Head Coach Bill Lynch's Weekly Press Conference
Nov. 24, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Head coach Bill Lynch met with members of the media on Tuesday to discuss last week's Old Oaken Bucket game against Purdue and the start of the offseason.
Here is a partial transcript of Tuesday's press conference:
"First of all, to finish up the year, I want to start with some thank-yous. One thank you obviously goes to the fans. We had a record turnout in the sense we had the largest crowd since 1992. Particularly, they were really loud and energetic. I think we have started changing the culture of gameday experience as well.
"Along those lines, I want to thank Fred Glass and his staff for doing so many things to get that done. I thought the environment each and every week was very good whether it was a noon, 3:30 p.m., or 7 p.m. game on a Saturday.
"I want to thank all of our seniors and we had a tremendous banquet on Sunday. The banquet was a real tribute to the 21 players and Casey Weidl, our senior manager. I thought it was great hearing them talk about their experience at Indiana. It really hit home with me with what we are trying to get done.
"Lastly, thank you to the media for all the time you spent covering us from August 6 onwards. I know it is easier to cover a team that is 10-2 rather than a team that is 4-8. I do appreciate your coverage and we try to have an open environment to access players and answer questions. I appreciated what you do in getting the word out on what we are trying to do with Indiana Football.
"We had some awards, obviously, and I am proud of the guys who won All-Big Ten selections. Whether it is honorable mention, first team or second team, being recognized by the coaches or the media around the league is very special recognition. I think the recognition is very well deserved. At our banquet, Jammie Kirlew was named MVP for the second straight year. I think we have some outstanding players, but what Jammie has done for this program, especially the last few years, is incredible. He truly represents everything we are looking for in a football player at Indiana University.
"I think it is important to say we are very disappointed in how our season turned out. I do not want anyone to think up and down the hallways of this complex that we are satisfied with 4-8. That was not our goal when we started. Whether it's players, staff, or support staff, we are all disappointed.
"However, I am going to say we are going to continue to work hard everyday from now until we come together again to build on the progress we have made. We have made great progress. I mean that sincerely in so many different ways, but obviously from a competitive standpoint, we competed in every game in the Big Ten. Other than the Ohio State game, we were really competitive, but we were competitive against them in the second half. We knew they were a really good football team as they went on to win the Big Ten Championship. I do think that was great progress.
"The consistency in our preparation and work ethic was much improved. Those factors serve as a foundation for what we are trying to build here. I think that is important in terms of the progress being made is that a foundation is being built. You have to have a foundation for anything, such as when you are building a house. In a football season when you struggle, you are going to face adversity and tough things will happen. The foundation serves as the base people will continue to support you from. If you have a strong foundation, you are going to stand up and make it through the adversity on the other end. That is what we really have done.
"I think it starts with attitude, work ethic, trust, respect for one another, and all those things that are necessary for a successful operation like a football team. The team-first attitude is so important and I feel like after listening to the seniors talk, this team and program became so important to those guys. That is why I thank them, because the seniors were such a big part of setting that foundation.
"Sometimes when you are trying to build something or get somewhere, you have to make a great investment and I think it really shows with athletics. You have to invest time, energy, emotion and commitment. It is hard for guys to invest sometimes when they work so hard, but come up short. That is what is so different with this football team is watching how hard it worked each week. These kids did put the work and investment in. For the seniors leaving, they are going to see the results from the other end.
"The guys who will be returning will be a part of it. I firmly believe that and that is why I know progress is being made. There is a commitment now and accountability to one another that is so important. We do not have the excuses and we have all taken responsibilities for losses and moved on week by week. I think that is a very important lesson we learned through this past season.
"You are disappointed in a 4-8 season, but I cannot remember coaching when the Tuesday after the season rolls around and thinking I can't wait to start again. Generally, after a season like that, you want to take a couple weeks off, take a deep breath, regroup, and decide what you are going to do next. I think the seven guys who are going out on the road recruiting at different high schools are saying the same things. I have seen the young kids still around working hard before Thanksgiving. I saw a group working out on Monday and running around the Stadium. Generally, this doesn't happen when your record does not reflect what you set out to do.
"I think we have some outstanding football players coming back and we are going to work very hard on recruiting. I think we have recruited an improved talent level the last couple classes and found guys that fit what we are looking for. That it is why it is going to pay off. I cannot get into the details, but I think we have an excellent staff that is working very hard at recruiting by making relationships in the areas we recruit. We have been able to get some top-notch players to come visit and if you get enough of them to come visit, you are going to get enough of them to say yes to Indiana.
"Certainly the physical aspect of this facility will help, but the other thing as we go through the winter is that I believe there is positive energy about Indiana Football. The increase in the crowds and the support we have had go day-by-day and one-by-one to eliminate the negativity that can really affect what you are trying to do as a program.
"The other thing that is important to the development of our program that I have talked about a lot is our philosophy on redshirting. You will hear coaches say I am not going to redshirt because I do not want to save the players for the next coach. We bit the bullet and realized if we are going to build a consistent winning program, we need to develop kids. It is not all about the stars in recruiting, but it is about getting all of the right kids you can work with and develop. I think we have one of the best strength and fitness coaching staffs just down the hallway. If we get the right kids in here and have them lifting 12 months out of the year especially during their redshirt year, three, four or five years down the road is when you will see it pay off.
"We started that process a couple of years ago. We have started four freshmen the last two years and all four are full-time starters. We made a commitment that we are not going to play a kid unless he is going to be a starter. It is not fair to the kid or what is in the best interest of the program. If you took the seniors who were at the banquet on Sunday including Greg Middleton, Will Patterson, Matt Mayberry, Rodger Saffold, Ray Fisher and Pete Saxon and told them they could play another year, that is what we are trying to do. I am a firm believer you will be a better football player when you are 22 versus 18.
"Obviously, back in 2006, the program was in a different state and we needed those guys to play. We were really short in numbers and scholarships back then. Some of those players you in the media wrote about when we signed them get lost in the shuffle because they are on the scout team. We know who those players are and they are the same players our fans were so excited about when they did sign. There are good things ahead and unfortunately by rule, there are only so many things we can do. We will be on the road recruiting hard until we can get back and work with our players."
On what the plan is for the defense next year:
"Two guys who were really going to substitute for Kirlew and Middleton were Darius Johnson and Fred Jones. Fred Jones was hurt all the way up to the Penn State game. He is a big, physical guy who we will continue to play and we have Darius Johnson who played really well until he was hurt. His injury was one of those injuries in practice you just don't count on. In effect, we have those two players back and the four big guys inside. We have six guys right there who form a nucleus of good football players. Now, they may not play in the exact same spots. For example, with [Ryan] Kerrigan of Purdue, I think they played him at four different spots against us. When you have good players, you find the right places for them.
"I think Javon Cornley has the opportunity to be an outstanding pass rusher as he is fast, getting stronger, and there is a long time before next August to get better. Jarrod Smith will be back as a fifth-year senior. Eric Thomas is an interesting guy who is big and physical. His time is about to come, but he hasn't played as much as Fred or Darius. We have guys. If you look at the defensive line, we lost two main players in Kirlew and Middleton.
"At linebacker, you lose really good football players in Will Patterson and Matt Mayberry. You have Tyler Replogle back who will probably move inside. I think Chad Sherer will be a really good football player who can run and hit you. He has been playing behind seniors though. I think Leon Beckum would have played a lot more this past season if he did not have an ankle injury. He has been a very good special teams player and will only be a junior.
"All of the freshmen we brought in who we redshirted all have great futures ahead of them. Damon Sims, who I would say at a lot of places would have played this season, has been very good on special teams covering kickoffs or punts in practice. I think Griffin Dahlstrom, who came in injured, fits well in what we are looking at in a linebacker. Dimitrius Carr-Watson will also be getting better as this was his first year really playing linebacker versus safety. I throw a lot of players names out there who could be very good players, but that also does not include a recruit coming in and playing.
"In the secondary, we have been going through the issue of getting the right players back there the last few years. Two guys who really played well at the end of the season were Donnell Jones and Adrian Burks. If you go back and watch every game Adrian Burks played, after getting thrown in at Iowa when Ray Fisher was hurt, he played well against Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue, which is a pleasant surprise. I think Lawrence Barnett, who redshirted, will be an outstanding corner.
"At some point, we will look at the roster and may move a few guys like we did when we moved Nick Polk or Ray Fisher. I do not want to talk specifics because I have not talked with those kids yet. I am going to meet individually with every player next week. You want your best players out on the field and we have some awfully good football players on our team. A lot of our players are stockpiled and you do not want that, so you have to move some of the players around. That is not even talking about freshmen coming in, which we have quite a few who we think could come in and play that position. I say we are going to redshirt most of them, but if a guy is going to play, he is going to start."
On how many players might change positions:
On the possibility of a scheme change:
"The same thing can happen with the offense. I think that is what happened with the evolution of what we did this past season on offense. With the offseason, after we were done on the road recruiting, we tried new material out from other places. That all plays a part in scheming.
"There are certain things I feel strongly about that we are going to do. There also are things from a scheming or X's and O's standpoint where we are going to do anything we can to improve. I would say that if we were 10-2. You have to look at different ideas that will make you better based on the personnel you have. There are certainly things we can do to improve our team."
On the positives and negatives heading into the spring:
"I think we are heading in the right direction with the running game and numbers do not always show it though. When Darius was healthy and played, we gained some good yardage running the football. We have a young kid we redshirted who I think is awfully good in Nick Turner. We have some really good young offensive lineman coming. Every position is open for competition. When we had balance in our attack, was when we were the toughest to defend all year.
"There are situation factors on offense we really have to get better at and those include third downs. We did better against Purdue as we were 50 percent, but we were not a good enough team on third down overall. There were some key plays in games this season where if we would have converted, we would have won the game.
"Defensively, I think the biggest thing is we have to get the right players in the right positions, particularly in the secondary. We have made good progress of getting 11 guys to run towards the ball and being physical. From a statistical standpoint, we have to get much better on third downs defensively. So many times this past season, it came down to getting off the field while getting a stop or getting another first down and staying on the field. Those are all things we will talk about shortly in the upcoming offseason.
"I thought we did a good job getting turnovers, intercepting, and took care of the ball except for this past weekend as we were near the top of the standings in turnover margin. We gave up some big plays when we full blitzed this year. We probably did not have enough sacks with our four-man rush. Those plays are part of the package and we also made some big plays and got stops using the blitz. Those are the first major issues that come to my mind right now."
On the recruiting philosophy:
Check back soon