Wilson talks practice plan, offensive tackles

Indiana’s academic schedule allowed its football team to start earlier and accomplish more by the beginning of the fall semester than most other schools in the country, and coach Kevin Wilson said he likes the effect that has had on the team and the program.

Camp opened on Aug. 2 after summer session ended and the fall semester starts Monday. In between, the Hoosiers have mostly been going through two-a-days, but the early start has allowed them to set up rest time toward the end of camp and keep the team generally fresh.

“I think the camp structure has been really outstanding,” Wilson said. “A year ago, the first five days of practice, we were in summer school going to class. This year, we actually had a five-day break (before the camp) where our kids have five days off, and it’s been totally concentrated on football (since then.) Our calendar with school starting next week, we actually have a couple of more days to get in here early. You get so many practice opportunities. If we didn’t have school next week, we would actually have a couple of more two-a-days, which means we would’ve started practices a couple of days later because you only have 29 practices. We’ve been able to not wear them out where it’s just over and over and over, you’re back on the field. It’s just a much more teachable, coachable, recovery-standpoint two-a-day. With that, for the most part, our kids have come to practice every day in a pretty good mindset.”

And they’ve also been able to play physical without getting hurt. There are a handful of players that have battled injuries — most notably left tackle Charlie Chapman, who has been out with a concussion — but for the most part, the team has remained healthy.

“It’s kind of like a boxer,” Wilson said. “You gotta get in the ring and toughen your body up. Learn how to strike and learn how to take a strike. I think you build that. But at the same time we can’t overdo it and get injuries. We’re very healthy, we’ve done a boatload of hitting — knock on wood with the healthy — we’ve done a boatload of hitting and we’re consistently getting better. I like our schedule, and with that I think our kids have responded and consistently practiced at a better level than we have before.”

The calendar actually allows the Hoosiers to go through the weekend without a practice, but will use it entirely for teaching purposes.

“We’re not gonna practice, but we’re gonna have some film review,” Wilson said. “… We’re not going to do football Saturday and Sunday as far as physically putting on pads and throwing balls and truly playing ball, but we’ll use Saturday and Sunday as far as our teaching progressions. We’ll go through and show them games and show last year, the first half, all of the games we squandered away where it wasn’t that bad, but all of the sudden we couldn’t get a first down and we gave up a late touchdown, and it was like, ‘Boom-boom,’ here’s seven points and a greater separation of score…. You go through teaching situations and try to learn how to play as a team.”

Next week, Wilson said the Hoosiers will practice five days in the morning. At that point, with school started, they will be limited to 20 hours per week of football activity.

Wilson said he’ll begin game prepping for the season-opener against Indiana State next week.

“Everything through Friday is still kind of, let’s just keep evaluating players and schemes,” Wilson said. “Now Monday, it’s not total game plan Indiana State, but we start ‘OK, who are the players? What are we doing? And now what do we need to see?’ We might spend a little time not just on Indiana State, because we still have the game plan week. But we might also practice, ‘OK, listen, we haven’t seen this blitz look yet. We haven’t seen a three-man front or a bear front or this goalline front or this coverage. We haven’t seen these routes. Our offense runs this running play but these other teams run these running plays. It will be a little Indiana State this week, about half of it, but the other half. What other polishing do you need to do from a learning standpoint.”

— Wilson said junior left tackle Charlie Chapman is still out with a concussion that’s kept him out since “Day 2 or 3” of the preseason and is still being evaluated.

“Hopefully we can get him going,” Wilson said. “But he’s missed a significant (amount of time). He got hit Day 2 or 3. He’s basically missed the bulk of our time.”

The good news, though, Wilson said, is that freshmen Jason Spriggs and Dan Feeney have been working at the critical offensive line position and he’s been thrilled with both of them, Spriggs especially. Spriggs was recruited by many as a tight end and is listed at 6-foot-7, 270 pounds. That’s actually relatively light for a left tackle, but Wilson likes what he sees.

“He’s pretty good,” Wilson said. “In my opinion, he’s a better freshman than every kid I had at (Oklahoma) except two, and they were both first round picks. He’s really good. He’s really good. A little light, but also being a line coach myself, there’s things you’ll do schematically, you’ll help those guys out. You wack those ends, you chip them, you rush control them, you move the pocket. That’s one of the things I bring to the table is I understand how long guys can block. It’s receivers understanding how long guys can block in the matchup. We’ll see, but he’s doing awfully good.”

— Wilson said that he’s still waiting on a few personnel matters. With school starting the Hoosiers can have more than 105 players on the roster. He said he’s unsure when running back Matt Perez (back), Paul Phillips (ankle) and linebacker Ishmael Thomas (shoulder) will return. However, tight end Jordan Jackson is out for the season after an ACL tear in the spring. Wilson said he isn’t certain about freshman defensive lineman Adam Kranda, who did not come to camp for personal reasons.

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