Bloomington – After a 2009 season filled with wouldas, couldas, and shouldas, IU Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada knows what needs to happen in 2010.
For the near misses from 2009 to serve as anything other than a slew of painful memories, the Hoosiers have to take those experiences, recognize the mistakes, and turn gut-wrenching losses into program turning victories this fall.
"Those were tough situations, but that's part of it," said Canada. "You can sit around and talk about it, but you have to go out and win. It's time. It's time to win those games. It's time to make that change."
Fortunately for Canada and the Hoosiers, Indiana appears to have the weapons to do that. On offense, the Hoosiers return two of the league's top six pass catchers from a season ago, highlighted by All-Big Ten performer Tandon Doss (77 catches, 962 yards, 5 TDs). At running back the Hoosiers boast Darius Willis (123 carries, 607 yards, 6 TDs), who combines a blend of power of speed that IU hasn't had in at least a decade.
And leading the way will be fifth-year senior quarterback Ben Chappell, who is the league's top returnee in passing yards (2,941), completions (268) and attempts (428) from a season ago.
"We're awful talented – we have a lot of guys you have to pay attention to," Canada said. "But potential is nothing. We have to have a good camp, work hard, and take the next step."
To take that next step, Indiana will lean a great deal on the abilities of Chappell, the Bloomington native who put up huge numbers in his first full season as the Hoosiers' starter. While Chappell benefited from having as talented a tandem of wideouts as the program has had in some time, Doss and Damarlo Belcher also benefited from having a quarterback who went from a bit of a question mark at the start of the season to an All-Big Ten caliber player by the end.
"He's very talented," Canada said. "He's got a big-time arm, and he's really smart. Now we just need him to continue to improve and have a fifth-year senior year. When your quarterback is a fifth-year senior, you jump on his back and he's ready for that challenge."
One of Chappell's primary points of emphasis will be to cut down on the Big Ten-high 15 interceptions that he threw a season ago. He'll also be zeroing in on helping the Hoosiers become more efficient on third downs as well as in the red zone.
A season ago, Indiana ranked 10th in the league in red zone efficiency, coming away with points on 34 of 44 trips inside the opponents 20. The Hoosiers came away with touchdowns on just half of those red zone trips, which ranked last in the Big Ten.
Third downs were equally troubling for the Hoosier offense. It ranked seventh in third down conversions overall (39.1 percent) and ninth in Big Ten games (36.8 percent).
"We have to continue to make plays and make plays in critical situations," Canada said. "When you look at it, the next step has to be to be making those special plays on third down, making those special plays in the red zone, making those special plays that are the difference between winning and losing."
Because when it all boils down, that's what really matters in Canada's mind.
It's a bottom line business and you have to win football games," Canada said.
Canada: "It's Time" To Take The Next Step
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