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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Lynch sees imperfections in Hoosiers' unbeaten start

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Indiana has its fourth straight 2-0 start, a win on the road and has outscored its first two opponents 92-34.

The fast start has created a buzz around Bloomington and reinvigorated excitement in a program that hasn't produced a winning record since 1994.

Bill Lynch sees it another way.

While the Hoosiers first-year coach likes the results, Lynch realizes the Hoosiers must do more, make corrections and continue to improve.

"We liked this team when it reported Aug. 4, and we still do," Lynch said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. "The biggest thing is that we've played the way we practice. ... We've played pretty good football, but can we get better? Absolutely."

It may seem picky to the average fan, but this is Lynch's job -- finding the flaws overlooked by most people and giving his team a quick reality check.

So far, there's been no shortage of positives or negatives to cite.

Quarterback Kellen Lewis has given Indiana the dual threat it envisioned. Receiver James Hardy has overwhelmed defenders with his size, speed and refined route-running. Indiana is averaging 219 yards rushing per game, a major upgrade over last year's total of 218 yards in the first two games.

The defense already has 13 sacks, one short of last season's 12-game total, forced eight turnovers and been solidified with two new safeties -- converted receiver Nick Polk and true freshman Mitchell Evans -- plus the impressive start of sophomore defensive end Greg Middleton.

It adds up to a perfect record.

"We turned them (Western Michigan) over five times and the one touchdown they had from a long distance was a great throw and catch," Lynch said of Saturday's 37-27 victory. "I think the defense played well and I think they'll play better."

Yet there are two glaring concerns going into Saturday's game against Akron -- ball security and penalties.

In the opener against Indiana State, the Hoosiers fumbled six times and threw an interception. After emphasizing that point last week, Indiana fumbled two more times at rainy Kalamazoo, Mich., and threw another interception.

The penalties are more troubling. Indiana has had 18 penalties in two games and some of Saturday's miscues prevented the Hoosiers from the pulling away long before the four-hour, seven-minute marathon ended.

"There are some that come from playing hard and are a judgment call," Lynch said. "You don't want those, but it's really the other ones that come back and get you."

More perplexing was the Hoosiers' inability to close out Western Michigan on Saturday.

Despite all of the penalties and turnovers, Indiana still had numerous chances to finish off Western Michigan after taking a 34-7 lead in the third quarter.

It moved inside the Western Michigan 8 yard line three times in the third quarter yet managed only one field goal.

The Broncos, in contrast, rallied with a 98-yard kickoff return and would have been within one score on their final drive if Indiana's Austin Starr hadn't made a career-long 48-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

That gave Lynch yet another talking point.

"Sometimes you don't get the opportunity to finish someone off," Lynch said. "But when we had field position in the third quarter, that's when we had the opportunity."

While Lynch hopes he doesn't have to address that issue again this season, he will continue to impress upon players what they can improve -- no matter how perfect things look outside the locker room.

"If you keep hammering the point, you run the risk of thinking about last week when next week is what I'm concerned with," Lynch said. "But the No. 1 thing we've learned about this team is that they're consistent from practice to games, and that's what you like to see."

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