Wilson looking to get his guys to hit harder

In his second spring as head coach, Kevin Wilson is looking for the best way to get his guys to hit harder without hurting themselves.

Indiana’s roster is relatively thin as spring rosters often are because the seniors are gone and the incoming freshman aren’t in yet. There was significant attrition — more than 30 players left the program voluntarily, involuntarily or because of injury — so the Hoosiers won’t have a completely full roster until they add not only the 20 scholarship players that are coming but also walk-ons.

But Wilson still wants the team to be a little more physical. The Hoosiers only get so many more days in full pads, and he’d like them to make the most of them.

“It’s a man’s game,” Wilson said. “It’s man on man. It’s hitting men with respect. It’s hitting men with love and it’s hitting them hard. I think we’re still learning as a football team how to hit guys and hit it right. Not coming in diving and cutting and cheap-shotting a guy. … I still think we have older guys we are still teaching the ability of striking and hitting. We’ve got to maximize the pad days without beating a football team up with numbers as all teams are, a little thin in spring. We can’t beat us up. We’ve got to learn how to love to hit.”

Wilson said he wants to accomplish more of that in a closed practice this spring. He also said he plans on using the scrimmage and some other spring practices to be prepared for Navy’s wishbone offense. The Hoosiers don’t play Navy until Oct. 20, but Wilson said he still wants his team to be ready for it and he doesn’t think he can do it with just five days of preparation.

“It’s a very aggressive style of running the ball,” Wilson said. “We thought it would be good for our offensive linemen to kind of sell that mentality. Our defense needs to see it, so we’re doing about 10 minutes every other day of ‘let’s see this and get used to it.’ You have to really change your style of defense. Not your structure, but you can be too aggressive and players can be out of control and now you make that option look really, really good. They’re a great team at it. They have their version, slightly different than Georgia Tech’s or Air Force’s or Army’s, but they’re all similar. Playing to their strengths, but it’s just a unique offense. I thought as a football team it would help us be tougher.”

Wilson said quarterbacks Tre Roberson and Cameron Coffman are both competing well and that they’re coming along quickly.

“We’re better Practice 3 and Practice 4 than we were at any day last year at throwing the ball,” Wilson said. “Just what we’re doing. How it’s being taught. How we’re drilling individually. … Cameron misses a few things once in a while, but I think he’s every bit as far a long as anyone who played last year. I think Tre’s better than he was last year.”

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson



  1. How about just learning to tackle this year? Learning how to get the ball carrier on the ground would be a good first step.

  2. Aside from some solid play from Tre R toward the end of the season, there was no place for the QB play to go but up. Let’s hope this is significantly improved!

  3. One of the reasons the service academies have success is the fact that teams just don’t see the ‘bone or the veer much. Back in the day, Oklahoma, et al, were scoring 70 points against weaker teams. Then people adjusted. Then the ‘bone and veer disappeared.

    Glad he’s getting them prepared.

  4. Zounds, Chet’s right, this is GOOD NEWS. Nice to know Wilson is thinking like us! I’d already chalked up the Navy game as a loss for this fall ’cause no defense these days can figure out, in a week, the thing of beauty that is the veer/option offense. Especially our stinky defense.

    As to hitting harder, the big hit is worthless without the arm wrap. When I was coacing pee-wee ball, I had to tell the kids that the NFL pros trying to make the ESPN highlight reel were NOT tackling correctly by leaving their feet to make the hard hit. Correct angle, head to the front of the ball carrier’s mid section, hit, wrap, and drive with the legs.

  5. Chet, you are right…and the reason they do it this way is because of time/practice concerns given the fact that they have to be real student-athletes as well as take care of their learning the military duties. So, the system’s they run allow them to begin their plays with a general and select from a menu of options as they read the defense, something good, intelligent athletes can do.

    It also gives them the advantage that Coach Wilson hit on…since teams don’t see the particular offense in most other teams, preparation is very hard when limited to 4-5 practices.

    AD Glass, I’d love to see us play the Academies more regularly and, definitely, West Point once in a while.

  6. I have every confidence in our coaching staff’s ability to improve every aspect of the program, but please remember; this is not basketball. The football turnaround will not be as swift or as dramatic. Service academies field tough, highly diciplined teams…a win at Navy, while possible, would be a pretty big upset given where we are in the development of IU football.

  7. Goodness. Let’s all be honest: any time coach says” e need to hit harder”,t’s just a symptom of your station as a team, & our place is rock frickin’ bottom. There sis room for improvement literally everywhere, & the fundamental are a good place to start. I’m sure coach Wilson was reffering to the team overall getting tougher & playing more physically, not simply about defenders hiiting hard. Although, when I say fundamentals, proper tackling technique is essential. You’d be surprised the difference it makes for a defense when they can simply tackle ball carriers on 1st contact. Regardless of how slow, or otherwise bad a defense might be, solid fundamentals will save a shockingly large amnount of points fromn going up on the board.

  8. Nice to hear the updates. They can’t be worse than last year. Nobody could tackle last year, so I’m glad they are at least working on that. How about putting some shoulder pads on Oladipo and letting him run the ball? jk.

  9. fundamentals are the key in all areas of football and i am sure the hoosiers will improve in all areas. it amazes me that the older players don’t know how to tackle. i am glad that the coaching staff recognizes the problem and is working on it. i think that tackling is first problem and then the hoosiers must get faster on defense. go hoosiers!

  10. It amazes me how many guys in the NFL don’t know how to tackle. I’ve heard former players say that if a player doesn’t learn good technique in high school they may never learn it. The football factories apparently just assume if you’re good enough to end up there you must know how to tackle and nobody in the pros teaches such basics.

    Good for Coach Wilson.

  11. Chet, why can’t you say something for yourself, why do you feel the need to reference former players? Did you ever tackle anyone head-on, in the open field, on the goal line, on a sweep, from behind? The styles are not the same.

    The traditional Jeffersonville way of tackling may just get you physically damaged for life.

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