Wilson: Hoosiers trying to make most of last two weeks

Indiana is long past the point that it can accomplish much that’s tangible this season. Bowl eligibility has been considered a pipe dream since the end of September and a mathematical impossibility since Oct. 22. The best the Hoosiers can possibly hope for this season is to match the worst season in Bill Lynch’s four-year tenure, and the worst-case and also much more likely scenario is that they will post the worst record of any IU team since the winless 1984 squad. Avoiding that fate will require them to beat either Michigan State, the first place team in the Legends Division of the Big Ten, or a Purdue squad that stands just one win away from bowl eligibility.

But Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said there is still some value to the final two weeks. There are two trophies on the line — the Old Brass Spittoon and the Old Oaken Bucket, both of which could of course be considered tangible — but just as importantly, there is the opportunity to create some form of program momentum going into Wilson’s second season.

“You want to try to win,” Wilson said. “Daunting task this week. Both of them will be, starting one going up there and playing a team that’s in first place. At the same time, my deal is one, — and I think we’ve got some internal things moving in a cleaner direction — you want these seniors to feel like they’ve been a part of something that’s on a higher note.”

The Hoosiers (1-9 overall, 0-7 in the Big Ten) haven’t posted a victory against a Football Bowl Subdivision team this season and they haven’t won since beating South Carolina State since Sept. 17. However, there were some positive signs in the Hoosiers’ 34-20 loss to Ohio State, as they were within a touchdown of the lead until Ohio State scored with 2:41 to go to put it away.

Plus, some of the tumult that jostled the program in the first few months of the season appears to have subsided to some degree. The Hoosiers lost more than 30 players from last year’s squad since Wilson took the job in December. That includes 19 scholarship players, though five of them left because of injury related reasons. Included in the departures were former star running back Darius Willis, who applied for medical hardship, and wide receiver Damarlo Belcher, who was dismissed for a violation of team rules.

But Belcher’s dismissal was the last major shakeup, and the remaining players appear to have begun forming a bond, especially those who see promise in the future in the large number of young players who have made major contributions.

“You look at the record and obviously it’s not good,” sophomore wide receiver Kofi Hughes said. “But then you look at the guys that you’re around and they are all freshmen and second-year guys. I think that is a positive just because I feel like we have been growing week-by-week. Yeah, we’re not winning these games, but I think we are working towards a bigger picture right now. I think that next year, we’re definitely going to come out with something a lot better.”

Wilson, though, cautions that he doesn’t want his team to be too proud of what it’s accomplished recently. He said he’s been careful not to be too positive about the Ohio State game, because at the end of the day, the Hoosiers still lost again.

“I tried to use the Ohio State game as not a positive but as a disappointment because you lost,” Wilson said. “Because you didn’t get beat. You’re moving the ball and you turned it over and you have it on the 12-yard line and you jump offsides, miss a field goal. You turn it over and you don’t line up properly and let a guy run out the gate to the 5-yard line and they score a touchdown and ice it. So I was trying to use that as motivation to be frustrated and not be happy because I do think around here, some of our players, we don’t handle negative things well and we don’t handle positive things well. … Our goal is not to be close.”

So he wants them to go into these next two games believing that they’ve already earned a win.

“We’re not gonna win this game because it’s our time,” Wilson said. “We’re not gonna win this game because we’re hoping and praying and it’s time for good things. You have to make it happen.

Other notes from Tuesday’s press conference:

— Wilson went through a lengthy list of comings and going on the injury front. Senior safety Donnell Jones is finally full-go after missing over a month of action with an ankle injury and back in the starting lineup. Senior Chris Adkins is finally running after also missing significant time with an ankle injury, but he’s still not in pads. The Hoosiers are hoping he returns to play in the Purdue game.

Wilson said the Hoosiers are “in limbo” with redshirt freshman safety Drew Hardin, who missed the Ohio State game with the concussion. He said they won’t know until the middle of the week what to expect from him.

Freshman right tackle Peyton Eckert has a severely sprained ankle suffered in the Ohio State game, but Wilson said it isn’t fractured. Wilson said he’s probably a week away from returning to the lineup.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Dusty Kiel is running and dropping with his sprained ankle, but Wilson said he’s only operated in “sterile” environments and hasn’t had to scramble out of the pocket at all.

Junior defensive tackle Mick Mentzer injured his knee in practice and will be limited for Saturday’s game. Wilson said he expects him to return for the Purdue game.

— Kevin Wilson didn’t say much last week about the story spread through Twitter by sophomore cornerback Greg Heban about junior safety Alexander Webb playing more than a half of football with a broken arm. However, co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory confirmed Tuesday that the story was true and that Mallory, who coaches from the press box in games, wasn’t aware of the injury until after the game.

“That was pretty impressive,” Mallory said. “I think with 10 minutes to go in the second quarter he broke his arm. He never made mention of that to me when we went in at halftime. I think he had said something to some of the other kids that his arm was hurting and he felt like he may have broken it, but I don’t think he ever went to the medical staff, nor did he say anything to me that he was injured. I think it says a lot about the individual. I think the thing you try to tell the kids is that there’s a difference between being hurt and being injured. If you’re playing the game of football, you’re going to be hurt. You’re going to get a lot of bumps and bruises and some of those things you’ve just gotta suck it up and play through it. But there’s a difference. When you’re injured, you need to be off the field. Here’s a young man that was both. He was hurt and injured, but it was important enough to him that he felt like he could still play and still be productive for us. He was out there giving us everything that he had.”

Somehow Webb managed 11 tackles and an interception. Mallory said he certainly didn’t want Webb to play with a broken arm and that it wasn’t a good idea. But he appreciated the effort.

“I can appreciate that a young man played through a lot of pain,” Mallory said. “He had an interception with a broken arm. Alex probably has the worst hands in the secondary, but still had an interception with a broken arm, so that was pretty impressive. Even when I graded the tape, I didn’t realize he was playing with a broken arm. I didn’t know until the next day he was injured. I never once saw him turn down a hit in a lack of effort. He played as if he was totally healthy. He’s a pretty tough kid.”

 

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson Part 1

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson Part 2

AUDIO: Doug Mallory

AUDIO: Kevin Johns

AUDIO: Kofi Hughes

 

24 comments

  1. Coach Wilson; just get through the Mich State game without suffering too many serious injuries. Then beat Purdue. If you beat Purdue, all sins are forgiven and your seniors can depart with the knowledge that they were one of the few classes to have beaten their rivals in back-to-back seasons.

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  3. So we’ve gone from “Win Today!” to “You want to try to win,” Wilson said.

    To me that sounds like a defeated coach, and before we even take the field on Saturday Wilson already knows he’ll add another “L” to his 2011 record.

    Our young squad are going to be schooled against an MSU team vying for a conference title. I see another Wisconsin like beat down coming. It will be a long Saturday once again, but I’ll watch to the bitter end, and pray that Roberson and Houston survive the pounding they are going to take.

  4. I just don’t think we have the horses, yet, to upset a team like Michigan State. It’s so hard for an undermanned football team to upset a premier team. In basketball you only need a couple studs to take over a game. In football you gotta have a bunch of guys have their best day at the same time and then have the breaks all go your way. It’s one thing for a 5-5 team upsetting an 8-2 team. When you’re 1-8 you’ve got issues. I’m on board. I think KW will turn it around, at least I think he’s the best shot we’ve had in a long time (along with Coach Hep). He can’t teach guys to be bigger, stronger, and faster, though. At least not in one year. He’s playing a ton of freshmen. That’s gotta help down the road.

  5. As Dustin has alluded to in the past, KW is a pretty basic, straightforward guy. If you are going to parse every phrase looking for hidden meanings you’re gonna see a lot of things that just aren’t there.

  6. Podunker and Chet…You guys are spot on. I’ve been trying to say the same things. FB is not BB. The building process for FB is longer, steeper and much more expensive. We are just starting on an investment curve that will take several years to produce results and there is no guarantee! That said, at least now with the investment in infrastructure and coaching, we can execute a plan to get us more competitive at this level. This year…forget about it. Next year, I think we should get some wins..maybe 2-3 B10 wins. 2013, I’d like to see us striving for a bowl.

  7. Success for the FB program over the next 2 seasons will have much to do with how many JUCOS(I think 7-9 each season including other transfers)and how good they can perform. Then hope for talented recruits to commit.

  8. There just spam blanks to scare away the spam beast. I’m feeling a famous movie line moment…? Jaws? “You’re going to need a bigger boat,” Dustin. This is a great white sports blog predator of prehistoric nerdiness…I’m just glad I’m no expert on the creatures. My wife would likely claim I’m no Roy Scheider and look more like a fat blubbery seal when I’m sitting here blogging. Anyway, I nominate Tsao to play the role of Hooper and be lowered in the anti-spam blogging cage. Maybe this would be a perfect opportunity to use that alternative ending that was shelved. Hmm? And isn’t it entirely possible that this spam predator that wants to gobble up anything in its path is merely attracted by the enormous schools of Tsao words swimming around the waters of Scoop? The great white spam beast may just be attracted by the cyber-scent omitted into the waters by the abundance of Tsao tuna. Just a theory that may support an alternative ending.

    It’s just a shame that the number of spam posts on here can’t reduce our national debt or the ozone-depleting emissions somehow.

    Idea: Give Tsao anti-spam calculus questions for a couple weeks and see if the great white seeks different waters. I still think it’s just attracted to all the Tsao tuna in the internet current swimming about the Scoop boat. Tell you one thing…I aint going in the anti-spam cage, Dustin. No way, no how.

  9. HC, You’re going to see a lot of JUCOs. You’re not going to see THAT many JUCOs. I’m thinking 3-5 per year, which is a healthy number. If you bring in 14-18 JUCOs over the next two years, you’re going to have an inordinate number of guys who can only give you two years. Wilson has said he’s only going to go for JUCOs where there’s a need, not to make it the foundation of the program. Obviously, Stephen Houston and Jeff Thomas have worked out extremely well, but it doesn’t always go that way.
    Freaking spam. You have to be kidding me.

  10. This is just a test. I don’t need to enter the sum of 6 and 16 (+17) because there is no barrier other than a meek attempt to morally discourage the immoral spammers.

  11. Ooops!! The only users being conned here are the legitimate bloggers who hoped some real measures were taken. But…to our great surprise, we were the victims of this very cruel joke.

    Pleas…if there is any professional pride at all, do something!!

  12. Sorry…meant to beg ‘please’…not ‘pleas’.

    BYWm who is setting up the spam barrier; the coach who strategized, developed and coached our defensive backfield under Coach Lynch??

    (p.s. Not one of these last three posts used the required anti-spam barrier).

  13. I hear ya DD. Under normal circumstances the 3-5 would be the numbers I would endorse for the next couple of seasons. As you know they already have 3 for 2012. Obviously I do not think Coach Wilson will operate believing he is in that environment until HS recruiting brings in higher rated talent.

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