Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wide Open – Hoosiers Continue To Compete For Starting Jobs

Bill Lynch is not heartless. He really isn’t. Indiana’s football coach is not trying to torture his players or elevate their stress levels.

But he’s also a realist. He wants to win, NEEDS to win, and that will only come by playing the best guys at their best positions.

The Hoosiers’ 51-17 thrashing of Towson solidified nothing in terms of the depth chart. Starting jobs are still up for grabs all over the place and the 16-day gap before the next game, a Sept. 18 trip to woeful Western Kentucky, will be like a mini training camp in which players continue battling to prove themselves.

“My initial thought is (starting spots) are still open,” Lynch said. “I watched a continuous copy (of the Towson win) and saw everything from the flow of the game to and all the special teams and everything. I didn’t see anything that clearly showed itself because I don’t think that would be fair to anybody, especially the guys who might have been playing for the first time.”

Competition includes the field goal battle between veteran Nick Freeland and redshirt freshman Mitch Ewald, the offensive line, linebackers and the secondary.

“I want to make it competitive all season,” Lynch said, “but I certainly think by the time we get to the Big Ten season (all the staring positions would be set).”

Keeping the competition open means more guys will get reps, which builds depth as well as ensure the best players play. That should pay big dividends in November, a month in which the Hoosiers have traditionally struggled.

“We’ve tried to take a big-picture look at this thing all the way since spring practice in terms of it’s a long season, a 12-game season,” Lynch said. “We want to be as good as we can be all the way through November. All those things will be taken into consideration as we go through the next few weeks.”

Those next few weeks also include a Sept. 25 home game against Akron before Michigan comes to Memorial Stadium in a huge game for IU’s bowl hopes.

Because of the bye week, Lynch is giving his players the weekend off.

“We’ll practice Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in very much the same mode we practiced at camp,” Lynch said. “We’ll give them Friday off because that will be a big recruiting day for our staff. We’ll practice again on Saturday morning and get a good head start on Western Kentucky.

“I’m glad where we’re at. I know we’re going to get better. I’m happy we have an off week where we can work on some things before the grind of playing 11 straight weeks begins.”

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