Lynch: Robinson “Scary Good”

Many of the questions Bill Lynch faced in his press conference on Monday centered around one man, and Lynch certainly understood why.

“Denard Robinson is scary good,” the Indiana football coach said.

Indeed, the Michigan sophomore quarterback is. Heading into the Wolverines’ 3:30 p.m. game at Memorial Stadium, Robinson leads the nation in rushing yards with 688. He’s scored six touchdowns and has a gaudy yards per carry average of 8.7. He’s also completed 71.2 percent of his passes for 731 yards and four scores against just one interception. He averages just under 50 yards of total offense more than the No. 2 competitor in the category in the Big Ten, Northwestern’s Dan Persa.

So Lynch was asked repeatedly and in various forms how an Indiana defense that was gashed for 160 yards by Akron this week could hope to contain such an explosive player.

Lynch admitted there’s no magic formula, and that it simply comes down to brilliant execution of the basics.

“Everybody’s going to have an opinion of how you stop a guy like that,” Lynch said. “But we’ve watched four games. Everybody’s tried a little different approach and no one’s got it done yet. We have to play our football. I think that’s the biggest thing. We have to stay within the confines of our system and what we practiced since we started spring practice. Rather than all the sudden, in one game, because you’re playing a great player and a great offensive team, to try to change everything. Generally that doesn’t work.”

That’s not to say they aren’t focusing on certain things within their system.

“The biggest thing is you have to be very gap sound,” Lynch said. “Because if you get a guy out of the gap, they will gash you.  They will gash you both with the quarterback or with the running back. They’re a combination of one-back and two-back. They run a lot of two-back with a lead blocker. You have to be very very gap sound. You have to make sure everybody’s accounted for. With the quarterback being such a runner, that challenges you defensively. You have to keep leverage on the ball. You have to contain the ball, and you have to do a great job of covering the receivers. That’s why it’s difficult.”

And even more importantly, Lynch said, the Hoosiers simply need to tackle better. Lynch said after Saturday’s game that the biggest reason the Zips were able to gain ground on them was simply because IU was in the right position but failed to make the tackle.

“It was fundamental things,” he said. “Sometimes we were trying to make the big hit instead of getting good fundamental positioning and keep your head up, keep your feet moving and don’t dive and don’t lunge and don’t go for the knockout shot. Sometimes you just need to make a good fundamental tackle. … We’re really going to go back to working on fundamentals and make sure we do things right. Because against a team like Michigan you will pay dearly if you aren’t fundamental with what you’re doing, particularly tackling or in coverage or in your rush lanes. All those things become really important against a team like Michigan.”

Other notes:

— The Hoosiers are trying not to become too hyped up based on what happened in last year’s game. IU led by two at the half, by five going into the fourth quarter, and went up 33-29 with 8:57 to go on an 85-yard touchdown run by Darius Willis. However, then quarterback Tate Forcier led an eight-play, 52-yard drive that ended with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Martavius Odoms with 2:29 to go. The Hoosiers started a drive to take the lead back, but lost possession on a controversial call on a simultaneous possession  between Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren ad IU receiver Damarlo Belcher.

Lynch, of course, downplayed the revenge factor.

“Everybody else is going to make this game big enough, and our players understand that,” Lynch said. “But it’s the first of eight conference games in what is an amazing conference right now.”

— Lynch said he is still concerned about the running game, even though it performed somewhat better on Saturday. “It’s a never-ending challenge to create balance in our offense,” Lynch said. “I think any offensive football team that is pretty good in one phase battles that. I mean, if you’re a great running team, you know at some point you’re going to have to pass the ball. It’s the same thing. We’re a pretty good passing football team right now, but it’s a constant battle to make sure you have balance. But in those situations, you have to be able to run the ball better.”

— Lynch said he expected senior linebacker Tyler Replogle (concussion) and sophomore kicker Nick Freeland (hip) to return to practice this week.


  1. opening line is 13 1/2, UM. seems like lot. i would have figured about 6 or 7. i’m afraid IU will get “gashed” many times by UM runners as coach lynch describes.

    won’t be able to stop denard robinson enough times to win. he will account for four touchdowns running and passing. UM has a stable of decent, not great running backs and as many receivers as IU and robinson likes to distribute the ball the way ben chappell does.

    figure UM 42, IU 28. but if IU were to win, it’s wouldn’t surprise me either. last year was their best chance but this year will have to do. if it comes down to a field goal, UM doesn’t have a kicker worth a hoot.

  2. I hate to say it, but this may be a blow out. Our defense was a little stronger last year which helped keep us in some games. On offense, while our passing game is outstanding, the running game has yet to mature. Very few teams win in the B10 relying solely on putting the ball in the air and that’s what we are relying on. I think we’ll score a couple of touchdowns, but look for a 42-14 result.

  3. iufan23, you’re way off – we’ll score at least 28, maybe 35. But…when we’re doing our homework for the game, maybe we should research the record for most points scored against IU. I’m thinking Michigan might put up 70. 70-35 – that’s my prediction.

  4. News flash: Nor IU nor Bill Lynch can win big conference games. It just doesn’t happen. If we couldn’t beat historically bad Michigan and Purdue teams last year, then there is no reason to think we can beat this year’s versions. Illinois and Northwestern are the only two winnable conference games every year.

    If we had Minnesota this year, we might have a shot at 3 Big 10 wins.

  5. Gents,

    I incorporate these bits into my thinking about the outcome Saturday.

    Who has the advantage on Special Teams?
    All five facets
    Who has the advantage on Offense?
    Who has the advantage on Defense?
    Field position developing from ST should be in IU’s favor.
    Adding in that young players do not play their best on the road. As UM did not at ND.
    The only thing I am worried about is do to us having a good passing attack and their having the same with their running game is the amount of plays in extended drives starting from poor field position could wear our D down early. But because our passing success can be just as demoralizing to a young defense, I believe IU has a better opportunity than last year.

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