Head Coach Bill Lynch's Weekly Press Conference
Nov. 10, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Head Coach Bill Lynch met with members of the media on Tuesday to discuss last week's game against Wisconsin and to look forward to Saturday's game at Penn State. Coach Lynch was joined by senior Matt Mayberry and sophomore Tandon Doss.
Below is a partial transcript of the press conference.
"Our captains for the Penn State game are Will Patterson, Ben Chappell, Mitchell Evans, and Terrance Turner. Next week, the team will vote for captains on Monday for the season who will also be captains for the Purdue game. There will be game captains and also those voted in will be the official captains for the 2009 football season.
"Going back and looking at the Wisconsin game, I thought it was a very well-played game of football. I say that because the game was a good, clean, hard-fought football game. There were a limited number of penalties and there were some turnovers, but the turnovers were not sloppy. In the turnover Wisconsin had, the player was looking right into the sun and we caught a break. We were all having trouble in pre-game warm-ups looking into the sun. Ben was hit on the one interception, but I thought it was a well-played game.
"We had a big drive in the second quarter to keep the game close. Wisconsin was getting on a roll that is typical of their team. Unfortunately, we did not keep Wisconsin out at the end, but the drive kept the game close.
"I thought our guys came out and played well the second half. Offensively, unfortunately we had the one turnover, but we moved the football and were able to establish the run. I thought our wideouts played well throughout the game and our defense was able to get some stops. Wisconsin is a tough team to stop the entire half because they are a very good offensive team. I am proud of how our guys responded after halftime after the way Wisconsin played the first half.
"Now we are getting ready to play another really good team in Penn State this weekend. Penn State is one of the quality teams you see at the top of the Big Ten. I think the characteristic you see in Ohio State, Iowa, and Penn State is that they really play great defense. Penn State's defense is very similar to Ohio State and Iowa's defense in that they don't give up very many points and yards. You really have to earn everything you get.
"The game will be a challenge for us from an offensive standpoint, but our defense will also be playing against a well-balanced offense. Daryll Clark is a player who has played a lot and certainly is a national type guy. He is a good passer and runner. You have to contain him, but Clark is not a big part of their attack like it is with [Terrelle] Pryor or [Juice] Williams. He will run a quarterback draw, but also is able to scramble.
"Penn State has good speed on the outside and always has a good offensive line. The balance in their attack is tough because if you look at the offense numbers wise, running and passing, teams like that are always the most difficult to defend.
"It is obviously a great opportunity for us to play at a national stage particularly at Penn State because it is one of the best venues in the Big Ten. I don't think there is a venue more awesome then Penn State. We went out and played them a year ago and fortunately, our guys have been there and understand what they are getting into. The other thing is our guys have played pretty well in those environments this year. They played well at Michigan and at Iowa. I'm glad we went last year because when you go every other year or every third or fourth year, it can sometimes be a new experience."
On looking at the Penn State game as a must-win:
"I have said so many times that we have to play the next play. I think that is the approach we are taking. One of the things I think is important with this football team that I concentrated on yesterday, is the effort and the energy we have been playing with. That has to be the norm that you should play with effort and energy every play, snap, and half. You only get so many opportunities to play this game, so you better take advantage of each and every one of them.
"I think that is what we are developing within this football team and program. You have to execute to beat somebody. Sometimes people say you are playing well and the breaks are going against you, but you make your own breaks. That is just a game. In a game, you are playing against someone who is good and well coached. So, it is a matter of making the plays.
"There are three categories I really talk about - turnover margin, big plays and third-down conversion. I think these are important at every level of football, but certainly here. When we have won two of the three categories, we have won the football game. When we have lost two of the three categories, we have lost the game. When you talk about a break going against you, in reality, we have to win two of those three categories.
"One of the things we thought we had to do against Wisconsin was get big plays. Against a really good team like Wisconsin, it is difficult to drive the ball down the field. Well, we had five big plays we got out of our wide receivers, which put us in a position to win the game. In turnover margin, we lost by one. Fortunately, both turnovers were at the other end of the field so we did not give Wisconsin great field position, but they were turnovers that cost us scoring opportunities. The third down conversions is the category that has probably hurt us the most throughout the year. It hurt us again on Saturday. If you really get down to it, we have to convert. So many games have come down to getting a first down, then maybe we keep the ball and run the clock or we put in ourselves to score a touchdown and not kick a field goal. The other side of the argument is if we can just get a stop and get the other team off the field, we have a chance. That is a fundamental execution part of the game we have to improve.
"That's what our concentration is, not `This is a must-win.' We would be too worried about the game being a must-win at Penn State. I am more worried about how we are going to execute on third downs. It may not be the quarterback hitting the receiver or the receiver getting open, but it may be a player up front who could pass block better or if it's third-and-one, we have to block better. Another example on defense is that we hit the right gap when we are blitzing. That is what we are going to go out and do in practice today and stay away from the idea of a must-win. The last few games have been must-wins in the minds of the players. We are getting away from the process of what we have to do to be successful on Saturday."
On injury updates of Chris Adkins, Austin Thomas, and Tyler Replogle:
On the experience of playing well in tough environments like Iowa and Michigan:
Last year, we went to Penn State and did the same thing. They were playing for a national championship, essentially, and it was 7-7, but we had a punt blocked late at before half leading to a halftime score of 10-7. It wasn't the environment in the second half, it was Penn State. I think it does help from a confidence standpoint knowing we have played well in those environments and in some ways have fed off of the energy."
On Penn State's defense:
"In the secondary, Penn State's is very much like Iowa's. They play a lot of zone coverage like Iowa, they are in the right spots, and they are great tacklers. Sometimes, when you are in the open field, you can make a defensive back miss and break for a big play, but Penn State is like Iowa. They do not miss tackles. They are fundamentally so sound and obviously have very good players with a lot of talent. The first thing that hits you is their defensive line up front."
On the freshman play on the defensive line this season:
On whether it is hard to gauge progress against good teams like Wisconsin and Penn State:
"You look at a positive from last week's game, I thought our pass protection was excellent against a great pass rushing team when Wisconsin knew we were going to drop back and throw the ball a lot. I think it is a real credit to our pass protectors because it is no secret Ben is not running around. Sometimes it is hard to rush a passer when you have to put a net around him because you don't know where he is going to be. I do not study the conference stats that much, but I think we have the fewest sacks in the conference. I think that is a credit to the offensive line and their protection. I think it is a credit to Ben and how smart he is because he will get rid of the ball. He is completing a good percentage, but he is not afraid to throw an incompletion because he knows sometimes an incompletion is a positive play in comparison to a sack or a fumble.
"I think the execution in the passing game against a very good defense was great on Saturday. I thought our wideouts all played very well and all made plays throughout the day. I thought Ben really stepped up and made some big throws. I think in terms of progress, we are making some really good progress. If you look at the game from a statistical standpoint, I think our offensive statistics in conference games is pretty good. Our offensive stats in the conference are better than they are in all games.
"If you look at all games, you would think you would be better in all games because you play some nonconference teams. In other words, I think we have made good improvement as we have gone through the year because statistically, we are better against better teams in the conference. I think when you play really good teams, you find out how much progress you have made because it is not luck. You really have to execute."
On not using the Wildcat formation as much against Wisconsin:
On Bryan Payton outplaying Darius Willis lately:
"The other thing Darius gives us is great pass blocking. In an offense with really a one-back set like we are, the running back plays an important role when we drop back to throw the ball. Darius will step up and block you. If you are a linebacker and you get blocked by number 28, you know you have been blocked. That is something Darius gives us that is so important. That doesn't show up in the stats, but we see it.
"I thought Trea [Burgess] ran hard too during the game, especially near the goal line. They all have continued to practice hard and sometimes that is tough because you do not know when your number is going to be called. Give credit to the backs because when they do get called, they are ready to go."
On Ben Chappell's successes leading the team at quarterback:
"He certainly played last year, but did not play every snap like he has this year. I think when you practice for two or three years and you do not get hit, because most teams at this level do not beat up their quarterbacks, your clock becomes skewed. You may think, `I can hold onto the ball a little bit longer.' When you are playing against the likes of the pass rushers we are playing, you have to know when that ball has to come out. I think Ben has been very good at getting rid of the ball. If you would have told me in August that we would be going into Penn State and giving up the fewest sacks in the Big Ten, I would have not been sure about that comment. That is one area.
"The other thing is Ben has great command of his offense. On one side he is really smart, but on the other, he really works hard. He does the things you want a quarterback to do like spend extra time in the film room. Ben gets us in the right protection and sometimes that is an important part. He has the ability to change which way you are taking your protection based on the look of the defense. The offensive line can only see so much, while Ben can see much more all the way to the back where the safeties are.
"Ben has also done a very good job of getting the running game where we want it at times. The numbers don't show it, but sometimes it is just getting your team out of a bad play. This does not surprise me or anyone else within this program.
"I think Ben has great toughness because he has taken some shots. Anybody should realize it takes a tough guy to be a quarterback at this level. You cannot flinch, but stay in the pocket and throw the ball. He is that much further ahead because he does it week after week."
On Tandon Doss' development and season:
"I think Tandon did a very nice job as a freshman, but he has made the kinds of leaps you want as a sophomore. He went from being a guy who played Big Ten football as a true freshman and made some plays, to a guy who I think around the Big Ten, people see number two and see an All-Big Ten type of wide receiver. In order to get to that level, you really have to work at it.
"One of the key things for him, and [Damarlo] Belcher falls in the same category, is that they have stayed healthy. So often the thing that stops a kid's development is getting injured and missing parts of a season like the winter workouts. It all adds up. I don't think Tandon missed anything in spring practice, which all adds up. He stayed here all summer and worked with Ben all summer. I don't remember him missing a snap all preseason camp or all season. In order to get better, you are going to have to want it.
"There are a lot of guys who reach a high level and think, `I am just going to take a day off today.' Tandon has not done that one time, which is a credit to his toughness and attitude about getting better. He is a very confident athlete in terms of when he is out there, he is going to compete. We knew we were getting a really good football player when we recruited him, but he has really worked at it and had a great year."
On Ray Fisher possibly returning for the Purdue game:
Check back soon