BLOOMINGTON – Indiana's season opener is still 4 ½ months away, but you'd never know it from watching Bill Lynch Tuesday.
After the Hoosiers concluded their two-hour practice on a 70-degree day at Memorial Stadium, Lynch brought the team together and let them have it. While the particulars of Lynch's five-minute post-practice talk were inaudible to the media, it was clear Lynch wasn't pleased with what he saw Tuesday.
"I didn't think we came out here with a lot of intensity," Lynch said afterwards. "We need to play better than that. Throughout the whole practice I didn't get too fired up about any of the periods today."
Whether it was some dropped passes or a near horse-collar on one tackle or some players not sprinting off the field after one drill, it was clear during the afternoon practice that Lynch's frustration was rising. He said that the fact it's April isn't an excuse for not making the most of each of the spring practice sessions.
"You can't make excuses for (a lack of intensity)," Lynch said. "If you're going to be a good football team, you're going to practice heard everyday. We only get so many chances to practice. We can't waste any opportunities."
Sophomore linebacker Matt Mayberry said Lynch's ire wasn't directed at any one group in particular, but rather everyone on the roster.
"The older guys, sometimes they don't come out ready to practice," Mayberry said. "They might think they're too good, not wanting to get better. So the older guys need to come to practice with a new mind frame.
"The younger guys have to get stronger mentally. Picks things up faster and not be so soft that they do something wrong. You have to forget the last play and keep playing."
While Lynch was frustrated with Tuesday's practice, he said he was generally pleased after watching the film of Saturday's scrimmage. He singled out Ben Chappell for being on target with his throws (he was unofficially 18-of-21) and for the defense avoiding the big play, which has been a point of emphasis this spring. The only scoring play during the 60-play scrimmage was a 35-yard pass from Chappell to Collin Taylor.
Lynch has also been pleased with what he's seen from some of the young players this spring. With the absences of Kellen Lewis (suspension), Andrew Means (baseball) and Marcus Thigpen (track) along the off-season surgeries for the likes of Greg Brown, Mike Stark, Pete Saxon and James Brewer a whole slew of new players are getting a chance to get quality reps and make an impression on the staff.
One player who has gotten plenty of work is freshman Dennis Zeigler, the Hoosiers' 6-3, 350-pound offensive tackle who has been working with the No. 1 unit due Stark's absence.
"I think ole ‘Zeig' has a chance," Lynch said. "He's getting better. He just needs reps, experience, and experience doesn't have to be game experience. It's reps, practice. Each time he does it he gets better. With each time he does it, it helps his conditioning. He has great feet and obviously he has good size.
"He has a chance to be a good player."
Also making an impression is the young cornerbacks. IU lost starters Tracy Porter and Leslie Majors to graduation, but Donnell Jones, Richard Council, Chris Phillips and Chris Adkins have had their moments this spring as well.
"I think all the corners have played pretty well," Lynch said. "I know (IU cornerbacks coach/co-defensive coordinator) Joe Palcic has been really pleased with them."
- Kevin Burrus is out for the rest of spring with a left knee injury. Burrus suffered the injury during Saturday's scrimmage and was on the sidelines Tuesday in shorts. Lynch said an MRI didn't reveal any significant damage, and indications are surgery won't be necessary.
- On Saturday IU had only seven available offensive linemen, but that number will be back to 10 soon. Rodger Saffold and Andrew McDonald were both back at practice Tuesday, and Kenny Love is expected to rejoin the team as soon as Thursday after dealing with some personal issues.
The numbers of offensive linemen could wreak havoc on IU's ability to have a conventional spring game next Saturday, April 19, at 2 p.m. IU would presumably need 10 available linemen to be able to have five on each team, so Lynch is hopeful everyone can stay healthy.
"Ten on Thursday and 10 a week from Saturday…I'm hoping," Lynch said. "If not, we'll have to scrimmage ourselves and find a way to make it competitive."
Intensity a Point of Emphasis for Lynch
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