offensively, Lynch said the Hoosiers didn’t block well enough.

“I think in the run game, we just didn’t sustain our blocks as well as we had the last couple of weeks,” Lynch said. “I think Ohio State has a very, very good run defense, and there’s no question about that, but I just don’t think we probably sustained, and as a result of not being able to run the ball — and we knew this going into the game — if you get into a situation where you’re behind and have to throw the ball against Ohio State, that’s when their pass rush really takes over.”

Though Lynch praised his team for playing until the final whistle, he said the touchdown the Hoosiers scored with no time on the clock to make it 33-14 didn’t make it easier to swallow.

“I don’t want a football team to leave the field and say, ‘Well, the score was this, so it looks better than it is,'” Lynch said. “We gotta be beyond that. We gotta be where we got beat, we gotta lick our wounds and come back and fight another day.”

“… From a football standpoint, you want to get to the point where losing’s not acceptable. Where you do everything you can. You get 12 chances and you’re going to do everything you can to win a football game. You don’t want to be in a situation where you go into a football game, ‘Boy, if we can just keep it close. If we can just keep it respectable.’ I really feel good that that’s the way these guys felt when the game is over. It hurt. And we can play better than that.”

The Hoosiers will again have to play better than that without the help of backup defensive ends Darius Johnson (shoulder) and Fred Jones (foot), both of whom were listed as out on the injury report. Linebacker Leon Beckum (ankle) is also listed as doubtful. Freshman tailback Darius Willis was listed as probable with an ankle injury, even though he didn’t practice Monday.

“He’ll do more than he did yesterday each day,” Lynch said. “I expect him to be ready to go.”

Lynch said Monday night that both wide receiver Mitchell Evans and safety Austin Thomas did not practice Monday because of ankle injuries, but neither were listed on he injury report Tuesday.

Other notes from Tuesday’s press conference:

  • Lynch said Indiana was doomed by what, for this team, was an uncharacteristically slow start against the Buckeyes. Indiana went four-and-out on its first drive and fumbled the ball away on its second. “They didn’t get their feet under them,” Lynch said.
  • In a somewhat unusual move for Lynch, he singled out one area of the game that needs to improve: punting. “We’re not flipping field position the way we should,” he said. Lynch isn’t sure whether Chris Hagerup’s problems stem from confidence or technique.
  • When watching film of the unexpectedly resurgent Virginia team beating North Carolina on its home field, the thing that stuck out to Lynch was the Cavalier’s enthusiasm and they way they got aver the Tar Heels. “The football team we’re going to see Saturday is the one we saw on tape at North Carolina,” he predicted. He pointed this out, of course, because Virginia had been winless and opened the season with a loss to FCS William & Mary.
  • Al Groh, who coached the New York Jets and was an assistant to Bill Parcells for more than 10 years, runs a “true, pro-style 3-4” defense according to Lynch. That is, the Cavaliers will line up with three down linemen and two linebackers on the outside. Indiana has played other 3-4 defenses this season — such as Michigan and Akron — that were less traditional; linebackers would sink down into the box, or the formation would be unbalanced.
  • The system has worked well for stopping the pass, as Virginia employs pro-style zone coverage that has been effective. It is tied for eighth in the country in pass defense, allowing just 156.50 yards per game. Its nickel package has been especially effective, allowing opponents to convert just 16-of-61 attempts on 3rd down. That equals 26.23 percent, good for sixth in the nation.
  • Offensively, Virginia runs a spread. But like Indiana, it has added elements of power football in recent weeks, with two back formations and even lead blockers. Former Bowling Green coach Gregg Brandon (who worked under, then took over for, Urban Meyer and was fired after last year) is handling the offense this season.
  • For a fourth-straight week, Indiana will face a quarterback who is as likely to put his head down and run it as he is to throw it. Jameel Sewell has run the ball 70 times (that number, of course, includes the times he was sacked) and has thrown 105 passes. Lynch seemed impressed by the lefty’s throwing arm, too.
  • Lynch expects no let-down from his players after back-to-back weeks of facing the Big Ten’s elite. “Knowing this team, I’m not concerned at all,” he said.
  • Virginia may need to replace the sod at Scott Stadium, due to a U2 concert held Oct. 1. Lynch said he wasn’t worried about his players being able to find their footing, since Adidas supplies the program with a wide array of cleats to choose from.
  • After starting the season 3-0, Lynch said his team had had a good first quarter of the season. “We haven’t had a very good second quarter,” he said. Consider Virginia one last drive before half time, then.
  • Indiana had two illegal substitution penalties against Ohio State. The First came because linebacker Justin Carrington mistakenly ran off the field, then was pushed back on. Lynch thought that because Carrington hadn’t been substituted for — there were ten guys on the field — it was legal for him to go back in. It wasn’t. The other penalty came when IU used a six-man offensive line, and Andrew McDonald, the extra tackle, was late getting off the field.
  • Linebacker Tyler Replogle also met with the media. He’s been named a captain for the Virginia game. That doesn’t change his duties, however. “Just because you’re a captain doesn’t mean that’s when you can lead,” he said. “And just because you aren’t doesn’t mean you can’t. It’s more of an honor.”
  • Justin Pagan, whose hair is epic and growing, said he’s convinced Indiana hasn’t taken care of fundamentals in recent games. “It’s a snowball effect,” he said. “You do little stuff wrong and it gets out of control.”

3 comments

  1. This is a side of Coach Lynch I like. A side I wish I would have seen before. Not letting things be excuses for losses, but using them as the fuel to succeed!

    Public persona and perception of a coach has a lot to do with fan support of a program.

    I am not 100% on board with Lynch, but the changes I am seeing in the team and their attitudes and the changes I am seeing in his public attitude I really like.

    Go HOOSIERS!

  2. Lynch is a pretty fiery guy when the mood takes him, but he always seems a little awkward when speaking publicly. (an antithesis to Terry Hoeppner, who was fiery and charismatic from the second his alarm clock sounded…)

    The outburst at the end of the Michigan game and the blunt honesty in this press conference make me feel a lot better about that contract that goes until 2012.

    Let’s get that W in Charlottesville, then let’s stick it to Illinois, Northwestern, and Purdue. Do the math and that comes to 7-5.

  3. I am x2 in agreement with both H.B. and Mike P. and I suspect this persona is what recruits feel when visiting with Coach Lynch and staff.

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