Oct. 16, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -
Head coach Bill Lynch met with the media on Tuesday, Oct. 16, for his weekly press conference in preparation for the Hoosiers' Homecoming contest against Penn State on Saturday, Oct. 20. He was joined by sophomore quarterback Kellen Lewis.
Head coach Bill Lynch
"A couple days after the Michigan State game, those of you that were there, we got steamrolled by a very good football team. They really, really executed what they planned to do. We went into the game having a pretty good idea that they were going to try to pack it in and pound it against us. That is easier said than done. It takes great execution, whether you are running that kind of offense, or an option offense or if you are throwing the ball. They executed well up front, they have great backs and then (Brian) Hoyer really made some great throws, even though they didn't have to throw it a lot and (Devin) Thomas is a very fine receiver.
"There were some key plays in the game that we didn't make, but whether that would have made a difference in the outcome, I don't know. I thought overall, our defensive effort was pretty good. We were out of gaps every now and then and lost leverage on the ball some, but when a team has the ball for 90 plays and runs the ball 67 of them, that is going to happen a few times. I thought the effort was good. I didn't seen anybody give up on it, they battled it to the end. The perfect example is Austin Thomas, who had 22 tackles. I have seen games where, if the ball gets to the safety that many times, he starts hiding a little bit and no body knows it, but Austin didn't. He battled it all the way through the last tackle.
"Offensively, we just didn't have the ball enough and that was for a couple reasons. First, we couldn't get them off the field, and second, we didn't do anything with it when we had it or didn't do enough. We gained some yards for the number of plays we had. We had some big plays with James (Hardy) making some plays and Kellen (Lewis') big run. And then you have to try a few things to try to get back in the game and that gets you out of sync.
"All-in-all, it was a good game for Michigan State and we didn't play well enough. Like every game, you learn and get better if you take the right approach and that's the way we are and we are going to move on. That was the first time that our defense had seen that kind of an offensive attack. It's different. If you are playing one kind of offense most of the time, you are used to seeing that offense in Spring practice or Fall camp and then you see a lot spread offenses in college football today, so that's what our kids are used to seeing. So to see that kind of old fashioned power attack with a lot of two tight ends and three pulling linemen, is something they did very well. If that happens again, we now have something to work from.
"On offense, we have been a good offensive football team and we will bounce back from how we played. On the special teams side of things, Austin (Starr) continued to kick the ball well. I thought our kickoff return certainly showed life, but we had two big mistakes that hurt us, with their fake field goal and then the fumble on our return. That's kind of the recap of Michigan State.
"Moving forward, we are playing another really good football team in Penn State. And all of us that have followed college football for a number of years, when you think Penn State, you think of excellence and hard-nosed, tough football and solid on both sides of the ball, and that is what Penn State is. They are a complete football team and getting better. I can't speak for them, but in watching the tape, it certainly looked like they played their best football last week against Wisconsin. They had them at home, and not many people go into State College and win. They played really well on both sides of the ball. They moved the ball and scored and limited Wisconsin's opportunities so that is the kind of football team we have coming in here. I think our guys are excited about the opportunity. I have said this many times, but this is a resilient group that believes in one another and what we are doing and are looking forward getting back after it and having a chance to play again."
On rating Penn State's defense:
"Statistically, in all the key categories, they are right there with Ohio State. Right now, you would think that Ohio State would be the premier defense in the league, but Penn State is right there. They are not too far behind in the important areas like scoring defense and pass defense efficiency; they are really good there. They are a little bit like us, in that they put pressure on the quarterback and get sacks as well as play a lot of guys. They have the ability to rotate guys up front, which is a lot like us, so they are able to keep fresh guys on the field. They have two really quality linebackers. And again, those of us who have followed football through the years, when you think of Penn State you think of great linebackers. They have great linebackers that are tough and hard-nosed and can blitz to pressure the quarterback and drop back and knock the ball loose 15 yards down field, so they are complete. They have a good secondary with good corners that run well. They obviously well coached and are always in the right place, rarely do you see them out of position. It is a combination of scheme and really good players that makes it a really solid defense."
On Penn State's running game:
"We have to defend the run well, there is no question. (Michigan State) just dominated the game last week. By not slowing the running game down, we never got the ball back. But it is a little bit different running team. They are probably a little bit more of a zone team, a little bit more of a one-back team, which leads itself to more zone blocking. But they can certainly line up in two-back and pound away at you. They may look at the tape and see that's what Michigan State did so that's what they are going to do. But that was Michigan State's offense and that was their approach, where Penn State is more of a balanced team. Morelli is a great quarterback and has played a lot of football. They have three really good receivers, so they play with a tight end and three wideouts. Penn State is going to come in here and do their thing. They obviously have confidence in what they do and where they are, and they are pretty good at it. But it is a different offensive approach than Michigan State. They didn't do anything that we went `wow, where did this come from?' That is what we figured Michigan State would try to do to us."
On Penn State's pass rushers compared to Indiana's:
"They are more traditional defensive ends, but they are speed guys and they can put them on the edge and put a lot of pressure on your tackles, one-on-one. Their inside guys are more physical. It is a traditional four-down scheme, with the two inside guys being the pushers and the speed guys on the outside.
"Now Greg Middleton is a bit of hybrid there because he is 270 pounds. He would be a good pass rusher inside because he is 270 pounds and is big enough to do that. That is where Greg is a pretty unique guy because he has the strength to go with his speed and quickness."
On the challenges of playing a team Indiana has not seen in Lynch's tenure at IU:
"I think there are challenges. But there are also challenges for them not having seen us. The last time they were here, we had a different approach, offensively in particular. We are now more of a spread, use-our-speed and quickness approach to it.
"I don't know how many of our guys played in that game, or how many of their guys played in that game here last time, so for the most part it is all new. But these kids are certainly very aware of names and are on the Internet watching highlights. And when it is Penn State, it is obviously one of high exposure.
"It is a little different in the sense that, unlike Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue or Illinios, where there are a lot of familiarity with playing against kids in high school, they are a predominately Pennsylvania team. But they do have some Ohio guys in there, but they have a more Eastern background, and we don't have that many of those kind of guys on our team."
On whether the players are pressing once they win five games:
"I'm going to sit here and say no. We aren't really going to change our approach from what we did last week or the week before. We haven't been too excited when we get a win and haven't hung our heads when we take a loss. In reality, you play 12 games with hope of playing one more, and that's the way we are approaching it. This should be a fun, exciting game. It's Homecoming. It's Penn State. It's national television with ESPN. That is what you play college football for and you should be excited about that. But in reality, it's just another game. All those things are sources of getting you excited and motivation, but the reality is that it is about each guy getting himself prepared to do what they have to do on the football field.
"That six wins that is out there is important, and we have to have a maturity on our football team to take care of business. Like I said in the first press conference, if we take care of the little things, the big picture will take care of itself. That is going to be our approach this week."
On the parity in college football this season:
"It's there. I think some of the teams that have been down the past few years are better, and that creates a little parity. But we are in week seven and Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State are right there. A couple weeks ago, a couple of them were given up for dead. That is what we all said, as coaches, when the season started and all the upsets started happening. We said let's play 12 games and see how it filters itself out."
On what contributed to giving up 52 points last week:
"They are pretty good. I'm not going to say we were `out-manned,' but they were pretty good. They did what they do well, really well. They are a big, physical offensive line. They have transformed from being a zone team, which is a `cover you up' kind of offensive line blocking, to a more gap scheme, where they are blocking down and trying to create movement and bring pullers. If you are a big, strong team and can execute that style, it is pretty tough to stop. They are into their seventh week plus fall and spring practices, and they are getting pretty good at it.
"If a team is bigger and stronger but is a zone blocking team, you have a chance with your quickness to put your nose in a gap and string it out and run it down. But when you are physically undersized and they can execute that, then it gets tough. The key to our defense is our quickness. I think we are faster on defense than we have been in the past, and that's why we have gotten more sacks. But the offense we played against neutralizes your quickness.
"I have run that offense before as an offensive guy. It is a lot harder to run than people think. People say it's easy, all you do is turn around and hand it off and run over them. There is a lot more to it than that, especially with pullers. They really did execute really well and I was impressed with them."
On Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin all being big, physical teams:
"We said that before the Michigan State game, that these three teams were all very physical on both sides of the ball. But they are all a little bit different in how they go about it. But we knew that we were going to run into these three big, physical teams from the start and we knew we were going to be challenged."
On the leaders on defense so far this year:
"I think Adam McClurg has done a really good job. I think Tracy Porter has done an excellent job. Up front, Joe Kremer and Greg Brown, two guys that have played a lot of football, have stepped up. I think our older guys have done a pretty good job of it. And Leslie Majors has been playing his best football since he has been here. That is what you look for, that your seniors are playing their best football their senior year, you know you have a chance."
On Penn State head coach Joe Paterno's tenure:
"It's amazing, it really is amazing. Phenomenal is really what it is. You watch his teams and they are still as well coached a team as you will see anywhere in the country. Offense, defense and special teams, they are a football team. They may have those basic uniforms, but inside them they play hard and smart and are where they are supposed to be. It is amazing what he has done, not only with the number of wins, but what he has done for college football. Not to mention what he has done for so many coaches who have played for him or coached for him and where they have been. He's absolutely an amazing guy."
On whether he will be coaching when he is 80 years old:
"I don't know. It's amazing isn't it, to have that enthusiasm and love doing it."
On what he will be doing when he is 80 years old:
"I'm just looking forward to being here Saturday."
On the advantages of Homecoming:
"I think Homecoming is a great time. It's college football in the fall. Alums care about their university and they remember the good times. That's why they come back. Not all of them were football fans or involved with football, but it is Homecoming and their university and a chance reunite. The football game is all part of the atmosphere of the week. And our guys pick up on that. They are not involved in a lot of the activities or those things, but they know they are the focal point of it."
Quarterback Kellen Lewis
On the team's reaction to a loss:
"The difference between last year and this year is last year we lost and would put our heads down, and I wouldn't say point fingers, but a lot of blame was placed here, a lot of blame was placed there. This year it's kind of where we lose a game; we look at the film, get over it and move on to the next game. The goal is to play 13 obviously. We know we're getting more than six wins. We have more confidence this year. We look at film and say it is a mixture of them coming with intensity and we didn't play our game. Last year, we just didn't get the job done. This year, we are killing ourselves and losing games."
On the pressure of winning the sixth game:
"Pressing, I wouldn't say that. Much anticipated, yes. Maybe that is making us play a little bit tighter, a little bit more nervous, I don't know, but you've just got to take it week by week. Some of the teams we beat last year we've got on the schedule again this year. Obviously we know we can win games. We proved that in the first half of the season, so we have got to go out and play hard and play with intensity. I'm not sure we showed up for the whole game Saturday."
On playing tough opponents:
"The way we look at it, every stretch of the season is important, but obviously the last game and the next two games are some tough opponents. Obviously, Penn State's defense, everyone knows, is one of the most solid defenses in the country. We've got to go out there and stay focused, that's all. Kind of the same way as when we played Ohio State last year, you just know coming into the game you can't make as many mental mistakes because they will capitalize on them. We know that coming into this week defensively and offensively that if we don't come to play we could lose again, but if we do come to play we know we're capable of beating anybody in the Big Ten. Kind of like the whole season the top 25 around the country, just because you're number one in the country or number three in the country if you don't show up you know anybody could beat you. All we can do is go out there on Saturday and play with the highest level of intensity."
On how James Hardy has changed since Kellen's arrival in Bloomington:
"Mainly his work ethic has changed. He came in as one of the hardest working guys we had, but with his training in the offseason, he is working on things, like simple things that I probably wouldn't even notice. How DB's notice how he lowers his shoulder or lowers his body when he comes out of his break, working on things like that. Using his hands more to get off of the jam. He just has become a wide receiver, whereas I felt like maybe he was kind of doing like I did my freshman year and kind of living off of his height, his talent and his hands. Now he is concentrating on all of his skills, and I feel like that is showing on his receiving touchdowns because he gets down in the red zone and he makes the teams pay if they want to play him one-on-one."
On the team's attitude after Saturday's loss:
"I have seen a difference in the attitude. I think we were more upset. We have the Big Ten Network in (the training room), so you come in Sunday for treatment and it is on so you've got to face the music. I guess that kind of helped and kind of hurt. The guys that don't want to watch it, you can always leave the training room, but the majority of the guys did sit in there and watch it and just realized that we just didn't come to play. They had more intensity throughout the whole game. We came to play for about the first quarter, and after that we couldn't score on offense and the defense was having trouble stopping them. This year I feel like after a loss people are able to face it, to look at the film and figure out what we're going to do wrong. Kind of the model that Hardy has, you don't watch the games you win as much. You watch the games you lose much more. You learn more stuff when you lose than you win. It is always fun to watch your highlight when you win the game, but what about when you had to go in there and take a loss that we just took? You have got to criticize yourself and be able to take criticism from your coaches. I feel like we're doing a good job of that this year. We were able to bounce back after the Illinois week, so hopefully we can get it done this week too."
On being fired up about being on ESPN:
"For the whole team, I can't say. Personally, for myself not really. People from back home call me and ask if the game is on TV, and most of the time I have no idea. ESPN, ESPN2, ABC you know I'm not sure from week to week what network we're on, so it is more of you have to come out and play the team that is on the field. We came out and played hard against Western Michigan and Akron. Obviously, those games weren't nationally televised. You can't just show up for the big games on national television, but of course it is always a good thing if you are going to be on ESPN or ESPN2. The country hasn't been following IU. If they get their first chance to look at us on ESPN, you don't want see us go out there and fall on our face, so hopefully that will inspire guys to show up and play a lot harder."
On why he thinks IU lost at Michigan State:
"I would say the level of intensity. From the snap they came out and they were pumped the whole game. Even after we scored on the first drive on that one play, there was still trash talking going on by them. Guys were still coming just as hard, and they played with that intensity, with that speed the whole game. They never let off. We weren't able to match that intensity like we did in Iowa where we came into a hostile environment, and they just fed off of their crowd. After you get up a couple scores, they just kept rolling and kept rolling. Momentum stayed on their side, and we weren't able to bounce back on either side of the ball."
On what Homecoming means to him:
"For those guys that are older than me to be able to come back and see some of the traditions that they saw when they were there, when they had their winning years with their bowl games is cool. Some of the guys come back from the 1993 team and things like that. Kind of like when I go back home, I like to go back and see my high school team win. I'm pretty sure they go out every Saturday if they know that a guy that they played with or a guy that they played a couple of years ago, they always try to play that much harder to try to impress him to show that they're trying to keep the tradition alive, or get it started back up in our case where we've slipped off a little bit, but we're trying to go bowling this year. Homecoming is always a fun time. Honestly, we've still got to play Penn State. Homecoming or the first game of the season, we've still got to match their intensity on the field."
On Penn State's defense:
"I would say, take Michigan State's intensity and maybe double it. Their linebackers are all over the field. They always try to get all 11 hats to the ball. They just play with a high level of intensity, and they always play like they know that they are better than you up front, they're better than you at linebacker, they're better than you at corner. That is how they carry themselves. They have somewhat of a swagger even on film. We can't count on even if we do get a small lead that maybe they'll die on us because from what we've seen the of defense, it never gives up."
On the fan attendance at home games:
"We've got a pretty loud student section and they do a good job of cheering us on, but we can't always just depend on a home crowd every game to pump ourselves up. You've got to go out there and play the game. Obviously, it is Homecoming so there is going to be more of a crowd there. More people will be coming back from different states, but even if it was the first game of the season and it was raining and almost a thunderstorm and no one was in the stands, you can't make that excuse for not coming out with that much intensity. We have to play the team that is on the field, so crowd noise always helps us and is always a 12th man. We love it when they come out and cheer for us, so hopefully we'll get great crowd support and they can help us somewhat down the stretch in the third of fourth quarters if it comes down to that."
On Illinois' use of the spread offense against Penn State:
"Obviously they did a good job of spreading them out. That is the name. They like to match up with their receivers and keep turning around people in the box for the run, so hopefully we can exploit some things that they do. They have a few tendencies we've seen in film. With how my position coach, Coach Canada, game plans, hopefully we can exploit some of those things on offense."
On the importance of a good start:
"That helps in any game, especially a game like this where the defense is going to be tough. If you get some field goals you get some touchdowns early, hopefully our defense, they come out and they play hard every week. If they go out there and play hard, and we go out and play hard anything is possible. It has been a crazy year in the Big Ten, so it is whoever comes out with the most intensity on Saturday I feel like."