Wilson: Hoosiers have altered front-line approach

Kevin Wilson spoke after Indiana’s first two games about making small alterations in defensive philosophy. Apparently one of those was a shift from the heavy-into-the-man approach of defensive line play.

The Hoosiers’ defensive line coach said throughout the spring that all four linemen would try first to engage blockers, especially on running plays, instead of attacking gaps in the line, to keep offensive linemen from getting into the second level and taking out linebackers. That would give second level defenders more freedom to roam.

However, in the Hoosiers’ opener against Ball State, they were able to get very little push on the front line. They never sacked Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning and allowed the Cardinals to rush for 210 yards.

As a result of that performance, Wilson said the Hoosiers have altered that approach. They haven’t completely abandoned it, but they did decide to attack gaps more.

“Schematically in our system initially, some of our thoughts were to play a style where some of those D-linemen were kind of two-gap,” Wilson said. “We tried to play thick, tried to play strong, tried to anchor and occupy space where our linebackers can fit. You can cheat your coverage that way. But I think as we played we realized maybe we lack some strength to do that, so we’re trying to put our players a little more on some edges where it’s a little more gap oriented instead of head-up, because I think we had some guys that got swallowed up a little bit in our first game. A little bit better Week 2. Last week in the option game, I think we got a little more heavy oriented because we were worried about some zone read stuff. … As we see our D-lineman play, how do we tweak what we do within our packages to get those guys in good positions and get them upfield and on edges and in gaps is what we’re looking to do a little bit more.”

Co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory didn’t discuss the alterations during his availability on Monday, but he said one of his biggest concerns is improving the team’s defense against the run.

“We gotta stop the run,” he said. “We still haven’t been very efficient on that. On the run game, we’re not giving up explosion plays, but what we’re doing is getting nickeled and dimed. They’re able to stay on track. They’re getting four or five yards a clip. They’re able to stay on track. They’re getting four and five yards a clip. You’re not gonna be successful on defense if you don’t set ’em back, and get them behind the chains, get them to third-and-long, winnable situations. We’ve just gotta be more efficient in our early down run defense. If we get them in third-and-long, we earn the right to rush the passer and come after them. We’ve gotta do a better job on early downs.”

AUDIO: Doug Mallory


  1. Getting in the gap will stop that run. I think this is a smart move. If the second level guys are worth a darn, they can get off their blocks and go to the ball. The D line needs to pass rush and run stop in their gaps. Just my opinion so this is a smart move. I look for a couple of sacks this coming weekend with this change!

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