November 8, 2007

Behind Enemy Lines: The Indiana Hoosiers

Indiana visits Evanston on Saturday looking for its seventh win of the season, while Northwestern will be looking to stop its two-game losing streak and become bowl-eligible.

To get the lowdown on the 6-4 Hoosiers, WildcatReport went to Andrew Romey, who covers Indiana football for & Here are Romey's answers to WildcatReport's questions.

1. How has Bill Lynch been able to lead the Hoosiers to a 6-4 record this season in the wake of former coach Terry Hoeppner's tragic death?

The situation is a lot different from what Northwestern went through with Randy Walker a year ago. When Hoeppner died, Lynch had been in charge for three or four months because Coach Hep originally left the team in March of last spring to rest up for the season. Technically, Hep wasn't really even the acting head coaching when he passed away.

Obviously, everyone who is a part of the program was saddened and distraught over his death, but there wasn't a huge panic period where the powers that be had to designate a new coach. Lynch had already been in charge since March, and the players were used to operating under him. It wasn't a stretch for them to play under Lynch once the season began.

2. Indiana won its sixth game to become bowl-eligible last week but before that had lost three straight Big Ten games. What's the team's psyche going into Saturday's game?

If you'd asked me this question a week ago, I'd have given you a completely different answer. Probably seven or eight days ago, I couldn't help but get the feeling the players were down on themselves. They nearly pulled out an upset against Penn State two weekends ago but turned the ball over four times in the second half and blew it. If they would have topped PSU, they would have gotten their sixth win on homecoming in front of the biggest crowd I have ever seen at Memorial Stadium. It would have been a storybook way to gain bowl eligibility. Instead, the loss drained them emotionally I think, and the result was a lot of mental miscues against Wisconsin.

Though, in the middle of last week, junior receiver James Hardy and senior captain Josiah Sears called a team meeting for the players and spoke to raise team morale. Lynch and the coaches also pulled the seniors together before the Ball State game and talked to them for the first time all season about the potential of playing in a bowl. The result of the two meetings was I think an improved attitude and mental outlook. They really returned to form and handled Ball State - a team that has played some decent opponents tough this year.

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