Head Coach Bill Lynch's Weekly Press Conference
Oct. 20, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Head Coach Bill Lynch met with members of the media on Tuesday to discuss last week's game against Illinois and to look forward to Saturday's game at Northwestern. Coach Lynch was joined by junior Ben Chappell and senior linebacker Matt Mayberry.Here is a partial transcript of Tuesday's press conference:
"Our Scout Team Players of the Week on offense were Aaron Price and Duwyce Wilson. Defensively, our award winners were Milton Owens, a defensive lineman, and Peter St. Fort, a secondary player. On special teams Kyle Dietrick was our winner. Captains for the Northwestern game are Matt Mayberry, Austin Thomas, Ben Chappell and Mitchell Evans.
"Looking back at the game, obviously it was a good win for us. I think certainly the levels of effort and intensity we played with were the key, especially early on in the game when we had some success moving the ball and were playing good defense, but we weren't getting any points to show for it. I thought our guys really hung in there and kept playing. We kept playing when they scored and made it 7-3.
"We simply had a different mindset this week in terms of buying into playing the next play, not looking at the scoreboard, and realizing the outcome will take care of itself. I think from a statistical viewpoint we certainly talk about how stats show week in and week out, especially in a competitive game. Sometimes when you get a blowout one way or another, the stats don't hold up.
"One of the things we knew we had to do against Illinois that we hadn't done against Ohio State and Virginia was getting some big plays. They don't have to be touchdown plays, but they need to be explosive because it becomes difficult to drive the ball five and six yards at a time. We had six big plays that certainly helped and a couple of the plays resulted in touchdowns. The catch and run by Damarlo and the long touchdown pass to Tandon were big plays. I was really happy with Troy Wagner and he made a great catch on his touchdown. He has been a very good blocker for us, but hasn't been really involved in the passing game so it was great to see a kid like Troy get a big play.
"The other thing we talk about so much is turnovers. We created three turnovers, which were really big. The turnovers led to points, but also, the turnovers helped stop Illinois from scoring. It was 13-7 and we went for it on fourth down, but didn't pick up the first down. We got a stop and could not move the ball, and then they had an opportunity to score and take the lead late in the third quarter.
"The other side of this argument is we had one turnover, but the defense came out and made a great stand to force a field goal attempt, which they missed. In those two areas, big plays and turnovers, we turned the table in what we have been doing the last couple weeks. I think that had a lot to do with it and is something we certainly concentrate on during the week in our preparation. The other thing is we were 50 percent on third down conversions, which is a big improvement over the previous two weeks. Illinois did a great job converting, particularly in the fourth quarter. I think those are areas we look back on and realize we played much better at from a statistical standpoint.
"Northwestern is a team I have great respect for. I don't know of a football program out there that I have more respect for than Northwestern. Pat Fitzgerald and his staff have done a great job in the way their team plays. Defensively, they are very difficult to move the ball against. They are well coached, tough, in the right place, they tackle, they pursue and they play from start to finish.
"Offensively, they are truly a spread offense and do a great job of spreading the ball around to different receivers. I think [Mike] Kafka is the right fit for them at quarterback. He also has the ability to run the ball. I believe last year, he came in and rushed for 200 yards against Minnesota.
"They do a great job of converting. For a pass offense, time of possession is something they are good at because they can put together 14-, 15-, or 18-play drives. This means they are very well coached and execute well. We have had two great games with them the last couple of years. We did not play them for a couple years, but we had a great game in Evanston in 2007. They drove the ball the length of the field to score late and we had the ball back and turned the ball over at the end to lose. Last year was the same kind of game in which we were able to hold them off at the end and win. We certainly are going up to Evanston knowing we are going to have to battle for 60 minutes because Northwestern will."
On Will Patterson, Donnell Jones, and Chris Adkins being out this weekend:
On preparing the defense for Northwestern with some defensive injuries:
"With Will, I have thought all along since spring that we really have four starting linebackers. Justin Carrington is a fifth-year senior who has played a lot, but hasn't played as much as Will, Tyler [Replogle], and Matt [Mayberry]. He certainly has played a lot of football for us, so he will step in and play for Will. From a linebacker standpoint, Leon Beckum should be back on Saturday, so that gives us depth at this position we haven't had the last couple of weeks.
"Donnell's position is one you filter down as you keep losing secondary players. I thought Collin Taylor did a nice job of stepping in last week and certainly will be involved this week. You just hope guys like Collin have been locked in, but haven't gotten the opportunity to play are ready to go. Adrian Burks and Andre LaGrone are guys that are going to have to step up and provide the depth. Last week, it was Richard Council who came in and played well when Donnell went down.
"I think that is why practice is so important as kids come down with injuries. A kid has to get himself prepared all of the time, because he doesn't know what week he will be called upon. Every rep since the beginning of August pays off and I think Collin Taylor is a perfect example of that. It will be somebody else this week who has to step up."
On shuffling the defense against a quarterback like Kafka of Northwestern:
"There is certainly a threat with Kafka running the ball and they throw the ball very well. They spread the football around a lot. Their quick passing game is difficult to get to the quarterback because he gets rid of the ball quickly. It will be an important week of practice to get everyone prepared because we can put on the depth chart who the starters are Thursday, but we know the next guys are a play away from playing just like we went through on Saturday. It does stress you as a coach, but playing this offense certainly worries you because they spread you out so much. We have played spread teams throughout the year, but Northwestern is a team who really spreads the ball around well."
On who would be the first linebacker off of the bench now with injuries:
On the Illinois win being a confidence booster going into the Northwestern game:
"I think we are capable just as Illinois is capable of beating anyone. Certainly, each week you have to be ready to go. By the time you get to this point in the year, any one win at this point is good for your confidence. There is a maturity that goes with having a little success in that you have to put the success aside and get ready for practice and the next team. That is what really good football teams and programs do. You can't get too down on a loss and shut the book on it and move on. We will see how we react, but I'm looking forward to practice today and preparing for Northwestern."
On getting a good feeling about how your team will play on Saturday during the week of practice:
"I was very confident of our preparation last week because of the intensity of our practices. If you run into me on Saturday afternoon and ask how you are going to play, I never know for sure how we are going to play. I did feel like we were prepared and had a good week of practice for Illinois. I was concerned about our preparation the week before against Virginia because so many guys did not practice. I've seen guys through the years have bad practices and show up on Saturday and play very well. Generally, when a guy doesn't practice all week, he doesn't play really well on Saturday.
"One thing that is interesting as you watch college football, is the first few weeks, there are a lot of upsets because you don't know your football team. I don't care who you are because you start the season out not knowing what kind of football team you have. That is when you see the upsets or near upsets. Then you get into the season and things start to play out and generally in the middle of the year, you have those games.
"If you have two evenly matched teams and one team isn't playing at their best, is flat, or whatever term people want to use, then you have a blowout. You saw that around the country this week, too. I know that from checking scores on Sunday morning. If you have one team heavily favored over another, that is generally when there is an upset if you aren't ready to play each and every week. By the end of the year, you are through all of that in sense you know your team, been through the emotional highs, and the best team generally wins at the end of the year.
"As a coach, do you know? You do not know until you line up and play. I talk to Don [Fischer] two hours before kickoff, but I don't know for sure until the ball is kicked off."
On this game being a battle for one of the last bowl spots in the Big Ten:
"My biggest concern is how we practice today and hopefully we can get that message across to our players. Hopefully, they are setting individual goals for how they practice today and what they want to get accomplished today. Then we will regroup and do it again Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and play a game on Saturday. I think whenever you start looking long term, then that is when you are not at your best.
"That is a human condition, I think. We all want to look ahead and play out the variables, but it always comes back to get you in sports. You better take care of that day and that is certainly what we stress and goes all the way back to playing the next play. That is how we have to approach this game, and the game against Northwestern is a big football game for us. I'm sure Northwestern feels the same way, but we are not going to openly talk about it. Our kids are aware of the ramifications, but if we keep talking about going to a bowl game and not worrying about today, we are never going to get there."
On the year Matt Mayberry has had:
On Damarlo Belcher's importance to the team:
"Your guys have to make the most of those opportunities and there were opportunities that came Damarlo's way Saturday. I was proud of him because he took advantage of his opportunities. We have two really good young wide receivers in Tandon [Doss] and Damarlo. I am confident they will continue to improve and work at it. They can catch the ball and run with the ball after the catch, which makes a receiver very dangerous."
On the emergence of good wide receivers and the pistol offense:
On the touchdown pass to Troy Wagner being a confidence booster for Ben Chappell:
"He is not going to beat you with his legs and he knows that. He is a smart football game who is one of the few quarterbacks I have been around who sees it. Ben can come off the field after a play or series and tell you exactly what he saw. You can't see it on the sideline I guarantee you because there are so many bodies in the way. When you turn the tape on Sunday, what he told you he saw is what happened. Ben is a unique quarterback who can do that. It takes a mature player who studies and works hard in the film room, so I think all of these aspects develop the confidence. When he makes plays like the throw to Troy, that will certainly help in his development."
On how difficult it is for a coach to decide what to focus on in practice daily:
"We figure out a lot what we want to do in practice today. It is all scripted out and we spend a lot of time doing that. It is my job to ensure we are practicing with the intensity it takes to play on Saturday, but you do have to be smart particularly with the physical capability of the athletes. When I played, everyone was slow and no one hit that hard or got hurt. Now, if you do it with these guys every play, it is tough. You need enough intensity where you are playing at the speed of the game so that each and every Saturday you are ready to play.
"Everyone has a different philosophy about practice. There are some major programs that win all of the time and play after New Year's Day, but don't tackle all year. There are some that line up and scrimmage every Wednesday. There are different ways they do it even in the NFL. I think each coach has to have his own philosophy and know what his team needs. I don't think you blindly say what you are going to do in practice each day of the week. I throw ideas off of the staff, but someone has to make the final decision. We do not have 10 guys vote. You talk to everyone who knows the kids and make a decision based on that. You have to have a gut feeling what a team needs and every team is different. Each week is a little bit different as well."
On how his team will prepare this week for Northwestern in practice:
On Collin Taylor's play last week and competing for a spot:
On looking at the film on Sunday and realizing certain "fluky" plays shouldn't happen:
On having defensive back injuries and looking at using true freshmen:
On Nick Freeland and being comfortable with his range:
Check back soon