Wilson liked intensity in IU’s return to practice #iufb

A spirited Sunday evening practice closed Indiana’s bye week and gave the Hoosiers an encouraging look into the immediate future.

The defense flew around and hit people, the offense made competitive one-on-one plays and each unit scraped off whatever rust lingered from a week of inactivity. Now, IU coach Kevin Wilson is hoping Sunday’s return to the field turns out to be a positive omen for what’s to come this weekend against No. 10 Iowa.

“I liked last night,” Wilson said Monday morning. “It was one of the better practices we’ve had, and I think we’re a decent practice team. I want to get us into being a better game team. We’ll see if that translates Saturday, but last night was very good.”

While Wilson and his coaching staff scattered across the country for recruiting purposes last week, his players received a break from physical mid-week practices and the mental workload that accompanies weekly game preparation. There was light developmental work tailored more for second- and third-string players, as well as those underclassmen in the middle of redshirt seasons.

For everyone else, it was time to briefly step away, refresh their bodies and, in some cases, get a head start on the Hawkeyes.

“The bye week is always a great week, especially with the timing it came at (this year),” safety Chase Dutra said. “We’ve had a lot of tough games lately, a lot of hard battles all the way to the end, so this week off really allowed a lot of the players who’ve played, and some of the players that haven’t played as much — it helped them mentally through the week.”

The Hoosiers received a boost on the physical side, too.

From a health standpoint, Wilson says middle linebacker T.J. Simmons is progressing “OK” from an ankle injury suffered in IU’s previous game at Michigan State on Oct. 24. Meanwhile running back Jordan Howard is as healthy as he’s been since suffering an ankle injury on Oct. 3 that cost him two and a half weeks of action.

Howard, who returned against the Spartans, was active in the weight room and did some running with the team last week.

“He was really good last night in the work we did,” Wilson said. “So he’s the best he’s been (in the last month). Is he as good as before he got hurt? I guess that’s subjective (or) his opinion. But he came out of the last game with no setbacks and looked good last night.”

For Wilson, the most valuable takeaway from Sunday’s first post-bye practice was his team’s engagement. The Hoosiers checked out briefly during the open date but returned to business this weekend looking to fix the issues that have sent the team on a four-game slide to start the conference season.

That includes looking at what they can do to solve the third-down hiccups that have shown up recently on both sides of the ball, especially the defense’s struggles on third-and-medium situations. Wilson said addressing what they can to fix the team’s defense on third-and-short and third-and-medium is a priority against an Iowa ground attack that averages 201 yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry.

“Big Ten football in the month of November is physical football,” Wilson said. “So we’ll see if we’ve got the toughness and mental maturity to play tougher down the stretch. Hopefully, but we’ll see.”

26 comments

  1. Wilson said, “I think we’re a decent practice team. I want to get us into being a better game team.” What a great idea!

  2. Oh no, not the “defense was flying around the field” comment. That usually translates into overplays with arm or missed tackles. I hate that perspective.

  3. Like any of this matters. IU can’t fire Wilson, the gurus on here and Peegs say, bc IU fired Cameron and DiNardo and Lynch and got no better. Solid logic as I’ve heard.

  4. Sounds like Howard is close to full speed and we know that Sudfeld is 100% AND we’re playing at home.

    With those things all in place, this should be at least a competitive game, and who knows maybe the football gods will smile upon us this Saturday. With all our starters healthy, there’s no reason these last 4 games can’t be competitive all the way down to the end with us winning at least 2 of them.

  5. Iowa can be picked off in they are a product of a weak division not saying they ain’t a very good team but they not a great team

  6. I hope Jordan is back to full strength as he is a beast of a runner when he is. He gives IU a better shot of controlling the clock better and helping the team do better in the 4th quarter. I know he energizes the offense and takes pressure off our QB as teams have to put more attention on the running game. I hope the coaches put in some misdirection running plays off of Jordan’s running plays. Majette could be a great back as a misdirection runner to Jordan also allowing Sudfeld to play action off the counter plays.

    I hope the other plays see how playing harder like Simmons did against MSU could make a big difference in how the games turn out. Like the OSU fan I like the moxie Zander brings to the team and he would be a good change up for the opponents if the coaches use him in a series or two each half to make defense use practice time to deal with his running ability when he is in just like when Tre was switching with Nate. Zander throws decently so it keeps the defenses honest.

    I am excited about this game to see what they look like after the break. I would also like to see them upset Iowa heading into Michigan as their defense is very good but showing signs of giving up points the past few weeks. I will be at the Michigan game for my one game each year [the most I can physically make it due to my spinal disease and chronic pain]. It would give the team a great start to the end of the season as no game will be easy.

  7. Vesuvius13-

    I like the way you think! I’d like to see them use Majette as a wildcat qb. He was a qb in high school. Let him run a few series of option with Jordan Howard. It would be something Iowa wouldn’t be expecting and could probably be counted on for a few first downs or at least it would keep the clock moving.

    Iowa is not a great passing team and their QB is hurt but will play. This is a game we can win. But we will have to have both a running game and a passing game.

    Hope you get you get to see a great game next week too down in Bloomington.

  8. Hoosier ’86, I agree having Majette at wildcat [great idea] would add to IU’s offense especially when it stalls. I would also have Zander with Jordan and Majette too, so they could run some sweeps with Jordan hitting the line and build in play action passes. They could also add in passes for Majette off the sweep. There is so much they can do to make the offense more dynamic and it would help the defense.

  9. Podunker, I haven’t heard either but he was dressed at the MSU game.

    Hoosieriniowa, I understand your concern but with the speed of athletes today they have to fly to the football. I learned coaching inner-city players I had to teach tackling differently as the breakdown method I tried left flayers grasping for air. The key to tackling full speed is the angles you take to make the tackle. Players have to understand where they are on the field where the running lanes are, how to maintain leverage on the ball, and where teammate help will come from.

  10. I like our chances v. Iowa, too. Ferentz’ teams seem to flounder late in the season, so maybe this is the week.

  11. DD, wholeheartedly agree.

    The wildcat always seems to be used by teams with no direction but they have a backup running back that used to play QB. For every successful wildcat play there are a score of former QBs stuffed at the line of scrimmage.

  12. Nicely put, Chet.

    Here’s the Wildcat Strategy for IU: “Let’s take Indiana’s best offensive weapon, NFL prospect Sudfeld, off of the field and replace him with some backup who runs. In fact, let’s call the track team for a guy to do it.”

    I can see why IU fans might be conflicted, though. Every time another team lines up in wildcat against our defense, it goes for 70 yds. Granted, you could have put a blind 3rd stringer up in wildcat with his shoelaces tied and he’d still go for 40 against some of our defenses in the past.

  13. This game will center around what most B1G games do, LOS, turnovers and to a lesser extent ST’s; although I’d bet there will be an onside kick in this game. We may see a pass rush this week by IU we’ve dreamed about.

    I too would like and expect a offensive wrinkle or 2 executed successfully against those pukin buzzards. As v13 alluded to some crossbucks, counters and other misdirection in the IU backfield could produce some explosive gains.

  14. DD- the facts are the facts. IU yet again has the worst defense in the B1G and a historically bad defense against the pass. We’ve allowed more points in the 4th quarter than Iowa has allowed all year. But we’ve also allowed more points in the 2nd quarter than Iowa has allowed all year. Our defense wears down. It starts well in both the 1st and 3rd quarters, then wears down. When asked the keys to the game, Kirk Ferentz said the key would be time of possession. He’s going to try and wear down our defense Maybe we can outscore them. But given that we lost to Rutgers after putting up 52 and almost lost to Southern Illinois after putting up 48, I doubt it. If we can’t run and control clock…we lose. Jordan Howard is a great back but if we don’t have sustained drives to keep our defense rested and off the field, we lose. Having a single back running out of spread formations with a qb that isn’t a running threat is not exactly a recipe for time consuming drives. Iowa gives up an average of 12.8 points per game…IU 42.5. You really think Sudfeld is going to be able to outscore them?

  15. I would prefer to see Majette as a slot that can go into deep motion to provide misdirection running plays to create problems for the defense as it would open up Howard’s running lanes. Having Zander in once each half would require opposing defenses to work hard to prepare for both QBs; as coach Wilson pointed out IU only converts 3rd downs 29% of the time so it wouldn’t take points away from Nate. Zander is a decent passer and a great runner that defenses can’t catch on running plays with a read on the DE. Nate isn’t the only one that can create scores just look at OSU and the first score at PSU. I doubt IU does any of these things but I wish they would as it would help extend drives and keep the defense off the field more.

  16. 86, I have no idea what your point is in response to mine. My point was, the Wildcat play sucks. Not really sure why are you are arguing with me about why our defense sucks.

    So, I don’t think your recommendation of taking our best offensive player of the field so some back-up can come in a run into a wall of defenders is a winning strategy against one of the stingiest defenses in the B1G. Indiana is in the Top 20 IN THE NATION in offense and that includes 2 games where we struggled WITHOUT Nate. We’re a totally different team with him at the helm and, historically, the wildcat is a gimmick which hasn’t translated to much success apart from guys like Tim Tebow running it.

    I recommend no wildcat.

  17. The true Wildcat is run with a RB or WR not someone that played QB and can throw the ball. With a player that has run QB before isn’t run into the line and can stress defenses because they stress the defense as they don’t know if they will run or pass.

    I agree the true Wildcat isn’t a good offense but with someone that has played QB it can be a good change up. Remember the offense has struggled during games so having a change up would help this team.

  18. It is true. We don’t throw or run for TDs on every play. But our offense is ranked Top 20 in the country. Offenses struggle sometimes, that’s what they do. Even good ones.

    The problem with IU football is not on that side of the ball. I’ve heard commenters suggest Wildcat or, my heavens, even the I Formation of yesteryear. This obsession with slowing the offense down. That is the very definition of biting your nose off to save your face.

  19. DD- hmmm Top 20 offense? Or as you put it, “Indiana is in the Top 20 IN THE NATION in offense and that includes 2 games where we struggled WITHOUT Nate.” Here are the facts. Indiana ranks 46th in scoring with an average of 31.3 points per game. We are 111th in scoring defense allowing 37.3 points per game. I made an argument, based on actual facts, that our problem is time of possession leading to the defense being on the field for too long and wearing down in the 2nd and 4th quarters. The answer I suggest is using more of a ball control offense to keep our defense fresher longer. We have the deepest o line since Wilson arrived and we have a 230 lb power back. With that in mind, we ought to be able to run the ball and control clock. You know, like antiquated 8-0 Iowa which will run out of I formations or 6-1 Navy, which has a run first QB and routinely beats bigger and more talented schools Those are my points. Hope you can respond with more facts and less hyperbole.

    Scoring Offense:

    Rank Team G W-L TDs PAT 2PT Def Pts FG Saf Pts PPG
    1 Baylor 8 8-0 63 61 1 0 6 0 459 57.4
    2 TCU 8 8-0 50 47 2 0 12 2 391 48.9
    3 Memphis 8 8-0 48 47 1 0 14 2 383 47.9
    4 Texas Tech 9 5-4 56 53 2 0 11 0 426 47.3
    5 Bowling Green 9 7-2 56 53 0 0 8 0 413 45.9
    6 Houston 8 8-0 49 49 0 0 8 0 367 45.9
    7 Oklahoma 8 7-1 47 47 0 0 12 0 365 45.6
    8 Oklahoma St. 8 8-0 46 41 0 0 11 1 352 44.0
    9 Western Ky. 9 7-2 50 48 1 0 11 0 383 42.6
    10 Oregon 8 5-3 43 39 0 0 13 0 336 42.0
    11 Clemson 8 8-0 41 38 0 0 13 1 325 40.6
    12 Boise St. 9 7-2 44 42 0 0 17 1 359 39.9
    13 Ole Miss 9 7-2 45 43 0 0 14 0 355 39.4
    14 LSU 7 7-0 35 35 0 0 9 0 272 38.9
    15 Cincinnati 8 5-3 37 35 0 0 17 0 308 38.5
    – Ohio St. 8 8-0 41 41 0 0 7 0 308 38.5
    17 Louisiana Tech 9 6-3 42 42 0 0 16 1 344 38.2
    18 Western Mich. 9 6-3 45 40 1 0 10 0 342 38.0
    19 Appalachian St. 9 7-2 44 43 0 0 10 0 337 37.4
    – Arizona 9 5-4 45 43 0 0 8 0 337 37.4
    21 Southern California 8 5-3 40 38 0 0 7 0 299 37.4
    22 North Carolina 8 7-1 36 33 2 0 14 0 295 36.9
    23 Notre Dame 8 7-1 38 32 1 0 10 0 292 36.5
    – Ga. Southern 8 6-2 37 35 0 0 11 1 292 36.5
    – Stanford 8 7-1 37 37 0 0 11 0 292 36.5
    26 Arkansas St. 9 6-3 43 39 1 0 9 0 326 36.2
    – Northern Ill. 9 6-3 42 38 0 0 12 0 326 36.2
    28 Tennessee 8 4-4 37 37 0 0 10 0 289 36.1
    29 North Carolina St. 8 5-3 40 38 0 0 3 0 287 35.9
    30 California 8 5-3 38 33 2 0 7 0 286 35.8
    – Toledo 8 7-1 35 34 0 0 14 0 286 35.8
    – Air Force 8 5-3 38 35 1 0 7 0 286 35.8
    33 Southern Miss. 9 6-3 42 39 0 0 10 0 321 35.7
    34 UCLA 8 6-2 35 33 1 0 13 0 284 35.5
    35 Washington St. 8 5-3 35 34 0 0 13 0 283 35.4
    36 Tulsa 8 4-4 35 33 0 0 13 0 282 35.3
    37 Mississippi St. 9 7-2 41 39 0 0 9 0 312 34.7
    38 Middle Tenn. 8 3-5 37 35 0 0 6 1 277 34.6
    39 BYU 8 6-2 35 34 0 0 10 0 274 34.3
    40 Navy 7 6-1 30 28 0 0 10 0 238 34.0
    41 Utah 8 7-1 33 33 0 0 13 0 270 33.8
    42 Georgia Tech 9 3-6 40 37 1 0 7 1 302 33.6
    43 Alabama 8 7-1 34 32 0 0 10 1 268 33.5
    44 Michigan St. 8 8-0 36 33 0 0 6 0 267 33.4
    45 Nebraska 9 3-6 36 31 3 0 15 1 300 33.3
    46 Indiana 8 4-4 34 31 0 0 10 0 265 33.1

    Scoring Defense:

    RANK TEAM G TDS OPP XP 2PT OPP DXP OPP FGM OPP SAF PTS AVG
    101 Arizona 9 40 38 0 0 10 0 308 34.2
    102 Purdue 8 35 33 1 0 10 0 275 34.4
    103 UTSA 8 34 32 0 1 12 1 276 34.5
    104 Hawaii 9 39 39 0 0 13 0 312 34.7
    105 Wyoming 9 41 40 0 0 10 0 316 35.1
    106 UCF 9 41 35 2 0 10 2 319 35.4
    107 Miami (OH) 9 41 39 0 0 12 0 321 35.7
    108 La.-Monroe 8 36 33 1 0 11 1 286 35.8
    109 Old Dominion 8 36 36 0 0 12 0 288 36.0
    110 Massachusetts 8 36 35 0 1 14 1 297 37.1
    111 Indiana 8 40 30 2 0 8 0 298 37.3

  20. ’86

    2 weeks ago we were #14. I hadn’t looked us up through the bye week.

    I stand corrected. More Wildcat.

  21. BTW, I posted that link somewhere in the comments section in here a few weeks ago.

    Also, as you correctly point out when you aren’t advocating for a goofy offensive gimmick, point differential is all the matters. Yes, scoring more points than your opponent is clearly the point of football and most other sports.

    Since you’re so keen on rankings, how many of those teams above us in the rankings run a traditional ball control offense?

    I won’t bore you. None of them. Navy would be the closest, but they run the triple-option, not a ball control, grind it out style.

    I guess your 1986 moniker is true to form. Woody Hayes would be proud.

  22. Couple more notes before we go back and run our I formation from 1986:

    – For those actually interested in math and what these numbers mean, vs the absolute rankings, Indiana is only about a FG difference per game from being in the Top 20 in PPG. There is an explanation for that (see below).

    – Factored into that PPG is one game where our two best offensive players didn’t play (PSU), and two game where our nationally leading running back was out injured (PSU & Rut). When we lost Nate, our offense slowed down considerably and we ran the ball a lot of more. The results were predictably awful.

    – The Rutgers game: hard to point to the Rutgers game where we dropped 52 points of offense and Nate almost set the school record for passing yds in a game, though. But I don’t think the silly I formation in that game would have eliminated a botched snap on a punt that started the rally. I’d argue that the reason we stalled in the 4th quarter of that game is BECAUSE we slowed the ball down and stopped running our normal offense. Our conservative play calling caused a number of 3 and outs to give Rutgers one too many chances to get back in the game.

    So, 1986, I find your arguments unpersuasive. We can score and we have a great offense when at full strength. I don’t recommend slowing the offense down and grinding it out with a team that is much better at that than us. We’ll beat Iowa if we can do what we did against Ohio State for 3 quarters (which, when we stalled is coincidentally when our two best players go injured). Iowa also doesn’t have Ezekiel Elliot to run 3 60yd+ TDs on us. BTW, Elliot has done that to a lot of team, not just our sorry D.

  23. DD, I agree the answer isn’t to go back to an I formation where you better have better athletes than the other team if you want to move the ball. The reason all the top scoring offenses have gone to the spread is it creates one on ones or one on none in the open field. Our offense needs to do a better job finishing off drives instead of stalling during critical parts of the game. If they could do a better job converting 3rd downs it would keep them on the field longer and give the defense more of a rest.

    People seem to not realize this team is just a few plays away from beating the #1 team, missing two top players in the NCAA against PSU that was a winnable game with those two healthy, running MSU into the final 4 minutes until turnovers created a big score difference [not to mention missed PATs and one makeable FG for the lead] which means realistically we could be at 6-2 right now maybe even better. I understand we didn’t win against OSU and Rutgers but look how things would feel right now if we were at 6-2. We would expect a 3-1 finish or 4-0 finish to lead to 9 or 10 wins. That is how close this team is to that kind of record while loaded with freshmen DBs. Too many people are too bummed out because things haven’t broken IU’s way but at some point it will turn our way if we stay the course.

  24. DD- saw where you wrote a bunch of posts…. sorry, but I just don’t want to read them. Hope you came up with some legitimate facts to support whatever your opinion was/is. I have no problem with people disagreeing with my point of view but hope their points are cogent and coherent.

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