Hoosiers Will Have Hands Full With Broncos

Bloomington – In four days Indiana will take on Western Michigan, a program that has never beaten Indiana in football. It's also a Bronco team that's coming off a 24-point beating to a team that won just three games a year ago. So nothing to worry about, right? Wrong.

Bloomington – In four days Indiana will take on Western Michigan, a program that has never beaten Indiana in football. It's also a Bronco team that's coming off a 24-point beating to a team that won just three games a year ago.

So nothing to worry about, right?

Wrong.

Despite a surprisingly lopsided 31-7 setback to Michigan Saturday in Ann Arbor, Western Michigan will come to Bloomington will plenty of confidence and present plenty of concerns for IU Coach Bill Lynch and his staff.

The Broncos went 9-4 a year ago, capped by an appearance in the Texas Bowl. The postseason is once again the goal for Coach Bill Cubit's team, which returns seven starters on offense, most notably quarterback Tim Hiller.

Hiller threw for 3,725 yards and 36 touchdowns last season while completing nearly two-thirds of his passes. He's on pace to own every Bronco passing record and a good share of the Mid-America Conference passing marks as well.

"The MAC has had a tremendous run of successful quarterbacks over the last 15 years, not only at the collegiate level but have gone on to be very good in the NFL," said IU Coach Bill Lynch. "Hiller is kind of the next guy in the Mid-America Conference."

While Hiller and 1,000-yard rusher running back Brandon West will keep Indiana's defensive coaches up late this week, the Hoosiers' offensive coaches have their own issues to get sorted out before Saturday's game. Three turnovers, a handful of pre-snap penalties, and an inability to run the ball last Thursday against Eastern Kentucky are all concerns.

The running game is likely the biggest problem. The Hoosiers changed their formation in the off-season to the "Pistol," and went back to using one, two, and even three tight-end sets last week against Eastern Kentucky. But the Colonels crowded the line of scrimmage and the Hoosiers managed only 72 rushing yards against their I-AA foe.

Some of IU's struggles can be attributed to Eastern Kentucky crowding more players into the box, but Lynch said there are plenty of things his players can do better.

"Up front, the movement, the stemming and shifting of the defensive line that Eastern used and their movement – we didn't stay with our blocks well enough," Lynch said. "The second part of it is with our backs - there were some seams in there that we didn't hit."

Lynch said the errors from last Thursday have been addressed in practice, and he's encouraged by at least one thing from the problems that plagued his team last week.

"All the things that happened are correctable," Lynch said. "The tough situation is when you're coaching and you see certain things that happen and you realize they aren't really correctable, you have to find a way to work around them. For the most part, the mistakes we had are correctable."

Lynch knows that getting those types of mistakes fixed before Saturday's noon kick-off is imperative if the Hoosiers are going to win for the fifth time in five tries and Western Michigan and start the season 2-0. While the Mid-America Conference might not be thought of as on the same level with the Big Ten, Western Michigan has beaten a Big Ten team in each of the past two seasons and it is one of the preseason picks to challenge for the 2009 MAC crown.

"They've got a good-looking team," Lynch said. "We're going to get their best shot, and we're expecting a very good football team coming in."

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