Bloomington, Ind. – Greg Brown isn't exactly sure what the most dominant feeling was in the IU locker room after Indiana's season-ending loss to Purdue.
"I can't describe it," the Hoosiers' 6-2, 299-pound defensive tackle says. "You're so close – it's like from here to this line. It's right there, a step away and all of a sudden it's all over, all gone."
That 28-19 setback was Indiana's third straight to end the season, squashing their hopes of bringing an end to the program's 13-year bowl drought. A 5-3 start had players, coaches and fans alike thinking there would be a game be played after the regular season came to a close, but blowout losses to Minnesota and Michigan followed by the setback to Purdue left Brown and his teammates with an empty feeling.
"You had a sense of failure," Brown said. "You were right there and it was taken away from you . You see others getting ready for bowl games and you wonder, ‘why am I not getting ready' when you know you had your chance."
Left in the aftermath of last season's disappointment, though, is a sense of resolve. After getting past the pain of last season's near miss, Brown has committed himself to doing whatever needs to be done to not have the 2007 season end in a similar fashion.
"I'm hungry," Brown says. "You get out here (for spring practice), and you know you did well last spring and last fall, but that wasn't good enough. We know we're right there, and we're going to work that much harder."
If Indiana is in fact going to get over the hump, Brown will be a big reason why. A junior-to-be, Brown started all 12 games last season, totaling 42 tackles, 5 ½ tackles for loss and 1 ½ sacks.
While those numbers made him the most statistically productive Hoosier defensive lineman, he also hinted at being able to do even more. He was dominant during an eight-tackle, 1 ½ tackle for loss effort against Connecticut, and also had big games against Illinois (six tackles) and Iowa.
Now that he's an upperclassman, Brown has visions of having those sort of efforts on a game-by-game basis.
"I felt I had a couple of big games where I really dominated last year," Brown said. "I work on being more consistent every year, because I want to be a big-game player every single game, not just a majority of the games. That's my goal, because I know I have the ability to do it."
Productivity on the field, though isn't the only role Brown intends to fill this year. With the loss of veterans like Kenny Kendal, Will Meyers and Troy Grosfield on the defense, he knows he'll need to assume some of that responsibility as well.
It's a chore he welcomes.
"I'm the type of guy that wants that on my shoulders," Brown said. "It's an honor that people are depending on me to do things like that. It makes me want to go harder thinking they have that faith in me. We had guys who did it before, and now I feel like it's my time."
Brown also thinks it's Indiana's time as well after the heartbreak from last season.
"You look at the ones that came before you, the ones you look up to…for us to get over that hump and get there would be a huge accomplishment for us and for those who started the foundation," Brown said. "It's huge for this program, IU for this whole state."
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