Lynch continues to defend defense

Even two days after a game in which his defense gave up 12.8 yards per play, Indiana coach Bill Lynch still said his defense doesn’t need to make a lot of changes on that side of the ball.

When asked questions about what allowed for the big plays that made the difference in Michigan’s 42-35 win, Lynch said there were obviously some shortcomings in execution. Mostly though, it was just a question of the Wolverines being too explosive to shut down.

“The difference, really, I think it was eight plays,” Lynch said. “It might have been nine, but they had over 400 yards on eight or nine plays. Then in their other — let’s say it was eight plays — in their other 37, they got about 135 yards, something like that. I don’t have the numbers exactly, but what we needed to do is we needed to cut those big plays in half, or just give up a couple less. We knew going into into it, they were going to get some big plays on us. They’re a great football team. I don’t think you heard me talk during the week, you know, ‘We’re gonna stop ’em,’ or ‘We have the answer,’ because you’re going to have to have a really unbelievable football team to stop that offense.”

Lynch said that after watching film, he saw players that were mostly in the right positions but were just overwhelmed by Michigan’s speed and spread offense.

“The scheme, we had a good sound scheme,” Lynch said. “They force you into doing some things a little bit different because of the offense, and they can create those one-on-one situations.”

He did acknowledge that there were more missed tackles, but said there was not any sort of movement to go to more full-padded practices this season. The IU coaching staff made a decision at the beginning of the season to practice mostly in shells and shorts, not tackling all the way to the ground in scrimmage situations. The Hoosiers worked a lot on tackling fundamentals last week after a less-than-stellar tackling job against Akron last week, but even then, they didn’t tackle each other to the ground.

“We spent an enormous amount of time in tackling last week from Monday on,” Lynch said. “Because when you tackle, you don’t dive and hit the ground anyway, you tackle up. So we spent a great deal of time working the fundamentals of tackling. That’s where we had problems is the fundamentals. One time it was using the sideline as your helper. The other is diving. All the sudden, we go out there and say, ok, let’s start diving at one another. But I feel good about where we’re at. We played a heck of a football game Saturday night. We believe in what we’re doing. We’re practicing well and preparing well, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

This week, the Hoosiers will have to figure out a way to tackle an athletic quarterback who may not be quite as fast as Denard Robinson, but one who his still swift and runs with a lot more power. The 6-foot-6, 233-pound Pryor has rushed for 373 yards and three touchdowns while throwing for 1,015 yards and 12 scores.

“The size makes the biggest difference,” Lynch said. “He’s a big man, but he can really go. I mean, he had one against Illinois when he got outside and when down the sideline. It was a big play. … He’s a very good passer just like Denard — and Denard proved it — but his physical presence is so different. But the scheme of their offense, you talk about individuals, their both quarterbacks, but the scheme is different. Michigan is a true spread team that stretches you tremendously, and that’s why you get caught vulnerable in one-on-one situations that a missed tackle or guy out of position creates big plays. … Ohio State is a mixture. They run spread and they can run traditional football where they can just play power football with you. But they have great flexibility within the offense because of Pryor, his ability to run, his ability to scramble.”

Other Notes:

— Junior Donnell Jones — at least officially — started at weakside linebacker on Saturday and was listed at the top of the depth chart at the position Monday. However, Lynch confirmed what many assumed, was that he was really playing a nickelback position, to combat the speed that Michigan put on the field. Lynch said he would be continued to be used in such a position when the Hoosiers want to use five defensive backs.

“Going into the season, we thought that against the good spread teams where we needed more speed on the field, he’d be a great nickel guy for us,” Lynch said. “That outside linebacker position, you can call it nickel or whatever. It changed a little bit when Chris Adkins got hurt in camp. That was something where all the sudden now — we looked at it and felt like we had three experienced football players in Evans, Adkins and Donnell. We had consciously decided to move Donnie inside from corner because he’s 225 pounds now and can still run. We knew we were going to do that. Then once Adkins got hurt, we just felt from an experience standpoint, we were better off staying with Donnie and then getting ready for Michigan, with the speed on the field, that’s why we made the decision to do that. You’ll see him playing both the rest of the year depending on who we’re playing.”

He said he wasn’t sure if Jones would start in the nickel position or at free safety on Saturday against Ohio State.

“We’re still deciding what we’re gonna do,” Lynch said. “That’s why Ohio State’s so tough, because they play both. We’re not far enough into it game plan wise to know what we’re going to do.”

—- Lynch said Chris Adkins, who injured his ankle in a scrimmage about two weeks before the season opener, is making progress, but the Hoosiers still aren’t sure when he’ll return.

“He’s off crutches now,” Lynch said. “He’s in a boot and he’s able to do stuff in the pool. … I haven’t even asked ‘When do you think he’ll be back?’ because sometimes, I think if you do that, you start putting pressure on a kid, and you don’t want to rush a kid back before he’s ready. But it is a good sign that he’s off crutches.

Lynch said he hasn’t thought about what to do with junior Lenyatta Kiles and redshirt freshman Lawrence Barnett, who moved from cornerback to safety when Adkins was hurt.

“That’s too far down the road,” Lynch said. “With the kind of injury Chris had, we’re very hopeful to get him back. But to know when that is, that’s too far down the road. We’ll see where we are at that point.”

33 comments

  1. No way to spin this coach. Our defense stinks and has in all 4 games. Why Council plays is beyond me. That guy can’t cover anyone.

  2. Good to hear that our coach isn’t opposed to giving up 6 huge plays. It’s the 7th and 8th ones that concern him. Who hired this moron?

  3. I’m a generally positive poster, but good lord. It’s the same old crap every week. I appreciate Lynch’s even keel, but sometimes it seems like losing doesn’t even bother the guy.

    I’ve never seen a coach rationalize horrible play so consistently. At this point, he’s giving himself and the players a boatload of excuses to use every time they lose a game.

    I’m sorry, but to say very few things need to change after our defense gave up an average of a FIRST DOWN every play is just plain idiotic.

    I appreciate a lot about Lynch, but there’s too much babying going on with this team. Who cares if they made the decision not to practice as much in pads at the beginning of the season?? It’s obviously not working. Is he saying that once you make a decision at the beginning of the year, you can’t possibly deviate from that plan?

    If you practiced the “fundamentals of tackling,” (sad that we still have to do that) all week, and we still missed a ton of tackles, then something is obviously not working. Time to change it up. As long as we’re accepting losing as a foregone conclusion, it always will be.

    OK, rant over…for now.

  4. So basically what Coach is saying is that he is unable to get players of the caliber that UM has to come to IU. If they were overwhelmed by UM’s speed why don’t we have players just as fast as the UM players? If they worked all week on tackling than either they don’t know how to coach or they are unable to get players that are neither fast enough or skilled enough to execute which leads back to the same conclusion: this is as good as it will get with this coaching staff – if IU doesn’t care anymore than attaining this level of “success” why should I care at all?

  5. Casey and Mike P. are right on. Lynch is a master at justifying terrible coaching. Lynch accepts losing and speaks as if he’s helpless to affect change. I sincerely believe Lynch is just happy to have the job and will be satisfied to collect his pay checks for another 15 months. He’s got to know that this is his last head coaching job!

    Eight plays! That’s like saying, “well, we only missed eight tackles and those eight missed tackles allowed Michigan to run for 720 yards. Other than that, we were fine.” Michigan was bigger than IU, but there’s no reason they had to be faster, and you don’t have to be big to be an effective tackler. Just look to the Colts’ Pro Bowl safety if you don’t believe me.

    I wonder if Lynch realizes how that kind of talk infuriates Hoosier fans and sucks the excitement right out of otherwise loyal fans who believe Indiana University can field a comeptitive football team.

    Hey, I give Lynch credit for creating a talented offense, but he needs to go. I’m not jumping off his band wagon because of one game, I was never on it in the first place. Lynch is incapable of fielding a complete team. He has never had a solid defense since he’s been head coach at IU. And he seems to imply that it’s simply not possible. Well, after IU’s football team loses five or six more Big Ten “track meets,” I wonder if he’ll look back and say, “hey, we were only 40 or 50 plays away from having a winning season.”

    Pathetic.

  6. It won’t be long before he will be selling the same crap as last year–“twelve plays from a bowl” or we need to learn how to “finish” games !! Different year, but same stuff–the defense stinks!! If that is the best they can do at tackling then we need to find better coaches who can teach them better.

  7. The defense got a few stops and when they did the offense could not get the scores needed. After the first quarter did IU ever have the ball with a chance to take the lead? My recollection is no, but I could be wrong.

    It is discouraging to continue to hear
    (like last year) that we are just a few big plays away from winning. Somebody has to find a way to WIN!

    That crowd, that atmosphere, the effort the kids made, Michigan a little bit down? Find a way to WIN. Don’t find reasons why losing wasn’t so bad. It was bad.

    That defense has lost a lot of players from last year that were supposed to be the best players we had then. This year we are supposed to believe that the defense is better now? Michigan did not have to grind it out on offense. We couldn’t make them stay on the field long enough to have to. If they had been required to grind it out with 12-15 play drives, can this defense stop BigTen teams driving like that? We’ll see. I hope so, but we don’t know.

    What is this “high-powered” offense going to do in a game where the other team grinds it out for 35-40 minutes on offense and limits our possessions?

  8. KevinK,

    Can’t really complain about the offense on this one…

    Bottom line is, if you put up 35 points on the shoulders of a 480-yard day from your quarterback, you should be winning that game.

  9. Casey,

    I agree with you completely(both posts). It just appears that they have to score nearly every time to have a chance to win against that caliber team. And we don’t believe Michigan is the top team in the conference do we? Unless we have the ball, with a chance to take the lead(or the defense can find a score), then the game really wasn’t that close to being won. Exciting-yes, high-scoring-yes, lots of yardage-yes. But really close to winning…sadly not really.

    I would really like these kids to WIN some of these games.

  10. If you take away all those long touchdown passes Peyton Manning doesn’t really get that many yards passing.
    You can’t sugarcoat everything all the time.

  11. Guys, have you ever considered that Lynch says one thing to the media and quite another to the team and staff? I have never heard the man come anywhere close to throwing a player or players under the bus in a press conference. If you think he wasn’t upset about the way the defense played you’re nuts. Didn’t you see him on the sideline during the game? He was as animated as I’ve ever seen him. I agree that he could at least say something like “we have a long way to go on defense” or whatever, but what difference would it make with the performance on the field? Zero. Maybe it would make the fans feel a little better, but I’m sure he is more interested in sticking up for his team and staff in front of the media and lighting the necessary fires under the necessary butts in private!

  12. I went to the game and enjoyed it. I did not like the overall outcome but they Hoosiers played better than I thought they would.

    What i would really like to know is what in the heck the defensive coordinator was thinking when they played man to man with less than a minute to play and MU was 50 yards from scoring?

    It seemed like very bad timing to “go for the kill” with an all out blitz when they had not gotten close to stopping MU for a loss all day.

    If they will continue to play hard I think we should be in position to go bowling at the end of the year. What I would not be happy with is another “we were only X plays away from being bowl eligible”

  13. Nice post Casey.

    Back to my thoughts a week ago, adpot the Northwestern philsophy. They aim for 70 plays a game. And I still can’t believe the time of possession. 18:13 for Michigan, 41:47 for IU!

    There is a balance you have to strike as a coach when explaining a loss to the media. Unfortunately Lynch does take the “shoulda woulda, coulda, aw shucks” approach to an extreme level.

    I’m in “the wait and see” camp. I’ll pass judgement once we have a larger sample size on how this season pans out and what adjustments the coaching staff makes now that we have entered the Big Ten season.

    To Lynch’s credit he can only do what he can with what he has. The defense is just bad….real bad. If IU can control possession of the game like they did this past Saturday going forward, we could eek out a few upset wins.

    Hopefully that happens. Onto the next game.

    Best,
    PB

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  15. Glad i’m not the only one who sees that we need a completely new coaching staff. We need someone who does not except losing. Hep seemed like a perfect fit, he didn’t agree with moral victories or any of that bullcrap. Was I the only fan who noticed that we had timeouts left before half and over 30 seconds and failed to have the clock management to run 4 plays inside the 10? I mean if we dont get that 3rd and goal with no time left, its completely Bill’s fault we don’t have a 4th down to score because he is clueless about situations that are crucial!

  16. Great story written by Pete DiPrimio about IU football in FortWayne.com. Would provide the link but my computer is new and screwed up.

  17. Loyal fans deserve kind actions. JPat is a loyal fan.

    Can’t believe what they’re saying about the injury to Council.

    And look what they’re saying about Bill Lynch’s postgame comments to the media.

  18. Can’t believe you “football experts”. Last year you were calling for Matt Canada’s resignation and this year with IU’s great offensive output no one is mentioning his name. I, for one, feel he is doing a great job.

  19. I will admit that I have bagged on Canada a lot and also admit that yes…when the team is scoring like they are I overlook him. With that said, his play calling is not as predictable this year. I also will say I spent several seasons watching a run up the gut with no lead blocker about 10 times a game. When I would call in or blog about it I got the same answer…Canada does that to set the next play up. I bet he did that run up the gut with no lead blocker 10 times a gam