In his second spring as head coach, Kevin Wilson is looking for the best way to get his guys to hit harder without hurting themselves.
Indiana’s roster is relatively thin as spring rosters often are because the seniors are gone and the incoming freshman aren’t in yet. There was significant attrition — more than 30 players left the program voluntarily, involuntarily or because of injury — so the Hoosiers won’t have a completely full roster until they add not only the 20 scholarship players that are coming but also walk-ons.
But Wilson still wants the team to be a little more physical. The Hoosiers only get so many more days in full pads, and he’d like them to make the most of them.
“It’s a man’s game,” Wilson said. “It’s man on man. It’s hitting men with respect. It’s hitting men with love and it’s hitting them hard. I think we’re still learning as a football team how to hit guys and hit it right. Not coming in diving and cutting and cheap-shotting a guy. … I still think we have older guys we are still teaching the ability of striking and hitting. We’ve got to maximize the pad days without beating a football team up with numbers as all teams are, a little thin in spring. We can’t beat us up. We’ve got to learn how to love to hit.”
Wilson said he wants to accomplish more of that in a closed practice this spring. He also said he plans on using the scrimmage and some other spring practices to be prepared for Navy’s wishbone offense. The Hoosiers don’t play Navy until Oct. 20, but Wilson said he still wants his team to be ready for it and he doesn’t think he can do it with just five days of preparation.
“It’s a very aggressive style of running the ball,” Wilson said. “We thought it would be good for our offensive linemen to kind of sell that mentality. Our defense needs to see it, so we’re doing about 10 minutes every other day of ‘let’s see this and get used to it.’ You have to really change your style of defense. Not your structure, but you can be too aggressive and players can be out of control and now you make that option look really, really good. They’re a great team at it. They have their version, slightly different than Georgia Tech’s or Air Force’s or Army’s, but they’re all similar. Playing to their strengths, but it’s just a unique offense. I thought as a football team it would help us be tougher.”
Wilson said quarterbacks Tre Roberson and Cameron Coffman are both competing well and that they’re coming along quickly.
“We’re better Practice 3 and Practice 4 than we were at any day last year at throwing the ball,” Wilson said. “Just what we’re doing. How it’s being taught. How we’re drilling individually. … Cameron misses a few things once in a while, but I think he’s every bit as far a long as anyone who played last year. I think Tre’s better than he was last year.”