Bloomington – It's becoming clear that a familiar face is going to play a big part in trying to produce a different result in IU's pass defense.
During the last two seasons Indiana has ranked in the bottom three of the conference rankings in pass defense and pass defense efficiency, surrendering at least 240 yards per game and at least 20 touchdowns each fall. It's an area that Coach Bill Lynch knows must be improved if his team is to fulfill its goal of reaching the postseason.
If that's going to happen, fifth-year senior Richard Council might be a big reason why it does.
That might come as a surprise to some, since this is the same Richard Council who has played a part in the struggles of the past two seasons. The 6'1", 198-pound Texan has started 14 games during the last two falls, with nary an interception to his credit. He has recorded 11 career pass break-ups, but a handful of drops in the secondary coupled with a few too many big plays surrendered led many to believe he'd spend more time on the bench this fall than on the field.
But a funny thing has happened during fall camp – Council has been making the plays that he didn't during his first four years on campus and is making it awfully difficult for co-Defensive Coordinator Joe Palcic to keep him sidelined this fall.
"I think my camp success has been a result of staying here this summer and working out, working on catching the ball and working on my footwork," Council said. "It's helped put me in a better position to help my team succeed."
Council has been sound enough that one of the players many thought would unseat him for starting cornerback spot – redshirt freshman Lawrence Barnett – has been moved to safety to provide added depth following Chris Adkins' injury. While there are still plenty of capable corners vying for Palcic's attention and ultimately playing time this fall, the consensus has been that Council has earned the opportunity thanks to his play during the last two weeks.
"(Staying on the field) has been a good motivator for me," Council said. "I've gotten good feedback from the coaches and the players, and that builds your confidence in yourself. It's a good feeling knowing you're making plays and doing things to the best of your abilities."
While Council's excellent fall camp has made believers out of those on the IU practice field, he knows that he'll need to prove himself all over again beginning next Thursday when the Hoosiers open the 2010 season against Towson. For everything he's accomplished at fall camp, he knows that it needs to carry over when the games actually matter.
That means avoiding the big plays that occasionally plagued IU's secondary in years past, and making the plays on the ball that he hasn't been able to during each of the past two seasons. But Council welcomes the opportunity to make believers out of IU fans, much in the same way that the defense as a whole will try to do.
"Being an underdog has been a big motivator me and the defense, knowing we need to be the ones to step up and prove people wrong," Council said. "That's what we plan to do."
Can Hoosiers Count on Council?
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