In the end, it’s about finishing. Amazing, isn’t it, how simple a season’s prospects can be summed up. And yet, that’s what it comes down to for Indiana football. Make a few more plays and nobody wonders whether the Hoosiers can ever get their program turned around or whether Bill Lynch is the right guy for the job.
Here’s a few thoughts – they can and he is.
Thoughts, of course, are meaningless without performance to back it up. And so Lynch faces a crossroad season in the aftermath of a two-year record of 7-17. Yes, IU athletic director Fred Glass still insists that Lynch will get the two more seasons his contract stipulates, but everybody understands it’s time to win. Given a potentially potent offense, defense would seem to be the crucial area, and it is.
But consider how close the Hoosiers came to being 7-5 or 8-4 last year. Lynch has and he’s made it a point to emphasize that to the Hoosiers.
“We were really 12 plays away from having an outstanding season and playing in a pretty good bowl game. That’s been the motivation throughout the season.”
So Lynch will emphasize finishing in preseason camp, which opens Friday. He will focus on third-down and fourth-down plays, and even goal-line situations, because those are potential difference makers this season.
“When you look back at it,” Lynch said, “it wasn’t we weren’t good enough. It wasn’t we didn’t have enough good players. It was a matter of we didn’t make those plays. We have to finish and execute.”
Oh, about that defense, which has struggled over the last two decades and which has to replace a ton starters. Lynch thinks it can be an impact unit. He sees plenty of young talent ready to emerge. He sees a guy like defensive end Kevin Bush, a guy who went to college, dropped out, served two tours in Iraq, came to Indiana because it was his dream to play for the Hoosiers, and now is set to have a key role this season. He has, Lynch insisted, changed the defense’s mentality.
If that’s true, if IU plays even average Big Ten defense while its offense plays to expectations, it has a chance to win seven games.
“We feel we have the personnel in place,” Lynch said. “We’ve had great consistency and continuity with our staff. We’re looking forward to finishing games that we didn’t quite get the job done last year. I think it’s going to be a really good 2010.”
Thinking it is a good start. Doing it, well, that’s what finishing is all about.