Hoosiers enter practice week hoping to build off win

IU offensive coordinator Kevin Johns saw a different look and a different approach from Indiana’s players when they met Sunday at the North End Zone Facility.

Coming off Saturday’s 49-24 win over North Texas, the Hoosiers appeared confident. They were more business-like, Johns said, and more focused on moving forward in the right direction.

The task now is quite clear, with Indiana looking to build off its win this week at Iowa. The Hoosiers have posted back-to-back wins only twice under head coach Kevin Wilson, and haven’t done so in nearly two years.

They’ll get a chance to fix that this week.

“I think our kids, just yesterday mentally, they were different than they were after the Maryland game,” Johns said. “Hopefully that will continue and carry over into (Tuesday’s) practice, into this week’s preparation that you know that we did win a game, but we’re supposed to win a lot of games. So now we gotta go back to work this week.”

Consistency is the buzz word in Bloomington, where Wilson and company haven’t seen much of it in three-plus seasons. The North Texas game was an overall positive effort, and certainly one to build off of.

With the non-conference season complete and a 3-1 record to show for it — Indiana’s best under Wilson — the Hoosiers enter the heart of Big Ten play with reason to believe they can continue trending upward.

It starts with a good approach to practice, which Wilson has seen. From there — and this is perhaps most important — Indiana’s players have to decide whether they want to be good on Saturdays.

For Wilson, it’s a choice.

“Like we tell them all the time, ‘It’s not our job to come in here and give you some rah, rah Win‑One‑For‑the‑Gipper speech and you’re going to go win,'” Wilson said. “That’s done through the week, and you’re building that point. And with some young players you learn to do it, and with some old players I think we gotta learn how to keep focusing. It’s so easy with all the technology we have just to get easily distracted, because you can Google and check anything out and get infatuated with yourself and where you are. You better come back to getting grounded and getting prepared. … It’s so easy in this day and age, you can walk out with your hands down. If you do, you’re going to get smashed. You better come out with your hands up ready to fight. Talk about it. The other guys fight.”

On the injury front, Wilson sounded optimistic about both left tackle Jason Spriggs and receiver J-Shun Harris. Spriggs (knee sprain) lost his consecutive start streak of 28 games and didn’t play against North Texas, while Harris banged his head against the turf in the first quarter, showed concussion-like symptoms and did not return.

Spriggs dressed and was available for action against the Mean Green. Harris will be evaluated throughout the week and Wilson said he’d be surprised if he did not play.

“He said after the game he was fine,” Wilson said. “But again, in this day and age, you gotta be — he felt a little woozy, and our guys looked at him and we got some things in place, like all schools do, that again, when those guys say a guy is down, he’s down. He looked (OK) yesterday, but what we did yesterday was so minimal it doesn’t really count as a true practice. But it’ll be interesting how much he can do tomorrow we’ll see, and for sure by Wednesday.”

In other news, Indiana rewarded a pair of young defensive players with weekly honors, naming freshman linebacker and redshirt freshman safety Chase Dutra the defensive players of the week. Both Scales and Dutra made their first career interceptions.

“They’re both playing well,” Wilson said. “The more they play, the better they get.”

Offensively, IU recognized Nate Sudfeld, Tevin Coleman and D’Angelo Roberts. Special teams honors went to punter Erich Toth and linebacker T.J. Simmons.

“Toth was awesome,” Wilson said. “We didn’t communicate one time in our coverage to maybe down one punt that would have been a hard down, but if he gets that, he would have been 4 for 4 punts inside the 20. He’s been very, very good with that this year. He had a couple down there. One was huge. And we recognize T.J. Simmons, who’s starting at linebacker, made several critical plays for us in the kicking game, as did David Cooper in one of their all‑out blocks they’re coming at, did a great job of protection and makes the tackle. So a couple of your starters playing well in the kicking game was great to see.”

Redshirt sophomore tight end Sean Damaska, freshman receiver Coray Keel, freshman Dameon Willis and senior defensive lineman Jordan Heiderman were all recognized with scout team honors.

“Damaska, been here a couple years, big, tall, developmental tight end, he’s doing a great job for us on the offensive side,” Wilson said. “And defensively, another young guy Dameon Willis, linebacker, he’s been doing well — guy that’s been close to playing, hadn’t played — maybe does, maybe doesn’t — He’s close enough, where in years past he probably would be playing with some depth right now, but he’s a good young player we like a lot. And a guy we’re proud of that’s doing well is Jordan Heiderman. He’s getting on the field maybe a smidge, but he’s also a guy that we use on the scout team because he needs reps, and as a senior he goes over there and does an awesome job.”