Wilson wants Hoosiers to show consistency on Saturday #iufb

After years of toiling at Indiana football’s perpetual rebuilding project, Kevin Wilson’s work is beginning to yield affirmation.

And he need not look further than his phone to find it.

Hours after coming close to toppling the nation’s No. 1 team last weekend, the IU coach received a text message from an unnamed former Hoosier player, who saw Indiana’s recent play as the fulfillment of a promise Wilson made years earlier.

“All that stuff you said is coming true,” the text read. “Just turnover ratio, play the next play, keep playing. You told me that a couple years ago. Wow.”

But Wilson isn’t one to find satisfaction in the notion of progress. After five games, Wilson says he isn’t even sure that his team is good enough to warrant gushing praise at this point. Yes, the Hoosiers are 4-1, Wilson concedes, but what have they proven?

Indiana’s coach wants a team that shows up every day, and not merely for the national television audience. Wilson wants consistency, and the Hoosiers can answer their coach’s call at noon today with a win at Penn State.

“Do they want to feel good about playing a game and coming close and losing, or do they push themselves to keep winning?” Wilson said. “Certain programs are at a place where you have to win and nothing else is tolerated. You have to perform. You have to prepare. I think we’ve gotten our guys to the point, talent-wise, where we can compete. Now, we’re getting to the point that they realize you have to prepare. You want to be a great team? You do it week after week.”

These are points Wilson has remained adamant about since guiding Indiana to a 4-0 start two weeks ago. Hold the postseason talk, hold the December bowl reservations. Consistency is Indiana’s next hurdle, and it’s one the Hoosiers are slowly trying to clear.

It starts during the practice week, and Wilson has noticed his bunch acting more stubborn than in years past. These Hoosiers aren’t content to settle, and that might be step No. 1 to achieving consistent results.

“We’ve gotten to where we can play good football,” Wilson said. “We haven’t shown that we are mature enough to do it week after week. That’s the preparation. We’re stronger, we’re more mature, we’re more (experienced) and we’ll see if these guys want to push for that kind of excellence that great teams have. That’s the challenge.”

Last week, however, Wilson took offense to a comment made by a senior who said that having Ohio State on the schedule means it’s a bigger week than usual. No, Wilson scolded him, it’s not. It’s the next week and the next opponent.

“He don’t get the gist of this program if that’s what he thought,” Wilson said. “So we’ve addressed that. This is another big week. Next one, next day, and we’ve got to move on.”

Indiana players were openly and genuinely frustrated they couldn’t finish with a win last week against Ohio State. The Hoosiers swatted away any notion that they should be content to play the defending national champions so close.

They felt like they were going to win.

They refused to accept that they didn’t

And now they’re trying to channel that into an equally concentrated performance today at Penn State.

“We’ll never get that opportunity back, but we have a lot more opportunities in front of us, and we’re going to try to focus on those now,” senior tight end Anthony Corsaro said. “The standard is a lot different now than what it used to be. We expected to win that game. We really did. The disappointment was high because we knew we could beat them. We know that if we play up to our abilities, we’re a heck of a football team. If we keep bringing it, a lot of good things will happen this year.”

To get to this point, Indiana has followed a familiar script. Winning the turnover battle has provided the Hoosiers with a boost unseen in Wilson’s previous four seasons.

IU shares the Big Ten lead and is second in the nation with a plus-nine in the turnover margin. The Hoosiers have scored 58 points off their 11 turnovers, and have recorded at least two takeaways in six of their last seven games, and at least one in 11 straight contests.

That degree of assertiveness is something Wilson has been trying to see his team achieve since his first season in 2011. It’s part of a larger message that aggression, consistency and a defined focus can be the difference in taking Indiana to where it wants to go.

“We’ve had some success the last couple years and I think our team has gotten to the point where we know if we play well, we have a chance,” Wilson said. “It’s very hard to keep your team channeled in on the process of preparation, rest and recovery, film study and being on point. If you get off, you’re vulnerable. We have shown over the last few years that when we’re on, we’re a good team. We’ve been off the following week and have been inconsistent (following good games). We’ve worked hard this year to be more consistent.”

For IU, Saturday is another step toward proving it.

One comment

  1. I expect them to come out and play as hard or harder than last week. Turn up the heat defense and along with the offense get the LOS moving in IU’s direction. Come out and surprise a lot of people across the country and show how good you can be.

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