Sept. 25, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -
Head coach Bill Lynch met with the media on Tuesday, Sept. 18, for his weekly press conference in preparation for the Hoosiers' contest against Illinios on Saturday, Sept. 22. He was joined by sophomore Kellen Lewis, who was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.
Head Coach Bill Lynch
"It's been a couple days since the game, I've had a chance to review it and get on with Iowa. We really feel the same way we did after the game. We give Illinois credit. I think they played very well, particularly in the first half offensively. I think our defense made some really good adjustments in the second half to slow them down. I think offensively the turnovers really hurt us because we moved the ball the way we wanted to and were able to do the things we wanted to, without the turnovers, until late when the score got to where you need to throw it every down. Then we got a little out of synch. Give Illinois credit. They came in here and got themselves a good win. We came out of the game in good health, so that is real positive. We're anxious to get going here today, practice, and get ready for a typically good, tough, hard-nosed Iowa football team.
"We have little change in the schedule. We have quite a few guys with an academic major where they had to go to Indianapolis for some class responsibilities today, so we're going to practice tonight. We're not going to do our traditional afternoon practice because we're going to miss too many guys, so we're going to practice tonight. Other than that the week will be normal. Again, we're looking forward to playing a normally good Iowa team."
On what he learned about his team on Saturday:
"We played a good Big Ten football team. I thought physically we hung in there. I thought we battled them. I thought we played hard. We didn't have any quit in us. The things that we preach, the things that we think we need to do to win in this league, we didn't do well enough. It starts with turning the ball over, in particular where we turned the ball over. You've got to score to win in this league, and the first drive was I think just inside the 30-yard line when we turned it over. The second time, when Ray got hit and fumbled, we had just got a first down in the red zone. The last one was a pick from the 5 yard line on second down. That was a little different situation because of where they were at, but when you turn it over in the red zone it is going to come back to get you. The turnover in the second half set up their last score. That score really changed the way the game had to be played because then we were down 20 points.
"You preach it over and over again, but that is something that you can't do. I think it helps show it to the team. We're going into that game plus-6 on turnovers, but the turnovers we got also kept us in the game. Tracy's interception after the blocked punt, that kept us in the game. The fumble recovery that we got at midfield gave us a chance. When you say, `what did we learn?' We learned the importance of those plays. I thought defensively we hung in there against a good running football team. We knew they were good running the football. Their numbers were very consistent in what they've done in the last 10-12 games they've played. They did some things running the option early that took advantage of some things, and again, I thought we made good adjustments. Offensively, give them credit, but when you go back and look at it, there were times when we moved the ball the way we wanted to. I think the score dictated that we threw the ball more than we wanted to. That is what happens. The score had something to do with those kind of things. We had 87 plays, and we had more first downs. We got beat; I'm not trying to throw statistics at you, but it wasn't like it was a failure day. It is just we didn't win a football game against a good Big Ten team, and now we've got to get ready for the next one."
"They're really good. They are the same guys we played against last year. Defensive lineman Mitch King is really an active player. He is really good. He didn't play against us last year. He was injured or I'm not sure why, but he is a player. They're very good, and they have been very good on defense for a lot of years at Iowa. I really think they do a great job in their program and always have their offense and defense work well together. It is a defense that is very tough to run the ball on. They play great run defense. At the same time, their secondary is very well schooled, and they don't give up a lot of big plays. You don't see a lot of long touchdown passes against Iowa. You don't see a lot of long runs against Iowa, which means there is great coordination there. On the other side, their offense is always a physical. They are going to run the ball at you. I think that teams that like to play physical offensively, generally the defense is going to be a good run defense because they practice that way a lot. The numbers hold up after four games that their defense is very, very good. I do think from our standpoint with our kids, they do know that they have played against these guys before. It is not like the first time or like a nonconference game. I think that is the nice thing about conference play is the players get a familiarity with who they are playing against. Obviously they have the same advantage on their side too."
On defending the option:
"That is the first, well, I shouldn't say it is the first, but it is the best option team we've played. We knew going into the thing that Mendenhall is really a good football player. Going back to preseason, we knew that. Their staff talked about in the offseason what type of player they thought Mendenhall was going to be. You add that to a quarterback that had the ability to run. I think they did things a little bit different than what we had seen from them in the past, and that is part of it, and then you make adjustments. I thought we made good adjustments. Really, we made good adjustments throughout the first half. The one that really hurt us was after we scored to make it 13-7 and they drove the ball down the field, and really, they threw the ball down the field that drive. That was the one that hurt. When they went up 20-7. That wasn't really the option on that though."
On Iowa's quarterback:
"I like him. I like the way he plays. I think you can tell he is a competitor. I think he's got a strong arm. He's got a presence to him. You watch the game tape. You see a lot of things. I watched the game on TV last week like a lot of people, and you could sense in a really tough environment, in a hard, physical football game, he was a competitor all the way to the last throw, and that last throw was almost a touchdown and the whole thing changes. I like him. He has grown up in a football family. I know his dad, and he was a good quarterback, an NFL quarterback and coach, so he understands the game."
On the offensive line:
"They didn't play that bad. That was a combination of things, it really was. It wasn't confusion. It wasn't stunts. It was a combination of throwing the ball too many times because of the score. Some of the big numbers we had in the first three weeks could be attributed to the same thing. It was more of getting beat one-on-one. It may have been Kellen holding onto the ball too long instead of getting rid of it. It was a combination of things. It wasn't one of those things where you leave the game saying, `we've got some real problems up front.'" It wasn't that. I think as much as anything we let the score get away from us to where we had to throw the ball too much."
On the atmosphere in Iowa:
"It is a great football environment. I've always felt that way. It is 70,000 loud fans in a really tight stadium. The fans are right on top of you. It is a great college environment. On college football Saturday, that is what you are looking for. Their stadium is an old stadium that has been completly renovated with a brand new press box. I think our guys need to embrace the opportunity to go play a Big Ten football game in an environment like that."
On matching up with their offensive line:
"We don't feel like we're going into this thing overmatched in any way. They are good. I think the biggest thing is we've got to control what they do because they are going to, different than last week, be a lot more of a true, pro type or power type running style in terms of two tight end, fullback, tailback, downhill type running, which really lends itself to play action passing. Really, you saw a lot of that in the two teams playing each other in Wisconsin and Iowa. They are two very similar teams that way. For your defensive line, they are stressed in a different way than they were playing Illinois last week."
On fans interest after the loss to Illinois:
"I just think there is so much football left. We've played one third of the season. We've got eight football games left, and I think this is a good football team that is just in a lot of spots is still a young football team. We just turned the ball over too many times last week. I was saying the other day, we've had 300 snaps on defense and 330 on offense, so we have 600 more on defense and 600 and more on offense. There is a lot of football left to be played."
Wide Receiver James Hardy
On having big games against Iowa the last two years:
"I couldn't say there was anything about their defensive scheme. I feel the past couple years our offensive coordinator has done a great job of moving me around and finding the holes for me. It just gave me the opportunity to go in and show my talents and it just ended up happening against Iowa."
On his breakout games:
"I can only control what I can control and continue to work hard each and every day. I'll run my routes full speed and let everything else fall into place; I really can't worry about statistics. After the first three games it wasn't an issue because we were winning, but all of a sudden when we have a bad game or we are not playing as well it gets spotlighted. I've been doing the same things I have done since I got here and now I am just looking forward to going to Iowa and hopefully we will get a victory and not worry about me getting a big game."
On the mindset going into practice this week:
"We were a little down (after the loss to Illinois) because we didn't expect that to happen, but that's the way life turns, you never know what to expect. So you just have to deal with it and move forward. That is the process we are going through right now and I think we will be okay."
On the big plays that went against Indiana:
"First it was the turnovers. I had a fumble and I have never fumbled before. After looking back on it, it was a careless effort on my part, not having two hands on the ball in traffic. Just like the other fumbles, we had a couple of them in the red zone that could have gotten us going with the momentum. I talked to Marcus (Thigpen) and Ray (Fisher) about it. Those were just little things that we normally don't do, especially in a big game like Illinois was. But we are all still young and still learning so we are going to make mistakes, but we have to look at it and try to turn it into a positive and move on."
"That has been one of our keys the whole season, to not fumble the ball. It had to be us just being careless with the ball and not hanging on to it like we should. But we can't dwell on that. We are going to make mistakes; even the best players ever fumbled the ball so we just have to take that into consideration. We know we are still an explosive offense and we just had a bad game. It just wasn't our day, from top to bottom; each and every position didn't play well. We have to recognize that and come in each and every day to work harder and get ready for Iowa."
On the importance of the fan support:
"You could see it during the game, they all of a sudden just leave. For us, as hard as we have been working to put this program where it needs to be, we just need the support. We know the 105 of us, and the coaching staff, believe in each other. Now it's our job to get the whole community behind us if we win or lose. Michigan lost two games and their fans are still behind them. So for us to turn this program around, Bloomington has to be somewhat like a family and has to stay together no matter what."
On the large crowd expected at Iowa on Saturday:
"I can't speak for anyone else, but that gets me excited. The more people there, the more I feel I need to do. I'm pretty sure most of my teammates feel the same way. But it is more about us than it is the fans. Illinois didn't stop us, we stopped ourselves and that's the number one thing that we are fighting. Coach Canada always stresses to us that it's not up to them, it's up to us. If we do things wrong then we are going to beat ourselves. Illinois didn't do anything to keep us from moving the ball, there were just a couple series where we went three-and-out and we beat ourselves. We can't put ourselves in that situation again."