Indiana Has A Lot on the Line

First-year Indiana offensive line coach and running game coordinator Bobby Johnson has his offensive line blocking for a record setting quarterback and a rushing attack that is averaging 171.6 yards a game. Johnson offers his thoughts on helping the Hoosiers keep up the success and getting Coach Terry Hoeppner his first win in his fourth attempt against Iowa.

Q: Why is the offensive line blocking better since the Kentucky game?
A: I think their confidence level is pretty high right now. I don't think we've done anything differently in practice. We do the same things over and over again so they become reactionary. I try to put them in the worst-case scenarios in practice, that way if a blitz comes or a stunt comes, it's not a problem for us. I think what has happened since Kentucky is we have really harped on playing aggressive and playing hard and they saw the results of it in the Kentucky game when we rushed for 278 yards. That made them really pick it up in practice. They have responded to their own success.

Q: Is the offensive line excited for Blake Powers now that he holds the record for most touchdown passes by a Hoosier in a season and James Hardy for most touchdowns by an Indiana freshman?
A: I think that's the nature of the offensive line. You understand your name is not going to be in the paper, you don't have any stats, so you have to take pride in the skill guys getting the recognition. I think our line is real happy for those guys. They go into every game wanting the back to average a lot of yards per carry and they don't want Blake to get touched. We still have to clean up pass protection a bit because we've had times where Blake has made a nice throw, but he's been under pressure. We still have to get better at it, but they like that our skill guys are having a lot of success right now.

Q: How do you as a coach try to eliminate the penalties on the offensive line?
A: Penalties are just an attention to detail. Silly penalties like holding are just the simple fact of not trusting your technique. You don't have to do anything extraordinary to beat a good team. If you trust your technique you're going to be fine. To eliminate holding you have to keep your hands inside and move your feet. We can't get lazy and let our feet go dead, that's when you get holds. I think it's just continuing to harp on the basic technique in practice and they're going to get better.

Q: Nobody on this team has ever played for an Indiana team that got to four wins. How do you keep them going in this uncharted territory?
A: Everybody wants to have success and I think our guys are enjoying this success. I think they see the things we are doing as coaches are providing these positive results. They realize, ‘Hey this stuff works. We need to keep doing this because we want to win.' I think they want to get better because nobody says ‘hey, we got four wins, we're happy with it.' Our goal right now is to play 12. Well, in order to play 12 you have to have a winning record and get selected to a bowl. Well, you have to keep doing the right things, the things that have been working, so you can keep winning and reach 12.

Q: What did this team learn in the loss at Wisconsin?
A: I think a lot of guys opened their eyes to the type of intensity you have to play with for 60 minutes, not in spurts, for an entire game. It is hard, I don't care which Big Ten team it is, it is hard to go into their stadium and beat them. There's no soft team in the Big Ten. They realized after Wisconsin, we need to bring our A game on the road, every snap, at the highest level we can in order to go into someone's stadium and get a win.

Q: Does the fact that there is only one undefeated team in the Big Ten give any added confidence to this 4-1 squad?
A: I think our guys have done a good job buying into when Coach Hep says - this is our biggest game this week. You really can't start looking around the schedule because then you get in the habit of overlooking someone or maybe not giving your next opponent the proper respect they deserve. The approach our guys are taking is to take it one at a time, respect all and fear none. That's what you have to do.

Q: Do you have any experience against Iowa?
A: At Miami of Ohio, we played against Iowa in 2001, 2002, and 2003. We played them three years in a row and we played them at home in 2002. I'm familiar with the setting but a lot of guys on this team are not. The last time Indiana played Iowa was in 2002 and I believe that was here. So a lot of our guys haven't been there. I told them it's going to be a large, rowdy crowd just like the other Big Ten stadiums, they're going to be right on top of you, probably throwing stuff at you, the locker room is pink, but really the field is the same size, they have the same amount of players on the field and you have to get past the distractions and play football. I think our guys are old enough to do that and it's good that we already had a big time Big Ten road game already. I don't think it'll be too much of a shock for us.

Q: What did you think of the pink locker rooms at Kinnick Stadium?
A: I kind of laughed at it the first time I saw it. Not in a disrespectful way, but you hear so much about it and you walk in it and it's really not as obnoxious as people make it seem. They make it sound like it's a hot pink, but it's really a dull pink. You kind of go in and think this is what everyone makes a big deal about? You don't think that much about it once you get in there. The players hardly even realize it because they're too busy getting dressed and they're kind of preoccupied. But the coaches notice it more than anybody. Top Stories