Sept. 11, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Head coach Bill Lynch met with the media on Tuesday, Sept. 11, for his weekly press conference in preparation for the Hoosiers' contest against Akron on Saturday, Sept. 15. He was joined by junior defensive lineman Greg Brown, junior kicker Austin Starr and sophomore wide receiver Ray Fisher.
"After being away from it for a couple days, that was a long football game (at Western Michigan) in the sense that I never thought I would be involved in a football game that lasted over four hours and didn't involve overtime. After reviewing the tape a couple of times, that was a good win for us. That was a good football team we played. Going up there we know it was a very good football team coming off a really good year. They are good on both sides of the ball. I really like the way we started and that was something that we talked about going into the game, that we have to learn how to play well on the road and play well early to give ourselves a chance.
"Reviewing the second half a little bit, I don't think we lost our intensity, I just think we didn't take advantage of some opportunities that we had. When you get the ball in the red zone and have a chance to score you have to take advantage, because eventually it can come back to get you. We had some penalties down in the red zone that hurt us and we have to get that corrected. The kickoff return was a big play. We kicked ourselves into that situation because they had set up a different kind of return. They ran it away from the brunt of our coverage so they did a nice job blocking, and I can't really fault our kids effort, we just didn't execute.
"I thought our kids hung on against a good football team. We came out of it, for the most part, healthy and we are looking forward to another one this weekend against a really good MAC football team. This team (Akron) is two years removed from playing in a bowl game and winning the MAC Championship. They have a lot of their players back that have played a lot of football, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. They played Ohio State very well in a low scoring game. Their defense really kept them in it, and Ohio State's defense is good as well, so it was a good defensive game. They beat Army the week before, so they are going to come in here with some confidence and feel like they can get a win. We have to have a really good week of preparation for what we think is going to be a really good football game."
On Austin Thomas:
"He is not going to practice today so he is day to day. He seems fine."
On James Bailey:
"Bailey is good. He was really dehydrated [against WMU]. He cramped up on that one play and then went and made that tackle and cramped up. But he is fine too.
"We looked at it, and we are very fortunate. If you look at our depth chart right now, everybody that reported to camp is healthy to play. You might lose a guy for a game or something like that, but there is nobody out there that is out for four or six weeks or for the season like a lot of the teams do."
On Mitchell Evans' play at safety:
"I thought he played really well. There were some technical things, like pursuit angles and leverage things and the real fundamental things that everyone is going to have. He is a very aware football player. We saw that in camp and he played a lot against Indiana State. He was a 1 or 2 on every special team situation going up to Western Michigan, not knowing if he was going to play safety. So to put a freshman in that many areas of responsibility on special teams says what we think about him. And he went out there and played like he has played a lot. If you think about it, we played a majority of that game against and good offensive football team with a true freshman at safety and a converted wide receiver at saftety, both in their second games. Obviously we are looking forward to getting Austin Thomas and Joe Kleinsmith back, but I thought they played really well."
On the defensive line getting pressure on the quarterback:
"They have done a great job. It's like we talked about in the preseason, we have enough depth we can rotate a lot of guys in there. Through the course of a 4:15 game, that makes a difference. It was a long game, so if you have different bodies you can throw out there that are good, it really helps. So when we get into a different defensive package, we have some speed rushers that made a difference. A lot of times your sacks come because your coverage is pretty good. There were several of those where the quarterback held on to it, waiting for someone to get open, and then we got to them. And it can work both ways. Mitchell Evans' interception was a testament to that. We had pressure on the quarterback and he threw it up and he got an interception. That's why it's a team game and defense is the same as offense. One plays off of the other.
"Overall, it was a good defensive performance. One of the things that we really stress is to make them play one more play. A completed pass or a first down isn't going to beat us, touchdowns beat you. So we aren't really concerned about yardage numbers. If we are putting pressure on the quarterback and keeping them out of the end zone, then we are playing pretty good defense. The one touchdown pass that they had from distance was a great throw and catch. Mitchell (Evans) was right there, so at some point you have to shake their hand too and say, `great play.' I just think the defense has played really well and is going to play even better."
On how the offensive line has graded out so far:
"Pretty good. And I say that in the sense that in the Indiana State game, they gave us every kind of twist and stunt known to mankind and you can't prepare for that in a week's time. Western Michigan has a good defensive front and they gave us some stunts, from a passing standpoint. But as many times as we threw the ball, I thought we handled them pretty well.
"We all wanted to gain one yard that one time and couldn't do it, yet we rushed for over 200 yards in the game and we are averaging over 200 yards rushing. Last year at this time we were averaging about 30 yards. Do we need to make improvements? Yes, we need to. But the areas we tried to emphasize, we have shown improvement. Like everything else, you generally are what you emphasize."
On Kellen Lewis and James Hardy:
"I just hope they keep doing it. They're both good football players. Kellen gives you a little bit of a feature because he can keep plays alive, sometimes in full blitz situations where he can make the first guy miss. I think some of those goal line touchdowns the other night were the case of him buying a little bit of time and James worked the guy pretty well. The longer guys play together, the more of a feel they have for one another. Hopefully they'll keep going, because they've played pretty well to this point."
On how Akron wide receiver Jabari Arthur compares to Western Michigan's Jamarko Simmons:
"They're a little different. He's a good receiver. Akron is a spread offensive team, but they're a little bit like Western where they play a personnel group that you don't expect them to spread, they'll spread tight ends. Defensively it gives you a little bit of a challenge because you've got to defend personel, but you also have to defend formations. He is a good receiver, and he will go up and make plays. That 27, Simmons, he is everything he is cracked up to be. He is a good player."
On the abundance of penalties:
"We are certainly going to address it this week. There are a couple different kinds of penalties. Presnap penalties are the ones that really get you. Let's put it this way, presnap and post-play penalties are the ones that you like to alleviate. A presnap may be an illegal formation; it may be illegal procedure, a substitution error, letting the 25 second clock run out, lining up offsides on defense. Those are the kinds of things from a coaching standpoint that we're going to address a lot. Those are the kinds of things that we have to have eliminated. Obviously anything after the play is over you don't want those at all. There are some during the course of the play you have to coach them up, with holding and pass interference. But, there are some where if they're playing hard it is a judgement call on the official, so those don't upset you. You obviously want to coach them so they don't do those things. It's the ones where it's a concentration thing, it's a focus thing. Those are the things that you've got to get corrected, and those are the things that we are certainly going to address."
On he Akron-Ohio State game:
"We have got tape on that. They were really solid. They are a good defensive football team. They play that 3-5-3 scheme that Indiana State played. They play it a little bit different, but they've got some really good athletes. They've got the big guys up front that you really need in that defense because you only play three defensive linemen, and then they've got five guys that are really active. That is, I think, why people like going to it. It is an eight-man front defense. You hear that term all the time, but they've got eight at the line of scrimmage at every snap. If you have athletic guys at linebacker, the type of stunting and things they can do can give you problems. Plus, they can drop eight into coverage, or they can rush eight, so you have got to be prepared for the whole deal. They didn't back off against Ohio State. They went after them and did a great job. They are not afraid to give you their best shot, and they certainly did against Ohio State."
On how beneficial it is to be familiar with the MAC:
"I think more so than just me, so much of the staff has such a huge MAC background. The entire defensive staff played in the Mid-American Conference. Three of the four coached in the MAC, as recently as three years ago. And then on the offensive side, Matt Canada coached in the MAC a long time. Billy [Lynch] played and coached in it. Bobby Johnson played and coached in it. And then, of course, I was around it for a long time. I think all of us, for one, have great respect for the MAC and know how many good players are there. And two, we know how good the coaching is there. And, we know the motivation that MAC kids when they go to a Big Ten stadium. So, I think all that does help in preparation. There is certainly no one on our staff that takes anybody for granted, and they know the kind of football that can be played there. And all those guys that were at Miami, they have a whole wall full of big time of victories against major BCS schools, so they've been in those games where they've won them, so they know what it is like."
On Akron's offensive struggles against Ohio State:
"I credit most of it to Ohio State's defense. And it was a rainy day, but Ohio State's defense is awful good. I've been in those games against Ohio State's defense, so I know what that is like."
On being more prepared for the 3-5-3 defense:
"I think not only playing [against it], but it is our second week preparing for it, so the more you do it, the better you get. Your scout team guys are better doing it. This afternoon will be our first big day of preparation, and when they come out they'll know the terminology and where to line up and how to go, so it won't be a Tuesday of trying to get them organized. I think that helps. I don't know how many plays we ran against Indiana State, but they've certainly got a lot to fall back on, so I do think it certainly does help."
On Austin Starr:
"We wanted to kick the field goal, so to get that game to 16 changed the whole course of events that would have to take place. I'll be honest with you, I work with him and watch him kick every day. He is a good kicker now. He is pretty consistent, and he has done it in games. It is a lot like the one he kicked at the end of the half against Iowa last year, he kicked about that distance, and then the one to win at Illinois. He kicked a big one at Ball State. I mean some games on the road, or some games that were important, he hit those kind of field goals. We had all the confidence in the world. We really called timeout because we wanted to make sure we were totally organized on the field with the right protection and guys in the game. Sometimes, if you run that field goal unit out late and you planned on substituting an offensive lineman or a wing guy just to get the guys in you really want to get in that situation, and I felt like making sure we had the right people and everybody organized and set was more important than the timeout at that point. We were up 13, so we wanted to get it right because we knew that that field goal would help set the tempo for what would happen in the last eight minutes."
On the length of games this season:
"Western Michigan and us contributed to that four hours and fifteen minutes. We called a bunch of passes, and they called more than we did, so if you are going to throw the ball a lot, you're going to have incompletions and that is going to stop the clock. We both had way, way to many penalties. When you score that many points there are a lot of kicks, and that takes time. So, it is not just the rules, and it is not just the TV timeouts, there was a lot that contributed to it. Part of it was Western and our fault because of how we ran the game."
Junior defensive lineman Greg Brown
"I know at one point there was a time in the red zone where we had had a penalty, and that kind of hurt us. Not to point fingers, but as a whole we need to work on the presnap penalties that could effect us during the games."
On what the team can do to improve on penalties:
"I don't think you can coach that. That is more of a discipline thing. Keeping you eye on the ball, and going when the ball is snapped. I don't think it is anything you can really coach. I think it is more of a mental thing, just keeping your eye on the ball making sure when the ball snaps you get off the ball."
On having more depth:
"It's a big advantage. Coming from me personally, the last couple years we haven't had a lot of depth, so we've had to play the whole game. It gets on you and wears on you towards the end of the game. Now that we have that depth and we are able to rotate, you get to the third quarter and usually you are tired, but with the depth you are a lot fresher, and you feel like you can make more plays. It is a great thing that we have depth now. Like I said, it gives us rest and it keeps us fresh when we get back on the field.
"That is a good situation, where you can bring in depth and know that they're going to be just as effective. There are a lot of instances where you can bring a guy in just to give the first stringer a rest, but that's not the case with us. We've got guys that can be starters that come in and contribute just as much as we would contribute."
Junior kicker Austin Starr
On road games:
"I love away games. I loved going to Illinois last year, everyone was screaming, it was homecoming. Then at the end, it being quiet. At Western Michigan, the rain kind of helped the crowd leave. I really enjoy what I do, and I love road games."
On having a timeout before his big kick against Western Michigan:
"I don't think the rain let up any more, but I think it may have, Coach Lynch, affected his decision. I know that he wanted to think about it. So, if taking that timeout made him think more about letting me attempt it, I'm glad he took the time out."
On the timing of kicks:
"We're in a routine. We work on `mayday' situations where we don't have any timeouts, and the clock is running down and we have seven seconds to kick and we're not on the field, so we sprint out and without even me taking my steps back we kick. A lot of the guys, whether we have a bunch of time and it's relaxed or whether it's real intense, we're ready for any situations."
On his confidence level:
"Obviously, every game, I would say, your confidence increases if you do well. Just being in every situation, going out I'm not nervous anymore, and I always think I'm going to make it, and I'm very surprised when I miss. So, I would say first game last year I was still in competition mode, worrying about what if I do miss? What if coach is going to doubt me as IU's kicker. Now, I have the job. The only person I'm competing with is myself, and if I can keep that mentality then I'll keep getting better."
Sophomore wide receiver Ray Fisher
On helping with returns:
"That is one of my big perks, because if I want to go to the next level, I've got to establish myself at punt returns and kick returns. But, right now we have two of the top people in the Big Ten, maybe in the country. I've just got to wait my turn. Whenever my name gets called, I've got to just take it."
On how IU's receiving corps matches up to the rest of the Big Ten:
"Right now, I think we're the best receiving corps in the Big Ten, and pushing to be the best in the country. We've just got to work hard every day, listen to what Coach Lynch says, listen to what the quarterback says. We need to do things like that, and I think we'll overcome everything or adversity. Hoping to be the best receiving corps in the nation."