Hoosiers ready for another game after 16-day break
Bill Lynch got an early jump on Western Kentucky last week.
The Hoosiers coach did everything in his power to make sure his players didn't spend too much time fretting about the game plan.
In the midst of a 16-day layoff between the Sept. 2 season opener at home against Towson and this Saturday's game at Western Kentucky, Lynch spent the bye week trying to keep the team fresh, competitive and in game shape.
''On Saturday, we came back and we were totally on Western Kentucky, so hopefully we're a couple of days ahead,'' he said Monday during his weekly news conference. ''That's the benefit of the bye week.''
The Hoosiers (1-0) got more benefits than usual out of their abnormally early off weekend.
Lynch told players the competitions were still open, returned to a practice schedule similar to fall camp and tried to clean up some of the mistakes coaches saw in the opening night victory over Towson.
But the biggest advantage might have been getting healthy.
Tandon Doss, the Hoosiers' No. 1 receiver last season, missed the season opener with a groin injury, but is likely ready to play. Lynch took a calculated risk by benching Doss in hopes that an extended break - roughly 10 extra days - would help him fully recover from the injury rather than trying to play through it all season.
Turns out they didn't need Doss in the 51-17 rout, and he returned to practice Monday for the first time since getting hurt in August.
''This could have been one of those injuries that lingered week after week after week if we had pushed the envelope with it,'' Lynch said. ''I would say the middle of last week he really wanted to go and we said no. Then he wanted to go Saturday and we said no because we had made the plan to go Monday. I'm anxious to see him get out there and run around.''
Not everything went as planned.
Lynch announced Monday that freshman running back Matt Perez will miss the rest of the season after tearing the ACL in his knee. Lynch did not say which knee Perez injured.
Of course the trade-off is that the Hoosiers must now play 11 straight weekends with no extra time to recover from injuries.
But the opportunity to make corrections before the Hoosiers' second game might turn out to be more critical than a later bye week.
Indiana was burned twice in the season opener - once on the ground, once through the air - by what Lynch described as players taking poor pursuit angles. The pass resulted in a long touchdown and the run set up another score.
And while the extended break gave the Hoosiers time to find some solutions, Lynch decided not to emphasize the Western Kentucky game too much.
''This in a lot of ways is like an opener. We have to get back and take care of ourselves and make sure we play a good, sound football game,'' Lynch said. ''If we get into that (game plan) too early, then I think by the time the game comes around, the game plan is stale. We want to be fresh and have that sense of urgency, and that's why we backed off at the end of the week.''