BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana head football coach Kevin Wilson met with the assembled media at his weekly Tuesday afternoon press conference. Below is the transcript:
On problems on third down:
"We started the year pretty decent on third down the first couple to three games, but you're playing better opponents. We've played three pretty stout defenses. When you do get behind the chains, playing uphill, protection-wise with the young guys we got, the pocket will get pushed over. The receivers aren't trying to beat the corner or safety on the route, you're trying to beat the guy rushing the quarterback. As coaches we got to continue to look. Last week we did a few things to try and help us on the edges to try and help the defensive ends with some maximum protections or guys staying in. We actually had that the week before on a play that was a fumble and a touchdown return where it was a max pro, but we're trying to help those guys out. We tried to screen one time on second-and-long and we misconnected. We tried a couple quarterback draws. We need to keep trying to do some things to be rush friendly. You chip with backs and tight ends. You run screens and draws, but when we get behind you want to be ballpark 50 percent on third-down in the long haul. You'd like to think on third-and-1s and 2's you're going to be 80-90 percent. On third-and-mediums you're going to get about half, and when you get to third-and-more than 10 you're going to be 20 percent. At the end it works out to be about a half. Our deal is when we get behind the chains with a penalty, our first five drives, four times we go across midfield, one time we score on a long run, and the one time we don't we get a holding call. One time we get it down second-and-8 and we throw a quick pass. If we don't throw we get called for holding on a play that actually could have been a pick. We move the ball, but once we have a penalty or once we have a play that gets us second-and-12 we don't tend to overcome that real good. We did the other day with a couple runs. Our first third-and-6 we just ran the ball for about 12 yards, so again we just got to keep looking and putting our guys in matchups. You can say you want to throw on third-and-long. Defensively, we feel like we need to score some points offensively to help the defense, but then we're getting one-dimensional and throwing it too much. The ball is in the air and not on the ground and then we're hurting the defense. You keep trying to put it together and I'm watching some teams play that are playing some really strong, strong, strong defense and they're playing very vanilla offensively. When they put it all together it gives them a chance to win. We're not being good on either side of the ball right now. The offense is stressing the defense out, so we can't just go run, run, and throw it on third down. When we get third-and-8 or more we're not really good. We converted one the other day but most teams aren't that good and we're not playing as good as some teams are. We're going to be less than that, so our best drives are when first and second downs don't get us to third down or first and second downs get us to third-and-manageable as we stay on schedule. Or first and second downs get us to four-down territory as we did the other day with a fourth-and-2. We actually ended up calling the play wrong and the quarterback went the wrong way and we ended up losing a play there."
On the passing game:
"It's completely out of sync and that's real. How do we fix that? We keep practicing and staying positive, but point being we have to find some passing that works as we move forward."
On the mindset of the team:
"We're trying to stay positive and we're not pointing fingers. We're trying to practice hard, but with that being said, I think as we move forward we're seeing a lot more positive energy out of some of the young guys and that's nothing against the old guys. I've been doing some things with those guys as they're doing some of our post-practice work when guys are missing class and taking a leadership role. I didn't do a good job initially of getting our senior guys collectively doing things the way I think we need to do it.
"There are a lot of young guys working and that's where there is a lot of positive stuff. A lot of the young guys are doing well. We'll keep pushing those guys and we'll keep pleading for the old guys to finish strong. All of those guys are on track to graduate and they're going to be Hoosiers for life. We want them to finish with a good experience. We're playing some games down the stretch that we can win. Tough challenge this week, but it would be good to win it. We're going to keep practicing hard and keep practicing positive. I'd like to see some of those old guys embrace that. It's a two-way street though, so we need those guys to do it.
"When you're having success, whether it be personal or as an offense or defense or specialist, you create your own energy. I think our game is very stressful. You work awfully hard and there's a lot of stress on these guys. We've got them up early working hard, going to class, study hall at night until 10 p.m. I've got some guys working 13-hour days when I look at their class commitment, study hall commitment, and we've got four hours of time that's athletic related. I've got guys starting at six or seven in the morning and getting done at nine or 10 at night. When you're working hard, if you're having game success, school and everything goes well. If you're not having game success, I see guys falter. To me, the real deal as we're building forward is trying to find ways to stay positive, have success and keep working hard. That's what we're trying to do in practice, off the field, and some guys are struggling with it and some guys are doing well with it."
On the sophomores and juniors:
"Defensively, Greg Heban is playing well and he's a walk-on. I counted it the other day and we've got 13 walk-ons that are playing in starting roles, have earned scholarships or are on special teams. There are some guys like that that have complemented. You're getting a fair amount from the defensive tackle spots. Those guys are all juniors.
"(Javon) Cornley and (Ryan) Phillis played in the last game and it was the first game in a while that they had played. I think Bobby Richardson is playing well, maybe sparked them, because they didn't play the way we needed, but played better than what they had against a better opponent. They showed better there than they did against some of our non-conference folks, which was good to see. Those two guys weigh 240 pounds and that's too small. To me, when we've got a guy on a weight-gain plan and he's not gaining weight, that's no different than a guy not going to class. That's part of your commitment to get big enough and strong enough. Those two defensive ends are a little bit light.
"Offensively, you're really getting nothing out of the offensive linemen. We've got Billy Ivan and Peter Bachman on the scout team and trying to get them bigger. They're up in the 280 range and gaining. Skill-wise there's not much at receiver there. There are really not a lot of bodies. I think on paper when the seniors graduate we're going to have 16 redshirted freshmen and 16 true freshmen that will be sophomores. That's 32, and we're redshirting seven guys and that's 39. We'll sign a class of 25 and you can oversign a couple bodies. Really there are not a lot of bodies in that sophomore and junior crowd."
On Edward Wright-Baker:
"He hadn't played in a while and he was coming off an injury. He was playing against a good opponent. I thought he didn't set his feet, gave up on protection a little bit, and his timing was off. He hadn't been under fire in a while and you're going into a game against a team that's top five in the nation. Maybe he makes the opponent and the challenge a little bigger than it is, but you still have to play within rhythm and within yourself. He was just out of whack Saturday. At the same time, you've got to block. You're collectively all playing together as a unit. Those quarterbacks look good when the line's looking good, the receivers are running fast and they're catching balls, and we're in rhythm with the run game. In Big Ten play, we're completing 46.5 percent of passes and there are certain throws that we throw where there is nobody to read. You're just throwing a bubble pass and there's nothing to read. There's a fair amount of our offense where you're talking stress-free. There are so many of what used to be runs are now throws that are basically a run play. You ought to be completing two out of three of your passes in college football, if you're a solid pass team. People have understood over time how to spread the game out and throw a lot of high percentage passes. So to be at a 50-percent deal in our style, and you would think our receiver corps is going to be pretty decent going into this year, we should be much better than 47 percent. That's not acceptable."
On the team's health:
"Bobby (Richardson) went yesterday. He just got hit at the end of practice Wednesday and in one session got hit in the head. He was a little woozy and with the test and the way those things are you're pretty cautious. He was close Saturday, but again long term he did practice yesterday, but my concern yesterday was don't overdue it, with both Coach (Brett) Diersen and himself. He looked good and was out there in shoulder pads bumping around for the walk through. Damarlo (Belcher) has done some light work and kind of retweaked his knee. He was having a hard time walking this Saturday, so after he got hurt we put him in street clothes for the second half. He did practice a smidge and we will see day today if he's up to speed. Will Matte didn't practice yesterday and as we move forward he has not been ruled out. It'll be as we go through the week. He's got a sprained knee, not major, but at the same time can he play with it and be strong, stable and mobile?"
On positions needing to step up offensively:
"I think I would have been of the opinion that our receiver crowd and our offensive line with some seniors would have been the groups that would have led us. Those groups have been the two most inconsistent groups. You've got a tailback group where the best guy on the field on Saturday was a tailback that showed up here in July and you've got a freshman (D'Angelo Roberts) playing and then Matt Perez. Stephen Houston is getting some yards because he's actually running behind his pads with good body lean and he's taking three yards and getting five because he's running with velocity. I don't know if he's getting good blocking."
"I would have though the tight end group would have been a little bit better. Ted Bolser the other day had three penalties and played 15 plays. I got tired of seeing him hurt us, so I just let Max Dedmond play. He had two holds and a procedure, so that was enough of him. We just let Max play it out. You would think that here's a guy that had some touchdowns and would be a good player. He doesn't practice that way and doesn't play that way. A couple of guys or groups that I thought would be good have been pretty disappointing. That being said, the young receivers are improving. Bernard Taylor is getting better the more he plays.
On the younger guys:
"The young guys are the guys playing hard. Bottom line is you make your bed you and sleep in it. You make your attitude, you make your energy, you make your season. The unfortunate thing about what these guys do is that it is documented for life. Those are Big Ten games for life and with the Big Ten Network, those pictures will be played for life. You covering a punt play half-speed will be played for life when we replay the Big Ten seasons. That's the beauty of the Big Ten Network. We take tests, as you do as a student, but we play in front of a lot of people. There's a lot of stress on these kids. At the same time, moving forward, I'd like to see these guys embrace the challenge of being a good Big Ten team. Don't be happy about being a Big Ten team, start working and competing and taking the pride to fight and go out and have some fun and play Big Ten football.
"That's the challenge this week going to Iowa. So it's not all doom and gloom up here now. We need to play a heck of a lot better. We'll keep living in the bed that we keep making as long as we keep making that bed. We keep pleading, and in a positive way, approaching what we want to do. If some guys want to buy it they buy it, if not, it will take a little bit longer to get what it ought to be. We might have some issues, but the real issue is a team that doesn't play hard and play physical. That's not talent. It's not talent to hit somebody right and stroke somebody right. That's a mindset and a demeanor. That, to me, is the difficult thing as a coach that we're looking to do."
On the low punt in the Wisconsin game:
"Last week, they had a look where they were going to overload and we had it built in where if you saw it you could adjust the protection. Early in the game, one of our players that makes that adjustment got bluffed and changed the play. We typically just have our directional punt to the left or right that we normally do and we've been okay at it. At the same time, we did have a punt for a touchdown the other day. We have gotten away with what I think has some times not been good kick coverage because of some bad kicks. That one, we thought if they were going to compromise us up the middle and overload it we were going to move around it. It was an unbelievably poorly executed play. It's also our fault as coaches that we allowed a player to make an adjustment that maybe we shouldn't have done. That's not throwing him under the bus. We just gave him the opportunity to do something and he didn't need to. Once he did it, we also should have executed it and we didn't execute it."