Oct. 30, 2007
Press Conference Video
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Head coach Bill Lynch met with the media on Tuesday, Oct. 30, for his weekly press conference in preparation for the Hoosiers' contest against Ball State on Saturday, Nov. 3.
"We played a good football team in Wisconsin. You may get tired of hearing me say that, but if you go look at the tape, that looked like a football team that was a preseason top-10 pick. Without belaboring the turnovers, field position is such a big part of the game and they did a good job of controlling it - not only did they score, but when they punted it, they punted it deep and got stops, and we were punting it back to midfield and playing on the back end. Eventually, against a good football team, that certainly adds up on you. Like every week, you learn from it, we're going to get better from it and now we have to get ready for what is a really good football team in Ball State. We don't have to do anything to get our guys' attention because of the game we had with them a year ago up in Muncie and we have a lot of the same players playing. They've got a couple guys that can really play. Nate Davis, their quarterback, is very, very good. Sometimes those guys in the Mid-American Conference are under the radar until all of a sudden they become Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich, Chad Pennington and Charlie Frye and some of those guys that get some of the exposure. This guy can really throw and he's got a couple of great receivers in Dante Love and Darius Hill - they can play anywhere - and they've got statistically the best punter in the country. We've got some very good football players coming in on Saturday, so we've got our work cut out for us this week as we get ready for them."
On the advantage of knowing Ball State heading into Saturday:
"I think knowing the kids, playing them last year, much more so than most non-conference games. I think it's probably more comparable to a conference game where you play a team year after year, and you have a pretty good feel for them - as long as the staff is intact. That's been a little bit unusual for us this year, because Michigan State and Minnesota have new staffs and we hadn't played Penn State or Northwestern. Even some of the conference games, other than some players it is a little bit different. Generally your non-conference games are that way if you don't have a traditional non-conference rival. Again, there are so many kids on both sides of the ball that know each other, a lot of former high school teammates, or certainly have played against each other in high school or went to camps together. A lot of the kids, both of us recruited them. In that sense it is more like a conference game and what you would expect of an in-state rivalry."
On the health of the offensive line:
"I'll know more as we go through the next couple of days. Matt Moses
will not play, probably for sure. Ben Wyss
has a chance - he is a tough guy, and I would say he'll practice very little, but he has got a chance. As we're starting here, Alex Perry
will be going number one at center, and I thought he did an admirable job coming in under the circumstances because really he always snaps and does those kind of things in practice, but until last week he never really lined up as a center in a team situation - he was always playing tackle. I think Pete Saxon
will make it back. Pete's shoulder is one of those that he has had problems with that some guys can bounce back quicker than others and it's probably something that will have to be taken care of when the year is over. It wasn't the first time for him. Charlie Emerson
, I think, will be much healthier. We really haven't had a chance to use Charlie much the last two weeks, so I think we feel good about that. When it is all said and done, I think other than the center position we'll have our guys out there. Some of them will be a little bit limited this week in reps in practice."
On last year's game against Ball State:
"It was such a strange set of events. Blake (Powers) was injured and couldn't play. Graeme McFarland was the starter, and then he separated his shoulder in the second series. It was really early in the game, and all of a sudden Kellen (Lewis) went in, and Kellen just added something at that time that we really needed in that game. They really took it to us early. It was 14-0 the second time we touched the ball. They went right down the field and scored twice, and then they had 23 at half. When we came out in the second half, the only thing that kept us alive in the first half was (Marcus) Thigpen's kickoff return for a touchdown. Other than that, they really took it to us.
"In the second half, Kellen made a series of plays that certainly gave us a chance to win the game, both with his feet and with his arm. Since that time, I think there has been a steady progression. Playing does that. I think in the development of any football player, a quarterback in particular, you're going to have your good and bad times. We lose sight of the fact that he is just a sophomore and he has just a little over a year as a starter. It is a tough position, and it is a tough position playing in this league. You'll see senior quarterbacks out there that don't have perfect games every week, let alone a sophomore. There are some things that you're going to have bumps in the road as you go along, but he certainly has made plays for us, both throwing and running the ball."
On what it will take to get back to winning football games:
"I think we've got to get back to playing better. We can't panic or put pressure on ourselves. We've just got to go out and play. We've got a system. We understand the system. Our kids know it. We've got to go play better. At some point in this game, you've got to congratulate the other guys too. Wisconsin is a good football team. They lost two games on the road to two really good teams, and other than that they've won 24 of 25 at home at Camp Randall. That is good football. They're going to stop a lot of people. The score got us out of our game plan a little bit. We're certainly not panicking. You're not going to come out Saturday and see a new offense. We're just going to do what we do and do it better. That is what this week is all about."
On whether this game is a must win:
"I don't think so. I really think that we've been preaching the same thing all along. I'm going to preach the same thing now. Obviously, you've got to practice what you preach. Each game is important. This is the next game. I don't think there is anything that is `must' until the season is over, and then we'll see how it all plays itself out. It is a big game. I think that the further you go, what you want in a football season is you want to play big games in November. I know that is a little bit of a cliché, but it is true. We are playing a big game in November. Ball State is playing a big game in November. They have five wins as well. We should be excited about that, and hopefully the next week is bigger yet and the last week is bigger yet. That is what you want to do as a football team. That is what you work all year for. I've been in situations where you're playing in early November and it doesn't mean anything. Those aren't any fun. That is kind of how I look at it."
On whether the team needs more than six wins to get a bowl bid:
"You may say I'm not doing my job, but I really haven't even looked at that. We had an email come through this week kind of detailing a whole bunch of [bowl scenarios], and I didn't even look at it. We've got our hands full stopping Nate Davis. The same thing, if I get carried away looking at this scenario and that scenario, then we're not doing what we have to do, and that is get ready for practice today and have a great day. I think anybody that follows me around and really knows me, that is how we go about our business. I know there are a lot really good teams in the Big Ten, and when people say the Big Ten is down, I saw that Ohio State-Penn State game on TV the other night. Ohio State doesn't look down to me, and Michigan doesn't look down to me. I thought Penn State was pretty good. Wisconsin is pretty good. I think what happened is some of the teams that have been on the bottom are better and that all of a sudden confuses people. I think we're better. I know Illinois is better. Northwestern is pretty darn good. I think everyone wants the top to be really good and the bottom to be bad, and then everything is just the same old, same old. That's just not the way it is this year. I still think the top is pretty good."
On Thigpen's big run that was called back by a penalty:
"I would say it gives a guy a pretty good feeling, `I can go the distance.' It was a nice run, nice cut. It was just one of those plays that gets called back. It certainly doesn't do anything to hurt your confidence. It is not like all of a sudden it gets called back and it doesn't register in his mind. It is still there. We talk all the time to our kids about focus and mental preparation. There is nothing that prepares you better than a little success because you can visualize what it feels like. I certainly think there will be a little carry over there."
On establishing the run more:
"I think that each week we really have attempted to run the ball. How the games have played out has dictated some of it. We got so far behind at Michigan State, that game didn't even exist it seems like. Penn State we still tried to run the ball. Last week we wanted to run the ball, and we ended up with 143 yards and had an 85-yarder called back. We were behind in all three of those games to the point where you can say you've got to establish the run. Well you do, but at some point you've got to try to win the game. If you have the ability to throw the ball, you're certainly going to use that when you're behind by more than two scores. That is why sometimes the statistics can become misleading because of the game situation. For example, sometimes you can pad your stats passing-wise when you're way behind and all of sudden a team starts playing real soft. You can just throw underneath, and all of a sudden have an 80-yard drive. `Boy, we really threw the ball well.' It's because that was the score of the game. That's why I don't get too caught up in that. I do think it is important that we have balance in our offense. It has played out this year that when we take care of the ball and have good balance, we've been a pretty good offensive football team."
On Ball State in comparison to last season:
"It is different from when we played them. We played them the second game of the year, and at that point we had one game tape on them really. Now we had some stuff from the year before, but really at that point we had one game on them. We were playing a different style of defense at that time. We were playing a three-man line, a 3-4 blitz package at that point. We just played our defense, and they exploited it early, and then we regrouped at halftime. The other side of the ball, we are a different offensive football team now than we were then. We ran the same formations then, but we were kind of trying to find ourselves. We were a spread, and we knew we were a spread, but we were trying to figure out who we were as an offensive football team. Really, it took us probably until the Illinois game to really figure that out, and then we became a pretty good offensive football team last year all the way through the end of the year, and I think we've carried that over to this year. That being said, we are a different team than when we played them. Scheme-wise they are very similar to what they were doing then. Hopefully, we're a little better prepared to play against it, in all honesty. Anyone that was there knows that they really got after us, and we were fortunate to make a few plays in the second half to get back in it along with that kickoff return."
On injuries to position players:
"I think (Ray) Fisher will be back. He had a little bounce in his step Sunday - we workout Sunday, we're off Monday and we're back out there this afternoon. I thought he had a little bounce in his step, so I would assume he is back. (Demetrius) McCray is getting closer. He wasn't able to do the same kind of things Ray was on Sunday. (Andrew) Means, (James) Hardy, (James) Bailey, (Brandon) Walker-Roby - all those kids are in good shape. So, we'll get Fisher back and would love to get (McCray) back. (Brian) Payton, he is a little bit day-by-day, but I think he'll be back too. He is one of those same kind of things. A guy gets a shoulder injury and has it all year. Sometimes you bounce back and get your strength back real quick, and sometimes it takes a little longer. If it takes a little longer you just don't play. Once you get the strength back you're fine, and you may go two more weeks and never have another problem with it. He is there right now."
On whether the team is more anxious for this game:
"As I'm sitting here right now, I hope they're excited as they could be to play a football game, but I also hope they felt the same way going to Michigan State and Penn State at home and going to Wisconsin. I really do believe our approach has been good. I think our preparation has been good, and I think our kids have been excited to play every game. This is the next game, and it is the biggest game, and it is at home. But I certainly don't think that our kids after the Minnesota game went, `Okay, we're going to get the next three games over and then we're going to be playing at home on Nov. 3.' I really think we've had good preparation. We've played some good football teams that we didn't play as well as we needed to, but I honestly think Michigan State played awfully well against us, and I think Wisconsin probably looked at the tape and said they played pretty well too."
On what the players think about bowl games:
"What those kids do in that locker room, I don't have control over that, but I told them the first night we reported, we talked about the ultimate goal, but I told them `I'm not going to talk about it again. I'm going to talk about preseason camp, and I'm going to talk about each game as we go.' I haven't changed that, and I'm not going to change it now. I think they've been pretty good at staying focused. I think kids at this level understand how hard it is to win a college football game. Every Saturday is hard, and I don't care who you are playing because the other teams have good players that prepare well, that are well coached, and everybody wants to win. It really comes down to who plays the best on those given days unless there are teams with just superior talent. They can have those days where they just show up and take care of business, but most of us aren't in that situation. Most of us better play awfully well if you're going to win, and that is why there are upsets all across the country, and everybody goes crazy about how it could happen. It happened because there a lot of good teams out there."
On Nate Davis:
"He is a great passer. He is a really strong-armed guy. He can throw it a long way, and he throws it with great velocity, but he also great touch. What he does, he has great pocket presence, so he can just slide and bounce around a little bit, and he is a big, physical guy. So, he can hang in there in the face of a rush. He can hang and hang and hang, and his receivers are good, and they stay alive, and he can find them. He has great field vision. He is very well coached because you can see the back of his head on our end zone shots going through his progressions. It is one, two, three, boom. If there is nothing there he can take off running. He wants to throw it, but when he goes to run he can go. He is a big-time thrower. I know, having my son be his teammate last year, he said he is a phenomenal athlete, and he was a great basketball player. He is just a gifted guy, and he is playing in a good offense for him because they like to throw it, and they've got some good receivers."
On how such good quarterbacks fall to MAC teams:
"We were very aware of him when he was coming out of high school. Some of it is number of scholarships and what you have in that particular year. Most of us are generally taking one [QB] a year now. It is hard, unless you get hit by some injuries or some guys transfer, to take two or three quarterbacks in a year. One of the negatives of [recruiting] is it is moved up so far. You see all of these early verbal commitments. We're all out watching juniors, and then as we get into Spring recruiting, which is college football's version of basketball's summer AAU, and our evaluation. Then, you recruit kids and they commit. There are some guys that may be from a certain area or might be late blossomers that get overlooked. You're kind of full at a position, and you can't recruit them all. Then, the other guys go in and do a great job selling, and they've got a great product. They get a chance to play Division 1 football, play on television, play in big stadiums. They can prove that their guys get drafted, get to play in the NFL and get a good education. I can't retrace exactly with Nate, but I know how excited Ball State was when they got him. They knew they got a special player, and he certainly has been that way. Just like when Hep got Ben (Roethlisberger). Ben's story was a little bit different because he was a receiver until his senior year in high school. There are those stories out there. I remember I was coaching at Ball State and we were playing at Marshall one day, and they were really rolling at that time. Bob Pruitt was the coach at that time and (Chad) Pennington was a junior, but he had a chance to come out. I was talking about it before the game and I was saying, `Man, he is a special player. You only get one of those in a lifetime.' He said, `Yeah.' He pointed over at this tall, skinny kid that was just a freshman and said, `that one might be better.' It was (Byron) Leftwich. He had two of them on his campus at Marshall at the same time. We got to play against him too. We got to play against all of those players."
On whether the team is tough enough to overcome a three game losing streak:
"No question about it. That doesn't concern me at all. The team has really stuck together through everything, and I don't see anything breaking them apart right now."