Oct. 18, 2010
Press Conference Video
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Head Coach Bill Lynch met with members of the media today to look back at Saturday's win over Arkansas State and preview this weekend's matchup against Illinois. He was joined by senior quarterback Ben Chappell and junior offensive lineman Justin Pagán.
The following is a partial transcript of Monday's press conference.
"We really had some good performances on Saturday. It was obviously a crazy game. I got home late last night and turned on the end of the Colts game and they really had the same thing. So it happens everywhere.
"All in all, I thought our passing game was very good against what I think are some very good defensive backs and some tight man coverage. The wide receivers responded to the challenge of beating the press coverage. They knew they were going to have to make plays on the ball in the air and they did a great job of that. And, of course, Ben [Chappell] showed his toughness as he hung in there.
"I thought our revamped offensive line performed admirably. A guy I point out is Marc Damisch. What he went through over a couple-week period and got back here, didn't practice until Wednesday ¬- we moved him to tackle and he probably thought he was going to be a backup, but by the first series of the game he was the only tackle left and played very well, which is a real credit to him.
"I thought Trea Burgess played well. I think the guys in the program saw Darius [Willis] wasn't getting any better but until you know that he is not going to play, you kind of think you are going to be a backup and be trusted in that role and I think he handled it. He was banged up a little bit and certainly he would like to have those two fumbles back, but that's part of playing the game.
"I thought overall our defense played much better. The things that we wanted to correct from the previous two weeks, we did a much better job. We kept the ball in front of us, we didn't give up any of the big plays, we tackled better and I thought our front guys played the run well. And in the back end, our corners both [Matt] Ernest and Adrian Burks
played well and then Mitchell Evans
had a couple interceptions and I thought Donnell [Jones] played tough. So overall I think our defense played much better.
"Special teams, we were poor in kickoff coverage, I don't need to cover that. We will address that starting this afternoon and throughout the week. The rest of the special teams really wasn't too bad.
"So overall I thought there were some good performances but obviously there were some things to work on and many were talked about on Saturday night. We had too many penalties, the kickoff coverage and we want to finish a game so we don't have to make it so exciting.
"That's part of playing this game. There are a lot of good football players out there for both teams that play awfully hard. We see it all across the country when we watch SportsCenter at night, crazy things happen and the same thing in the NFL.
"Illinois is playing very well. The Michigan State game was really closer than the final score. Their win at Penn State is indicative. The way they played Ohio State, their defense is outstanding. And after so many games the statistics start meaning something and they are right up there not only Big Ten wise but also nationally on defense. Their run defense is very good. Their scoring defense is very good.
"On offense they are running the ball very well. I like their quarterback. He's a young guy but he is a good runner. He throws the ball well. They have a great tailback so they are a good football team we are playing. Going back on the road, we need another good week of preparation, which we are expecting, and it should be a good football game on Saturday."
On defensive adjustments Saturday:
"I thought the staff really had our guys prepared and they executed. They had a long first drive and give them credit, they made a lot of plays and converted some third downs but for the most part after that drive we played very well. We ran to the ball and kept the ball in front. We had good pursuit and we didn't have as many missed tackles. We had the fewest number of missed assignments. You are going to have some with all the adjustments that go into all the formations. But I thought the secondary got us in the right coverages because with all the formations you have to make some checks. So overall we were pleased how we played defensively."
On kickoff coverage:
"Part of it may not be change at all, and you just have to play better. I think Mitch Ewald has really kicked the ball well. A couple of the kicks were into the wind and we didn't get the distance or the hang time that you would like so that enters into it a bit. Some we just didn't get off blocks and that was a lot of it. We got running but we got blocked. One of them we missed several tackles at the point and the guy squirted out the other end.
"It's a combination of a lot of things. We'll work at all of it. Some of it will be scheme, some of it will be personnel and some of it is just executing and playing better, like getting off blocks and fundamental things. It'd be different if we'd gone through six games of just really poor kick coverage. Then I'd be a lot more concerned. We just didn't cover well on Saturday. We've got to correct that and make sure we have the right scheme and people in place and move forward."
On the importance of getting ahead early against Illinois' strong running game:
"It's difficult because they play such good defense. It's a proven formula to win the game if you can run the ball very well on offense and stop the ball on defense. If you can do that, you control the ball and control the clock. If you can get a lead then it plays into the strength of your defense.
"It would be nice if we can get the lead and force them into something else. Some of that is theoretical because when you watch their defense they are very athletic on defense and they have very good pass rushers. The last time we played a team that had very good pass rushers they slowed us down. We are going to be challenged up front to be able to control their front while at the same time trying to develop a run game against a good run defense. That's really the challenge of the game and I'm sure they are looking at it the other way. They want to run the ball on us and keep our offense off the field and play to their strengths."
On Jeff Thomas' development:
"We think we have the linebackers in the right spots now with Tyler [Replogle], Jeff and Leon [Beckum] all playing at the same time. I think we also have the right depth behind them. I think Chad Sherer will be a very good inside guy playing behind Tyler. Same thing with Griffen Dahlstrom - I think all the reps he is getting in practice playing behind Jeff are important. And then Damon [Sims] on the outside. We have the older guys playing and the younger guys backing them up which is an ideal situation.
"[Jeff's improvement] doesn't surprise me because he is one of those guys that loves football and it is very important to him. He is very talented and he is getting more and more comfortable each game. There is an adjustment going from junior college football to Big Ten football. He is an aggressive, get-after-it football player."
On whether the defensive changes indicate a philosophical shift:
"We didn't play different defenses, we just executed better. We could show them with the two losses in a row that it was the big plays that were getting us beat. We have to take better angles and we've worked very hard in practice on our drill work and tackling at the near hip. That's all we really did. We didn't do anything different from a philosophical or scheme standpoint. We just executed the fundamentals of it and really emphasized it because obviously in our two losses we had some problems."
"They're a good football team. You turn the tape on and it doesn't take long to look at them at them to see, they go two straight weeks of playing Ohio State and then really getting after Penn State out there. And the game was 6-3 at halftime in East Lansing. It is a good physical offensive line. The back is really good. They give you a combination of they can run option football at you as well as traditional power football. It is going to stretch you. Plus, the quarterback is a good runner, and he does a good job of passing it. But, the running game, the numbers jump out at you because they've played against good defenses and I think they're averaging 200 yards a game."
On Illinois' defense:
"It is very sound. We have had trouble against their defense in the past. It is not like, `Boy, this is a different defense.' We haven't moved it up and down the field on them at all. They've got good personnel at all the different spots. Their linebackers are back healthy. Martez [Wilson] was hurt a year ago and missed most of the year. He is a pretty imposing kid. I think their front four is all athletic, and they've got a big, big young kid inside. They've got experience in the secondary. They've played a lot of football. Coach Zook's background is as a defensive coach too, so there are still a lot of similarities with what they are doing defensively."
On Mitch Ewald's performance against Arkansas State:
"One of the goals that we have is we want to be 100 percent scoring in the red zone. Obviously, we want to score a touchdown a great majority of the time, but we also know that there are going to be situations where you can't knock it in, so you have to be 100 percent on the field goals. And, I think each week he has gotten better. He missed his very first field goal at Western Kentucky, and since then he has hit them all. His times are good, he carries himself with confidence in practice, so we certainly have developed a lot of confidence in him. If you get stopped down there, you better convert. That makes a big difference."
On Damarlo Belcher being overshadowed by Tandon Doss this year:
"He was pretty good last year, too. If you stop and think about those two kids and you look at [Terrance] Turner, they've played a lot of football, and they're good football players. I think that is advantage we have. Ben [Chappell] has confidence in all of them, and Ben is smart enough to see what the coverage is, and I think Matt Canada has done a tremendous job schooling Ben about where to go with the ball. And Billy [Lynch] has done a good job with the receivers getting them to work hard to get open.
"If they get open, the ball has got a chance to come to them. I think it is a combination of all those things. I think Damarlo has played a lot of good football for us and the beauty of it all is they are all big, physical guys that can go up and make a play for you. I thought [Max] Dedmond made a great play on the ball [on Saturday] - that was a very athletic move for a 255-pound guy. And then, Duwyce [Wilson] made the big play at the end of the half."
On Illinois' defensive philosophy:
"They give you a lot of zone. They do a good job of disguising. It is a good scheme. But they haven't shown where they're going to get up in your face and play man all over the field like we saw Arkansas State coming into the game. And, we knew Ohio State, coming into the game, was going to play man in certain situations. I don't think we've gotten caught off guard with anything as we've gone."
On using timing routes in the offense:
"Those guys are on the same page, and that kind of takes time. It is hard if you have young receivers and a young quarterback, because those are timing and you kind of have to feel your way with that. They've developed to where they are pretty good at it."
"It is something that is a national problem, and it came to the forefront. So obviously it is a very difficult situation. I know the powers that be are working very hard to come to some solution. I'm not sure you'll get a solution, but with the American Football Coaches Association, the NFL, the NFLPA and the NCAA, they are all working and have been working very hard over the last year on it. But it is a difficult thing, because it is one of those things that we don't have any control over. It is out there though. I read the article and it is very revealing. Anyone who reads it can see how it would happen.
"You don't have control over everything, but you certainly address it and speak about it. Our compliance office does a fantastic job of it. But, it is an issue and one that concerns all of us."
On the season at the midway point:
"We're at halftime, and we've got a big second half. We've got to play better. That has been our theme throughout the year that we just have to keep getting better week after week. You could ask our players, I'm not one of those guys that circles games on the schedule, and each game is as important as the other. I think our guys have responded to that and that is why you get beat one day and then you line up and get ready for the next one because that is the next most important one on the schedule.
"Certainly where we are right now, we have six straight Big Ten football games, starting with Illinois on the road, so our entire focus will be on it. We're headed into the second half of the season, and we prepare throughout the year and we talk to our players about breaking it down into quarters, so that is where we are."
On Justin Pagán:
"He is just a football player. I remember when he came in here as a freshman, we had to play him. That year we were injured and we were playing anybody that could walk. He started three spots on the offensive line as a true freshman. I think Bobby Johnson asked him if he could do it and he said, `Well, it is still offensive line, isn't it?'
"It was like to him it was just line up, put your hand on the ground and block the guy across from you. That is kind of his attitude and how he plays. That is why he is a fun guy to have on your team and he is tough. He has played through a lot of banged up ankles and feet and shoulders like all these kids do. But, to bounce from guard to tackle and back to guard, he is very versatile in the offense, which you need."
Junior offensive lineman Justin Pagán
On being back at guard after playing tackle earlier this season:
"It is good to be home. You like a vacation every once in a while, but it good to be back home."
On why he is better suited to play guard than tackle:
"I would say my upper body strength. My feet aren't as fast as other people, like [James] Brewer's. I'm just better inside. I can go out there, but it is not going to be as good as Brewer."
On blocking for different running backs:
"Honestly, I only notice who is in there after the first play of the series. Other than that, I only know if they actually run by me."
On preparing for a game for both guard and tackle:
"I'm used to it. As I've been here, I just kind of get a general overview of everybody on the defensive front. I try not to analyze people too much because then I'm thinking during the game instead of just playing it. So I take it that way and just know the positions."
On confidence from beating Illinois last year and how they are different this year:
"It helps us. With them being different, I've seen a couple of their games in the Big Ten, but I've yet to watch film. I've seen Martez Wilson, who is a Chicago kid. He flies around out there. Clay Nurse at defensive end, he is a really good kid. And, their quarterback, number two, he is a runner and he is good."
On Illinois defensive scheme change:
"I haven't watched film, but from what I've seen I think they do the same things. They've got the same type of players they had last year, athletic guys."
On the backups on the offensive line:
"Pat McShane is coming along tremendously. I'm really good friends with Pat, we hang out a lot. He really wants it and he knows his role as a backup. He does the special teams thing, but he knows that at any moment it's going to be his number called and he is ready."
On the schedule ahead:
"This is big, we've got a lot of good teams coming up. It is all Big Ten next. So, this is where we find out who we are. "
On playing in his home state:
"I only have my mom and my sister coming to the game, but it is just another game."
On whether he could play center:
"I'm sure I could do it. Pete Saxon moved my freshman year when he had to play center. He learned how to do it in a week, so I could maybe learn how to play it in a week too."
On protecting Ben Chappell:
"You've got to take a lot of pride because he is not one of those fast quarterbacks, like they call them. So, he going to be right behind you all of the time, so as Coach Mo (Moriarty) says, `call him your little sister.' You can't let your little sister get hit."
Senior quarterback Ben Chappell
On how he is feeling:
"I'm a little sore, but I'm feeling good. I always feel a little bit better after a win."
On his routine on Sundays:
"I was pretty sore yesterday, so it was tough to get out of bed, but I usually try to watch some NFL games and get in here and watch some film. I get in here, get some treatment and get ready for the next week."
"I only got to watch the Michigan State game. I ran through that on film real quick. They're good. They're much improved from last year. I think their defensive line is really good. Their other guys are good too. I think they're improved. Some similar guys back on the linebacker core, but they're all improved. They're a physical team and it is a pretty good team."
On their defensive scheme changes:
"It is a lot different. It is completely different. They are a little more mixed. It is a true Big Ten defense, committed to stop the run. They play a lot of three deep, so it will be interesting to see if they come out with the same scheme against us. They're a little bit more multiple than they have been in the past. When Curt Mallory was there, they were pretty base cover two. They played a lot of that, but it will be obviously different with the new coordinator."
On the team's last game at Illinois:
"That was my first start. It was an interesting game. We were pretty dinged up and they got after us. They had a good year that year, obviously. It was a night game, an away game and great environment, and they played well. We didn't. We had a different game plan coming in offensively. But, it was my first start, and I'll never forget it I'm sure. We'll hopefully get a little bit better results this time."
On the team's win at Illinois during his true freshman year:
"I didn't go. I remember watching on TV. That was when Austin [Starr] kicked the field goal to win it. I just remember it being a good game. Watched it all on TV, and it was exciting to see the guys get excited after the game-winning field goal. I know it will be probably a similar type game this year. It is going to come down to three or four plays and come down to the end of the game. So we'll be ready for a game like that."
On where he is now compared to when he was watching that game:
"A little bit different for sure. I've seen a lot in between then and now and been through quite a lot on the field. I've matured a little bit I would say. I would say I'm a different player and we're a different team too. So, we've kind of evolved."
On the midway point in the season:
"I think we're taking it one week at a time, but it is midway through the season and we have six Big Ten football games left. We've got a lot left on our schedule. It's going to be a battle these next six weeks, every Saturday. We've really got to stay mentally prepared for that and keep preparing every week like we have the first six weeks. I've been very happy with the team's preparation. We've got to continue to do that and even ratchet it up a notch. I'm happy winning the four non-conference games, that is huge for us. The two conference games we've played so far, one of them we were close and the other one we weren't, so with that we'll continue to get better. Like I said, we've got a lot left on our schedule."
On the playbook:
"I think we've done a good job of doing a lot of stuff. We've got a lot of stuff for defenses to watch, and we're going to continue to evolve as guys continue to make plays. Those are the guys we're going to get the ball to. I think Coach Canada and the offensive staff do a great job of adjusting to the personnel and also what we think the opposing defense is going to try to do to us. My guess is we're going to continue to evolve week by week, but stick to the stuff that has gotten us to where we are now as well."
On leading a scoring drive at the end of the first half against Arkansas State:
"That was a big drive for us. Like I said after the game, it took us a little bit longer than we would've like to get going, but that was a big drive for us to go down and score. We really needed it. I just tried to hang in there and deliver the ball so we were able to get it in. Those guys made good plays for us too. That was just something we needed and we knew it was there. It was just a matter of going out and executing and staying patient, staying with it drive by drive."