In Kevin Wilson’s radio show Monday night, he hit on most of the high and low notes from Saturday’s 24-17 win over Indiana State. Some notes of interest.
— Unsurprisingly, Wilson hit on the standard theme that every team makes its biggest improvement from Game 1 to Game 2.
“Of all the days of our season, today was one of the biggest days,” Wilson said. “If we’re gonna move forward, we’ve been talking about things in practices. We’ve been showing good things in practice, and we showed a lot of those things in games. We’ve been showing bad things in practice, and those things showed up in the game. … It’s Labor Day, it’s a national holiday, but it’s one of the biggest days in college football. We tried to max it out today.”
— Wilson said he was mostly happy with the play of his young offensive line which started two true sophomores (RT Peyton Eckert, LG Bernard Taylor) and two true freshmen (LT Jason Spriggs, RG Dan Feeney) around fifth-year senior center Will Matte.
“We worked really hard to put them in good situations,” Wilson said. “Even though we threw the ball a fair amount, the quarterback only got hit a couple of times. Protection was reasonably clean.Running game can be better. .. Their effort was reasonable. Jason Spriggs, we thought played the best of all of the guys as a true freshman. I think he had seven or eight knockdowns and he’ll do nothing but get better. He has a chance to be a tremendous player for us. I was proud of those guys, but it was a little bit a part of the scheme. Tre looked comfortable because of those guys.”
— Wilson also broke down sophomore quarterback Tre Roberson’s performance, elaborating from Saturday’s comments after watching him on tape.
“He worked well, he managed well,” Wilson said. “He had no picks and two balls I didn’t like. I thought he forced one on a scramble against the grain. I thought he was late and shouldn’t have thrown it, not enough mustard, could’ve haunted us. Fortunately, their player didn’t quite get to the ball. One time we got them to jump offsides and we were trying to jump a free play, but he threw it in the middle of the field. And what if they weren’t offsides? What if the penalty was on us? We’re trying to be risky but also calculated, and I thought he made two poor choices. He also missed, whether the touchdown called on the crossing route on offensive interference, and the skinny post we miss, the play to Ted Bolser, which was nice, but it was low. We thought we left about four or five touchdown passes. At one point today, we said, ‘Hey, if you hit the skinny post to Stoner, and he runs the right route, you don’t have a pick, you’ve had 17 plays and three touchdown passes. We still left a lot out there. To me, it’s exciting to try to get the offensive players, the receivers and quarterbacks to realize that was pretty good and it’s not close to what it can be. Let’s keep pushing forward.
— He wasn’t as pleased with special teams.
“Not very good,” Wilson said. “… First thing just not very good with some effort. First play of the game, we kick it in to the end zone. Thought Mitch handled the kickoffs well. And outside of the one into the wind that hit the goalpost, his kicks were awesome. The two into the wind kickoffs were big. He kicked it with over (four-second) hangtime giving us a chance to get our coverage down, but we didn’t like over coverage. We didn’t think our effort, we showed them the first kickoff, we showed them the second kickoff. We’d played 9 minutes and 25 seconds, you can’t be that tired. … We’re faster than that, we addressed that in practice…. We need to win special teams. Saturday at best was a push.”
Wilson also said the kicking game and his current lack of trust in the punting game was part of the reason the Hoosiers went for it on fourth down on three different occasions.
He did, however, said he feels good about his punt returners in sophomores Shane Wynn and Nick Stoner, and that defensive ends coach Jon Fabris, who handles the punt return team, is impressed by them. They alternated returns during the game.
“They’re both kind of equal,” Wilson said. “Coach Fabris would tell you — and he’s coached punt units for 19 years and three or four times his unit’s been No. 1 in the nation — he tells our team repeatedly, I’ve never had two guys as punt returners faster than these two guys. We work that very, very hard. We work that team significantly. … We made a commitment try to be a good return. Both of those kids are good.”
— Wilson said he was pleased with the fan turnout — but jokingly hinted that he wasn’t sure the paid attendance figure of 41,882 was accurate.
“I think everybody around here — it’s always the sky’s falling around here — and everybody thought there might be rain,” Wilson said. “We had (41,000) there, on paper it said. We’ve got some very skinny fans. They’re very slight in nature. But as we continue to play, we’re gonna get better every week. We’re gonna have a solid year. We’re gonna have a winning football program. We have phenomenal fans, and they’ll be there. I have no issue with the fans.”
— Wilson said he was mostly pleased with the defense. The Hoosiers gave up seven big plays that totaled 189 yards, but pointed out that Indiana State was at no point in the redshirt. That’s sort of a technicality because ISU fullback Austen Wozniak caught a 23-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-1 that was just three yards outside of said red zone. Still, he was pleased with the Hoosiers’ ability to finish drives.
“There was some mis-communication,” Wilson said. “Mis-alignment. There were 11 missed tackles. Some missed tackles let their nice running back get out. They worked us right before the first half on a nice little drive, but they didn’t get it to the red zone. We were 0-for-0 on red zone opportunities. We created two turnovers down the stretch. Won the turnover ratio. We talked a lot about being a better third-down defense. We were 3 of 12 on third down. If you count the fourth down, we’re 4-of-15, so 11 times we got the stops. … It needs to be better, but I thought the defense won the game.”
— Wilson was asked about freshman tailback Tevin Coleman and why he didn’t play much in the second half.
“Tevin I thought did well,” Wilson said. “He didn’t have a particularly astute Thursday practice, and I was concerned with his ability to be ready at game time. He was a little antsy on Thursday, so we didn’t jog him out there first. … He did show a lot of burst. Did do well. He took one good hit on the shoulder, just felt a little bruised. Came out, he practiced today, no issues, but I think when you’re playing in college, it’s a bigger guy hitting you. Some of those high school guys are used to being the biggest player on the field. He got a little college hit, didn’t know how to be a college football player yet. He’s not injured, but got a little dinged up, so we kinda went with the other two guys.”