Wilson using bye week to prepare for 10-game run

This isn’t Kevin Wilson’s ideal time for a bye week.

The Indiana coach would prefer to see his open date fall in the middle of October, a mid-season respite to get healthy, step away and gear up for the season’s final stretch.

Faced with an open date in Week 3, Wilson and his Hoosiers took a different approach to the beginning of the regular season.

They essentially used the first two weeks as an extension of fall camp.

When the team reconvenes next week to prepare for a Sept. 24 date with Wake Forest, the Hoosiers will be ramping up for a line of 10 consecutive games to close the year. So IU used the first two weeks to prepare itself for such a demanding position.

It broke in new starting quarterback Richard Lagow without taxing him with too many demands. It used 58 players in Saturday’s home-opening win over Ball State, and it was able to evaluate both the first- and second-team defensive units in competitive settings.

“I don’t think this (early bye) is bad because all we judged is getting this team deep enough and developed enough for that 10-game run,” Wilson said. “… We thought we had time to keep evolving. We needed to be good enough to win. We needed to have enough offense and defense to win. We needed to attack and be aggressive enough to win, but we also felt because of the Thursday night (and Saturday), we had like four weeks to keep growing — we had three, four weeks of preseason and now three, four weeks with the Thursday night and the open date early to keep coming as a team. That was our thought.”

So the fact that Indiana has so much to clean up should not be viewed as such a daunting challenge.

Wilson said both Florida International and Ball State had his full attention as opponents, so he wasn’t discounting the competition. But he also recognized the need to see exactly what was at his disposal in game situations.

So the Hoosiers rotated Brandon Knight and Coy Cronk at left tackle. They used Ricky Brookins and Isaac James, along with others, in the slot. And at one point during Saturday’s second half, Wilson deployed his entire second-team defense — then quickly pulled the hook as the Cardinals used chunk gains against those players to drive across midfield.

That period of experimentation and flexibility afforded by the first two weeks allows for self-reflection during the next two weeks.

Then Indiana can apply what it learned in two weeks when the Demon Deacons come to town.

“It’s kind of just like the preseason,” linebacker Marcus Oliver said of his approach to early September. “You get to keep working. We had Labor Day. That was another good work day. We’re about to have the bye week. It’s not so much like leaving camp, we just finally get to play games during camp, to me. That’s how I’m looking at it. A lot of times, it’s a period of time where we can do a lot of growth.”

4 comments

  1. We will see if coach’s approach works for this season but it explains a lot of what happened in the first two games. It also gives me hope that the Hoosiers will be a much better team going into the Wake Forest game and then into the B1G season.

    Right now IU’s path through the B1G looks much different than before the season started. IU’s defense is rated better than PSU’s so far. No team would believe IU’s defense would be as good as it seems right now. Some of the stats are misleading but the defense has only given up 2 TDs this season and 33 points total with one TD the result of a blocked punt.

    IU looks like it lost Cobbs for the season but have three “starters” out for another game or two – Thompson and McCray on defense and Patrick on offense. We haven’t seen how good this team is yet and it will be fun to watch it develops as the season progresses.

  2. Lot of promise, possibilities and future ahead for this team just with those 3 players not yet on the field. I can’t prove it in the box score but Dougherty played in as many plays by my eyes or more Saturday as Green did. That is a good thing for the teams D prospects on the season. Now if another young OL will step up and excel so much the better. Also waiting for Isaac James to get going in the slot or retuner. At 5’11” & 195 lb. he is a big slot man with wheels and some wriggle to him. Great athlete on the field like MP is.

  3. HC, Doughtery did play a lot of plays and listening to coach Wilson it sounds as if he will be a major player on the DL. I hope they can develop some of the outside guys into better pass rushers as it is tough to play pass defense if you have to use DBs to get sacks.

    I wonder when they are going to get James, Hale, Hawkins, and several others involved. Of course we need to pass more than 25 – 28 times a game to get more receivers involved. I do question when they are going to open up the offense and start throwing 35 – 40 passes a game with 40 – 45 rushes a game. Our OL is good but looks like it would be much better in the rushing game when defenses are spread out to cover the pass. I know we would have more explosive runs if this approach were taken.

    There are many things to be excited about with this team now that we have a solid defense.

  4. …..now that we have a solid defense

    Stop the presses! We have a solid defense. And that birther thing…? That’s over too.

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