Oct. 25, 2010
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Head Coach Bill Lynch met with members of the media on Monday to discuss last weekend's game against Illinois and look forward to this weekend's contest against Northwestern. He was joined by senior captains Ben Chappell and Tyler Replogle.
Below is a partial transcript of the press conference.
Head coach Bill Lynch
"The game didn't change over the weekend. The turnovers and mistakes, you can't win a Big Ten football game playing like that. Turnovers that led directly to scores and field position was dramatically in their favor because of our mistakes both with the turnovers and the kicking game. It overshadowed some really good performances.
"I thought defensively we played very solid. We gave up very few big plays, we limited our missed tackles, and our assignment mistakes have dramatically gone down over the last few weeks. A loss is a loss and that's the way we look at it. It's a team win and a team loss, but certainly I think they should be pointed out that they made good improvement. I think the fact that we stayed pretty healthy on defense and solidified who plays where over the last couple of weeks has really helped.
"Offensively, that's where the turnovers came from. Give Illinois credit, they are very good defensive football team much like we knew while preparing for them and watching film all week. You guys follow statistics, but when we really analyze who they had we knew they were a very good defensive team. I think the biggest thing they were able to do, much like Ohio State, was put pressure on Ben [Chappell] without blitzing. Therefore they could play different coverages and I think that led to some of the turnovers. That aside, we did some good things on offense but it is totally overshadowed by the turnovers and the final score. Statistics are very misleading at times and I think that game was one of them. I think we have had two that way this year.
"Three key things we think are very important are turnovers, third-down conversations and big plays. If you win two of the three, you generally win the football game. We won two of the three against Michigan and lost because the big play value was in their favor. We won two Saturday and lost by 30 points. That shows you how big the turnovers were. Like all of us, we can play with statistics but it was a unique game in that instance. I thought we had a great week of preparation but the breakdown and execution at key times didn't give us a chance to win.
"We're moving on to Northwestern and they have a good football team. They lost a tough one but played a great game against Michigan State. Michigan State made some great plays at the end to win the game. Take nothing away from Northwestern's effort and the kind of season their having. We have had a very competitive series with them over the last seven or eight years and I think it will be the same on Saturday."
On Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa:
"That's what makes him very difficult to defend. They've had some very good quarterbacks there over the last several years. They have done a great job and it fits their system. The first time he really jumps out at you is a year ago when Mike Kafka gets hurt and he takes them into Iowa and they beat Iowa. He is the starter this year and it's the system too. It is a spread attack, but they throw high percentages throws and have great receivers. He's well-schooled and he is very accurate. The thing that is tough is that you have to defend the run with him. When you get those kinds of quarterbacks that can run as well as throw, it makes you be very sound on defense and everyone must cover their responsibilities."
On Northwestern's offensive attack:
"Arkansas State really did the same things. They were very patient. But we limited the big plays and kept it in front of us. Last year up [in Evanston] we didn't do that and we gave up big plays and scores. If we have a breakdown they'll make us pay for it. We have to do a good job of being sound on defense and find a way to put some pressure on him without letting him run around. And then we have to do a good job of tackling after they complete passes. When we're this far into the season, they're going to complete passes. And our guys understand that and we have to be patient and show great discipline and keep playing. I think that's a real key when you play a team like that because they are well-coached and they have great disciplined football players that believe in their system. Northwestern is a team that never panics, so we have to be ready to play the same kind of football game."
On focusing on the game at hand:
"This sounds real cliché but it really is the truth. It's the next game. We take real pride in being consistent in how we approach things. From the Towsen game all the way to Purdue, it's the next game. Our routine and how we prepare and all that, I think if you all of sudden make one game bigger than the other then you lose credibility with our players. Last week you said this and this week you said this. There must be a consistent approach. This is like the Illinois week. It's great to be home, there's no question about it, but I think the overriding thing is the respect we have for Northwestern. I think Pat Fitzgerald is an outstanding football coach and his staff, they recruit the right way and they coach them. They are a very good football team and they have been. They have maintained success, so it's a great challenge to play against them. You have to be sound when you play them because you aren't going to trick them. With that being said, that encompasses all your time and energy to worry about all the other things."
On Northwestern's defense:
"Defensively, same thing. They are very well-schooled and tough. They are very well coached and are in the right places. They give you a variety of things and you have to be prepared for it. You very seldom find them out of position. They run to the ball and tackle well. They keep the ball in front of them and don't give up a lot of big plays. That's why I respect how they play so much. You have to beat them because they're not going to beat themselves. It's not like they have this great pass rush. They're just a really sound defensive team with hard-nosed players that play the game the way it's supposed to be played."
On Northwestern blitzing:
"They will blitz some but I wouldn't say they're a sellout blitz them. But they have blitzes and zone blitzes and they'll play zone and man coverage. They have the whole package. It is very well thought out and sound, which is why they play everyone tough."
On punt protection:
"We have the advantage of sitting down, studying it and watching every punt all season. The breakdowns we have are all correctable and we spent a great deal of time this morning as a group that works with special teams, much more time than usual. I am confident we will get it straightened out.
"It's a combination of things. The first one was a poor snap that took [Chris Hagerup] out of the box. The second one was a breakdown on our protection in the certain punt rush they had. You are always looking to speed things up, but to point the finger at any one particular thing wouldn't be right."
On Ben's turnovers:
"If you are a team that turns the ball over week after week then you have to take a good look at what we're doing wrong here. It doesn't make me feel any better, but I saw where Drew Brees threw a bunch of them yesterday and a couple of them went back for scores. That's pretty uncharacteristic there too. It must have been that weekend in football because I don't get to watch much pro football and I did see the replays late last night, and it seemed like it was going on all over the league. That doesn't make me feel any better but you're right. Those are correctable too and nobody knows that more than Ben. Dusty [Kiel's] at the end, he's a young kid who has played very little, so I'm not worried about that one either. It would be different if we were a team that was consistently fumbling the football or those kinds of things."
On blitzing linebackers up the middle as opposed to from the edge:
"We've done both throughout the year depending on who we are playing, and there have been a couple of games where we've done it and they picked it up so fast, you didn't even know we'd done it, and the ball was going the other way. So, we're doing a better job of alleviating those big plays. We have it all in our package, but each game is a little bit different in who we are playing.
"We have played a variety of offenses, from the Michigan spread, which is really more running than passing, to Ohio State that does a little bit of everything, to Illinois that ran some option as well as ran the ball and got in some spread, to Northwestern, which is a true spread pass offense. You have to have a little bit in your package to defend whatever you're playing that week. I do think having the same people playing the same spots week after week has helped us to where we're a little more confident in what we're doing and having people in the right spots."
On running out of time in the season:
"The whole thing is, if we spend time worrying about that, then we're not doing our job. That is why I go back to the answer I had before that our approach is consistent and we're going to have our guys as well prepared as we can every week to give ourselves the best chance to win. I think our guys respond well to that. I thought they were well prepared Saturday and we just had one of those games where we didn't give ourselves a chance to win it. You want to have a sense of urgency every week from week one. That is what good football teams do."
On the leaders on the team stoking the emotions of the team:
"We have good leadership on this team, and more than that we have a group of guys that really care. That bus ride home wasn't that long, but it was a quiet bus ride. The guys were very disappointed and that is what you're looking for in a football team. Am I confident that they'll bounce back, and will they be excited to play? Yes."
On what he has seen from Ben Chappell since the Illinois game:
"He is a beat up guy. I saw him yesterday and he was in the tub. He had his feet in the tub and ice packs on his shoulders and all of that stuff. He will be fine. If you're going to play in that position in a pass offense where you don't really run the ball a lot, you're going to take some shots because they've got free reign. He got hit. They were all legal hits, but you went back and looked at it and they got after him.
"There was a marked difference in his completion percentage from when he got hit and didn't get hit, and the turnovers go with it. So, he is beat up, but he is not down. He is a competitor, and nobody wants to do well and perform and lead and win more than Ben. He'll bounce back, but he is a little bit sore."
On Chappell running the ball:
"There are times when you have to do that. If they're not going to defend you, you've just got to take it and run with it. I thought he did a good job of going down. A couple of different times when he did it, he went down. Generally, those type of hits aren't the same as when you're back there unprotected throwing the ball. He got a couple of those that knocked the wind out of him and he kept going. I don't mind the quarterback running. Obviously that is not a big part of our offense because that is not what he does well. But, when it is there, he has got to take it."
On the zone read continuing to be a part of the offense:
"It is never going to be a huge part with Ben. I'm not saying anything that is going to fool any of our opponents because we're in the league and they all know us and they all know him. They know what his strengths and weaknesses are. But, it is part of the game that if they just don't defend him, he is going to take advantage of it. I couldn't give you the answer to that until I get into the games week by week to see how they're going to play us, but we're not going to fool the next five opponents because we're in the same league and know each other so well, and he has played enough football in the league that they all know him."
"I marvel at the guy. Not only is he a great quarterback and football player, but as a person and as a leader he is everything you're looking for. That is why I know he'll bounce back. He is a competitor. He made some really good plays too. Here we're talking about a guy that had 26 completions and 278 yards against a really good defense.
"I never had a day like that on my best day. We're talking about four or five plays that you'd like to have back. That was out of 83. We did some things decently, but it is totally overshadowed by the turnovers."
On the play of the running backs:
"I thought [Antonio Banks] played well. I thought Trea Burgess really played well. Sometimes with Trea, particularly in our offense, it isn't all about rushing yards, but he is a really good pass blocker, much like Darius [Willis] was. Darius was much better at that than people realize because that kind of gets lost in a drop-back passing game. Trea really blocked hard and blocked well. There were times where we put him one-on-one with defensive ends. He played a really good game.
"Antonio ran the ball well. Antonio is a good running back. He'll keep getting better because he'll keep learning the protections and those kinds of things as well. You don't want to get to a point where you are swapping guys and it is going to be this play because he is in and this play because he is in. He is a good back. That is why we played him, why we thought from the start that he was going to be good to play."
On the defense improving:
"Lets go back. Mitchell Evans and Matt Ernest, I've been watching our game with [Northwestern] last year. Those guys were playing offense. Donnell Jones was playing corner. Now all of a sudden you've got three new guys, and they've been able to stay healthy and then practice together and play together. And then you throw Adrian Burks in there who has played.
"Leon Beckum was an inside linebacker. Now, we decide to throw him outside and we're three games into it and it was a really good move. Jeff Thomas was somewhere in California this time last year. He has played much better and Tyler Replogle has always been a good player. Up front, we had to find the right fits with the ends, and Darius [Johnson], once he got healthy, he is a good football player. He is a very, very good football player. I think Terrence Thomas has played really well. We were probably sitting here in the preseason and he wasn't the guy everybody was talking about that was going to be an anchor end. Well, that is what he has been. The guys inside have played and they've been what we expected.
"So, there is a lot of mixing and matching that went about. Early on I said I thought this was going to be a good defense. We knew it was going to take some time. That is why numbers can be misleading. They can be misleading in a lot of ways, but I think what we've seen is that there has been a lot of improvement. I think now that they've played together and not just guys playing on that side of the ball that haven't, has really helped."
Senior linebacker Tyler Replogle
On the Illinois game:
"There are a lot of areas on defense where we need to improve. Some specific things are they had that one long drive in the first half. We need to continue to improve on our execution."
On the defense settling in:
"There are a lot of new faces on defense this year and we're at that point in the season where I think we're starting to make strides in our defense. I think especially in the last few weeks our defense has really improved.
"When you talk about experience, not a lot of people talk about practice experience, it is game experience. I think that is what our defense has been exposed to this year."
On Northwestern's similarities from last year's game:
"Northwestern is a great football team. From a defensive perspective, they're a great passing football team and they've got a great quarterback. Nothing really specific from last year other than we just need to watch the film and understand that there is a great offense that we're going against."
On what makes Northwestern so good in the passing game:
"Obviously it is their quarterback. He is a great quarterback. He has a great rate of efficiency. The coaches know what they are doing with their offensive game plan. I think it is a combination of those two things."
On IU's defensive improvements:
"It is a whole defense. If any one person messes up it is going to be a touchdown, so I think when our defense plays better, it is because everyone is playing better."
On comparing Dan Persa to Mike Kafka:
"They're similar quarterbacks. They're great quarterbacks. They're really accurate and smart with the ball."
On differences in the offense from last year:
"They do little things differently, but it is pretty much the same offense."
On the defense's mindset in games:
"Just keeping your head in the game, I think that is something that comes with experience. I believe that our defense is at a point now where we know the offense is going to make some plays. We go against some pretty good offenses in the Big Ten, they're going to make some plays. One of our mottos is make them play one more play. That is what our goal is for Saturday."
On facing a different type of offense:
"We've kind of gone up against a different style of offense every week, with Terrelle Pryor and Denard Robinson. This is more a traditional spread offense, with a lot of wide receivers. They're trying to dink and dunk down the field."
On the emotional significance of this game:
"Every week is a pretty big week, so you would hope we don't have anything extra for this week because we should be giving it every week. I think everyone knows what we went through last year. We're in the midst of the Big Ten schedule. We're looking forward to it. We're looking forward to a hard week of practice and getting better."
On having a sense of urgency with the end of the season approaching:
"If all of sudden, I'm like, `I've got to start playing now,' what was I doing my first three-and-a-half years here?"
On the team's mood since Saturday:
"It hasn't been good. We needed to play better on Saturday, so watching the film and just the realization that we need to play better. We're going to watch the film today as a team and as soon as we hit the practice field today, it's on to Northwestern. Obviously, it hasn't been good but we're looking forward to watching the film and getting it behind us."
Senior quarterback Ben Chappell:
On Northwestern's defense:
"They're very sound defensively. They've got a great coach who gets them where he wants them, he's a defensive guy. They run their scheme so it's going to be a challenge. Because they're so sound, hopefully we can exploit that and know where they're going to be and find some holes."
On what the last two days have been like:
"It was a disappointing loss, obviously from our perspective as an offense. We didn't do our job, we really didn't do what we've been saying all year with finishing. We didn't finish throws, we didn't finish catches, we didn't finish blocks, didn't finish runs, didn't finish drives, so that's probably the most disappointing thing about it. I don't believe the final score is indicative of how the game went. Offensively, giving them that many points is inexcusable. The defense played great, I thought. They're going to go back and look at the film and there's probably going to be things they can work on just like us. It just wasn't good enough."
On last year's Northwestern game:
"Last year against them we jumped up on them early. We've got to give them credit, though, they didn't quit and they came back and really it came down to a couple plays here and there - a special teams mistake, not scoring in the red zone and stuff like that that we saw last Saturday that we just can't do. Obviously we're expecting a similar game [to last year's] because I think they're a similar team to last year's and they're a really good football team, so we'll be ready for a four-quarter game."
On recent red zone struggles:
"I wish I knew. It's something that we've just got to deal with and come up with a better way to go at it."
On missing James Brewer:
"James is obviously a great player, so we miss him. But those guys playing right now are fighting their butts off. I can't ask for anything more. Hopefully we can get James back soon and that will put a smile on my face."
On Andrew McDonald's catch:
"That wasn't by design, that's for sure."
On his running more against Illinois:
"That wasn't by design either. I was just taking what was there. If they play a 30 front and three down, we have to be able to run the ball. I think we did that pretty well. If no one's going to take me, I have to be able to get a couple yards, which I did a couple times. It just comes to taking what they give us and really just executing, having some tempo to what we're doing. Throwing, catching and blocking - basic stuff."
On the use of the read option:
"It's just something that's in our offense. To get four wides on the field is probably getting our best players on the field with those wideouts. So to be able to do some read stuff and keep the defense honest rather than pack it all in there and run power is better. Obviously, we feel like we can do both, but if we continue to mix it up, we can keep them off balance."
On having a sense of urgency with the end of his college career approaching:
"I think it's just important that we continue to do what we've done, just take it one week at a time and stick with the process. If we start getting nervous or saying, `We've got to win this game. We're not going to win this game.' - I don't think that's the way to go after it. We've got five Big Ten football games left coming off a tough game, especially from my perspective offensively, playing the way we did. We just know we're better than that. We've got another chance on Saturday, so that's what we've got to do."
On what he's done for rehab:
"I actually had a midterm last night in advanced managerial accounting, so I had to study for that all day. I just came in and did treatment at 11 and there wasn't much they could do for me aside from just putting some ice on some different spots. Just trying to let it heal. Nothing's broken, so I'll be fine. We've got a good cold tub and a good hot tub in there, so I'm sure I'll be in there quite a lot this week and continue to do that stuff, just like everyone else on the team."