Big Ten Media Days — Day 2

Bill Lynch said several times over the last two days that his Indiana football team was 12 plays away from having a special football season last year. For Indiana, that means a bowl-qualifying campaign.

Now, Lynch doesn’t have an exact list of the 12. They aren’t numbered anywhere, and when he was painfully reminiscing over season-defining failed red zone and third-down conversions on Tuesday, he lost count of how many he had listed.

But the point remains. Last season’s Hoosiers went 4-8 instead of 6-6 or even 8-4 because of a handful of plays that turned the tide.

“They were all plays that you look back at,” Lynch said, “and I don’t think it was dumb calls. It wasn’t that (our players) weren’t good enough. It was a matter of executing.”

And that, Lynch said, was the theme of the offseason.

As has been previously reported, the t-shirts IU players wore for offseason workouts read “Finish” on the back, meaning that the Hoosiers were in so many games but didn’t execute on crucial plays that would’ve allowed them to finish victories. The Northwestern game, which they led 28-7 but lost 29-28 was Example A.

“It really struck me when I’m watching all these bowl games,” Lynch said. “And they’re playing on New Year’s Day sitting there at 8-4. I’m thinking, what a great job they did. They went to Iowa and beat Iowa. Are they better than us? I don’t know, but they won those games. That’s why we’re not that far off, and it’s not impossible things. It’s not we’ve gotta go recruit a completely different kind of player or we’ve got to run a different offense or a different defense. It’s we gotta execute in those situations.”

So what does the difference have to be this time around? Focus and attention to detail. Those have been focal points since December, the Hoosiers said.

“Everyone of those plays, we had nine, 10, maybe 11 guys doing their job,” senior wide receiver Terrance Turner said. “Maybe one, two or three that weren’t. … You have to play as a unit every down.”

27 comments

  1. I’m sorry, but this whole “we were 12 plays away from something special” line of reasoning is specious.

    You don’t think that Northwestern or Iowa or even Ohio State or Penn State wish they could have a dozen key plays back from last year? Heck, a dozen do-overs at Notre Dame might have meant a BCS bowl and job security for Charlie Weiss.

    Give everyone in the Big Ten a dozen plays to change and chances are we’re right back where we finished in the real world – the bottom of the Big Ten pack.

    Rationalizing is what losing players and coaches do to make themselves feel better about losing.

    The reality is that the last two years have been pretty awful, even by IU’s lofty standards for awfulness. Deal with it and move on. I’m not terribly hopeful for a better result this year, but I’d feel better if everyone involved just looked forward and spent a little less time talking about what might have been.

  2. It is easy for Coach Lynch to talk about a dozen plays. It is also just as easy for someone to say we were 2 plays away from 2 – 10.

    The bottom line is that the team has got to learn to execute. I think the focus on finishing is good. Second halves were something IU really struggled with last year.

  3. I don’t know if you watched the video of the conference but Lynch translated the 12 plays reasoning to specific game situations:

    1. Doing better in the red-zone, and
    2. 3rd down stops and conversions,

    and said they spent a lot of time on those things in spring practice. Maybe that is the forward lean you are looking for.

  4. Lynch is the good coach. Crean is the bad one.

    Crean had Dwyane Wade at Marquette then came here.

    Marquette hired Buzz Williams who was recently ranked one of the top ten coaches under 40. Crean is probably in the bottom 10 the other side of 40.

    Crean is destroying the great Indiana basketball tradition.

  5. “don’t know if you watched the video of the conference but Lynch translated the 12 plays reasoning to specific game situations:

    1. Doing better in the red-zone, and
    2. 3rd down stops and conversions,

    and said they spent a lot of time on those things in spring practice. Maybe that is the forward lean you are looking for.”
    —-

    I didn’t see it, and if they are using those situations as a learning tool for this year, I think that’s terrific. It just sounds like a lot of wishful thinking when you talk about “woulda, shoulda, coulda.”

    Thanks for the context.

  6. “Lynch is the good coach. Crean is the bad one.

    …Crean is probably in the bottom 10 the other side of 40.

    …Crean is destroying the great Indiana basketball tradition.”

    Let’s see.
    = Crean inherits a total ethical train wreck.
    = In the past two years, he has worked tirelessly to restore the image of IU basketball by embracing tradition and reaching out to former players.
    = His players go to class and their grades are a collective 3.0.

    = Recruiting hasn’t been perfect but he did snag Mo Creek and two of the best players to graduate from Indiana high schools in last two years.

    = His kids play hard all the time.

    = He works the PR angle on behalf of IU all the time.

    = Sure, we’ve not won a lot, but this program is at least back on its feet after being left for dead by Sampson.

    Yeah, he’s a real loser.
    At least try to find a fact or two to include before making inane statements, will ya?

  7. reaching out to former players? Is that why we have no IU guys on our bench?
    His kids play hard all the time? You must not have watched all the games last year.

  8. GFDave,

    I agree completely with your observations. Coach Lynch correctly identified the situations needing more successful execution and the corrective measures he and the staff have prioritized to establish that success. You can call it forward lean, growth or progress but it is the incremental improvement a team who does not have high caliber talent to skyrocket in 1 or 2 seasons can display as positive development.

  9. As far as I am concerned Coach McClain and the rest of Coach Crean’s staff are the IU guys on our bench. But no one on here expects 4brainpiecings negative bias to comprehend that.

  10. We actually led Northwestern 28-3. Like most IU football fans, I want so badly to stay positive, and I like some things about Lynch. I agree w/ newsland33, this 12 plays jibberish is nonsense. If it was 2 or 3, ok fine, but as stated above, what team couldn’t look back on a dozen plays and say, oh what could have been?

    The part that bothers me the most, however, is when he said, “and i don’t think it was dumb calls.” Actually, coach, most of the time, that’s exactly what it was. At Northwestern, 4th and goal from the 1, up 28-19, chance to put the game away. What do you do? Pound it with Willis or Burgess? Look for Doss, lob it to Belcher? Maybe the common peon would think along those lines, but that’s why we won’t ever fully grasp the genius of Matt Canada. He decides to go empty backfield, and w/o our quarterback in the game. That’s right, the “Wild Mitch” from the one yard line. Unbelievable. So forget about 12 plays. That single play defined our season. And what worries me the most is I doubt our coaching staff learned a single thing from that. The play just wasn’t “executed.”

  11. To the idiots that bad mouth Coach Crean and IU all the time/you have no idea what is going on. IU started going downhill when IU shafted Coach Knight the way they did. What a travesty, they haven’t been the same since/but they will be back. If you don’t like IU, than support Purdue or Kentucky and there crooked coach! Coach Crean will be ok,he had to start from the bottom. Thanks to the hiring of Kelvin Sampson……So lets get behind the Hoosiers and quit badmouthing them, That does no good to the school or our young players. GO IU……………….

  12. To the idiots that think Crean is IU.

    Greenspan was IU?

    Sampson was IU?

    Knight was IU?

    Davis was IU?

    IU is IU. Crean is a travesty of a coach.

    Crean’s motto: “Be sincere even if you don’t mean it.”

    Jordan Crawford was IU and wanted to stay here.

    Crean ran him out of town.

  13. …so what…Izzo just ran Chris Allen off the Spartan team…tells me Coach Crean learned how to get rid of malcontents from one of the best…and MD was never IU..never…and Sanctions was less than marginal…

  14. I feel our guys learned a valuable lesson(s) last year and WILL exhibit the skill of ‘finishing’ and surprise many. Love the steady incremental improvement. GFDave liked your comment of “forward lean,” I see traction on your ‘forward lean’ this year. IU 7-5.

  15. Years ago I was on my motorcycle at a red light. I watched my rear view mirrors in horror realizing that I was about to be rear ended. I was knocked into a busy intersection during rush hour. Amazingly, I escaped unscathed. As the driver exited his vehicle I charged the car, screaming expletives and contemplating ripping him to shreds. About 15 seconds into yelling into his blank eyes I realized this pathetic hunk of flesh was too stupid to comprehend anything I was saying. I stopped yelling at him, got his insurance info and left without saying another word to him.

    I hope everyone can learn a lesson about dealing with 4tards from this experience.

  16. ^^^ Nice one, C-man. I look forward to the day when people don’t waste their precious bloggin time directing posts to 4tards and “staccato.”

    IU is football right now. Can’t wait for Big 10 season. Bring it on. I will not wait long to bash Lynch, but boy, am I ever rooting for those boys.

  17. Go cry about Tom Crean on a basketball related article..
    You said it Husky.. Its time for some pigskin!!
    You are all right about the “oh, if only I could change 12 plays”.. Hell, I would only need to change 2 choices I made last year and I would have avoided a night in jail and a kick in the nuts! Everything is clear in hindsight..
    I’m pulling for my beloved Hoosiers, but I see another 4 win season coming up… Won’t be long before Billy is handed his walking papers though. I hope!

  18. You know football season is inching closer when Juan Blanco awakens from his long slumber…good to see ya there, groundhog.

    Clarion has slipped me a good dose of his optimism potion for IU football, and I think it will last me at least 2 or 3 months. I tell myself to beware, however, of the coach who can recruit but can’t win…see Tyrone Willingham.

  19. Hope what I have observed about BL while at IU is right or Husky will have my apple for lunch.

  20. I cry about Crean wherever I damn well please.

    Don’t like it: try to stop me.

    Lynch is doing a good job.

    Crean is damaging a great tradition.

    Don’t expect drifters like Husky to understand that.

    He comes from the land of no tradition so it’s OK with him. It will always be.

  21. I cry about Crean wherever I damn well please.

    Don’t like it: try to stop me.

    “Lynch is doing a good job.

    Crean is damaging a great tradition.

    Don’t expect drifters like Husky to understand that.

    He comes from the land of no tradition so it’s OK with him. It will always be”

    Again, I would be love to hear your evidence for Lynch being a great coach and Crean being garbage. Just shouting the same stupid things over and over doesn’t make them right – or make you sound any more convincing.

    The precious “IU tradition” you whine took a serious hit when Sampson steamrolled his way through the NCAA rule book and recruited a bunch of marginal students.

    Crean is simply picking up the pieces. We can’t debate whether he is putting them back together fast enouggh, but I can’t imagine anyone (other than you apparently) honestly thinking this program is in worse shape now than when he took it over.

    But as a couple of others have said — it’s football time! I feel the inevitable tide of optimism rising inside me, but fear it’s irrational. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see Lynch and the boys being any better this year than last.

    I hope we can score enough points to win maybe five games.

  22. I cry about Crean wherever I damn well please.

    Don’t like it: try to stop me.

    “Lynch is doing a good job.

    Crean is damaging a great tradition.

    Don’t expect drifters like Husky to understand that.

    He comes from the land of no tradition so it’s OK with him. It will always be”

    Again, I would be love to hear your evidence for Lynch being a great coach and Crean being garbage. Just shouting the same stupid things over and over doesn’t make them right – or make you sound any more convincing.

    The precious “IU tradition” you whine took a serious hit when Sampson steamrolled his way through the NCAA rule book and recruited a bunch of marginal students.

    Crean is simply picking up the pieces. We can debate whether he is putting them back together fast enouggh, but I can’t imagine anyone (other than you apparently) honestly thinking this program is in worse shape now than when he took it over.

    But as a couple of others have said — it’s football time! I feel the inevitable tide of optimism rising inside me, but fear it’s irrational. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see Lynch and the boys being any better this year than last.

    I hope we can score enough points to win maybe five games.

  23. Football season is coming around. I am ready for this season.

    I really feel IU will have the offense to watch in the Big Ten this season, as long long as they can get in the endzone before the enter the redzone.

    Defense worries me, I just don’t see how the secondary will be able to shut down teams.

    However, I’m ready for the season to get here, cast comes off my leg one week before the first game, hopefully x-rays will be fine and the cast can stay off.

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