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Saturday, June 22
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

After 2 homecomings, IU awaits its own festivities

IU football vs. Northwestern

Saturday’s game atmosphere should seem familiar to the IU football team – it’s their third homecoming this season.

After participating in homecoming games for opponents Michigan and Virginia, this week the festivities will focus on Bloomington.

The players and coaches, however, share mixed opinions about whether the festive environment influences play on the field.

With a 47-7 loss to Virginia fresh in the players’ minds, the Hoosiers seem more excited simply with the “play the next game” attitude than they do about playing a homecoming game.

“You always want to win homecoming,” senior linebacker Will Patterson said. “It’s just a fun game to play in every year, but right now for us, it just happens to be the next game.”

IU holds an all-time 42-48-6 homecoming record. However, in the past two seasons, the team provided exciting games.

Last season, IU ended a five-game losing streak and beat its first ranked opponent since 2006 with a 21-19 win against then-No. 22 Northwestern. In 2007, the Hoosiers fell just short of an upset win against Penn State.

IU coach Bill Lynch said homecoming is an element of the game he talks about with his players, although it’s not exactly a point of emphasis.

“We talked about it Monday,” Lynch said. “I think our kids know there is a different buzz about the game and there is a lot going on this week on campus.”

The team has faced this “different buzz” in two road games this season – against Michigan on Sept. 26 and this past Saturday at Virginia. While both schools celebrated homecoming, Patterson quickly downplayed its effect on the game.

“It was just the next game for us at the time,” Patterson said.

Could he tell a difference in the game atmosphere?

“Not really,” he said.

This week, the Hoosiers are simply hoping to rebound from their trouncing at Virginia, which is plenty of motivation for the players, senior linebacker Matt Mayberry said.

“I don’t think we’ve started off a Monday practice as fired up or with the intensity as we did (this week),” Mayberry said.

Lynch and his coaching staff focused practice this week on motivating the players and working on fundamentals. The team spent much of the week in live hitting drills – including the first-team defense facing the first-team offense in end of practice scrimmage situations.

“You see the reaction on the practice field and in the meetings,” Lynch said. “I think they have done a good job of moving on. It is not hard because they have a lot of respect for Illinois and are jacked up for homecoming.”

Senior defensive end Jammie Kirlew said the team is prepared to put on a better performance this week than it did last week.

“We know that there are going to be a lot of events going on this week,” Kirlew said. “You hear a lot of students about how they are going to come out to the game. It’s going to be a great week – it’s Illinois and we’re building up a little rivalry.

“We’re definitely going to bring everything this weekend.”

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