Bloomington, Ind. - The Indiana football program is under new leadership this season, as Bill Lynch takes over for Terry Hoeppner.
Lynch's debut season as the Hoosiers' head coach will be one that will include plenty of heavy hearts due to the passing of Hoeppner, as well as one with lofty expectations. Indiana is coming off a five-win season – its most victories since 2001 – and returns virtually all of its big-name players. For the first time in recent memory, a post-season bowl berth is a very realistic possibility for a program that hasn't been to the postseason since 1993.
Lynch recently sat down with HoosierNation.com to talk about the upcoming season, the passing of Hoeppner, and a handful of other topics. Today, we look at 10 topics with the new head coach:
On the similarities between himself and Hoeppner:
"Everyone's personality is a little different. We all know that no matter who you are, you have to be yourself. From day one in this profession, I can't tell you how many clinics and talks I've been through, the really good ones always say that – if you try to be someone else it's a mistake.
"So my personality is a little different, but philosophically, that it's players first, we've both taken the approach you want to coach the players as if they were your own sons. That's why we're in the business. Yeah, we want to win and we enjoy to compete, we love all that, but not losing sight of why we're in it."
On Rick Greenspan's handling of the Hoeppner situation:
"He's been tremendous. From day one with this thing, his loyalty and feeling for Hep was so obvious. He was going to do whatever was right for Hep. From the time he had the first surgery, Rick said, ‘you're going to take over here until Hep can come back.'
"He was really supportive and what was best for Terry and his family. The next thing has always been what's right for these kids, we owe it to these kids. That's a tribute to an AD who knows what we're in this thing for, and it's for the kids. He's been really good with that."
On how the players have handled Hoeppner's passing:
"I think they've handled it well. It's like everything else. The book hasn't been written and won't be until later on. We're so caught up in the moment with each thing that's come up, and I think the kids have handled it really well. Who knows, years down the road they might look back and reflect and say this is how I was really feeling.
"You try to keep a pulse on where they're at. The staff has done a good job of that, the strength staff. But each individual kid, it's hard…when you talk to them down the road they can probably reflect a little more. I think overall they've done well."
On whether IU will settle on one tailback or stick with a rotation:
"We have such flexibility at running back. Everyone says it's running back by committee, you can't make up your mind. It's not that at all. We have three guys that can really play, and really more than that. Bryan Payton has come on to where he's a Big Ten running back."
On the progress of the offensive line:
"We brought in those seven (freshmen), and when we came out of spring six of them were in the two deep, and Jarrod Smith is knocking on the door. We hit on all of them, and usually you don't hit on all of the recruits. I don't know what the percentage is wherever you're at.
"Alex Perry we moved to center. That was important. Ben Wyss is a program guy, a plugger who is very efficient. But we knew we needed a backup. Our two centers last year were both gone. We had to move one of the young guys, and we think we hit with Alex. (Cody) Faulkner and (Mike) Stark are really close to where they need to be to play in the Big Ten. And then (James) Brewer, his potential is unlimited. He got better in the spring, and then got a little foot injury that slowed him the last week."
On the move of Matt Mayberry to inside linebacker, where he'll back up Adam McClurg:
"Mayberry was a tailback in high school. He didn't play any defense in high school. People recruited him thinking he'd be a defensive player, but when we recruited him, we said you're going to play safety, then we created that buck position, but we knew what he'd develop into. When they decided to play him at MIKE - that's where he belongs."
On the Hoosiers' linebacker situation:
"I think it starts with having a guy in the middle that understands the whole thing, and that's what McClurg is. He's played a lot and played well. He's another guy when you back and look at him, he's another really efficient, effective player. And he's been out there.
"The two guys on the outside are pretty talented. (Will) Patterson has tremendous natural strength and quickness. Geno (Johnson) is the same. We were playing him as a true freshman, a 200-pound linebacker playing in the Big Ten. He's gotten bigger and stronger, he could always run, but he's gotten more physical."
On the possibility of true freshmen contributing this season:
"There will be a couple that will, and it's hard to say who. You have an idea of who can physically can come in, but you never know until they get here. Each kid…the adjustment is so different. Some of the big guys you think are ready, sometimes they are little boys in big bodies. Sometimes little guys you don't think are ready are mature in little guys bodies.
"That's why I've never been too big this time of year predicting freshmen. Sometimes it's not their ability it's that adjustment. Some can't leave their girlfriend at home, their parents at home, some get awed by the size of the campus, some get intimidated. You never know."
On Nick Polk:
"He's a prototypical size safety, and one thing Billy (Lynch) always said was he was as smart a wide receiver as he's ever been around. He went over to defense and they said the same thing real quick. Some kids have great athletic sense and awareness, and he's one of those kids.
"You give up a great receiver like that, there's a place where there are some things he can do, particularly in some offensive formations that we're playing multiple receivers, that he's done over and over that he can execute without the quantity of reps."
On the placekicking and punting situations:
"Austin Starr is a weapon for us. He's pretty good. Moving (the kickoff) back to the 30, that's changing the kickoff game, so you have to have a guy that can kick it down there. And then we'll be fine at punter. These kids have worked at it all summer, once they get into camp and get 29 practices with good weather, I think we'll be fine."
Lynch Tackles Ten Topics
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