Head Coach Bill Lynch Weekly Press Conference

    Go Hoosiers! Head Coach Bill Lynch
    Go Hoosiers!
    Head Coach Bill Lynch
    Go Hoosiers!

    Aug. 28, 2007

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Head coach Bill Lynch met with the media on Tuesday, Aug. 28, for his weekly press conference in preparation for the season opener against Indiana State at 8 p.m. EST on Sept. 1. He was joined by senior captains Josiah Sears and Tracy Porter.

    Opening Statement
    "We are anxious to get started. It's finally game week. It seems like it has been a long camp and I think that is because of the heat. I just felt it when I walked across the field to come over here. It's been a hard camp and anybody in the Midwest has gone through it. Although, northern Indiana and Chicago have gotten all the rain. But we are starting a new routine now that we are back in school and we are anxious to go out and practice today because the first practice while you are in school is always interesting. All of a sudden the players have their mind on a lot of other things besides football. It's important to get them refocused on football. Yesterday was their day off, so we will go after it pretty hard today and tomorrow and then Thursday we will start to taper off to get ready for Saturday. It's been a good camp...we have made it through it relatively healthy, which is always a concern in this sport. You want to have your players on the field on game day. Barring injuries this week, we should be in good shape."

    How are James Bailey, Greg Brown and James Hardy doing with their injuries?
    "Good. They are both doing good."

    "We scrimmaged pretty hard Wednesday. And then Thursday and Friday we really got into Indiana State preparation work, which really isn't as physical. Saturday was basically a runthrough of all the situations that can come up in a game, so there wasn't any contact. They have been going since Thursday, but today we will be doing a little more banging than we did then.



    "Hardy has been itching to go since a couple days after he got hurt. But we tried to use common sense because he didn't need to re-hit it. I was concerned, not too much of him catching the ball, but wide receivers blocking. Everything is blocking with your hands now, so all of a sudden you get your finger stuck in a guy's jersey and who knows what happens. Bailey seems to be in great shape. He has been running and catching. Greg Brown the same thing. Troy Wagner is back playing, he had been laid up a little bit. Some of the other guys just had sore legs. It seems like we are in good shape."

    On how much he is looking forward to getting to the game
    "There is a degree of that. We have made a conscious effort to the players and staff as well as myself, that we are taking this thing one day at a time. And I mean that. I think it is very important that we don't get ahead of ourselves with this football team or season, because of what all has gone on. The natural inclination is `let's get to the game and let's play,' and everybody is anxious to see what this football team is all about. That really was the sense throughout the summer, from the first time we reported in August. We have work to do today and we have work to do Wednesday. Thursday is a big day. As I said earlier today, getting ready to coach an opening football game is the same no matter where you are. The biggest difference when you are coaching in the Big Ten is the number of people it impacts. Obviously there is lot of media interest here, and in any Big Ten program. And (Indiana Director of Athletics) Rick Greenspan was talking earlier this morning about the tremendous number of Indiana University alumni out there. There's a lot more people that have a vested interest in it and care about how the IU football team plays. But in terms of getting a team ready and what we are doing on Tuesday of gameweek, it is still the same. But we are still trying not to get to Saturday yet. Let's get through Tuesday, just like we have been telling our players."

    On how to keep the players grounded and not too hyped up
    "We are working pretty hard, honestly, so that is one way to do it. If you keep focused on the work at hand and work hard at it and stay focused on it. It helps keep you in the moment. Any time you start thinking, `What's it going to be like?' then all of sudden you have guys wondering whether they are going to play 13. For example, we have to make sure we know how to protect against Indiana State's punt rush. We've got to be able to block their defense. So you really harp on those things so that we keep our minds on the business at hand and minds don't start to wander. Because that's probably human nature, for minds to start wandering and we have to stay away from that."

    On Indiana State...
    "The first game for any team in any season is a time for great hope. There is no other time during the year when you have the excitement of a first football game. I don't care what program you are or what your past shows you, you have worked extremely hard. And kids work so hard over the winter and the spring that it doesn't matter what program you are in. They have had the same heat over in Terre Haute that we have had here. They are anxious to play and they have great excitement. There are so many of their kids that are from the state of Indiana or Midwest and are kids that wanted to play in the Big Ten. There are also kids that probably wanted to play at Indiana but are playing there so it's an opportunity to show what they can do.

    "They have good football players and a lot of them are players that we know. We have really been impressed with the quarterback they have back that had a really good first year there. They have good team speed. The biggest concern that we have is they have a new defensive coordinator and a new structure. So we have an idea, but we don't really know for sure what they are going to run. They have been a good offensive football team, and we got a pretty good look at that last year. But their defense we aren't as sure about. But, like with any first game, you learn on the fly and make adjustments on the run. They have a new special teams coordinator so we aren't as sure what they are going to do there. An opener is so much taking care of yourself because you don't really know (the opponent).

    "I have always felt that, in an opener, you have to keep from losing a football game. In an opener, you have to make sure you are sound in the kicking game, so you don't have any punts blocked and that you don't let somebody return a kick on you. You have to make sure you take care of the ball and don't have any foolish penalties. Those are the things you have to harp on in practice, but you don't have that game experience to fall back on to make sure that they are taken care of.

    "We have been looking forward to the first football game since we left the field at Purdue a year ago. But our biggest concern is to take care of IU Football and play as well as we can play in an opener."

    On whether he reminds the players that Indiana State played Purdue close
    "Absolutely. We certainly don't dwell on the past, but you have to bring up points. People on the outside are going use the I-AA label and we have certainly learned about that around here, so I don't have to talk too long to our players about that. I know, having coached at different levels throughout my career, there are good football players everywhere. There are motivated players and there are players that have a lot to prove. I don't want to use that cliché, but you have to line up and play your best football on Saturday, particularly in an opener."

    On what the emotions will be like with this being the first game without coach Hep
    "I don't really have an answer for you on that. I think it's one of those things that until you experience it, you just don't know. Each guy will experience it in his own way. I certainly think that Coach Hoeppner and his influence is all around this football program and has been since the day he came. There is so much of him that is still around here, from the sayings to the signs, and I'm sure our players are looking forward to it as well. But how each guy reacts to it is hard to say, but it is certainly something we are looking forward to and not shying away from. I will be very meaningful, not only to the fans but to the players and coaches and staff as well."

    On the importance of the crowd at home games
    "One of the things that Hep always said, besides `Play 13,' was to `Defend the Rock.' To him, that was more than just trying to get people to come to the games. He really did believe that crowds help win football games. And if you are going to be a really good football program and turn things around on a consistent basis, you have to win at home. And we haven't been very consistent at home. We have played very well at home at times over the past two years, but we have had Saturdays where we didn't. And that is something that we have to overcome and develop some consistency. Reaching out to the students to get them at the games is absolutely your top priority. To me, that is where a college football Saturday begins, with the students. Then it goes on to the alums and the fans and everybody else there. The students and their enthusiasm and what they create in the stadium is special. And that is anywhere you go, whether it's the Big Ten or other conferences. It's really important to us. So when we get the freshmen on campus, we want them to come, because we want it to become a habit of being an IU student. You come to the games and you have fun doing it and it is an environment that they look forward to. Hep did a phenomenal job with it and we have to carry that on."

    On what aspect of the game he is looking forward to seeing how it turns out
    "That's a pretty good question. I want to see how we keep going with the offensive line. I think we are better there. It was an area of concern one year ago at this time. They really improved as the year went on, which is really important. We all talk about Hardy, and Kellen (Lewis) and (Marcus) Thigpen and James [Bailey] and all those guys, but they are only as good as the guys up front and how we play as a unit.

    "We have also put a great emphasis on ball security and not turning the ball over. I want to see if we can carry that over into the game. No matter how much we hit or scrimmage, it's not the same as in a game."

    Senior fullback Josiah Sears
    On his health status:
    "I'm doing well. I strained my hamstring a little bit, but no big deal. They let me rest and get it back, and I'm fully recovered now."

    On playing a Division I-AA opponent:
    "Coach Lynch tells us every day `Take it one day at a time and one game at a time.' That is what we have to do. We can't look past anybody. They all count towards our victories to go to a bowl game, so we have to take each one and win each one as we go."

    On what he expects his emotion to be like during the tribute to Coach Hoeppner:
    "Honestly, I have no idea. I have never been in this position in my life. I mean I know that they are going to play something that they played at the funeral on the scoreboard before the game. I don't know what that is going to be like, if I'll be able to watch it or if I don't want to, but it'll probably be tough. I don't know."

    On the difference between camp and the regular season:
    "I like the aspect that we're not watching our defense anymore. I mean, we watch practice, but we are getting ready for somebody else and watching their tendencies and watching their film and trying to figure out exactly what they're going to do. Especially, with Indiana State, They could do any number of things. They have a new defensive coordinator, so we don't know exactly what they're going to do. So, we have to be prepared for many different looks that they could give us. So, that's extra work, and I like to do that. I enjoy watching film, so I'm excited about that."

    On being named a captain:
    "For all of our careers here, both of us have been lead by example type of guys that haven't said a whole lot. At times, if it needed to be said, we would've said it, but being elected captain by your peers is an unbelievable honor, and we are both happy to have it. It is kind of like they said `we are behind you guys and we are going to follow you, so if we are screwing up you tell us now.' I'm excited, about as excited as Tracy is, and it is just a great honor."

    Senior cornerback Tracy Porter

    On the excitement of the first game:
    "You're psyched about the game emotionally. You can't wait, it's your first game of the season, first home game. We're expecting a huge crowd, you're psyched about it, but we are looking at the bigger picture, Though we're excited about the game, you know, we're settling down and taking it one day at a time. This is our first day of practice since we broke camp, and so we are going to take this day and work as hard as we possibly can to become more prepared for Indiana State."

    On what he expects his emotion to be like during the tribute to Coach Hoeppner:
    "You don't really know. Emotions, they just come out anytime they're ready to, so the whole thing with Coach Hep was tough on us, and you know its going to be hard to try to cover those emotions up pregame when they're acknowledging him before the game. In the end, we are just going to go out and do what he wanted us to do, and that is play hard every play and get this victory."

    On the difference between camp and the regular season:
    "The only few adjustments you have is you're not staying in a hotel with your teammates. You are out on your own in your own apartment. Other than that you have your day off. The big thing is that you start school, so you have to balance practice with homework, with going to class and things like that. Those are the only big changes that we've had. Well, that I've had."

    On helping the new players get used to college life:
    "I mean there are a few guys that don't know where certain buildings are, where certain classes are, so they look to us for help. Being experienced guys, being here for four or five years, we have a pretty good grasp of where things are, so we assist them as best we can, and if not, they ask other people on campus or ask there advisers and whatnot."

    On being named a captain:
    "For me it's a huge honor. To have your teammates look at you as someone that best represents the team, that they want to follow. I take that as a huge compliment. For me it was unexpected. I didn't know that I was going to get the honor, but now that I have it, I have to be that guy to set the example for my team to do all of the little things right so that they can follow it. And if things aren't going the right way, myself or Josiah, we have to be the ones to step up and lead them in the right direction."

    On the development of Mitchell Evans:
    "Well, coming in he was a quarterback/safety guy, so we were down with injuries at safety, so they decided to move his position. He's a downhill guy. He comes down, he's not one of those guys who is going to shy away from sticking his head in there to make a tackle. Just by showing that and showing his knowledge of the position, the coaches think highly of him, and he has moved up on the depth charts rapidly."


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