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Thursday, April 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Future looks bright, but not yet golden

IU football coach Bill Lynch is confident about the upcoming season. He thinks he has a team that can compete with — and beat — many of its Big Ten opponents.

That much was clear from Lynch’s comments at the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, and he more or less repeated those sentiments when the Hoosiers began practice on Friday. Lynch genuinely feels good about this team.

And despite IU’s disappointing 4-8 finish in 2009, he has reason to feel that way.

The Hoosiers were competitive in nine of their 12 games last season. If they had made a few more plays, they could easily have won four more games and had IU fans snatching up tickets for this year’s Thursday night home opener against Towson.

That obviously didn’t happen. The Hoosiers didn’t have the ability to put teams away when they were down. They didn’t have the closers to deliver the knockout blow. They gave their opponents air when they were near suffocation.

“Our theme has been to finish,” Lynch said during Big Ten Media Days. “We had so many games last year where we were competing and had the lead in the fourth quarter and didn’t finish the job.”

Lynch has almost everybody back on the offensive side, including fifth-year quarterback Ben Chappell and standout wide receiver Tandon Doss.

He also has remarkable depth at receiver and experience on the offensive line, as well as a running back in Darius Willis who can, if healthy, run through even the smallest of holes.

The Hoosiers have a defense that Lynch is excited about.

The defense may not be stacked with household names, but it also doesn’t consist of the glaring holes it has had so many times in the past.

Adam Replogle, Nick Sliger and Larry Black are back to anchor the defensive line. Senior Tyler Replogle has been a consistent starter at linebacker ever since he was a freshman. And the secondary, which was extremely suspect at times in 2009, has been restocked with former offensive players Matt Ernest and Mitchell Evans.

“I think the competition there will be really good and that we’ll have some guys surface out of there that will have a real impact on the defense,” Lynch said.

Then take a look at the schedule. Yeah, there are a few games that you can pencil in an “L” next to right away. At Ohio State, “L.” At Penn State, “L.” At Wisconsin, “L.”

But what about the other nine games? Many, if not all, are winnable. The first three, along with the homecoming contest against Arkansas State, should be cakewalks. Isn’t Northwestern beatable at home? What about Rich Rodriguez and Michigan? Or a game in Champaign against Illinois?

No, this team won’t be great. These Hoosiers won’t win any Big Ten championships, post any shutouts or throw 60 points up on the new scoreboard in Memorial Stadium.

But Lynch and IU fans have the right to be confident — it will be better.


E-mail: jmalbers@indiana.edu

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