____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>LANDOVER, Md. — It’s time.It’s time for Fred Glass to make a change.It’s time for the IU athletics director to clean house by firing Bill Lynch and his entire coaching staff.When the season ends next Saturday afternoon in West Lafayette, I expect to hear that change is going to be made. If I don’t, Glass should be in a fight to keep his own job.The Hoosiers have gone from bad to worse in a hurry, and if Glass doesn’t pull the trigger now, they will continue to go south.The players no longer believe in Lynch, and how could they? They hear the same message every week: A signature win will come eventually.And every week the result is always the same — an “L” on the schedule.That was the case again at FedExField on Saturday, when Penn State scored 17 unanswered points in the third and fourth quarters to win 41-24.This was the game that could have saved Lynch’s job, and his team imploded again. What was Lynch’s reaction afterwards? The same reaction he always has.“They’re obviously a good football team. It was a tough loss for us, but as they’ve been doing all year, we’ll bounce back because we’ve got a great opportunity next week against Purdue.”No accountability. No fire. No anger. No sadness. Lynch shows absolutely no emotion, and that’s the problem.If you don’t correct mistakes, those mistakes will continue to be made over and over again. “It really just comes down to execution,” quarterback Ben Chappell said.With this IU team under Lynch, it’s always a different area in which the Hoosiers fail to execute. Three weeks ago, it was a missed field goal by Mitch Ewald against Northwestern. A week later, it was a dropped pass by Damarlo Belcher.And Saturday it was a blocked punt that turned into a Penn State touchdown when the game was tied at 24.Well-coached teams execute; IU does not. I know there’s an argument that Lynch should be the Hoosiers’ coach next year because of the recruiting class he has coming in.My counterargument: How many of those players will honor their commitments?It’s only a matter of time before they realize Lynch isn’t a good coach and they aren’t going to win with him at IU. I have a feeling we are going to see several players rescind their commitments in the next few weeks.Example: Armonze Daniel, a four-star outside linebacker from Avon High School, has an offer from IU and was considering the Hoosiers when I talked to him in the fall. A text I received from him on Friday displayed his current opinion of Lynch and the Hoosiers.“I have NO interest in IU or Purdue,” he wrote.I understand Glass wants to honor contracts, but he has to make the tough move. Glass likes to be the bright face that represents IU Athletics. He likes to be the nice guy.In this case, though, he has to be the bad guy and pay Lynch to go away. He has to clean up Rick Greenspan’s mess again, the guy who, in hindsight, stupidly gave Lynch a contract extension in the first place.Letting him serve as the interim coach when Terry Hoeppner died was OK. Allowing him to stay to lose 21 of his last 23 conference games is not.As Lynch walked out of the press room Saturday, Glass grabbed him and patted him on the back, like a big brother comforting his little brother after a tough game.IU fans can only hope that was a “It was a good run” pat and not a “We’ll get ‘em next year” one. If Glass really wants to send this program in the right direction, he’ll do the right thing and fire Lynch. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Next man up?Not with this IU team.IU coach Bill Lynch said he preaches that motto to his team. And yet, after senior quarterback Ben Chappell left the game against then-No. 7 Wisconsin last weekend, everything changed.The Badgers would outscore the Hoosiers 66-10 from that point forward en route to an 83-20 win. That score still looks ridiculous, doesn’t it?“You felt it throughout the whole sideline when he went out,” IU coach Bill Lynch said. “It affected us. You can’t let that happen in the course of a football game because those things are going to happen. “We all have to be mentally tough enough that if one guy goes down, the next guy can step up.”Next man up?That’s an insult to Jim Caldwell and the Indianapolis Colts, who continue to win with the most unlikely players. That’s even an insult to Danny Hope and the Purdue Boilermakers, who remain competitive after losing their best two offensive players, quarterback Robert Marve and wide receiver Keith Smith.Think for a second about how bad the Hoosiers have been in conference play. They have zero wins in six tries. Again, zero wins. Only two Big Ten teams since 2004 have had winless conference seasons.On a given day, a bad team can beat a good team; a good team can beat a great team. We see it all the time. Some clubs play really well one week and terrible the next. Sometimes the bounces favor one team over the other.But to have no conference wins at this point in the season — when schools like Minnesota and Purdue do — is simply unacceptable.And that goes back to the “next man up” philosophy this team claims to have. Edward Wright-Baker certainly didn’t look prepared to be on the field when he fumbled on his first series after taking over for Chappell.“I’ve been preparing like a backup for the last two years, and I never got to play,” Wright-Baker said. “I didn’t really think I was going to play in the Wisconsin game.”The defensive substitutions sure didn’t look prepared to stop the Badgers without middle linebacker Tyler Replogle, their leader.When players like Chappell and Replogle go out, other players have to be able to step in and keep the team competitive. When players aren’t ready to do that, it reflects back on the individuals responsible for making sure those players are prepared — the coaches.When Smith, who was expected to be the Big Ten’s leading receiver this year, went out in the Boilermakers’ game against Western Illinois, the team responded by winning three of its next four games.When Marve, who was looked at as the quarterback of the future when he transferred from the University of Miami (Fla.), tore his ACL against Northwestern, the team responded by winning the game.Even Purdue, without its best two offensive players, has two conference wins.But when Wright-Baker and others came into the game for the Hoosiers against Wisconsin, things got out of control in a hurry.“Guys go out all the time. It’s football. It’s a physical sport,” senior wide receiver Terrance Turner said. “Whenever a guy goes down, you’re able to put another guy in who’s ready, who’s not scared to make plays.”The guys Turner seems to be describing play their home games in West Lafayette. Nothing we saw last Saturday would make us believe the guys in white were ready and weren’t scared to make plays.Next man up?That’s doesn’t seem to be an accurate slogan for this team. When IU’s leaders go down, all bets are off.PREDICTIONEven with a 4-6 record and a four-game losing streak, the Hoosiers shouldn’t have a hard time getting up for this game.After all, they get to play Penn State — a team they’ve never beaten — in a beautiful NFL stadium.With that said, though, this is still a tall task for IU. Joe Paterno figures to have his young team ready to play in a venue close to home.I expect the Hoosiers to compete, but they won’t have quite enough to handle a Penn State team that continues to improve as the season progresses.PREDICTION: Penn State 27, IU 21E-mail: email@example.com
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>MADISON, Wis. — IU football coach Bill Lynch never seems to be concerned with his team’s ability to bounce back from a tough loss.The question comes up routinely at press conferences, and Lynch always dismisses it.At some point, though, players lose their will to pick themselves off the mat and go back out to battle the next week. After a certain number of losses — the Hoosiers have now lost four straight — doubt has to sink in.A cold and rainy day in Madison proved to be this team’s breaking point. The Hoosiers (4-6, 0-6) kept it close for the first 15-or-so minutes, but after that, No. 6 Wisconsin had its way against a beaten-down IU. Everything came to a head in what had to be the longest 60 minutes for anybody standing on the IU sideline.It didn’t matter that third-string running back Montee Ball was starting for the injured John Clay. Ball proved to be plenty good enough behind an offensive line that beat up the Hoosier defenders and opened holes wide enough that even Ben Chappell could run through them.Quarterback Scott Tolzien, who probably had the easiest job on the field — a job comparable to Pat McAfee’s with the Indianapolis Colts — picked apart the Hoosiers through the air whenever he felt like mixing it up.There’s no way around it: The Badgers humiliated IU. A week after their most inspired effort of the year, the Hoosiers effectively declined to make the trip to Camp Randall Stadium.“I think everybody just lost a little fire throughout the game. That’s just unacceptable,” IU safety Mitchell Evans said. “Every other game this year we’ve been fighting at least to the end of the game. We shut down a little bit (Saturday).”While the Wisconsin offense was busy putting up 83 points, IU was beginning to look similar to a team ready for the season to end. The Hoosiers lacked energy. They lacked execution. And after Chappell left the game with an injury, they lacked manpower.While IU’s opponent had a lot to do with Saturday’s outcome, IU Athletics Director Fred Glass is going to have a really hard time explaining this loss to the IU fan base.The Hoosiers offered absolutely no resistance all afternoon. When Wisconsin wanted to run it, Ball ran for 30 yards. When the Badgers wanted to throw it, Tolzien threw a touchdown. When Wisconsin needed a stop, J.J. Watt got to the quarterback.“We got beat every way possible by a great football team,” a dejected Lynch said. “We didn’t play well at all in the second half. They played well, but we had turnovers, a turnover for score. We didn’t play.”Glass continually says this program is ready to turn the corner, and yet nothing I have seen this season — and certainly nothing I saw on Saturday — would make me believe the program has made even modest improvements.I am still not ready to say that, without a doubt, Lynch should be gone. There are simply too many elements that play into that decision. But it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in which Lynch is coaching this team next season. Saturday’s game might have sealed his fate.For now, Glass has to make some sort of change. He can insert a new voice in the locker room by changing coordinators. He can encourage Lynch to make a personnel move. He has to do something to show an 83-20 loss is not OK. He has to do something to prove he’s not satisfied with mediocrity. It’s becoming more and more clear this team is sick of battling, week after week, without results.After a while, a team loses its will to win, its will to compete.The Hoosiers responded from a tough loss to Northwestern two weeks ago. A devastating defeat against Iowa last week, however, was too much for this team to come back from.
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>I feel bad for Damarlo Belcher. I really do.The IU receiver was made the scapegoat for yet another close loss — 18-13 to Iowa on Saturday.While there’s no debating the fact that he dropped a ball he should have caught, there’s a bigger issue at play here: The Hoosiers can’t beat good teams. They can’t even beat average ones (i.e. Michigan, Illinois).And the concerning thing is it has less to do with the actual players on the field and more to do with the football program as a whole. A losing culture has been established, and the current players are left with the burden of fixing it.That’s not fair.Can you imagine all the things going through Belcher’s head as the pigskin spiraled toward him in the south end zone? This is an Indiana kid — he knows the history of this program. He knows a history of struggle. He knows a history of tough losses. He knows a history of “so close, yet so far.”Belcher admitted he was thinking about what the catch would mean while it was in the air.“I was thinking about the big picture before I even caught it,” he said. I have a feeling, because of the program he plays for, he was also thinking about what a drop would mean. How could he not be?This team has played so many Big Ten teams tough in the last two years. Six of the Hoosiers’ last 13 conference games have been decided by a touchdown or less. They lost all six games. Belcher had an opportunity to change everything with one catch — a catch he makes in his sleep — and he couldn’t do it. If it were a recurring problem, than I’d be quick to put the blame on Belcher.But it’s not. This is the conference’s leading receiver, a guy who has kept the Hoosiers in several games with key catches at key moments. What is a recurring problem is these close conference losses. There is no doubt this program has taken the small step to at least make the games close, but it still has a giant leap to make if it wants to start winning these games.What can be done? While I believe it’s still too soon to make a coaching change, that would undoubtedly help change the culture about the program. That is, if the next coach were to actually change the culture.Terry Hoeppner was making changes around here. He began to turn the program in the right direction, as was evident when Lynch took the Hoosiers to a bowl game the year after Hoeppner passed away.Since then, little to no progress has been made. IU gets close but rarely wins. The Hoosiers are a dismal 1-12 against conference teams the last two seasons.“We’re very, very close,” IU Athletics Director Fred Glass said. “Why we don’t get over the hump may be a different answer for each of those times.”Glass seemed to suggest the football team can’t catch a break, and maybe that’s true. If the Hoosiers were to play Michigan this week, they might beat the Wolverines. If they had another shot at Northwestern, who knows?But this team needs somebody to step up and make a clutch play one time, and then things will change. The team will know how it feels to beat a good team, not just play with it. The team will have the confidence when the game is close late in the fourth quarter.Belcher wasn’t that somebody on Saturday, but he’s not the only one to blame. Who’s to say cornerback Matt Ernest couldn’t have come up with a clutch interception instead of giving up the go-ahead touchdown? Who’s to say quarterback Ben Chappell couldn’t have taken a sack instead of throwing a pick?One play at a clutch moment late in the game is all this team needs. Until then, the Hoosiers will continue to lose these close games.If IU trails by five points with time winding down in the fourth quarter at No. 6 Wisconsin this weekend, how do you think it will end?PREDICTIONLast weekend was IU’s best chance for an upset. I don’t expect this one to be nearly as close. Wisconsin is simply too good at home and the Badgers will keep their Big Ten title hopes alive with a lopsided win against IU.Wisconsin 34, IU 14
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>It would have been the perfect ending to a great game. It would have been a season-changing — and potentially program-altering — victory. It would have been something we simply haven’t seen in the Bill Lynch era.The Hoosiers played their most inspired game of the year, giving No. 15 Iowa everything it wanted and more, and yet IU came up one play short — again.The defense took the bend-but-don’t-break mantra to the extreme, allowing 445 total yards but only 18 points. It held an explosive Iowa offense out of the end zone on four consecutive red zone visits, resulting in — get this — nine points.Senior quarterback Ben Chappell and the offense, which had struggled mightily the last two weeks, did enough to win the football game. Trea Burgess ran the ball hard and took advantage of holes he hasn’t seen since taking over for Darius Willis. Receivers Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher gave an extra effort on every one of their catches.The play-calling — and coaching in general — was great, something I haven’t said all year. Lynch was as animated as ever, defending his players by continuously getting in the face of officials after bad calls (he had a case on several).Offensive coordinator Matt Canada went to the play-action pass in usual running situations. He went with running plays on less predictable downs. And he called a brilliant final drive to put the Hoosiers in position to win the game.And yet, it came down to the one play, a fourth-and-10 from the Iowa 18-yard line.After the Hoosiers (4-5, 0-5) failed to convert on first, second and third down, I figured the game was over and IU would leave the field with another tough loss — a surprise to no one.But everything about the last play made it look like the Hoosiers were destined for the upset. The blocking was solid, as it was all game, holding off a strong defensive front to give Chappell a chance to make a play.Chappell hung in the pocket, even when the pressure got to him, and delivered a perfect ball over the middle.But Belcher, a guy who has made big plays all season for the Hoosiers, saw the ball go in and out of his hands. He was all alone, poised to make the catch that changed IU’s season, and he couldn’t do it.It couldn’t have been any closer.“It was a great call by coach (Canada),” Chappell said. “The safety was wide, and I knew I got it over the (line)backer.”It was a catch Belcher has to make, a catch he has made so many times before. But it’s hard for me to put too much of the blame on the receiver because without him, the Hoosiers wouldn’t have had that opportunity in the first place. It was Belcher, remember, who make the remarkable grab in front of three Iowa defenders on a big third-down play only moments earlier.But for whatever reason, this team can never win a game like this. The Hoosiers were close against Michigan, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Iowa a year ago. They’ve had their chances against the Wolverines, Wildcats and Hawkeyes again this season.This one, though, unlike the others, was a game IU won without actually winning. They Hoosiers didn’t only try to compete with Iowa, they played to win.The Hoosiers did everything right. They erased the memories of so many past losing efforts in a way I didn’t believe was possible.The win was in Belcher’s hands — everybody thought he had caught it. “I was staring right at it. I jumped up when he caught it. And then I was coming down as he was coming down, and he dropped it,” wide receiver Duwyce Wilson said. “It’s just unfortunate.”“I was on the sideline, and I thought he caught it,” defensive back Greg Heban added. “Damarlo gave it his all, and the defensive player just came in at the last second and made a good play.”When the IU players and coaches look back at the season, this is the game that will give them indigestion. The win that would change everything was there for the taking, and the Hoosiers could not grab it.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Are you having a hard time motivating yourself to get out of bed on a freezing cold Saturday morning and hike your butt to Memorial Stadium for an IU football game? Here are five reasons to get out there to see the Hoosiers play No. 15 Iowa.1. The Hawkeyes are really good — especially on defense. The first time quarterback Ben Chappell and the IU offense faced a great Big Ten defense against Ohio State, it looked awful. Chappell and the Hoosiers will get another chance on Saturday.Iowa enters the game allowing only 14.5 points per game, the eighth fewest in the nation.2. Chappell’s last home game — Yes, eventually every player walks onto the Memorial Stadium turf for the final time. Chappell’s final walk is special, however, because he’s the Bloomington kid who finally got his shot as the Hoosiers’ quarterback.I don’t know if it being his final home game will make Chappell play better than he has the last couple weeks, but I have a feeling it will. “It’s been a long five years, but it has been fun,” Chappell said.Plus, it’s your last opportunity to see the IU football team at home this season.3. Bill Lynch coaching for his job — kind of ... Stop it now.Stop calling for Lynch’s head. Stop begging IU Athletics Director Fred Glass to do something. Just stop.It’s not going to help. Lynch is not going to be fired in the middle of the season, and that’s fair. Rarely does anything good ever come from such a move.In my mind, these last four games are a job interview for Lynch. Or a job audit. If he and his Hoosiers look to be an improving football team against Iowa, Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue, then he’ll keep his job and live out his contract.If IU loses all four, however, and looks bad doing so, Lynch should be gone. It’s that simple.4. Chappell is close to a record — Wow, I’m starting to feel like Chappell’s agent, not that he has one. But the IU quarterback is only three completions away from breaking Kellen Lewis’ record of 565. If he keeps throwing touchdown passes at his current pace, he’ll pass Lewis’ record of 48 before the season is over.5. Find out if last year was a fluke — If you remember correctly, the Hoosiers led Iowa 21-7 in Iowa City, Iowa a year ago and were poised to go in for another touchdown to make it a three-possession game. “We played really well for the first three quarters,” Lynch said. “We needed to be ahead by more than 10 (heading into the fourth quarter).”But a fluke Chappell interception was returned for a score, and the Hawkeyes were on their way to an easy 42-24 victory.That Iowa team, in my mind, was better than this one — especially on the defensive side of the ball. But was it a fluke? Were the Hawkeyes simply overlooking IU?Saturday’s game could give us an answer. The Hoosiers are more experienced this season, and yet they have been about as bad in conference play as they could possibly be. Don’t expect Iowa, which is coming off a 37-6 thrashing of then-No. 5 Michigan State, to take the Hoosiers lightly in this one. The Hawkeyes are still hungry for that Big Ten title.PREDICTIONThe Hoosiers, similar to many teams at this time of year, are banged up. Wide receiver Tandon Doss hardly looked like himself last week against Northwestern, and tight end Ted Bolser suffered a concussion in that game.But for some reason, I expect IU to play well against Iowa. Chappell will have his most productive game since Homecoming, and the Hoosiers will keep it close for a while.Iowa 27, IU 17E-mail: email@example.com
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Before the season, I predicted an IU win against Northwestern. How could the Hoosiers not win? I thought. All they needed to do was show up for one series in the second half last year, and they would have beaten a better Northwestern team at its place.How naive of me. This is IU football, after all.I should have known redshirt freshman kicker Mitch Ewald, who has been reliable for most of the season, would miss a huge 40-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter and that Northwestern’s senior kicker Stefan Demos would hit from 45 yards going the same direction only minutes later.I should have known quarterback Ben Chappell, who scrambled around as if he was Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for much of the afternoon, would miss open receiver after open receiver. His receivers beat their men on fade routes multiple times, but Chappell overthrew them.I should have known the IU passing offense, which was the best in the conference coming in, would struggle to score points against the Big Ten’s 10th-best passing defense. Crazy of me, right? The Hoosiers went more than 30 minutes between the second and fourth quarters without scoring a single point.I should have known Northwestern backup quarterback Evan Watkins would come in and promptly throw a dart to convert a big third-down play.I should have known that when it comes down to it, the Hoosiers (4-4, 0-4) won’t make the game-winning plays in a close game against a Big Ten opponent. They never do.Chappell and the offense wasted a great performance from their defensive teammates. Linebacker Jeff Thomas was all over the field. Defensive end Darius Johnson was too.For one of the first times all season, we learned that IU really does have a secondary. Junior cornerback Matt Ernest not only stayed with his man, but knocked balls away in coverage. Senior cornerback Richard Council, who looked to be a liability against Michigan earlier in the year, saved a touchdown right before the half.The defense was solid. But for the third time in as many weeks, the offense was anything but.“A couple plays Ben didn’t make the passes, and a couple plays we didn’t make the catches. When we’ve got a chance to make plays, we’ve got to make plays,” junior wide receiver Damarlo Belcher said. “It’s really frustrating. The defense played good and at the beginning of the season they started out slow. They are making the changes they need to make, and they doing better each week. "The defense does good, and then we can’t put up no points. We kind of need to get on the same page.”It’s becoming more and more obvious as we move through the season that this program isn’t in any better shape now than it was last year. Or the year before that.The players insist the team is closer now than it was a season ago. Does “closer” translate into wins?Clearly not.At least suspended junior defensive back Andre Kates provided some comic relief. Kates, who missed the game because he criticized the coaching staff on his Twitter account, tweeted throughout the game. After a Northwestern touchdown, he wrote: “Thats Da Weak Spot Of Da Defense!! Skinny Post!!!”I have a feeling he won’t be seeing the field any time soon.Another week, another opportunity that simply slipped away. The last two games were certainly winnable, especially with the talent the Hoosiers have on the offensive side of the ball.Perhaps sophomore defensive tackle Mick Mentzer described the Hoosiers’ season best when he talked about grabbing Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa’s facemask.“He just slipped underneath me. He was real elusive. I grabbed it and let go of it, but it was too late.”Too late, indeed.
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Lee Corso will be inducted into the IU Athletics Hall of Fame this weekend and for good reason.I’ve gone back and forth on the topic for the last several weeks, but I have finally decided that Corso simply cannot be left out. He has done too much for the IU football program.His 41-68-2 record wouldn’t suggest he had a successful ten-year tenure as the Hoosiers’ head coach. Then again, it’s unfair to base a coach’s value to a university on only one statistic, especially with this football program.People tell me how disgusted they are to see Corso go into the Hall of Fame. Almost all of those people cite Corso’s record, and they say one good year doesn’t make a coach worthy of being inducted into the Hall of Fame.One individual tried to tell me that if Corso goes in, former basketball coach Mike Davis should go in too.Simply ridiculous.The basketball program has five national championships to its name. The football program has a long history of losing. Comparing the two is unfair.“It’s hard to pick out a slice where there’s not a losing record,” said IU Athletics Director Fred Glass, who was a student at IU when Corso was coach. “It’s been a challenging place to be successful. Lee distinguished himself by doing a lot of really great things.”When Corso got here, the Hoosiers had only been to one bowl game. He quickly took a struggling program and made it better.Corso led IU to its first-ever bowl win in 1979, a 38-37 victory against Brigham Young in the Holiday Bowl. The Hoosiers were ranked No. 16 after that game — the second-highest ranking in the history of the school.Corso had four wins against ranked opponents, and he is still the third-winningest coach in IU history.Corso repaired the racial tension created by an African-American boycott in the 1970s, according to Glass. He was the first coach in the country to hire a female assistant to work on recruiting and academics.“He was a real pioneer and was very welcoming to African-American football players,” Glass said. And then there’s Corso’s work with ESPN’s “College GameDay,” where he has become one of the main faces of college football. Doing something significant outside of IU shouldn’t keep an individual from getting into the Hall of Fame — it should help him do so.This isn’t a marketing ploy as everybody seems to think. Corso is going into the Hall of Fame — unanimously I might add — because of the things he has done, both on and off the field, to put IU in a positive light.“To a lot of people, he personifies college football,” Glass said. “It’s legit to take into account what they have done afterwards. To connect Lee Corso with Indiana University in the public consciousness is a really good thing for Indiana University football.”What Corso did for the football program cannot continue to be ignored, which is why it is so great that he will be in town this weekend to finally enter the sacred place in which he belongs.Stop getting caught up in the records, and start remembering the positive things Corso did for the Hoosiers. Yes, he had losing seasons, but he helped move the program in the right direction, something that cannot be said for many IU coaches since Corso.When Corso’s name is announced Saturday afternoon, take the time to stand and applaud. This is a good one. This is one we should be glad to have representing IU.Prediction In as close to a must-win game as the Hoosiers will face this season, IU will have just enough to get past a pesky Northwestern team.IU simply cannot afford to lose this game. Combine that with James Brewer’s possible return, and the Hoosiers will move within one game of bowl eligibility. This defense continues to improve with each passing game, and it will do enough to slow down an efficient Northwestern passing game and give Ben Chappell and the offense more opportunities.PREDICTION: IU 31, Northwestern 28E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — I spent much of the week leading up to the IU-Illinois contest wondering how it had been three years since the Hoosiers last won a Big Ten road game.On Saturday afternoon, it took me only 20 seconds to figure it out.In those 20 seconds, IU was called for an illegal block in the back, forcing the offense to start inside its own 10-yard line.And in those 20 seconds, senior quarterback Ben Chappell also threw two incomplete passes to two different receivers and then made a what-the-heck-are-you-thinking decision that resulted in an interception and ultimately an Illinois field goal.It would be one thing if that was the only bad decision the Hoosiers had made. The problem was they continued to repeat the same mistakes again and again.Chappell would throw two more untimely interceptions, one of which was returned 68 yards for a touchdown. Then add a Dusty Kiel fumble, another pick-six courtesy of Kiel, a blocked punt that resulting in a safety, and end it with the IU offense giving Illinois a generous 26-point homecoming gift.“It’s football, and it’s going to happen,” said senior linebacker and defensive captain Tyler Replogle. “It’s going to hurt, and it’s going to hurt until we watch the film and get better. That’s when it’s going to stop hurting.”This was the second good defense Chappell has played against this season (Ohio State), and it was the second time he looked like a quarterback who didn’t belong on the same field with that defense.It’s easy to praise him after he throws for almost 400 yards against a team like Arkansas State, but the fact of the matter is Chappell is an average Big Ten quarterback. Count me as one of the writers who bought into the hype and made him out to be something better than he really is earlier in the year.Then there were the coaching decisions, which seem to get progressively worse as we go through the season.The Hoosiers twice moved the ball inside the Illinois 10, and twice they settled for field goals. Could have been good defense, you say?Consider this: After a facemask penalty on Illinois, IU had its first-and-goal from the Illinois 4. Senior running back Trea Burgess gained two yards on the first play, setting up a situation where, if I were calling the plays, I would have run three QB sneaks in a row.Instead, IU went out of the pistol again and tried another Burgess run. Why start a running play at the 4-yard line when you could start it at the 2?“Speechless. You just can’t do that,” Chappell said of the team’s inability to score in the red zone. “It makes me sick to my stomach.”Every game, it seems, there are a large handful of plays where I’m left shaking my head, thinking to myself, “Why would they run that in this situation?” To this point, most of those decisions haven’t come back to bite the Hoosiers because they played four cupcakes in the non-conference.The funny thing is the Hoosiers could have won this football game. They should have, at the very least, been competitive with an opportunity to win in the fourth quarter.Then again, these are the types of games that this program never wins. Especially on the road.“If you take out turnovers, we would have been in the game,” redshirt freshman tight end Ted Bolser said. “We have to deal with it. We did turn the ball over, so we have to suffer the consequences.”Printed neatly on the back of the IU football shirts this year is the word “FINISH” in all caps.Saturday afternoon in Champaign, the game finished exactly how it started — with an IU quarterback throwing an interception, with the Illinois fans clapping and with Chappell left shaking his head.Just another Big Ten road game.E-mail: email@example.com
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Agents are a problem everywhere.They’re a problem at University of Southern California, which now has a two-year postseason ban because former player Reggie Bush took money from an agent. They’re a problem at Georgia. And they’re a problem here.Yes, here, at Indiana University.A recent tell-all Sports Illustrated story about former agent Josh Luchs shows how widespread the problem is.Former IU cornerback and current NFL free agent Ray Fisher said he was offered money from an agent while he played for the Hoosiers. He never accepted anything, he said, but the calls from agents were overwhelming.I asked Fisher if he ever saw any of his teammates taking money from agents.“Nah, I can’t talk about that now,” he said.Read into that what you will.Antwaan Randle El, a former IU quarterback and current Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, said the situation was similar when he was in Bloomington between 1998 and 2001. Agents often dropped notes by his apartment or dorm room and several offered him money, he said.The agents didn’t offer him large sums of money, Randle El said, just “$400 or $500 dollars a week.” “It’s a difficult situation,” he said. “You have to know that you can’t go down that path. It takes your mind away from football and distracts from what is really important.”It’s not fair to put all of the blame on these athletes, though. These are young kids, and there are situations where I can understand why taking the money might be enticing.What about the kids who grow up in inner-city Indianapolis with absolutely nothing? They come to IU with a scholarship that pays for their education, housing and food, but what about the other things? These kids want to go out with their friends, they want to go to the movies, they want to take their significant others on a date.An IU football scholarship is something similar to this, according to several current players: All classes and textbooks are paid for. On the road, at the stadium and other places, all food is paid for. The athletes also receive approximately $800 a month for housing and other things.If the players don’t use all of that money to cover housing bills and food, they can use it on whatever they want. These numbers aren’t nearly as high as other schools, such as Georgia and USC, according to a story by Gregg Doyel of www.cbssports.com.The problem is some football players don’t have any money for those extra “fun” things or any way of getting it. Their parents can’t throw anything in, and they aren’t allowed to get a job during the season to earn money.So an agent comes by and offers a few hundred dollar bills. Tempting, isn’t it?“For them, it becomes very tough because they would like to take that money and help their family out,” Randle El said. “They are affected more so than the agents. These are young men that don’t fully understand what they’re doing.”IU junior wide receiver Tandon Doss said he can understand why other athletes might accept that money.“It’s tough being a student athlete. If your family doesn’t have that much money, you still gotta pay rent and get food,” Doss said. “It’s definitely tempting, but you have to keep your mind focused on football and worry about an agent later.”With the same token, though, these athletes are students similar to the rest of us. They have classes, they have homework, they have challenges.The difference is they won’t have thousands of dollars in student loans to pay off after school.Schools can’t pay these athletes — doing so will not solve the agent problem. How much do you pay them? Does everybody get the same? What about walk-on players? What sports are excluded? Where are you getting the extra money?What is a serious problem now would be multiplied ten-fold if college athletes were paid to play. Again, these players are students just like the rest of us.“The student athletes do an awful lot for the University, but sometimes I think it’s lost how much the University does for the student athletes,” IU Athletics Director Fred Glass said. “You walk out on the other side with a fully paid-for education from a terrific university. "I don’t think paying the players is the answer. I certainly wasn’t a student athlete, but I had no money (in college). I remember literally going through the couch looking for change so I could buy a 19-cent box of macaroni and cheese that I made with water instead of milk because I couldn’t afford milk. I would fry up a potato and eat it with bleu cheese dressing because that’s all I had. College is about making do. With a fully paid education at your back, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask the athletes to make do.” Randle El agrees that college players should not be paid. He does believe, like I do, that something should be done to make that agent money less tempting.“I would try to configure a way to give the players something extra beyond just their scholarship,” Randle El said. “Some kind of stipend, some kind of something. That would give them extra money coming in to support themselves. Everybody thinks that ‘you have your scholarship and that’s enough.’ Well, it’s enough that they pay for room and board. But there’s always things outside that you don’t have, or your family don’t have. And there are things that you want, and there are things that you need as a college player.”There is no clear way to keep agents, who continue to become more sophisticated and sneaky, away from college athletes. I’m not going to propose any one solution because I don’t want to pretend I have all the answers.Agents are always going to offer money, and some players are always going to accept it.In my mind, the only thing Glass and coach Bill Lynch can do at this point is exactly what they have been doing.Educate the players on what to look out for. Keep an eye out for suspicious purchases, like a brand new Corvette parked outside a small house.Glass can’t take it to the level of “Big Brother,” but he has to protect this program. He can’t be expected to know that a player’s aunt is living in a huge house in Arkansas, but he has to be as alert as possible.What happened with programs like USC can happen anywhere, even here at IU.PREDICTIONI see Saturday’s contest at Illinois as the potential turning point in the Hoosiers’ season.If they are able to pick up their first Big Ten road win since 2007, their confidence will be sky-high heading into home games against Northwestern and No. 13 Iowa.The problem is, Illinois is a much better team than most anticipated before the season. The Fighting Illini seem to have found a winning formula with a good running game and a strong defense.IU will put up a good fight, but Illinois will milk the clock late with its rushing attack, and the Hoosiers will be 0-3 in conference play.Illinois 28, IU 20- firstname.lastname@example.org
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>The IU football team is halfway through its season, and IDS columnist Justin Albers handed out midterm grades to the team.PASS OFFENSESenior quarterback Ben Chappell and his talented group of receivers have dominated opposing defenses (except Ohio State). The Hoosiers’ pass offense ranks first in the Big Ten and fifth nationally at this point in the season with an average of 319 yards per game. Chappell has already thrown for 1,858 yards with 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Those numbers are all dramatically higher than they were at this point last season, when Chappell had 1,331 yards passing with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Needless to say, this is the strong point of the team. The problem is, Chappell and junior receivers Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher have to continue to put up huge numbers to help keep the Hoosiers in games.GRADE: A (Not an A+ because of Chappell’s costly interception against Michigan.)RUSH OFFENSEA lackluster running game got even worse when sophomore starter Darius Willis went down for the season with a knee injury. Yes, senior Trea Burgess put up respectable numbers in his first start last week, but it came against an Arkansas State defense that gives up points at will.I think the running game will be okay because it only has to be good enough to keep the defense honest. Right now, though, the Hoosiers rank last in the Big Ten in rushing offense at 102 yards per game.Can Burgess hold onto the football? Can young guys such as freshmen Nick Turner and Antonio Banks add positive contributions? Too many questions remain unanswered at this point.GRADE: C-PASS DEFENSEThe IU defense has been atrocious, especially against the pass. Even though senior safety Mitchell Evans had two huge interceptions against Arkansas State, it is clear that he and junior cornerback Matt Ernest still aren’t completely comfortable on the defensive side of the ball.Evans is almost always out of position, especially when the Hoosiers go to zone coverage. IU gives up a ridiculous 231 passing yards per game, a number that would be significantly higher if the Hoosiers showed an ability to stop the run.The more telling statistic: IU has allowed 13 passing touchdowns, more than any other Big Ten team, and the Hoosiers have played only six games while five teams in the conference have played seven.GRADE: DRUSH DEFENSEAgain, awful. I knew coming into the season that this unit would have some problems, but consider this: IU has played six games, four of which came against bad nonconference teams. One conference game came against Ohio State, which threw the ball 32 times.Knowing all that, doesn’t it seem crazy to think the Hoosiers have given up an average of 170 yards rushing in those games? Problem: Missed tackles. Solution: Tackle in practice. Simple.GRADE: FSPECIAL TEAMSThis unit, as a whole, has been solid. The problem is that the Hoosiers cover a kickoff about as well as Tom Pritchard shoots 3-pointers (or free throws). They miss tackles. They don’t stay in their lanes. They don’t get off blocks.That’s why they are ranked last in the Big Ten in kickoff coverage. Other than that, though, special teams have been a real strong point for the Hoosiers.Redshirt freshman kicker Mitch Ewald has missed only one field goal attempt, and he continues to become more consistent with each game.And Doss has been great in the return game, helping IU to the third best average in the conference.But IU cannot continue to give its opponents a short field against the Hoosiers’ spotty (being nice) defense.GRADE: B-
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>The game was over. And yet, IU didn’t seem to want it to end.With less than two minutes remaining, the Hoosiers had a nine-point lead and the ball, facing a third-and-one.Suddenly, the game wasn’t over. Senior running back Trea Burgess, who finally got his opportunity to be the featured back with Darius Willis out, fumbled for the second time in a matter of minutes. Burgess forced his defensive teammates to run back onto the field when they should have been preparing to celebrate their fourth win of the season.The Hoosiers (4-2, 0-2) got the win, but they got it in the ugliest possible way. Arkansas State came within a Bobby Zalud 41-yard field goal of pulling the upset and ruining the Hoosiers’ Homecoming celebration.To be fair, though, an ugly win is infinitely better than an ugly loss, and IU has suffered plenty of those through the years. (Remember the Michigan game two weeks ago?)Regardless of what the stat sheet says — I can’t believe I’m saying this — the game was won, in large part, by the defense. For the first time all season, the defense picked up the offense and bought Ben Chappell and his crew time to find its rhythm against Arkansas State’s man coverage.The Hoosiers saw their first five drives stall without a touchdown. Three of those possessions resulted in Chris Hagerup punts. The other two resulted in Mitch Ewald field goals, which were set up by two Mitchell Evans interceptions.Later in the game, the defense stepped up again (still sounds funny, doesn’t it?). After a long kickoff return by Arkansas State, the Red Wolves decided to reach deep into their playbook for a double-reverse pass.A score would have cut the lead to two with ample time left. But defensive end Terrance Thomas received remarkable penetration and not only forced, but also recovered, a fumble.Every time the defense was put in a difficult situation and needed to make a big play, it did. For once, this unit showed it had a backbone.“We knew it was just a matter of time before our offense got going,” Evans said. “The defense came together and proved that we can step up when we need to, and it’s not just an offensive team. We were put in some pretty tough situations, and I liked how we responded.”It wasn’t all positive for the Hoosiers on Saturday, but this was a huge victory for an IU team coming off back-to-back tough losses.Most of the problem areas for IU against Arkansas State were areas in which the Hoosiers have been solid all season. They couldn’t cover a kickoff, giving up two returns of at least 62 yards. It’s always bad when your kicker is forced to make more than one tackle in a game.They committed eight penalties for 80 yards, something that certainly cannot be repeated against a Big Ten opponent.They turned the ball over two times in the fourth quarter when they were trying to put the game away. Prior to Saturday’s game, the Hoosiers had lost only one fumble on the season.Those things can all be corrected. IU has proven in the past that it can perform in those areas.What’s important to take from this game, though, is that the Hoosiers’ defense, which had been eaten alive all season, finally showed an attitude, an unwillingness to let another team walk all over it. The unit proved that IU can win a game without the offense scoring on every possession.“We’re a team, man, and we’ve just got to get it all clicking together. They’ve been backing us up for the longest time,” Thomas said about the offense, “and it took them a little bit longer to get going. Today, we just had to have their back and we did.”Despite the offense’s struggles, Chappell was glad to get the win. “A win is a win is a win,” Chappell said. “Obviously there are some things we need to improve on, but it’s always good to get a win.”And what a big win it was because it was a game IU simply couldn’t afford to lose.E-mail: email@example.com
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>This isn’t just another game on the schedule. It’s not similar to the non-conference games against Towson, Western Kentucky and Akron.Saturday’s Homecoming contest with Arkansas State means so much more. This is a huge opportunity, a make-or-break moment if you will.Win and the Hoosiers are back on the right track, only two games from bowl eligibility. Lose and it becomes a lost season.The reasons are simple. IU is coming off back-to-back tough losses, and people are jumping off the bandwagon faster than Tiger Woods fell from America’s good graces. The Hoosiers dropped a game to Michigan in which they played about as well as they possibly could have. They were completely dominated at Ohio State by the now-No. 1 team in the nation (I can’t remember a more one-sided half than the one that left IU in a 31-0 hole).This weekend’s game gives the Hoosiers an opportunity to right the ship, an opportunity to regain confidence as they head into the rest of the Big Ten season. You can applaud IU Athletics Director Fred Glass for scheduling a subpar non-conference opponent for Homecoming because it is exactly what the Hoosiers need right now.If this week’s opponent were to be Iowa or Wisconsin, who knows where the season would go from here. Three consecutive losses would damage the psyche of IU players in such a way that matchups against Illinois and Northwestern would become a lot less winnable.I asked four different IU players and coach Bill Lynch how nice this break from the conference season will be to help them gain confidence. All of the answers, as expected, were about the same.“I love it because it’s the next game on our schedule,” Lynch said. “Every game is so important.”Added senior wide receiver Terrance Turner: “It’s just good to be playing competitive football on a Saturday. The students will be a little more crazy because of Homecoming, but other than that it’s just business as usual.”They aren’t going to say it, so I will. The Hoosiers need this game against a school from the Sun Belt because they need to throw 45 points on the scoreboard. They need this game because they need to be reminded what a win feels like.Yes, it has only been two weeks, but when a team loses consecutive games in the way IU did, those two weeks can feel as if it’s been two years.Another reason why this game is different: Arkansas State is a whole lot better than the other three patsies the Hoosiers have already played. The Red Wolves have scored at least 24 points in every game this season, and they are averaging 413 yards of total offense.Yikes! This IU defense had trouble stopping an Akron offense that was ranked at the bottom of every statistical category.And as Lynch reminds us time and time again, Arkansas State is the team that took an undefeated Iowa team to the wire last season.In some ways, a win against Arkansas State is meaningless. In and of itself, the victory does little for the Hoosiers.But if you take into account the number of games it could affect down the road, it is as meaningful as the Michigan game was two weeks ago.Win and the Hoosiers gain enough confidence to split the Illinois and Northwestern games and march into a bowl.Lose and this becomes another 4-8 season, proving the program hasn’t grown in the time Lynch has been here.No, this isn’t just another game. It’s an opportunity to turn things in the right direction.PREDICTION: Fans expecting this game to be finished at halftime, similar to IU’s other non-conference games, better rethink their plans.Arkansas State, with a legitimate offense, will compete with the Hoosiers for a while before Ben Chappell and the offense help IU get its fourth win of the season.Prediction: IU 38, Arkansas State 28– firstname.lastname@example.org
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State has built a winning football program.IU only hopes to do so.Saturday’s meeting between the two teams at Ohio Stadium showed how large the gap between the two programs truly is.The No. 2 Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0) played to win the game. They took shots down field from their first possession until their last one.The Hoosiers (3-2, 0-2) did not. They ran predictable plays on predictable downs all afternoon. First down usually consisted of a handoff to Trea Burgess, Nick Turner or Antonio Banks. More times than not, the play went for one yard or less.Second down featured a Tandon Doss end-around on more than one occasion. What about third down? Either a swing pass, a short hitch or some other play that left the Hoosiers in a punting situation, whether they executed it or not.The IU coaching staff was content to keep the game close (how’d that work out?). Because IU has the football program it does, Bill Lynch and his staff seem happy to settle for the a respectable defeat rather than going for the a program-changing victory.“They totally dominated us in the first half, in every way that you can,” Lynch said. “We were just trying to find a way to get a first down. It was really one of those games, and again, it’s really a credit to them.”The Buckeyes were fundamentally sound.The Hoosiers, much of the time, were not. They missed several tackles, blew multiple defensive assignments and didn’t seem to be on the same page offensively.Lynch said he keeps his team from practicing in full pads because he wants to keep his guys healthy. Not only has that been somewhat unsuccessful so far, those practices have led to poor form and missed tackles on the defensive side of the ball. How do you expect your guys to tackle in the game if they don’t tackle in practice? The Buckeyes’ secondary has the ability to shut down certain receivers.The Hoosiers’ secondary has a difficult time stopping any receiver.Not only did Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor have about three days in the pocket when he dropped back, he could target any IU corner or safety and know his guy was going to make the catch. Running back Brandon Saine ran down the sideline against Mitchell Evans for a touchdown. Wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher cut over the middle against no one in particular (zone coverage broke down). Receiver DeVier Posey came back for a ball in the corner of the end zone against Adrian Burks.This secondary is beaten up, yes, but something has to change. These guys have been gashed by almost everybody this season.Did I expect IU to beat the Buckeyes? No. But I didn’t anticipate a 31-0 game — with Ohio State outgaining IU 320-68 in yards at the end of the first half.“They’re a good team,” Burks said. “No. 2 in the country for sure.”It’s interesting how every IU player and coach we talked to alluded to Ohio State’s ranking. That tells a lot about where this program is in comparison to other schools. Most players and coaches would tell you they don’t pay any attention to the rankings. The Hoosiers can’t go 30 seconds without mentioning it.Being outplayed by a team that has superior athletes is one thing, but that’s not the only area in which IU was overmatched Saturday.The Buckeyes were also a whole lot smarter and tougher than the Hoosiers.That’s why Ohio State is building toward another appearance in the BCS National Championship, and IU is on track for another finish at the bottom of the Big Ten.For years we have heard the IU football program is building. After a 38-10 loss to the Buckeyes, I can’t help but notice how far it is from the finished product. Ohio State has built a mansion. IU is still working on the foundation.E-mail: email@example.com
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>The IU defense stops its opponent from getting a first down and forces them to punt. No. 39, anxiously waiting on the sideline, straps up his helmet and sprints onto the field. He quickly glances over the defensive line in front of him, making sure all of his teammates are in the correct position for punt coverage.The ball is snapped. No. 39 hurries through a small hole created by two pairs of linemen. He nears two “bears,” guys who stand in front of the punter to keep defenders from getting through.No. 39 leaps right before he comes in contact with the bears, giving up his body in an effort to block the punt. After landing on the turf and realizing his attempt was unsuccessful, No. 39 hussles off the field and patiently waits his next opportunity to help the Hoosiers.This is the life of No. 39, Brandon McGhee. He is responsible for blowing up the wedge on punt coverage and doing everything he can to block a kick. That’s his job, and he does everything in his power to make sure he gets it done.McGhee, a redshirt junior, doesn’t get to play on the offensive or defensive sides of the ball. It wasn’t until this year he had the opportunity to play consistently on special teams.But the walk-on never complains. McGhee knows his role, and he’s committed to helping the Hoosiers win.In a time when the number of true “student athletes” seems to decrease each year, McGhee and players like him often go unnoticed. And that’s a shame. McGhee will never see his name in the bright lights (unless he blocks a punt, and even then it will be short-lived). He will likely never find his way onto an NFL roster.And yet, McGhee never quits. He attends the Hoosiers’ grueling practices every day and then must study for the classes he is paying for out of pocket. (He has received some financial aid.) “I’m a sardine in the ocean,” McGhee said. “But you adjust to your role. I’ve been here for four years, and I’m comfortable in this role now. You become part of a team, something bigger than yourself.”McGhee grew up as a basketball player for Jeffersonville High School. He knew he wanted to play football at the next level, however, because “football was fun to me and basketball was like a job.”As a high school football player, McGhee didn’t set any records for interceptions or fumble recoveries as a safety. He did, however, set a new school mark for deflections in a season — making him the perfect candidate for the job he currently has.“He always gives us 100 percent when he’s out there,” said co-special teams coordinator Dennis Springer. “Anything he can do to help his football team win, Brandon is going to do it. I always tell my guys ‘Go get me one of those footballs.’ If Brandon gets one, it could be a game-changer.”These are the players we should look up to — athletes that work as hard as they possibly can to do something they love. McGhee is in Bloomington primarily to get a criminal justice degree, something he said he hopes will help him get a position with the FBI someday. If necessary, he said, he will join the Air Force after graduation.But don’t sleep on No. 39 this Big Ten season. McGhee nearly blocked three different punts in a game against Western Kentucky last month because he noticed the Hilltoppers put their bears nine yards behind the line of scrimmage — three yards farther than most teams.Before the year is up, McGhee hopes to get his paws on one of those footballs. That’s not because he wants his name in the spotlight, but rather because it could be a play that helps his team win a football game.“I want to play hard every play and do whatever I can to help my team,” McGhee said. “I see myself getting one of those kicks by the end of the year. I’m going to try my best to get one, anyway.”The Hoosiers’ defense forces a three-and-out and another punt. No. 39 runs back out on the field, ready to break through the line yet again.This could be the one that changes the game.This is the life of No. 39 — this is the life of Brandon McGhee.ALBERS’ PREDICTIONIU senior quarterback Ben Chappell set four school records last week in the Hoosiers’ 42-35 loss to No. 19 Michigan.But those numbers — 45-of-64 for 480 yards — came against a lackluster Wolverines’ defense. This week, Chappell and the IU offense will go to work against one of the nation’s best defenses in Ohio State.I expect Chappell to put up some decent numbers, but it won’t be nearly enough to keep the Hoosiers in the game. Did you know IU is 0-26 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the country?The ‘0’ won’t turn into a ‘1’ on Saturday.Prediction: Ohio State 34, IU 20- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Denard Robinson dropped back in the pocket and was pressured by IU defensive lineman Larry Black Jr. The Michigan quarterback got rid of the ball a split second before he was devoured by the 326-pound Black, letting go of a deep, high throw down the right sideline.Michigan wide receiver Junior Hemingway, covered by cornerback Richard Council on the play, came back for the ball and leapt in front of the IU defensive back. Hemingway brought the ball down at the 4-yard line, setting up Robinson’s game-winning touchdown run on the ensuing play.One play decided a game that featured 77 points and 1,142 yards of offense. One play changed the entire complexion of the Hoosiers’ season. One play showed how far the IU football program has come, and yet how far it still has to go.Robinson is a Heisman Trophy candidate who made a Heisman Trophy play. Sometimes there truly is no defense for good offense, no matter what kind of effort the defense gives.The Hoosiers (3-1, 0-1) played a gutsy football game. They made defensive adjustments after a rough start. They converted on two big fourth-down plays late in the fourth quarter to keep the game alive. They left everything they had (excuse the cliche) on the turf inside Memorial Stadium. But like the Hoosiers did so many times last season, they came up one play short in the end.Haven’t you read this tale before?“I’m really disappointed for our kids,” IU coach Bill Lynch said. “I thought they had great effort and kept battling the whole time. Big plays, on their part, won out.”When Robinson ran 72 yards for a touchdown on his first carry of the game, it looked as if No. 19 Michigan was going to run the Hoosiers out of their own stadium. To their credit, the Hoosiers didn’t quit.Yes, the Wolverines (5-0, 1-0) put up huge offensive numbers, but the IU defense adjusted in the second half and kept the team in the game when the offense stalled on a couple of drives.The only thing the Hoosiers are going to look back on and cringe at was Chappell’s second-quarter interception in the end zone. IU receiver Tandon Doss (who had a career game, by the way) appeared to be open for the touchdown, but Chappell threw late.A score on that possession would have given IU the lead again. A score on that possession would have knocked the Wolverines on their heels, and it would have given the Hoosiers their best chance to win the game.Again, though, one play away. “You can’t turn the ball over in the red zone, and you really can’t turn it over at all,” Chappell said. “I tried to force it in there, and it was a terrible throw, too.”As painful a loss as this was for IU, it taught us a great deal about the Hoosiers.For one, this receiving corps isn’t only talented, it’s fearless. Doss and tight end Ted Bolser each took a jaw-clenching blow over the middle, and each held on for a big catch. These guys played to win the football game, which should be encouraging to IU fans.Chappell put up machine-like numbers against a Big Ten defense (even if it looks like the Western Kentucky defense). Running back Darius Willis was a big part of the offense again. Lynch took chances in situations where he doesn’t normally take chances.This program is improving. On Saturday, however, it came up one play short.The Hoosiers made play after play. Robinson made one more.He’s a Heisman Trophy candidate for a reason.E-mail: email@example.com
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Since the IU football coaches and players won’t talk about how big a win against Michigan would be for the team, I will provide my thoughts. Here are seven reasons why a victory against the Wolverines would be significant for IU:1. It would help IU Athletics Director Fred Glass fill Memorial Stadium. Let’s face it: If the Hoosiers lose this game, interest in the program, which is currently at a high point, will vanish. With a loss, fans will forget about home games against Arkansas State, Northwestern and Iowa and instead turn their attention to Tom Crean and the basketball team.It happens every year about this time. If IU can pull off the upset, however, Glass won’t have to go door-to-door selling tickets — fans will start snatching them up for every game at Memorial Stadium.“It would drive interest, and it would drive ticket sales,” Glass said. “It would be great to beat these guys, especially when they’re flying high.”2. A 6-1, or maybe even 7-1, start would be possible. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But if the Hoosiers knock off the No. 19 Wolverines on Saturday, that kind of a start is a legitimate possibility.IU will more than likely lose at Ohio State next week and then play games against Arkansas State, Illinois and Northwestern. “I’m not going to underplay what a huge opportunity this is for the IU football program,” Glass said. “I’m sure I should say ‘Hey, there’s no must-win games in October,’ and ‘The most important game on your schedule is the next one,’ and ‘There will be a lot of football left after this game.’“All those things are true, and if we were to lose, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But I’m thrilled that Michigan is coming in undefeated. I’m thrilled that they’re coming in ranked. I’m thrilled that they’re coming in with a Heisman Trophy candidate. This would be a huge, huge signature win.”3. National exposure. Yes, I saw Ben Chappell’s picture in Pat Forde’s column on ESPN.com, but a victory this week would get everybody writing and talking about the Hoosiers.IU won’t be ranked if it beats Michigan, but the faces of Chappell, Tandon Doss and Bill Lynch would be plastered all over ESPN for the weekend if the Hoosiers find a way to pull it out. How often does that happen?4. Two games away from bowl eligibility. Whether or not you want to see your 6-6 football team play in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl doesn’t really matter — playing 13 is the Hoosiers’ ultimate goal.And while I know it’s still early and IU could lose its final eight games of the season (the football program has been known to do things like that), a win here would make a bowl appearance all but a guarantee. Arkansas State and Purdue are looking incredibly beatable right about now.5. Positive impact on basketball recruiting. That’s not to say that a recruit is going to commit to IU based on a football win against Michigan, but it couldn’t hurt.Several recruiting targets are expected to be in town for the game, including Hanner Perea, Gary Harris and Jeremy Hollowell.6. Revenge. Bill Lynch and his players refuse to acknowledge that this is a “revenge” game after the heartbreaking 36-33 loss in Ann Arbor, Mich. in 2009. That was the defeat that effectively started a downhill slide, which didn’t stop until the offseason.A win Saturday would show that the Hoosiers are not the pushover football program they have generally been known as. They trail 51-9 in this series against Michigan, and they haven’t beaten the Wolverines since 1987. 7. It would show the program is improving. And that’s the most important thing, something fans need to see in order to buy into this program long term.A win against a ranked Michigan team Saturday would prove to everyone that Lynch has taken this program to the next level. To this point, Lynch has a 17-23 record with the Hoosiers and one bowl appearance. One of the main things missing from his resume is a signature win — something a victory against Michigan would change. (Winning 21-19 against Northwestern in 2008 came close.)A victory against the Wolverines would be as significant for the IU football program as anything that has happened in quite awhile.The Hoosiers have a golden opportunity. They best not waste it.
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>As deadly as the IU offense has been through three games, it is not nearly lethal enough to offset what has been a fragile Hoosiers’ defense.If IU misses tackles and blows coverage assignments like it did in a 35-20 win against Akron on Saturday, the Hoosiers will give up 40 points per game during the Big Ten season, and they might struggle to win a conference game.(Note: IU was playing without defensive captain Tyler Replogle, who missed the game with a concussion. With Replogle, who is probably the team’s surest tackler, the Hoosiers are undoubtedly a better team than they are without him.)Stats rarely tell the whole story, but in this case, they tell most of it — at least in the rushing department.The IU defense allowed 160 yards rushing to a team that came in averaging only 115.3 per game, good for 99th-best in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Those numbers are slanted in the Zips’ direction because of a 224-yard performance against Gardner-Webb. In its other two games against Syracuse and Kentucky, Akron rushed for only 61 yards per game.The Hoosiers let one of the nation’s worst ground attacks eat them up on multiple occurrences. Are they ready for Michigan and Denard Robinson, the nation’s leading rusher?“We weren’t wrapping up. We were going for the big hit, and they were just bouncing off of it and getting extra yards,” said senior safety Mitchell Evans.Had the Zips eliminated a couple of mistakes — mainly dropped passes — this could have been a scary game for IU. Akron wide receiver Jeremy LaFrance beat the Hoosiers’ coverage on a fourth-and-one play midway through the fourth quarter and had a clear path to the end zone, but the ball fell right through his hands.If he makes that catch, it’s 35-27 with plenty of time left for a comeback. A Big Ten receiver pulls that ball down 10 times out of 10. The Hoosiers won’t be so lucky when they start playing legitimate competition next week.“Our offense was doing a great job, and I think if our defense really needed to, we could come up big,” Evans said. “They had a couple of drops that we saw on film. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than skilled.”It’d be great to believe the Hoosiers can just flip the switch on defense if they need a big stop like Evans said. At this point in the season, however, they haven’t shown us they can do that.In a lot of ways, the Hoosiers are starting to resemble the Indianapolis Colts of a few years ago: They put up big offensive numbers, primarily in the passing game, and struggled to stop their opponents from scoring.The thing about those Colts’ defenses was that they bent but didn’t break.They stayed off the field enough to give Peyton Manning and the offense a chance to win the game.I don’t think this IU team, as it looks right now, can hold Big Ten clubs to field goals instead of touchdowns and give senior quarterback Ben Chappell the same opportunity.After the game, IU coach Bill Lynch called Akron “a good offensive football team.”I can’t help but wonder what he’s going to say about the Wolverines a week from now.The Hoosiers have plenty of room to improve on the defensive side of the ball. They had better do so in a hurry because Robinson is lurking.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>As soon as the news broke that Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio was hospitalized with a heart attack, coaches health issues immediately came to the forefront. Many writers said a college coach has a more difficult job than any other “average” professional.John Lindsay of Scripp News suggested coaches live in a more difficult world than other human beings.Loren Tate of the News-Gazette, based in Champaign, Ill., compared what happened to Dantonio with what happened to late IU coach Terry Hoeppner — who died of cancer and not a heart attack. He said,“Salesmen don’t sit up past midnight studying the idiosyncrasies of the next day’s prospects.” As if coaches are the only ones who worry about the next day.As unfortunate as the Dantonio situation is (he was released from the hospital Tuesday), the previously described point of view simply isn’t rational.The jobs coaches are required to do get tougher each year. They have to watch hours and hours of film, go to practice and then watch more film. On top of that, coaches have to recruit almost year-round if they want to end up with the players who will take their respective programs to the next level.It’s tough, it’s stressful and it’s time-consuming. I am not debating those facts. It is not, however, any more difficult, stressful or time-consuming than other professions. Doctors and lawyers — amongst other professionals — have to study for an extra four years just to earn the degrees they need for their chosen careers. Then, after earning those degrees, they log hours comparable to those of a football coach. While a coach is studying film of his team’s next opponent, a lawyer is studying the facts of his next case. While a coach is prepping his team for a big game, a doctor is preparing his team for a possibly life-saving surgery.There are stresses in every person’s life, things that are challenging to overcome. Some individuals are kept awake at night worrying about paying his or her electric bill or putting food on the table for a family.It’s not only coaches who bring their work home in some capacity – it’s the majority of working Americans.“I don’t know of anybody who’s really successful that doesn’t work hard,” IU coach Bill Lynch said. “It doesn’t just happen. I think this stuff kind of gets overplayed with how crazy coaches are.”To take Dantonio’s heart attack as an example why college coaches need to cut back is incredibly unfair. Heart attacks happen every day — we just recognize this one because it happened to a prominent figure at a big-name college football program.Plus, it is very unlikely that Dantonio’s heart attack was caused by something related to his job coaching the Spartans. Few such incidents are brought on by job-related stress.“Much of what we describe as ‘job stress’ is as much, or more, a part of the person as it is the job,” said Dennis Organ, a retired IU professor with a background in job-related stress and satisfaction. “Job stress, in my opinion, is never the sole determining factor of a heart attack.”Some college coaches are overworked and can never seem to escape the pressure associated with their job. Florida’s Urban Meyer would be a good example.But, again, this is no different than some professionals in any other line of work. Teachers, salespeople, postal workers, and many others bring their work home from time to time.Lynch seems to have his priorities in order. He likes to have his staff members work in the morning so they can be home with their families at night. Certain days are undoubtedly tougher than others, but Lynch is spending those days in a career he chose doing something he loves — coaching football.Let’s not continue to put college coaches up on a pedestal, acting as if they work so much harder than the rest of America, and overreact when a negative health story emerges.Doing so is unfair to Dantonio, to Lynch and to all of the other hard-working individuals in the country. College coaches work hard, but it is up to them to decide how many extra hours to spend in the office and what to think about once they head home.Sound familiar? It should — you or someone you know probably has the same discretion in their careers.WEEKEND PREDICTIONStill trying to figure out how good IU is this season? Don’t plan on using Saturday night’s game as an indicator.Akron, similar to Western Kentucky, has yet to win a game this season — and that includes a home contest against Gardner-Webb.IU will jump on the Zips early and cruise, setting up a matchup of unbeatens when Michigan comes to town next week.Prediction: IU 45, Akron 13E-mail: email@example.com
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — The Hoosiers walked onto Western Kentucky’s Feix Field (not to be confused with the Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field) as if they were a bunch of college freshmen walking the campus for the first time.They looked confused, nervous and insecure. After junior wideout Tandon Doss returned the opening kick-off 87 yards to the Western Kentucky 13, IU might as well have sat the rest of the first quarter out. The Hoosiers were toyed with by a team that had lost 22 (not a misprint) games in a row.Sophomore running back Darius Willis dropped a handoff on the second play from scrimmage — a cardinal sin any time, but especially in the red zone.The defensive line got pushed backward on every play of a 10-play, 91-yard TD drive — a drive that consisted of 62 rushing yards by Western Kentucky running back Bobby Rainey.The Hoosiers trailed 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and then flipped the switch. They finally looked comfortable on the field (or campus) and stopped making the Hilltoppers look like a Big Ten opponent.But that quarter — a quarter the players probably hope they won’t have to see on film this week — will benefit the Hoosiers in the long run.Because they played so poorly in that quarter, their starters got to stay on the field for the full 60 minutes — at least a quarter more than they would have played had they blown the game open early.Because they played so poorly in that quarter — and this is the most important thing to take out of IU’s 38-21 win — they got a chance to handle the adversity that comes with a deficit in a road environment. And they handled it in a way they thought they would — with ease.“It’s football. We’ve got to be able to respond when stuff like that happens,” said senior quarterback Ben Chappell, who threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns. “When it doesn’t go your way, you’ve got to be able to respond positively. Stuff happens in football, but I was pretty happy with the way we responded.”While the Hoosiers will undoubtedly face bigger challenges during the conference season, this one should not be underestimated. What looked like an easy ‘W’ on the schedule became an incredibly dangerous situation when IU allowed Western Kentucky, a team starving for a victory, to capture the momentum in front of its enthusiastic home crowd.This was a situation IU was on the opposite side of so many times last year. Leads against Michigan, Iowa, Northwestern and Penn State all turned into losses.Good teams know how to weather the storm. The Hoosiers, who effectively dominated both sides of the ball from the second quarter forward, learned how to weather the storm Saturday. “It’s always dangerous coming into a situation like this,” senior safety Mitchell Evans said. “We knew they were going to be fired up and we were going to have to fight them off in the beginning.“They made a push, but we came back big the rest of the game. It was just a matter of getting ready and bearing down.”Even after the frightening first quarter for the Hoosiers, it’s hard to take anything but positives from this game. This IU team learned how to respond to adversity — a lesson they are sure to be tested on time and time again as the season progresses.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org