The Hoosiers return to conference action at Illinois on Saturday.
Oct. 23, 2012
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana head football coach Kevin Wilson met with the assembled media at his weekly Tuesday afternoon press conference. Offensive coordinator Seth Littrell and co-defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler also discussed Saturday's Big Ten road contest at Illinois.
Below is a partial transcript:
"I thought our effort was pretty solid against Navy this past weekend. We gave up some plays and missed some plays, but in all phases I was pretty pleased with the way the kids battled. They came out, we had a couple tough losses over a couple of weeks and a lot of effort and emotion, to do it again was a positive. It showed that we're gaining in maturity, physically, mentally, how to keep bringing it. We're still not good enough, and we're still short and we're not satisfied by any means, but I do think with some of these guys, to do that, was a positive sign.
"Going through our stuff, special teams, I thought Mitch Ewald did a good job with all of his placements. His kickoffs were really good, and he was our special teams player of the game. We didn't have anything glaringly negative in kicking, didn't have anything glaringly pop out as a positive, didn't really make any big returns, didn't have anything going against us, it was a good kicking effort. We've had some games where we've made plays and it wasn't bad, it was just kind of even, looking back at it.
"Defensively, giving up the 31 points, it was a little bit more than we needed, of course. Zero turnovers created. We had a couple opportunities to get a couple guys out, getting some stops in the red zone, the guys are scoring just a little bit too much, and they were 50 percent on third down. We did tackle better in space, the fourth down stop at midfield, creating a scoring opportunity for the offense, so there were some positives there defensively. From the way we've been playing, our offense needs to be better, but I think it was a decent outing for the defense.
"Offensively, we had two turnovers that hurt us. One was really just not a good play call, just a combination of the routes that we had called and the way we called it did not match coverage. We kind of put our quarterback in a bad situation. We did have a fumble get out, we got it back, very lucky there. That would have been a huge play, so we weren't as good with the ball, which haunted us. We had some missed assignments that popped up at critical times. You're always going to have some busts, but we had some at critical times.
"We've got to sustain, finish some blocks, we're getting three, four or five in the running game, and we can maybe keep pushing to get more. I said the other day, if you go on the road and you kick field goals, it's just not a good formula. You need to get touchdowns and take their crowd out of the game, and to kick three field goals was disappointing. We were decent on third down. We did score every time we crossed the midfield line, which was good. But again, we just need to be more efficient offensively. Their style of play makes it a fast game.
"Greg Heban was our defensive player of the game, Will Matte, who's been solid all year, was our offensive player of the game. And our young guys are doing real well. (Our offensive scout players of the week were) Paul Phillips, who just came off of a broken foot, actually played tackle just last week to work the veer game and get up on linebackers, but Paul Phillips and David Nelson, who's a walk-on quarterback, was our option guy and has done a good job for us. And then Chase Parker, our linebacker, and Simeon Ikudabo, who's a walk-on from upstate (Marion), is a transfer walk-on, were our defensive scouts of the week.
"Disappointed to get the loss, still not victories, but I do think, to come back and play hard with good effort, to really have the game in our hands for the whole game shows that we're getting there, but again we're still short, so we have to keep pushing. We've challenged our coaches, we've challenged our players to keep bringing the energy to the practice field, and we need a good week because we have five remaining games in the Big Ten, three on the road, and we're really just focusing on one week at a time. This week, Illinois. They've had an off week, and like us, they're looking for a win, so it will be a tough battle. We need to have a good week and we need to take it on the road. We need to win. It's going to be a difficult challenge."
On whether the team needs to build the belief it is going to win:
"Probably, from where we are, a significant amount of that. That's a good question, and something we've talked about. We actually showed a couple clips the other day. One when it was 30-30, and we went for a maximum block. We actually showed them the effort and then we actually stopped the tape and there were eight guys looking to see if he made it instead of fighting to make the blocks. You get to a point where you start looking and hoping and wanting someone to make a play instead of you just playing as hard as you can. You do your job, whatever that job is. Clear out the route, backside reach blocks, play fake, handoff with good action to the quarterback, hit the gap, deep third, fit the A gap, whatever your assignment is, do your assignment. Again, we are in a position where in our time we went from maybe significant plays needed to win a game, now it's a play, but to do that, we've got to believe that we're going to make the plays. Everything we're doing, the way we practice, the way we've got things structured, creates winning habits. We try and have a reasonably disciplined lifestyle of what we're doing on the field, off the field, in the locker room, practice field, in the community, to do things right and transfer that into the games. Let's keep believing that what we're doing works. Let's keep doing it, and let's find a way to make it work. It's not one individual. There's not one play, and there was a turnover at the end of the game, there were many plays way before that, so the belief is a part of it, and you cannot hope. You cannot be frustrated. You cannot be negative. All you have to do is keep working, stay positive and let's go get it done. But talking about believing and actually believing are two different things. How we get to that point of truly getting that embrace, we'll see as we move forward."
On the fourth quarter offense:
"You're human. We had one play where we ran it to the field and had to get out to the boundary and at the end we said `flip it,' and ran the same concept the other way. We ran it two times in the game one direction and then we flipped it, and it's just human nature. It's just a guy being a guy, not being in tune, and it's not his fault. The first interception in the first half is actually a play where we had called a route against cover two and they played soft corners, played cover four and we ran a route that gets a little muddy, and if we had a different concept, because we package a lot of plays, we put our quarterback in the situation where it was a little bit more muddy than it needed to be. There are all kinds of dynamics in play calling. We ran a route at the end of the game wrong. The whole time I'm thinking, we should run it and we should go for it on fourth down. When we called the play we said we should run it here and go for it on fourth down because we don't want to give them the ball. ... You've got to have enough courage to do what you believe and trust the players and if it works, it works, and if it doesn't, it doesn't. If it doesn't you keep pushing. You don't point fingers, because collectively we can all, at the end of the day, change a lot of things we do. As coaches. we're working hard to make sure that we keep changing to fit our scheme, put our guys in good places, get the right guys on the field, put them in the right spot and keep giving them a chance to win. It's a collective effort, and players don't win and lose. Coaches don't win and lose. We all win and lose, and we all collectively do it together, and right now we're all collectively short, and that's nobody's fault. That's just where we are. We don't like it. We're not mad about it. We're not negative. We're going to keep pushing, and we're going to keep coming until we get there. And as soon as we get there, it's going to be hard to stay there. We have to keep pushing and pushing and pushing when we get there to keep coming and coming."
On this week's practices:
"Pretty good. Today wasn't quite as good as I would have liked to see. Mid-part of the year, we're tapering back a little bit and we kind of challenged the coaches and the players to have a little bit more energy. There's some balance in your step, a little bit on your toes, a little bit of pop. We're having good practices, and today it was a little sluggish. It wasn't bad. It's a Tuesday where we're starting our third downs, new blitz looks, cleaning up our formations, both sides of the ball. But this week, going into tomorrow, and last week was the same. I didn't think we were great Tuesday and Wednesday, but Thursday, because I think as you go through the week you want to build momentum, even though you taper back Thursday and Friday, you want to build momentum, getting to where you can hit the field playing fast, and as we go through this week we have to keep learning how to do that. In the past three or four weeks we've kind of done that, and we need to keep doing that as we go into this week. Today was okay, always would like to see it be better, but we're not playing on Tuesdays. As we go through the week I kind of challenge them. I'd like to see a little bit more. It's the time of the year where you've still got to hit, and you're still a little sluggish, but you've got to move your feet. You've got to play with some speed, timing for quarterbacks, all of that stuff. It's the time of the year, where as coaches, you slightly try to taper, but you don't want to lose the expression or the speed that you play the game with, without burning your team out."