Chappell earns Big Ten honor for unbeaten Hoosiers

Bill Lynch looks at Indiana’s unbeaten record and understands

it’s been far from perfect.

The Hoosiers, he insists, still need to be more efficient in

third-down situations on both offense and defense. He wants them to

score more touchdowns in the red zone and close out games better

than they did at Western Kentucky.

”We must continue to get better,” Lynch said Monday. ”We have

to continue to run the football better. I think that is something

that is vital and there are times in games when you have to run the

ball when they know you are going to run the ball, and that’s when

you have to be good at it.”

So far, so good.

Indiana has averaged 4.5 yards per carry, a significant

improvement over last season’s average of 3.8 yards. And after

posting a 39 percent third-down conversion rate in 2009, the

Hoosiers have bumped that average up to 54.5 percent.

Quarterback Ben Chappell has been brilliant, too, completing

nearly 74 percent of his passes, averaging 274.0 yards per game

with five TDs and no interceptions and is coming off the best game

of his career. On Saturday, Chappell was 32-of-42 for 366 yards

with three TD passes and one rushing TD. He had career highs for

completions and yardage and tied the school record with his fourth

career 300-yard game.

On Monday, Chappell was rewarded with his second career Big Ten

offensive player of the week award.

”It’s a great honor,” he said. ”We’re going week-by-week, so

I guess that means I had a good week and I will try to do it again

next week.”

But Lynch also realizes statistics can be deceiving, especially

this early in the season.

Indiana has racked up big numbers against Towson, a Football

Championship Subdivision school, and Western Kentucky, which

extended the nation’s longest losing streak to 23 games with

Saturday’s loss.

And things are about to get a whole lot tougher.

Up next for Indiana is Mid-American Conference foe Akron, and

then the Hoosiers host No. 21 Michigan, and Heisman Trophy

candidate Denard Robinson, before visiting No. 2 Ohio State, and

Heisman candidate Terrelle Pryor, in back-to-back weeks.

That gives the Hoosiers basically one chance to fix Lynch’s

lingering concerns before opening Big Ten play.

”There are a lot of areas for improvement and our guys

understand that in the way they go about their work,” Lynch said.

”I’m confident we’ll have that kind of week as we get ready.”

The good news is that, despite Lynch’s concerns, Indiana is off

to a seventh straight 2-0 start – just what they need if they

intend to get their second bowl bid in four years.

But what does Lynch really need to see?

More consistency, more conversions and the mentality it takes to

close out drives and games with perfect precision.

”I like what we’re doing (running), but we’re not looking to

put in new plays or new formations, we just have to execute

better,” Lynch said. ”We’re close. When you break down the tape,

and that’s one of the advantage we have with all the technology now

and the end zone look, we see how close we really are. But close

doesn’t get it done. And close gets you a 1-yard gain when you

should get a 6-yard gain. So that’s where we have to continue to

improve and we’ll get there.”