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Run defense could be key for IU

Western Kentucky tailback put up big yards on Nebraska.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 10:18 am

BLOOMINGTON — In case you missed it, Western Kentucky opened its season by traveling to Nebraska and got hammered.

This is important in the Cream 'n' Crimson scheme of things because Indiana will play at Western Kentucky on Sept. 18.

That the Hilltoppers lost 49-10 to the nation's No. 8 team isn't surprising. That tailback Bobby Rainey had a career-high 155 rushing yards on 30 carries, including a 5-yard touchdown run, against a defense that ranked No. 9 nationally against the run last year turned some heads.

It irritated Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, who called the defensive performance an “embarrassment.”

IU struggled against the run in last week's 51-17 win over Towson. Specifically, it struggled against quarterback Chris Hart, who gained 123 of Towson's 227 rushing yards.

Coach Bill Lynch said some of that had to do with Hart's athleticism. The fact Indiana played a lot of defensive players also contributed.

Still, the Hoosiers have to play stouter run defense, if not against a Western Kentucky team that has lost 21 straight games, certainly once the Big Ten schedule arrives.

Time off for Hoosiers

IU has a bye this weekend, which means it will go 16 days before playing again.

Is that a problem?

“I was looking at the schedule throughout the summer and I was like, ‘I don't know how this is going to work with the bye on the second week,'” quarterback Ben Chappell said.

“Coach Lynch's approach is we're going to get better each day. So it's good to have that first game where you can watch the team and concentrate on the stuff we have to improve on these next two weeks.

“I think we're going to turn it into a positive. Besides, at least everyone will be healthy going into the second game.”

On the road to recruit

How will IU use the bye week? Lynch gave the team last Saturday and Sunday off. The Hoosiers will practice through Thursday, then take Friday off as coaches hit the road recruiting.

They'll practice again Saturday morning, get Sunday off, and then resume a normal school and practice schedule for the next 11 weeks.

“I'm glad where we're at and I know we're going to get better,” Lynch said. “I'm happy we have an off week where we can work on some things before the grind of 11 straight weeks begins.”

Everyone on the field

Because of the bye week and the fact Towson reminded no one of, say, Ohio State, Hoosiers coaches were able to rotate in a lot of players during Thursday's victory.

Many of those players had little to no college experience.

That included defensive end Kevin Bush (a former Homestead standout) and defensive back Lawrence Barnett (from Bishop Luers). Neither had ever played in a college game. Barnett also was adjusting to last month's switch from cornerback to safety.

“We wanted to give guys chances,” Lynch said. “We wanted to give Barnett and (Lenyatta) Kiles a lot of work because they were moved to safety.

“It is a balancing act to get the work in you need and develop the continuity. Looking at the big picture, which we did all the way through camp and knowing we had 16 days before games, we went in with the idea we were going to play a lot of guys. We wanted the competition to continue.”

As far as competition, starting positions are still uncertain on the offensive line, at receiver, defensive end, linebacker and defensive back.

“We want to make it competitive all season, but certainly by the time we get to the Big Ten season we should settle in.

“It's a long season. We want to be as good as we can be all the way through November. All those things will be taken into consideration as we go through the next few weeks.”