Wilson on quarterbacks: “We’ll see how it plays out”

Kevin Wilson continues to insist that he doesn’t have a quarterback controversy, but he also doesn’t know who his quarterback is going to be on Saturday.

The Indiana football coach expects redshirt sophomore Ed Wright-Baker, who started the first four games of the season, to be back in practice this week after sitting out Saturday’s 16-10 loss to Penn State with an ankle injury, but he isn’t sure how ready to play he will be by Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game against Illinois. That could lead to Dusty Kiel maintaining the starting spot for another week after getting the start against Penn State, or it could not.

“He practiced a little more yesterday,” Wilson said. “He got kind of an ankle sprain in the fourth quarter, or maybe it was the third quarter, at North Texas. Played through it, battled through it. But when he came back it just wasn’t very mobile last week. I think last week he threw three balls in practice. He did practice yesterday. I don’t know if he’s full tilt. I think as we go through the week, he looks good. Looks like he’ll have a shot. That being said right now, Dusty’s played. I don’t know if it’s so much a controversy as it is that one guy’s a little more healthy. They’re both capable of playing well. We’ll see how it plays as we go forward.”

Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Rod Smith maintained that there has been competition for the job every week, that the Hoosiers make sure that each quarterback gets enough reps to be ready for the job.

“We’ve allowed them to compete ever since spring,” Smith said. “In our mind, it really isn’t much different. It’s a matter of who’s getting the reps and divying the reps up enough that each guy’s getting enough work so when his number’s called, he’s ready to go. Obviously, you’ve gotta send someone out there, so that guy will take more reps than the other guy, but it’s not far off. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s just a matter of us evaluating Ed daily. See exactly where he’s at. Keep bringing Dusty along as he keeps getting reps and going from there.”

Wilson and Smith said they were both generally satisfied with Kiel’s play in his start against Penn State, and Wilson especially suggested that the offense’s poor play against Penn State was much more attributable to other units on the offense, particularly the offensive line and the wide receivers. Kiel was forced to throw under pressure often and the receivers dropped seven passes, which made his job much harder.He finished 22-for-45 for 184 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

“I thought his effort was OK,” Smith said. “He needed to be better at certain areas. We missed some throws at times. We did have several drops at times that I thought we should’ve finished. But there were some plays that he left out there himself. Give Penn State credit, they were a very good defense. I thought Dusty went out and competed. I don’t think he hurt us, but I think we could’ve been better from an overall execution standpoint.”

Whoever they decide to start, both admitted that they need to find a way to get true freshman Tre Roberson some work. The Hoosiers burned the Lawrence Central graduate’s redshirt in the second game of the season, but so far he’s only run the ball three times for 7 yards and he’s yet to throw a pass.

“We’ve been in some close games and we haven’t played Tre as much at quarterback as we’ve needed to,” Wilson said. “We’ll keep looking. As we evaluate, we’ve been in a couple of games where’s it’s been a one-possession game. We’ve got some things oiled up for him every week. … That’s the only thing right now moving forward is getting him the reps that we need as we move forward.”

Said Smith: “We’ve gotta do a better job of getting him involved. I go into every game with a plan with him in mind. He might not have the entirety of the playbook that Dusty and Ed have so to speak as far as what they’re running, but he’s got a lot and it’s enough and we just have to do a better job of getting him and saying, ‘Hell with it, we’re going with him,’ and getting him some reps.”

Other Notes from Tuesday’s press conference:

— Kevin Wilson was merciless in reviewing his offense’s play against Penn State. “Not very good at all,” he said. “A couple of games in a row, still struggling for sure. Offensive line play and getting a run game going to take some pressure off pass protection, some pressure off the quarterback as we move forward. We keep finding ways to pick that up. Running backs need to get a few more yards after the hit. We kind of a lot of times get what we block with running and catching, so the ability to make a guy miss, run through some trash, take two yards and get five, keep us on schedule, those kinds of things. Seven drops at wide receiver, very inconsistent out there, which is alarming. It’s basically a wasted play. … It’s just not close to an acceptable level of play.”

— Wilson said he liked what he saw on defense mostly, but he had some concerns with the busted coverage that turned into Matt McGloin’s 74-yard touchdown pass to Derek Moye as well as some soft coverages that led to easy first downs. He was happy with the three turnovers the Hoosiers caused and lamented that having a positive turnover margin has not helped them to a better record than 1-4. “That’s probably why the games have been close,” Wilson said. “Even though we’re on the wrong side of the ledger, I think it’s unusual to be positive in turnover margin and be on the wrong side of victory.”

Wilson said he thought the defense responded well to tough situations. The opening kickoff of the second half went out of bounds, which allowed Penn State to start at the 40, but the Hoosiers got a three-and-out. “I appreciate the defense’s response to, ‘This isn’t the card you want dealt to you, but you have to play the card,'” he said.

He said he was concerned about third-down defense, however, as the Nittany Lions converted several third and longs.

“The defense has gotta execute to keep the defense off the field,” Wilson said. “There were some times we had them on schedule. Guys are gonna make plays, but they shouldn’t have made as many as they did, especially on third-and-long. We’re trying to show the positives that we’re creating turnovers, we’re not giving up points, but we’re also trying to show, I wouldn’t say the negatives but where we can improve and where we need better run support from safeties and backer fits. Our D-line, staying sound, staying gap sound, we know what’s going on.”

— Wilson said he wants to see improved kickoff and punt coverage. “I think sometimes we’re getting away with it,” Wilson said. “Our kicks maybe aren’t strong enough, our punters not punting it to the returner, where I think if the guy could catch it properly, there are some returns that probably aren’t happening. The punt’s landing away from the returner, and it’s like we’re getting away with a broken-bat single. It’s kinda working at, but I do think we have to work on coverage and our returns have been anemic.”

— Wilson said senior safety Jarrell Drane has an ankle sprain and will be out for 2-3 weeks. He, Ekeler and Doug Mallory all praised his leadership extensively on Saturday, as he was frequently in the ears of Drew and Forisse Hardin, who were starting at safety in his place.

“I think one of our most valuable players in that game against was Jarrell,” linebackers coach/co-defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler said. “He didn’t play one snap, but he was over there coaching those young safeties, the Hardin boys, he coached them the entire game. That tells you right there how invested the senior is and how much it means to him and shows that our guys are beginning to understand it’s about playing for the guy next to them. That to me shows a lot of character and it shows how our kids are coming together.”

— Wilson said he wasn’t sure about the status of freshman tailback D’Angelo Roberts. He said Roberts was hit face up by senior linebacker Jeff Thomas and that Roberts “had his bell rung.” He said Wilson practiced Monday, but “I don’t know if he’s full tilt. It will be interesting as it goes. If he did something yesterday, how is it gonna be today? I think when you’re coming off of those deals, sometimes activity makes it regress, sometimes it doesn’t. I think we get into tomorrow and Wednesday we’ll see where he’s at.”

— Wilson said he was expecting to redshirt freshman Bobby Richardson because he had so much at defensive tackle, but since the Hoosier offensive line was having a hard time blocking him, so he could be used to get more out of the defensive end position.

“As we just looked at our D-end productivity through Week 2 and 3, I think it was just wise on the part of coach Dierson and Coach Hagen to talk about it,” Wilson said. “A little unusual, he’s still learning. He’s still going to have some gliches, he’s going to bust a few things because ‘This call now tells me to go subtly different on the assignment at D-End than it did at D-Tackle. So he’s still turning, but he made tackles.”

— Wilson and Ekeler both complimented Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase at length. “He’s got some great qualities,” said Wilson, who said he recruited Scheelhaase at Oklahoma for a time. “He’s well coached by Paul Petrino, he’s developing him into being a quality quarterback. You watch him now, he knows how to set his feet, plays with base, plays with balance. You can see him go through reads. He’s very athletic. He can make plays with his feet, can make plays on the run, he’s growing into being a really solid, good quarterback.”

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson Part 1

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson Part 2

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson Part 3

AUDIO: Mike Ekeler

AUDIO: Rod Smith

AUDIO: Will Matte

AUDIO: Adam Replogle

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