Friday, September 14, 2012

IU Needs to ‘Man Up’ Against Ball State

To understand how Indiana can, make that SHOULD, beat Ball State, it’s important to understand that Carl Weathers got robbed out of an Academy Award.

Yes, we’ll explain that.

Back in the early 1980s, Sylvester Stallone was making millions off his Rocky movies. In Rocky III, due to a series of unfortunate events, Apollo Creed (played by Mr. Weathers) became his manager as Rocky prepared to fight Mr. T, known in the movie as Clubber Lang.

During the climactic fight, Rocky was crying about how strong Clubber Lang was, that he was too tough to beat. In the scene that should have won Weathers the Oscar, he delivered this memorable piece of advice:

“He’s just a man, Rocky. He’s just a man. Be more man than him. Be more man than him!”

Shockingly, somebody else got the Oscar that year, probably Robert DeNiro for Raging Bull, but that misses the point that for the Hoosiers to win Saturday night, they have to be more men than the Cardinals.

Specifically, the offensive and defensive lines have to play like they belong in the Big Ten, and not on the roster of, say, Savannah State.

After almost two years in coach Kevin Wilson’s strength training program, devised and implemented by strength coach Mark Hill, the Hoosiers should be strong enough, bulky enough and fit enough to deal with Ball State.

Of course, because sometimes the Hoosiers play true freshmen at some of the line positions -- can you say Jason Spriggs and Dan Feeney? -- the strength training longevity takes a hit.

Still, there are no excuses. Ball State has beaten IU two straight times. It dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball last season at Indy’s Lucas Oil Stadium. That can’t happen again.

Well, technically it can. The Cardinals have one of the nation’s most veteran offensive lines with lots of weight and strength, which has helped produce one of the nation’s top rushing attacks. The defensive line has a similar background, and it’s boosted by the arrival of former Ohio State defensive end Jonathon Newsome.

The Cardinals were battle tested -- as Indiana hasn't been -- in a loss at powerhouse Clemson last Saturday. They won’t be intimidated.

No matter. Ball State (1-1) is no Alabama. If IU wants to show progress in Wilson’s second year, and it does, it has to win this game.

Don’t be surprised if victory comes through the air. Ball State ranks 101st in the country in pass defense, allowing 279 yards a game. This is great news for quarterback Cam Coffman. Sure, the junior college transfer is about to start (assuming he didn’t screw it up with a poor week of practice) his first ever major college game in the wake of Tre Roberson’s season-ending broken leg, but he’s a calm, poised guy with a high degree of accuracy.

Coffman is very capable of leading the Hoosiers to a victory and a 3-0 start heading into the bye week.

Here’s the reality -- if they can't beat Ball State at home, it's going to be another long, painful season in the Big Ten.


Dan Dakich created a fire storm on his Indianapolis radio show Friday afternoon by saying that, according to a source, elite recruit Trey Lyles visited Kentucky in late July or early August while he was still committed to Indiana.

The visit came during a dead period and, if true, would be a NCAA rules violation -- if he met with UK coaches. If he just toured the campus and had no communication with the coaches, it was no big deal. There also was an implication that “somebody” from the Lyles camp (as in his father, Tom) was interested in a college assistant coaching job -- as in IU -- tied to Trey’s recruiting. In other words, if you want Trey, you have to hire me.

Lyles father denied it to’s Jeff Rabjohns and to the Indy Star’s Kyle Neddenrip. He told them the first time his son had visited the Kentucky campus was in early September.

Dakich never identified his source. He also never said Kentucky coaches, in particular John Calipari, cheated. In fact, he said he didn’t think Calipari was cheating. He also never said anything about a violation of the dead period rule.

Still, his comments about Lyles, if wrong, could add complexities to his life. If he’s right, well, expect even more publicity for what is already a VERY popular radio show.

Trey Lyles, in case you’ve forgotten, is a top-10 player in the Class of 2014. He’s a 6-9 forward with guard skills. He committed to Indiana before high school age, then backed off that commitment in August when his ranking soared. He said he wanted to enjoy the recruiting experience, which is his right. Cody Zeller and Gary Harris waited until October of their high school senior years before announcing a decision. They wanted to make sure it was the right one. Lyles wants to do the same thing. Again, as is his right.

Still, the de-commitment made a lot of IU fans unhappy. Rumors flew, as they always do in situations like this, that something wasn’t right. Evil lurked in the shadows.

Through it all, Lyles reportedly remains interested in IU. A ton of big-time programs have now offered him, including Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Florida, Butler, Ohio State and Stanford.

Coaches from many of those schools watched Lyles workout at Indianapolis Tech High School earlier this week.

Yes, it's going to be an interesting recruiting process.

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