To the Indiana football coaches, the first segment of the season is complete.
The Hoosiers have finished the non-conference portion of the season a middling 2-2 and now get a week off before starting Big Ten play. In many ways, Indiana's first of two bye weeks has come at a good time. A challenging three-game segment is on the horizon.
Following the disappointing loss to Missouri, the Hoosiers get a chance to recharge and self-evaluate this week before opening Big Ten play Oct. 5 at home vs. Penn State.
"We've got to use this extra time for film, see where we are," junior defensive lineman Bobby Richardson said. "Our opponents- — they've played a couple games already so we've got good film to rely on and we've just got to make corrections. This is how we just build and become solid before the game. Bye weeks are important."
Bye weeks feel like well-earned rest after a win. Indiana, on the other hand, is coming off an ugly defeat in front of a large home crowd.
"It's tougher because it eats us up," Richardson said. "We're ready to go again, attack the next team but we've got a whole two weeks to wait. But it's also good because now we've got a lot of time to build up as a team and learn and be better. We should be more prepared."
Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said he has talked to his players about segmenting the season. The first was the non-conference season. Next comes a three-game slate — at home against the Nittany Lions followed by two difficult road tests at Michigan State and at Michigan — before the Hoosiers have another bye week.
"You'd love to be 4-0," Wilson said. "And we haven't played well and have done what we've needed to win two games. But we have played good opponents, and not that we've played the best teams we're going to play. We're going to play teams like we just played and other good teams, but at least we've been in that arena. We've got a week now to address it, not be in a panic, to really just get on to this next game."
Those "best teams" are, of course, Big Ten teams. Richardson said playing Missouri to close out the non-conference schedule was beneficial given the similarities between the Tigers and many conference teams.
"We've got a lot to learn from it because we had a lot of mistakes and that's what we're working on this week," he said. "It's going to be very important because a lot of teams run the same plays that (Missouri) run and up-tempo too, so it's going to help us a lot in the Big Ten."
Wilson said this week will incorporate some self-evaluation and some game-planning for Penn State. He said his assistant coaches also get a chance to recruit and that it's also a time to work on developing younger players.
Perhaps most importantly, the Hoosiers can get back to basics. Wilson said Tuesday's practice resembled a preseason practice, as the team worked from mostly base formations and on fundamentals. He hopes it will restore the physicality on both sides of the ball he's harped on since August.
"In the league we play in, even though we've a spread team and we can do our tempo and be in shotgun, you've still got to have the toughness and the balance on both sides of the ball," Wilson said. "So that's really where everything's really concentrated on right now."
Wilson talked about how he thought some of his players were over-thinking, particularly young players on defense. He said it's important he and his staff allow the younger players to play through their mistakes, and to not over-coach.
Junior wide receiver Shane Wynn said he noticed a similar problem.
"We are definitely good as team," he said. "We've just got to stop making the little knucklehead mistakes that we make and being scared to make the mistakes. If you make a mistake you've still go the next plays, you've got a lot more plays after that actually, to make it up for that mistake."
Wynn's notion of not dwelling on negative plays also extends to the Missouri loss. The next game is two weeks away, but Wynn said the break is a time for constructive self-analysis and reflection.
"A loss is a loss," he said. "You can't go back to the game. We always talk about not letting that team beat us twice. So if we're dwelling on a loss, are we just hanging our heads low, and then Penn State beats us — then Missouri just beat us twice."