Head coach Kevin Wilson talks about Saturday's home finale with Wisconsin.
Nov. 6, 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 home finale against Wisconsin.
Below is a partial transcript:
"Going back to Iowa, it was nice to get a win because we haven't had a lot of those. We started poorly, falling down 14. Especially back-to-back plays when they have a nice touchdown drive. We break down coverage and then we throw a pick-six, so we quickly fall behind 14-0. Good sign of maturity, at least we kept battling, staying in there. We went from 14-0 to 14-3, then we blow two scoring opportunities where we got it fourth-and-1 and decided to go for it and we don't execute a play cleanly and then we miss a field goal. We still have some situations where the game can get away from us but our defense kept battling. Eventually our offense did get in rhythm at the end of the half to go 14-10. We played a decent second half, we can still play better. Offense has been a little out of sync a couple weeks. We played good defenses. We'll continue as we play our opponent this week and other teams. We play some great defenses. Our offense needs to pick it up. Defensively, we're making strides, still giving up a couple plays. Pass game will get stressed by Wisconsin this week, but good performance, good win, came back a couple times. The kids are showing some resiliency. I think we're figuring out that we don't have to play perfect and we don't have to hope for things to happen, we make it happen.
"Players that played well. Special teams - Kyle Kennedy a couple weeks has shown up on the kickoff cover. Isaiah Roundtree - big return got us going after they took the lead on a nice return. Greg Heban was outstanding in the two units he played on. He's always playing well. Those guys on special teams were recognized for their performances. Defensively, several guys played well, but it kind of came back to Adam Replogle. On the third-and-2 stop, everybody was talking about Antonio Marshall's pick but it started on first-and-10 at the 10 and he has a 2-yard loss to make it second-and-12 and then third-and-12 that got them to a passing situation. Adam actually recovered the fumble on the last play of the game and it's 34 yards downfield. The guy is a great practice player. He's what we want guys to look like on and off the field. He's a special guy playing at a high level and he's doing it week after week. Larry Black played a lot better inside as well. Offensively, a couple good performances. Cam (Coffman), the way he settled down really strong at the end of the first half and a good second half. Cody Latimer had a big day with some touchdown scores and did well. Paul Phillips, who was injured this year, would have been in the mix to be a back-up tight end. Missed a great deal of preparation, but is back at full speed, looking good at tight end, which is great. We're going to need him down the road. Andre Booker, a walk-on running back was our offensive scout of the week. Defensively, Bryce Werskey, a freshman, and Mike Replogle, who travels, plays special teams. Those guys played well.
"It was a good win and now it's on to Wisconsin. Good football team, good program. They're back-to-back champions, have lost three games, each game by three points. Lost to three really good programs in Michigan State, Nebraska, and the way Oregon State is playing, on the road. They've lost two of their three on the road. Outstanding football team in all facets of the game, that's why they win championships. A program that we respect, much like the program we played last week. A program that a lot of things they do we try to emulate in the way you prepare and how you practice and how you recruit and how you coach and eventually how you play. We're excited to have the opportunity Saturday. As we go through it each day and prep, we've had two good days of work and we'll look forward to having a good week and to seeing where it stacks up Saturday at 12."
On whether efforts in practice have improved throughout the season:
"I think it's really good. Even a few weeks back when we weren't getting the results. We thought we had good practice habits and we're going to keep coaching and preparing like a winning team. We weren't getting the winning results, but we weren't playing sloppy football. We were playing better. We've actually had, in two of the last three games, four turnovers, which are the only games we've had multiple turnovers, which is against Navy and last week. We're not executing or playing our best, but our attitude, our work habits, I think the kids believe in our process now, in what it's all about. I think they're seeing results, the fruits of their labor. If you're going to be a good program, you're going to start playing well at home. You're going to start playing well at the end of the season. You don't play well if you don't prepare. I think that because of the way we've prepared, they've gotten good individual performances, now we're getting good group and team performances. I like the start of this week. It's been the start we need. We need to keep adding as we move forward."
On the need to start running the ball better:
"No doubt. I think again, we're managing ourselves with our tight end blocking. Another thing is Ted (Bolser) had another good game, but he hasn't blocked as well as we need to. Offensive line, we're still young. With that being said, I think we're just physically a little underdeveloped. We're playing a stout defensive line that goes 339 and 319 inside. Two outstanding d-ends and the best players on their team are the two guys that stand behind and play in back. Their front is outstanding, much like Iowa, they're going to make it difficult to run, but when we lost Tre (Roberson) we lost a running quarterback and sometimes where we are physically, that was an element that's a plus right now. Some of the short passing is taking the place of some of the things we need in the run game. We need the run game to definitely pick up. It was pretty good at Navy, but Navy was dropping eight and defending the pass, so you needed to run it. The last two weeks it's been one of our Achilles heel and it will be an extreme concern Saturday. The structure of Wisconsin's defense and the personnel and what they do, it's going to be a challenge. We need our line and backs. One of the things of improvement, we actually thought our perimeter blocking, even though we had several receivers, Ted Bolser and other receivers have nice games in the catching department, we felt our perimeter blocking was not very good. You always say when you don't run the ball it's the offensive line, well a lot of teams cancel gaps and make you get to the perimeter and if your receivers and tight ends can't hold up their part. It takes 11 guys to run it and 11 guys to throw it."
On how important guys like Will Matte are to the program:
"He, Adam (Replogle), Larry (Black), all those guys. There are five scholarship seniors. Charles Love has kept a good attitude as a back-up tight end. (Nicholas) Sliger, who rotates. Those five guys in particular have been strong. Will and Adam in particular have kind of been our captains each week. We didn't really vote at it, it was kind of we'll do it at the end of the year and let the team pick at the end. But they're the two guys, if you watch us practice, we come from the sidelines sometimes, we run out, he's the first guy sprinting out every time. It's like a race and he's going to be first and he's a fifth-year guy. A little squatty lineman. You wouldn't expect it, but he loves to play. He's in our office. He has an easy schedule since he's basically graduated. He's up there non-stop watching tape. Again, his practice habits are awesome, his attitude is awesome and he's played very well for us this year. As a coach, sometimes you want to point and say, that's what it looks like. We have a few examples of guys that we like, the way they're preparing is really helping the young linemen. Then you watch Adam Replogle, Greg Heban, those guys."
On how Matte has grown at his position:
"Well, by the time we got here last year, he played a lot but he was just really getting used to our system, language and terminology. He was a pretty solid guy a year ago, but I think (offensive line coach) Greg Frey does an awesome job. I think Will is a pretty good extension of Greg. I think they've connected and they understand each other. Will is what I would call a good mentor. You can see him, when we're not on the field, talking to guys, coaching guys. The next time you see when he comes to the sideline, he'll start like hey, I felt that guy, I'm going to push him next time, I'm going to push it over, hey, let's bump this twist off. He has played a lot, he's very mature, and he's a quality player for us."
On how good a communicator Matte is on the sidelines:
"Now we go so fast it's hard to communicate because we don't sit there and have a conversation a lot of the time. If you're sitting up there pointing and identifying everybody, you don't go fast. It's not like our center makes a ton of calls. Sometimes he does, but a lot of times we're going fast and it's more group alertness. What we're doing off the field, Will's a great student. He's doing great short term here, he'll do great in his whole life. He's a special kid."
On Cameron Coffman's adjustments against Iowa:
"He was indecisive early. I don't know why, but again I think his DNA, his nature, he's a calculated, cautious guy. You've got to dare greatly, you just can't cross the line, you can't cross the edge. Nobody said anything to him. Unless (quarterbacks coach) Kevin Johns did, I didn't say anything to him. It was just, hey, go back in. He hasn't been here that long. He's our back-up quarterback. So is the other guy. They're learning how to play. They're both competing, they both do great in practice with each other, they both are preparing off the field in a good way as far as tape study and getting to know things. They're getting better everyday, they're a long way from what we need them to be, but they manage what we're trying to do in a good way. Why he wasn't better to begin with, I don't know. He wasn't horrible. He's never been that bad. Both those guys are, it's not by design, they are so dead even in my opinion. Half the time I call them the wrong name. Half the time I say Cam and mean Nate in practice. Even though they're different heights and different numbers, I have a hard time. We're very fortunate. They are both decent young players and if we do a good job, they will get a lot better. We'll get number five (Tre Roberson) back and we'll keep having competition and that's what we're trying to do. We'll have a lot of fun moving forward as we keep building."
On what the staff is looking for from each quarterback:
"Scores. Touchdowns. There's a coach years ago at a high school from North Carolina, a long time ago, they had about 200 kids on JV. The way they went about it was you went out with the first team offense, if you didn't score then the second team went out and the third team. With the offensive linemen I'd go with a group and if that group didn't score, I'd put a new guy in. If you wanted to keep playing you guys have to score. Really, it's point production in the last three weeks. In general, our point production has dropped off a little bit. We have to pick it up. It'll be a challenge as good as Wisconsin is. It's really don't turn the ball over and get us in the end zone."
On whether he's ever handled a two-quarterback system like he is now:
"We don't make as big a deal about the starting lineup, unless you really separate yourself. To me, we're a very average team with a lot of young players that need to get better and we tell them that everyday. For example, Stephen Houston fumbled with the game on the line, that's why D'Angelo (Roberts) was in at the end of the game, because if you fumble, you don't play. We also recognized Stephen because for nine weeks in a row he had been getting in the end zone and really five or six weeks in a row he had a great week of practice. Unfortunately, he had a fumble. It was just a botched handoff and the ball got behind him and bounced off his pads. It was really just a poor exchange and nothing against Stephen. Kevin Johns asked me Saturday, who's going to start at quarterback and are you going to tell them? I said I'm not telling them anything. We're just going to walk out there and somebody is going to play. We have 11 and someone is going to take the snap. I think they're both pretty good and I want them both to be better so they don't feel like one is better than the other and one is worse than the other. When you watch them play, it's a blessing. They throw so many similar plays, they like a lot of the same stuff. It's about the same answer. It helps us practice similar things. If you've got a run-around quarterback and a drop-down quarterback, you are practicing different styles of offense with the ones and twos. We're just repping our offense. We didn't try to recruit it that way. We didn't have either one of these guys early on. We're lucky we got them both. We're excited about what they're going to be. It's not a controversy, it better not be. All I tell them that as a quarterback you have to be a good team leader and that's 24 hours a day, seven days a week, everyday, and you need to be a great teammate. Nate (Sudfeld) was very excited for Cam at the end of that game. I think they both respect each other and they're both pushing each other. I don't know if we're managing it good or bad. We're just trying real hard to get better everyday, that's all we're trying to do. It's kind of fun. That's all we're doing. We're a long way from where we need to be. We're just going to keep working. Those guys embrace that and that helps the team. The running backs, Stephen Houston started embracing it, helped the team. Adam Replogle took it all and is now taking some guys with him defensively. Greg Heban took it all. We're still light years from what we want, but we've got some guys who have bought it, they're drinking it, and we're going to keep pushing it. Those two quarterbacks are really; it's been pretty cool. I'd like to tell you that we're doing something fancy, but we're not.
On if the guys are better during certain situations of the game now:
"One of the plays that no one noticed, at the end of the first half, right at the end of the two-minute drive, we threw a screen pass, and we had a corner pass to Cody (Latimer). We threw a hitch pass to Cody to the field and the guy hit him on about the 41. He carried a guy 10 yards on his back. He got, on his own, 10 more yards. Instead of a 20-yard pass play, he went 10 yards carrying a DB on his back. That was pointed out as one of our great plays. That was just an effort play."
"We're watching tape of an opponent that's really good, that's used to winning a bunch of games. For us, you guys can say this is a big game, well, they're all big, if not then I don't think we would be playing them. Maybe the spring game isn't that big, but as a coach you want to make it big. Outside of that, if it's a game you want to make it a big one. We don't even talk about the game a lot until the end of the week. We just talk about the preparation, to try to be at our best. Our best needs to keep getting better because where we're at, our best isn't real good. With our youth and lack of experience, our best does nothing but continue to get better and better and better and it needs to. If we're not, we're never going to be a good program. Our whole deal is we're just trying to add up consecutive good working days. Hopefully that spurs into some victories and results on Saturdays. We have zero chance on Saturday if we don't have a good week. We don't have a chance this Saturday if we didn't have a chance weeks ago and months ago. We have a bunch of productive days of guys just working hard, doing things the right way, and it's just adding up. We're just going to keep adding days and see where that takes us. That's not coach speak, we're just not good enough, very few people are good enough, to look at the end. If you do, you miss where you're going and what you're doing. We're just totally engrained in blitz pick up today and third-and-long. Tomorrow will be two-minute drills and short yardage and goal lines and kickoff cover and punt team. This is just what we do to come out and play and just keep trying to play better. It's kind of nice we played well and got a couple Ws, but we have a long way to go and we're going to keep working. Regardless of this week, we need to keep getting better. After that, we need to keep getting better."