Chappell earns Big Ten honor for unbeaten Hoosiers

BY foxsports • September 21, 2010

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.''

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