Nov. 6, 2007
Press Conference Video
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -
Head coach Bill Lynch met with the media on Tuesday, Nov. 6, for his weekly press conference in preparation for the Hoosiers' contest against Northwestern on Saturday, Nov. 10. He was joined by senior linebacker Adam McClurg and senior offensive lineman Charlie Emerson.
Head Coach Bill Lynch
"It was a good win to get back on track Saturday. I think we beat a pretty good football team. I thought our defense really played well because we kept the ball in front of us. I think that was the biggest thing that we were worried about was the big plays and big touchdowns. I thought they did a good job of that. Offensively, after we got over some of the miscues early on, I thought we played pretty well for the rest of the game. I thought the kicking game was solid. It was a good win for us. Now, we've got to move on.
"This is a good football team we're playing, in Northwestern. There are so many similarities with Northwestern. I'm sure a lot of it goes back to philosophy. They're doing a lot of the same things they did when Randy (Walker) was there. Obviously, we're doing the same things that Hep had. There was a close relationship that those two had through the years, when they were together at Miami and really beyond that. Their spread offense is very good. Their numbers show it. They gain a lot of yards, score a lot of points and they have done it against some good people. They've been in some wild games. They've been in some games where they've made great comebacks. They've been in two big overtime games. In the last couple weeks, they've been in some really close games where both of their games with Purdue and Iowa were even going into the fourth quarter, and then Purdue and Iowa made some plays. The focus from this point is Northwestern because it is a good football team. We've got to go on the road and they've got a lot to play for as well."
On the last two road games:
"If you go back and look at each one of them, Michigan State played a great football game, and we got off to a slow start. That was a strange game. You get into one of those games every one or two years where everything is just kind of out of sequence. Wisconsin, really, that is a pretty good football team. They were ahead of Ohio State 17-10 in the third quarter at Columbus. That is pretty good team. We didn't get off to a very good start, but we were hanging in there 17-3, and the way you upset somebody like that is hang in there and hang in there and get to the fourth quarter, and then we have a long touchdown called back. I'm not really that concerned (about going on the road). I think each game is unique unto itself. I feel comfortable with this team going on the road and having good focus and good preparation. Our biggest thing is we've got to have a really good week of preparation, and prepare for Northwestern because they do some things offensively that are very difficult to defend. Their quarterback is very good, and their defensive front and linebackers are really well coached and really physical. They are strong, physical guys, so we've got to get prepared for that. They do things a little different in their punt game. Each week is different, but I'm not really worried about the road aspect of it at this point."
On the offensive line:
"When we go out to practice today, (John) Sandberg is going to be the center and (Charlie) Emerson is going to be the right guard. They played pretty well. Ben (Wyss) is a tough guy, he played with a broken foot. We're not going to go pound away on him this week. I think probably by Thursday we'll have a pretty good idea. It is a lot different than a week ago, where we were sitting here a week ago moving a guy that had never played that position. Having that game under our belt, I think John felt pretty good about playing center and Charlie felt comfortable at guard, and we'll have one more week of that. Mike (Stark) has played really well at tackle. The biggest factor is Ben and how fast Ben comes back, but we need him back because that gives us those options and depth in there. Other than that we really came out of it offensively pretty good. We've played 10 games so we have a few guys dinged up. (James) Bailey dinged up an elbow that will limit him some today, but he got back in the game Saturday after he did it. Defensively I think we'll get (Joe) Kremer back, which will be good. He is a senior, and it is important to him. I think we'll get (Leslie) Majors back. We feel pretty good going into the game."
On a change in attitude from Saturday's win:
"It is always better after a win. Every time you lose, it takes a little bit out of you. That is the nature of sports. That is nothing unique. After a win you feel a little bit better about yourself, you've got a little more bounce in your step, although, I think they handled the losses pretty well. That is a fine line too. You don't want them to handle them real well, you don't want them to get comfortable with losing. Then all of a sudden it is okay. You never want it to get that way. As we went through that three game stretch, I think they did a good job of sticking together. I think they did a good job of staying the course. It wasn't finger pointing and this segment versus that segment, that sometimes you get in those situations. It didn't feel that way at all."
On how Northwestern will come out after a loss:
"They've got a lot to play for just like we do. This is going to be a hard fought football game. I think two football teams are really going to go at it. You say they've lost two in a row, a little like we lost, but they've lost to some pretty good people. They had Purdue on the road, and Iowa, they were close in both games. They're going come out ready to go. I don't think that part will be a factor whatsoever, particularly when you're in the 11th week of the season and both teams have so much to play for. Like I said last week, that is what you want. We're now to the second week of November and we're playing a big football game, at this point, bigger than last week's football game. That is the fun part."
Comparing Northwestern's offense to Indiana's:
"It is very similar because they use a lot of four wide receiver sets. They play with what they call a "super back," or a tight end off the ball type of guy, like we do with Josiah (Sears) at times. A lot of four wide receivers. They may do a few more things in their running game, but very similar. They bunch some formations and maybe use motion a little bit, and we're more of a line up and play kind of offense. Really, their offense is very, very similar to Minnesota's, in the sense that if you take the evolution of the coordinators, Kevin (Wilson) was the coordinator, who is the coordinator at Oklahoma now, with Randy when they went to the spread. Mike Dunbar took over and tweaked it a little bit. Now, Mike Dunbar is the coordinator at Minnesota. Really, then the staff after Mike left and then when Randy passed away and Pat (Fitzgerald) took over. If you look at those two offenses, they are really similar, but we're not too far different."
On Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher:
"He is a very good passer with a quick release. He is a quick guy. He can run, but that is not his first thing. He is very accurate, and again he gets rid of it. He is pretty aware. He is a good quarterback, particularly in the spread. He is not like (Ball State quarterback) Nate Davis was. Nate was a big strong guy that can just throw it a long, long way. Bacher is more of a move kind of guy with a good, quick release."
On whether Northwestern will simply rely on running back Tyrell Sutton:
"He is one of the premier guys in the league. He is really good. It is his third year into it, and he was Big Ten Freshman of the Year two years ago. He is really good, so I would expect them to, but they're going to do what they do at this point. I think we all know that when you get to the 11th week of the season, generally you're not going to see a whole new twist to somebody's offense or defense. That is why big games are in November because everybody knows what everybody is going to try to do, now it is just who is going to do it best. Sometimes early in the year, and I think you go back to those upsets early in the year and everybody is like "How could this happen?" Well, it is early in the year, you don't have much on the opponent and you're not quite sure what they have. You don't see that as much this time of year. You get some pretty even football games this time of year. You hate to keep using it over and over again, but turnover margin will be a factor, mistakes in the kicking game will be a factor, and who can get some big plays, whether they're big plays that you create or off of a missed tackle, more so than surprises."
On Austin Starr's record-breaking season:
"You know when you are right in the middle of it sometimes you don't appreciate it as much as from the outside. His numbers are amazing. The other thing about it is he is pretty consistent about it in practice too. What you see in practice is generally what you see in the game. He understands the kicking game. He understands his technique. He has studied it and can correct himself if he gets a little bit of a flaw and that is not easy. It is a little bit like a golfer. Sometimes there is such a flow to it and a technique type thing, but he can get himself straightened out even in the course of a practice. He's got a strong leg, and he has always had a strong leg. He gets it up high quick, so it is hard to block from the line of scrimmage, and I think he has been fortunate to have a great center in (Tim) Bugg. Those guys are really underappreciated and he has done it a long time, so there is some consistency there. I think (Dustin) Hass has been a good holder. Those things are overlooked a lot of the time."
On keeping Marcus Thigpen's confidence up:
"I think the long runs help his confidence. He doesn't get the stats, he doesn't get the numbers, but he has got the feel of doing it. I think, without overanalyzing it, there is a lot to a kid visualizing success and feeling success and having it, and when you can knock off two of them in a game situation, which is different than practice, you've got a good feel that it is something you can do. I think that will help him, not in any way set him back. It is just unfortunate for him to have two big, big runs called back. Those are the two biggest runs we've had all year."
On Ray Fisher's return from injury:
"Any time you can get a playmaker on the field and get the ball in his hands, he just has the ability to make plays. I mean, he is a great receiver, but he has great speed and quickness and he can make people miss and he has got a little toughness in there. We've got some weapons out on the outside, and we knew that going into the year. Obviously James (Hardy) is going to be the focal point, and then everything kind of works off of that. Everybody plays you a little different. (Andrew) Means has had some big games, and then last week Means had one catch, but it was a big catch. Then, Ray had a big game. I think that is good. (James) Bailey has been really consistent over the last three or four weeks without maybe big numbers. I think he has done a good job of blocking and I think he has done a good job of making plays when he needs to. It is a pretty good compliment. (Brandon) Walker-Roby has come in and done a good job blocking and making a catch here or there."
On the difference in the defense's performance in wins versus losses:
"I think who we've played has made a difference, I think how the offense has played has made a difference and I would say the biggest thing is turnovers have made a difference. Our defense in some of those losses had to play with pretty short fields, so that catches up to you. I really think the defense has made good progress throughout the year. I felt that way even in those three losses. With Starr when you are in the middle of it you may miss the big picture, but with the defense when you're in the middle of it you see the progress, in a lot of different areas and with individuals. I think individual player development and those things are really key to getting better as you go through the year. I really like the way the defense has come on. Now they've got two huge challenges coming up. I don't have the stats here, but two of the top total offenses in the league are probably the next two teams we're playing or close to it."
On whether the defense prefers to play the spread offense:
"I don't think there is any question that you're always a little more comfortable with playing against something you're more familiar with. I think that is kind of human nature. It is the same way out there. They see it so much, in the Spring and preseason and when we go against each other in practice. Everything comes a little quicker to them probably. Offense is assignment football and defense is reaction football, and you are just going to react a little quicker to something you are used to seeing. I think there is a lot of truth to that."
On emphasizing getting off to a good start:
"As much as anything, it is not the score as much as handling the situation, the environment, the tempo of the game. I think if you look at Northwestern, they've been in a whole lot of fourth quarter football games, so I think that is what we have to be prepared for. They had Michigan down late in the game, Purdue and Iowa as well. They had overtime shootouts with Michigan State and Minnesota. Most of their games have been four-quarter games, so I think the message that we have to have as a team as much as the start is that we've got to be prepared to play 60 minutes because their games have all been that way."
Offensive Lineman Charlie Emerson:
On the biggest challenge for the offensive line with the injuries:
"Switching around is very difficult. We went the first nine games with our solid five front. We had played with each other and knew each other really well, so now we have had to mix it up a little bit. But it has worked out really well on Saturday and we were able to come together and play as one."
On whether Northwestern will be hungry coming off of two losses:
"It is always hard coming off of a couple losing games. You're always looking for that one game to get over the hump and get back to the winning edge. We prepare every week just like it is another game. I'm sure they're going to come out even hungrier. We also have something to play for. We've got to win a seventh game. We've got our sixth, but we've got to keep going. Everybody is playing for something at this point in the season. We just have to prepare as we normally do and play hard."
On being bowl eligible as a senior:
"Getting that sixth win, getting that monkey off of our back is really something great. We were playing last year for the sixth win, we were hoping to get that win. It came down to the last game against Purdue, and we didn't get it. Now that we've finally got it we can continue to play well and focus on how we want to better our chances of getting a postseason bowl."
On whether it is easier to prepare since getting the sixth win:
"As I said, you prepare for every game the same as you normally would. There is all that lingering `are you going to get the sixth win? Are you going to get eligible? You haven't been eligible since 1993.' It has been 14 years. It is nice to get it off so you can focus on little things that are more detail-oriented instead of focusing on the big picture."
On how much the team talked about getting the sixth win prior to getting it:
"I think you do once you get close enough. Obviously, early in the season it was our ultimate goal, but you don't really talk about it. Once it becomes greater and greater and comes closer and closer, like when we got to 5-1 - We got that fifth win and we were only one away. The conversation kind of picked up a little bit, but we were still focused on taking it one game at a time, and if we didn't focus on one game at a time, we wouldn't get there. Of course it is always there, but we try to not harp on it because if we don't get it we've just got to keep on playing."
On the difference between playing tackle and guard:
"It is not that much different. You are not working so much. You have more of a confined space. You are not one on one on the outside with a defensive end, so you have help from both your tackle and your center. It was a very easy transition. Of course, I have teammates that play around me who I'm comfortable with. I was lucky enough to move one over with John Sandberg, who is now playing center, so he and I have good camaraderie and good communication with each other so it really wasn't that much different."
Linebacker Adam McClurg:
On finally getting the sixth win to become bowl eligible
"It is exciting, but it is nothing to get satisfied over. We are going to keep playing. We've got two games left. We're going to improve our record, and we're going to keep playing one at a time like we have all year."
On the familiarity with the spread offenses:
"Obviously we've been doing it all year, all through camp, defending this kind of offense. It will also be easier. We'll be able to play against the ones and twos, and they'll know how to run that offense rather than throwing them into a whole new offense. It is going to be easier for us and them as well."
On defending Northwestern:
"I haven't really looked at much (film) yet. I've taken a glance at it. They like to throw the ball a lot and they're pretty good at it. They have a good running back that is going to be tough to stop. It is going to be a pretty big challenge for us. It is going to be the same kind of offense, but at the same time, it is a high-powered offense that puts up a lot of points. We're going to have to step up and keep playing like we have been."
On being bowl eligible as a senior:
"It has been something we've been hoping to do since we've been here and we haven't really got to that point where we've been able to play for something at the end of the season. When you play for important games in November, that is what you strive for. I think we have our momentum that we needed for our last two games from last game. We got our offense on the right track, and our defense is playing as well as it has all year."
On the players who graduated without going to a bowl game:
"It has been hard going through the last couple of years coming up short. It is good that they can maybe live through us, as people that they led in their time here, and be able to relate to some of the guys here like our fifth year seniors. You know, we go back to four years ago when those guys were trying to get the same thing we were. I think it is going to be good paying back to them for leading us in the right direction."