Wilson trying to keep teams heads up

The voice and the words and the cadence were a lot different coming out of Kevin Wilson’s mouth were different than what came from Bill Lynch’s two and three years ago, but the message was the same.

After a series of heartbreaking losses — the most recent being a 31-30 defeat at Navy — Wilson finds himself trying to do the same thing Lynch did so many times, especially in the 2009 season. He’s pointing out that his Indiana football team is very close to victory, and can get there if it just continues to build and doesn’t allow defeat to discourage it.

“We just keep accentuating the positives and showing them the good plays and the things that we’re doing,” Wilson said. “We had two turnovers Saturday. We had two for the year, we had two in the game. One was a costly play. But we’re taking care of the ball. We’re improving in the kicking game. We’re playing better on the offensive line. We’re making strides defensively. We’re doing things you need to do to win games. We’re showing them that. We haven’t got the result yet. … During the course of the game, you’ve gotta just keep making plays. We’re just one or two plays from adding up from being on the right side. It doesn’t always come down to the last third down stop or the last third down or the last score. It’s in the course of the game. We’ve improved against three decent teams, three very good teams, very difficult to prepare for.”

Wilson pointed out at length that Navy was a difficult preparation, not just because the triple option was tough, but also because the Midshipmen play a bend-but-don’t-break defense out of a 3-4, often dropping eight men into coverage to keep the ball in front of them and force opponents to make long drives instead of scoring quickly.

“It works because they don’t play a lot of defense because the offense eats the clock up,” Wilson said. “The combination of the two together, the way they play defense with their offense makes it very challenging.”

But Wilson said he was mostly pleased with the way the Hoosiers ran the ball, the way they threw it, and they way they made tackles in the open field and handled the option. He said he was especially pleased with Greg Heban, who recorded a game-high 13 tackles.

Other brief notes:

— Wilson was asked if he thinks the close losses are helping him with recruiting. Obviously, they are at least to some degree, with defensive end David Kenney committing recently and defensive tackle Darius Latham apparently close to doing the same. Of course, Wilson can’t say that, but he spoke in generalities

“There is some interest because they see improvement,” Wilson said. “And I think there’s interest because we’ve shown that we play young players. …I think we have some recruits that see us gaining on it and are maybe interested in getting in on it.””

Wilson pointed out that no freshmen are promised playing time, but he believes in playing them. He also said — as is obvious — that he plans on using most of the open scholarships for 2013 on defensive players.

— Though Illinois has scored just 21 points so far in three conference games, Wilson said he is concerned about playing the Illini, who are coming off a bye week. He spoke at length about the talents of quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase as well as defensive end Michael Buchanon and linebacker Johnathan Brown.

12 comments

  1. The defense is improving. Really? Has been awful all year and seems to have played worse the last few games, if that’s possible.

  2. Actually, the D is making plays but inconsistently.

    This past game, IU bailed Navy on 2 of their TD drives with critical penalties. If not for those, Navy only scores 1 offensive TD.

    Against OSU, IU forced a 3 and out with 4 min left to set up IU’s final two TDs. In the past few years, OSU would have just run out the clock on us.

    Against MSU, the D played solid for the first 3 quarters before just completely wearing out.

  3. The defense is certainly better than last year, unfortunately that’s not saying much. Barely anything, in fact. I think they have improved throughout the year, but we just don’t have the talent to contain big ten teams for 4 quarters. We do at least make good plays fairly consistently, still giving up big plays too, but last year there were virtually no good plays. It was pretty much a track meet for opponents offenses.

  4. It’s a college team playing young guys. You should expect significant differences as the season progresses. They may be way, way more efficient over the last half of the season than during the first half. They’re growing every day. They’d better. The guys coming in next year might just take their jobs.

  5. PB, Chet, I think the boys have grown up enough this season to win this next 1 on the road. In fact I am going to take the money the bookies gave me for the MSU game and take IU and the points against the neighbor.

  6. Aside from being young and inexperienced, a bit small, and bad tacklers, IU’s defense lacks the attitude and confidence necessary to win close games. They don’t have any swagger. I’m not trying to be negative, but I don’t see any real leadership or a collective attitude on the defense.

    I don’t see anyone making big plays late in the game. Not sure if I’m saying it right, but I’m waiting to see which players develop into the defensive play-makers that can rally a team and change the momentum of the game. Anyone remember Joe Norman? If so, that’s the type of defensive player I’m hoping will emerge. It appears to me that in the fourth quarter, instead of tightening up the defense, IU’s players loosen up a bit, perhaps because they fear giving up the big play that costs them the game. Maybe it’s simply that they’re tired. But that seems to play right into the hands of the opposing offenses, who march down the field in consistent chunks, waring IU’s players out, and winning the game late in the fourth quarter.

    IU’s defense is getting better. And they have not quit in any game this year. The desire and comittment seem to be in place. Now they need a leader that gives them confidence that they will stop the other team.

  7. For those of you too young to have watched Joe Norman play, I referenced him because while he was an undersized linebacker, he provided inspirational leadership (by example) to his defensive teammates and had a knack for making momentum-changing plays. Gosh he was fun to watch!

  8. Po, I think what you are talking about is having a stud(s) on D. There may be in their youth a couple now on D who are developing toward that end. But I can only speculate who it is who will attain that title.

  9. Norman was a great player. I’d also like to see a SS with an attitude to come up on the outside with vengeance. Those are the kind of guys that change the level of play.

  10. HC; in a sense, the term “stud” could be used. But by referencing Joe Norman, who was an under-sized linebacker by Big Ten standards and was NOT considered a “stud” in terms of physical size, I was referring to a tough minded, super-determined, hyper competitive, do what it takes defensive player. With Joe Norman, it seemed as if he got the job done with mind over matter and just strong determination. Don’t get me wrong, Norman was a gifted and tough athlete, but he was not a physically intimidating linebacker. His competitiveness and determination became contagious to his defensive teammates, and that’s what made him so valuable.

    I don’t see that type of player on IU’s current defensive unit.

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