Sept. 15, 2009
Press Conference Audio: Coach Lynch | McCray | Middleton | Press Conference Video
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Head Coach Bill Lynch met with members of the media on Tuesday to discuss his team's 23-19 win over Western Michigan and to look forward to this weekend's contest against Akron. Coach Lynch was joined by seniors Demetrius McCray and Greg Middleton.
Below is a partial transcript of Coach Lynch's Press Conference:
"In reviewing the game, we made really good improvement. A week ago we were in here talking about making that improvement from week one to week two. We really felt like we had to make that improvement and we did.
"Starting with our offensive line, I thought our offensive line played really well. We had seven guys play. Mike Reiter and Marc Damisch both saw good action and helped relieve [Justin] Pagan. Pagan played well, but we didn't think he was ready to play the whole game coming off of an ankle injury. We felt like Reiter certainly deserved to play because he's practiced well and he's a senior. He (Reiter) has relieved Pete Saxon some. We got good play from all five guys.
"I thought our tight ends blocked very well; Wagner and Zematis in particular. We received good play from them and as a result, we saw more production in the running game and the balance that we needed.
"I think during the preseason we talked a lot about establishing the running game, but the biggest thing we have to have is balance in our attack. We were able to do that and the numbers reflect that. I think we lost a little bit at the end by taking the safety though.
"The other important stat is we didn't give up a sack. I think that is credit to the offensive line and to Ben in all honesty. We have only had one sack in two games. The offensive line played much better in protection as well and Ben does a great job of getting rid of the ball instead of holding it too long.
"Second thing is we had to turn the turnover margin around. Not turning the ball over in any football game is important. This means the guys took care of the ball and Ben made good decisions throwing the football. That certainly is a positive and the defense created three turnovers. Two of the turnovers happened late, but were very important.
"The big plays were another aspect we went into the game with as a point of emphasis. To hold Western Michigan to one big play really speaks to how the defense played. Western Michigan is a team that really makes some big plays and Coach Cubit's teams through the years traditionally make big plays particularly in the passing game. They pack the formation in, run play-action pass, take deep throws down the field, or they use a double moves with their spread and wideouts. I thought Joe Palcic, Brian George, and the defensive staff had a great plan. Again, to hold them to one big pass play, which we had breakdowns on that are certainly correctable, is big. We only had four big plays, but we won the big play battle. Big plays and turnover margin are two things we really try to stress.
"The third most important area for us is possession downs. We didn't do as well this week offensively. We got really close several times, but close isn't good enough. We did get several third downs where we were in a yard or even closer. The defense was in the 30 percent range, which I thought was solid against a team like Western Michigan. Those were the main points of emphasis we had going into the game and I thought we did a nice job.
"The help the defense provided by being able to control the running game was important too. I think if you let a team like that have a balance, then the game becomes a lot tougher. For the most part, we controlled the running game and did not give up any big plays. I thought we did a good job running the ball.
"Going back and watching film, something I realized I was very happy about was how well the defense played at the end of the game. I use the term composure to describe the way the defense plays. They kept their poise when everything around them was going a little crazy. Starting with the blocked field goal, there were penalties, first downs, and stopped action. Everyone was holding on except the kids on the field. They kept communicating and playing. The thing we keep talking about is play the next play. Do not worry about the last play, but play the next one. I thought the defense really did that all the way to the point where the recovered the fumble.
"Even then when we took the safety and punted the ball down field, we went out onto the field with great poise and play. I think that was really progress even though we have a lot of football ahead of us. What the defense has improved on over the last two weeks from week one to week two include creating turnovers and eliminating big plays. Both sides of the ball made good improvements.
"Special teams were sound. They did not do anything spectacular, but the one thing we can't have is a blocked field goal, which a nine-point lead would not have put the game away because of Western Michigan's explosiveness, but we would have had to make them score twice. We have to get that corrected. The rest of special teams were pretty sound."
"The pre-snap penalties are issues we really need to work on in practice. We have to get those penalties eliminated. As a coach, you are never satisfied with that. I think early in the season you go home after a game and watch a bunch of games, including NFL, and see everyone is having problems. That is rationalizing the problem.
"As long as the players are using good fundamental techniques on the effort penalties after the ball is snapped, then it's hard to get upset about that. There were a couple the last drive, which were legitimate calls, but the kids were trying. So sometimes, those penalties are going to happen like a holding call or a pass interference call. It's all personal fouls, but you are going to get a inadvertent face mask call. That is part of the game. Now, if it is lack of effort and sometimes it happens because kids are out of position or fundamentally aren't doing what they're taught, that's different. Particularly in the last drive, kids were trying, but plays like that happen. The pre-snap penalties are issues we have to correct."
On finishing drives:
"I have to go back and look at each particular situation. I think first of all, in the red zone, running the ball is very important. The field gets so short it really takes away a part of your passing game. The back line acts as another defender and in some cases, another three defenders as you go across the field. That is why it is so important to be able to run the ball and that is an area where we came up short a couple different times, which forced us to kick a few field goals.
"We also came up short one drive because of a penalty. The ability to run the football down there really helps because if you do run well, the play-action pass becomes part of your offense in the red zone. If you don't run well, then play-action pass isn't useful and all passes are drop back. You are limited with drop back passes because of the stretch of the field. This is philosophical, but this is one reason why we want to run the football better.
"That is something, when you settle for field goals, it may come back to hurt you. We have to better there and our defense did a great job only allowing Western Michigan to run it in one time with the quarterback draw. Other than that we held them to one field goal, and got a turnover on another."
On halftime procedure:
"Every game is a little bit different. What I may say to the entire team all depends on what went on in the first half. You have to be with the team all week to get a feel of what needs to be said. Sometimes you need to tell them what a great job they are doing. Other times you may have to tell them they are not doing so well. It all depends on what went on during the first half.
"The position coaches gather up and really quickly say a few things to their players to get the players thinking. Then the offensive staff and defensive staff have to go collect themselves and decide what adjustments they will make for the second half. Sometimes you may make changes and other times you may be doing well, but need to keep going.
"After that, the position coaches come back and get with their players. Any corrections or changes that may be made are then told to the players. During this time, players are getting taped, checked out by medical staff, changing jerseys, or a number of things. Time goes by pretty quickly.
"Out in the stands it may seem like a long time, but when you are in the locker room trying to accomplish everything, all of a sudden they are calling for captains. You then have to rally the troops and send them back out and go play.
"I would like to say it involves a lot of magic, but you can't reinvent an offense or defense. You make the adjustments you think fit. I think our staff does a great job. I thought our defensive staff really did a good job and we were able to control the run. We were able to not stop Hiller and not endure a lot of sacks, but I think the staff was able to take away a few of the things Western Michigan wanted to do.
"Any locker room I have been in for 35 years is about the same. There is nothing really different you can do. You don't have time to show a movie or anything. It would be neat if you could come in and show tapes of plays during the games, but you have to wait until after the game before you can do that. You also get input from your own players from what they see. The more experienced your guys are, the better input you get from them about what they are seeing out there."
On emphasizing points week to week:
"I think if you are going to emphasize something, you have to do everything you can to emphasize the point. Last week, our emphasis was running the football better and we did improve. We emphasized taking care of the ball last week and we did. That doesn't mean it will happen from year to year, but those were points of emphasis last week. We emphasized the defense do not give up any big plays. This week we are going to emphasize penalties and we have officials at practice concentrating on calling things they see so we can spend out time coaching the players."
On using Mitchell Evans at quarterback:
"We will always have different tweaks to the offense. Again, we aren't going to go back and draw up a new offense every week. It is a part of what we did last spring and in camp with Mitchell Evans. I don't think we go into it with a certain number of times Mitchell will play at quarterback, but I think the flow of the game dictates it. I say 10 to 15 times is what we are looking for with Mitchell at quarterback.
"The biggest thing we have to do is keep him healthy, because he has done a lot out there. He is a heck of a football player. He made some great plays on special teams too. If he would have completed that pass to Tandon Doss, we would have been inside the five and Evans would have had even a better game statistically."
On the backup to Mitchell Evans in that package:
"It is Edward Wright-Baker. Ed can certainly run those plays."
"We all know Akron is a great Mid-American Conference team. The parody of the MAC is amazing. Having spent 12 years myself in that league, and all our staff has, there is always a team who jumps out and as a remarkable year like Miami (Ohio) did a few years ago or like Ball State did last year. For the most part, the MAC is a very balanced league. From a talent standpoint, it is very comparable. One team may get on a roll and teams kind of go from there.
"That is what I see with this Akron team. They are a very good football team on both sides of the ball. JD [Brookhart] is an excellent coach who has put together a very experienced staff who have coached a lot of places. They played at Penn State the first game and then played at home by beating Morgan State. We know the mindset going into this game because we have played so many MAC teams in MAC stadiums. Akron's quarterback is very productive and experienced.
"Akron runs the spread and has good skill on the outside with receivers who can make plays. Their offensive line is big with everyone being 300 pounds plus. Their defense has a different structure than we are used to playing against. That makes our week of work tougher because you have to prepare for something different. We got a good start practicing last night. The environment will be very difficult with a beautiful new stadium."
On attacking a 3-4 and different defenses:
"You do not attack it differently, but make sure you adjust your blocking assignments. It is still a four-deep secondary. Their stunts and movements can come from different places. So your recognition must be sound. Once you get in a season, you have to make adjustments instead of putting in a whole new system. If you change everything, then you waste every rep in spring and fall camp."
On the current condition and progress of the team:
"I like coaching this football team. The players work at it and want to get better. There is emotion on this football team. When you are a coach, there are several more things you are looking for than a bottom line business. You ask yourself if this team has what you are looking for and I believe this team has it. When a football team has those intangibles, they generally get better and they work at it. The chemistry and all the things we are talking about is a work in progress. We are two games into the season, but I see those things.
"I am happy with this football team, where we are, and where we are going. I think there is a lot better football within us than the way we've played consistently, but that is the biggest thing: we haven't played consistently throughout a game. We have to learn to put a game away or get a double-digit lead when we get a chance. Saturday, we were up 17-7 at halftime and had decided to take the ball to start the first half. You have to go out and get a stop the second half to get the ball back and score. Unfortunately, the momentum of the game was different. They went out and scored a touchdown and the game was within three points. We have to go out, get a stop, and score to put pressure on our opponents. We have not done a good job of this the first two weeks."
On running a quick play to avoid video review on the Damarlo Belcher play
"They do not let you do that anymore. When they first went to TV replay, you could do that. If you watch now, they review everything and the umpire stands over the ball. The officials do a good job and understand teams do not want to burn a timeout, so they review the play.
"The play [with Demetrius McCray and the spot of the ball], we took a little bit of extra time because I wanted the play to be reviewed. The play was such a big part of that game, which is why I thought it was worth a timeout. It is very difficult to run that quick play now because they have ways of preventing this so the guys upstairs have time to review. That is the way it should be and it is beneficial for both sides."
On preparing the offense for Akron:
"If you come to practice, you will notice the offense will disappear. We are going to bring the offense inside and turn the music up. The defense needs to do their work and generally, when Akron has the ball it will be quiet. Therefore, we will try to distract the offense and see if we can avoid procedure penalties. That is one point of emphasis we have this week. We have to prepare for crowd noise because we will run into that the next few weeks at Akron and Michigan and try to make our guys stay locked in to avoid pre-snap penalties while there are distractions."
On player injuries:
"Nick Polk has been cleared to play. He practiced yesterday. After two weeks in the season, we are in some way getting healthier. Darius [Willis] will practice today. We will be careful with Pagan, Donnell [Jones], and [Mick] Mentzer. I think we are in pretty good shape."
On Nick Freeland and Mitch Ewald:
"Nick has done a great job on kickoffs. He has been outstanding. He has kicked it in the corner and with depth. He has even done a nice job covering them. We will keep creating competition amongst the kickers though."
On the kicking competition:
"I think as we go through the year, we will try and send the right guy out there. Kicker and punters are positions where you can make a little competition week by week. It is a little bit like a golf team in that they compete for the top five spots. I say that in the sense that different players are going to react differently to things like pressure."