Kevin Wilson Press Conference Part 2

In part 2 of Kevin Wilson's weekly press conference he answers questions from the media. Find out why he thinks Michigan State is so good at stopping the run.

This is part 2 of Indiana coach Kevin Wilson's weekly press conference from Monday, Oct. 7 in the week leading up to the IU Michigan State game where he takes questions from the media:

(I know you don't want any kind of contentment after the win, but is there a sigh of relief to have this team that's come close so many times, finally having that feeling and getting over the hump?)

WILSON: Not as much me, but just really kind of just for the guys. Those guys have been working and it's not cliché, because if they weren't doing good, we'd shoot you straight. When you're practicing hard you're asking them to make some commitments, huge summer commitments. You're out there hitting at a pretty good clip. You're giving up a lot of things and sacrificing. You keep hitting your head on the wall, and you're on the wrong ledger.

Those guys have been solid and stayed with us. I'm just really kind of pleased for a lot of those guys that have been with us all three years. Whether it be the seniors or those fourth year guys or some of those true third year guys like Latimer and Wynn and those guys. They missed that first winter, but they've been with us. We've got a core group that's been with us for three years. Some of them are fifth year players, some of them are fourth year players and a lot are third year players. I like the way we practice. I believe in what we're doing, but you worry about your team staying with us, and they were. But the more results you have, the easier that's going to be. So just really pleased.

Hopefully on the back end too, hopefully pleased for our fans and they'll realize that we are making some strides. It's going to be a lot easier if we're together. We have great home environments. We have two tough road games and an open date and then come back for three out of five and it will be nice to finish with some energy in the building, because we had a lot of energy Saturday. We had a lot on our sideline. I think as it went, our crowd kind of picked up. We had some energy in the second half of the stadium. That was great. Our players appreciated it. I appreciated it. I think it really helped our team.

How important will it be for those players to be able to draw on that experience of getting over the hump and going forward?

WILSON: We've been saying before we needed confidence. The more you win, the more confident you can be. Something's got to come first. We were trying to give some backhanded confidence, practicing like a winning team. Treating it like a winning team, because they were working like one. We weren't getting the results, but we thought our plan was in place. But you'd like to think it would repeat.

But as soon as we go, we get patted on the back. We don't prepare the right way, and we just don't come back. If you're a good team, what we did Saturday wasn't to me unusual. What to me is unusual is can we do it again because we haven't shown that. So I would be interested as a coach and as leaders and as players, and it's going to be a tough challenge. We're not going to be consumed with going to win. We're going to be consumed with how we prepare in the process of going up and putting forth a good effort and playing as hard as we can. We'll check the scoreboard out and see if we coach right and make the right calls and make the right plays. At the end of the day, I'd like to see if our kids can handle the success of a winning team. We're going to win some, but we've got to learn how to handle it if we're going to be a winning team.

(As a follow up on that, can you teach or coach how to deal with success because so far this year you've been a little bit like this. These guys have been getting patted on the back all week. How do you coach that dealing with success?)

WILSON: I felt in preseason we were going to have success, and I talked early, but it was talk. To me, history repeats itself, if you don't learn from your mistakes. We're going back looking as coaches at our preparation. We've asked the players.

Again, there was a really strong positive amount of energy last week. We didn't overwork or overtrain in that open date week. We really looked at ourselves and what to do. That was a little bit of our direction last night. We saw a lot of mistakes, lot of things defensively. We've still got a bunch to clean up, offensively getting in rhythm and getting some first downs and getting some drives, kicking was better. But it was one week better. We haven't been consistent in a kick game. We talked about it a while back, but yesterday we really just emphasized we're going to be the same team until we can back it up, not back it up with having to win. This is going to be a tremendous test for us. This is a good football team defensively. They're coming in on their own offensively and going on the road. This is a nice challenge. But really, it's going to be how do we accept the challenge? The first word, as we went with our team, when you're attacking something, it means accept the challenge. So accept the challenge of playing a good team. Accept the challenge of having success, and now put it together and go see if you can play your best again. We'll see.

(When you guys haven't handled success well, what have you seen from the guys during the week? Can you tell on a Monday, oh, man, here we go again, these guys are too built up? Have you seen evidence of that?)

WILSON: No, I thought that first week at Navy we were just laughing like it was easy towards the end of the week. We were in a good mood. You need to have confidence and feel good. But I don't know if you're in a good mood when you're about to go out there and throw your body around and smash your body around a little bit. I don't know if he's Chuckles the clown kind of guy.

Missouri, I thought they were a good football team. We needed to play well and we just didn't. I thought we were playing a good team, but not playing our best. We knew we came up short. We're not going to ask what we did right. We'll look at what we did right last week and build on it and see if we are man enough to have the type of week to go give us a chance to win the game. The way we prepared and the energy we brought last week gave us a chance. We still had to make plays. Fortunately we did.

This week we're playing a good football team. We need the same process this week. We'll still have to make plays and see if we have a chance. It's going to be a strong challenge for us.

( Last year's Michigan State game enter into the preparation at all in terms of first half versus second half last year? A bit of a different game? Do you look at that to see what worked and what didn't?)

WILSON: As much as anything to me, we came out with some energy. I don't know if an early kick did, they brought it in the second half, made their adjustments and we didn't. To me that's why they're a winning football program. They did the things you needed to come back and win a game. We have had a lot of opportunities; we were hoping to and trying to. Now we need to be at a point to.

Now you get on the road, and it's not that big a deal. We'll play four great road games, first of many. I actually like being on the road. Sometimes there are less distractions. You've got them all together. It is what it is. We kind of communicate in no huddle. So I don't know if it's a communication deal. We do need to communicate better defensively. Fortunately when you're on the road most people are quiet when their offense is out there. So that shouldn't be a huge deal for our defense. When you play on the road, you have communication issues. Outside of that, it's the same field that's keeping your eyes focused on the target and what you've got to do.

Again, all week, I think last year, again, it's a different team. They graduated a lot of players. We're different than we were last year as well with a lot of new guys in. I can say it's where we were from last week, it's building this week. If you look at them, they had a great week a week ago. They came off their open date at 3 1, knowing that they were doing a lot of things well, a lot of things work, watched their performance, and knowing about Coach Dantonio. I'm personally reasonably close with a couple of those coaches. I worked with them or coached them. So I know a couple of those guys. Know how they coached. You can tell they did a great job. They're pointing in the right direction. They've got big goals. We do too. Our main goal is to show that we can have back to back good days, and back to back good weeks. We're going to go through and worry more about us and attacking this week. Then schematically attacking Michigan State more than it's on the road and all that. It's going to be a strong challenge.

(What makes Michigan State so strong in stopping the run? What is it specifically they do?)

WILSON: Combination. I mean, they got what you want. Personnel is awfully good and schemes are awfully good. So they've done what they've done on time. Coach Dantonio, head coach, put a defensive guy, always has their defensive coordinator, Pat Narduzzi. He is the best or one of them in this league and in the country. He's a friend. I worked with the guy. They structurally know where to lineup. They know where they're supposed to be. They know where their eyes are. They know their schemes. They're really strong in their blitz package of when they blitz and how they blitz.

They do a great job. A lot of it comes from Pat's ties that he's taken to an extremely other level. But to Coach Hoeppner, who I had a chance to go against a long, long time. He knew how to cheat and make somebody play with their left hand. Load that box up, where your eyes need to be, and your gaps need to be, and play structurally really, really good with really great defense. They're good up front. Max Bullough, their linebackers, their edge players are awesome. They should have graduated three years ago. You see the same cats every week. Their corners like it down. They're competitive. One of the great safeties from up the road, a Ben Davis kid. They put 15, 16 kids out there that can play and hunt. Their defense is going to be a great challenge.

(A lot of that press coverage and one on one coverage. How much of this week is maybe about challenging some individual guys to basically go out there and get the best from the man across from them? )

WILSON: That's a part of it because that's what they do. But you've got to have 11 guys still if your protection is breaking down. Quarterback's not putting the ball on target. You're not calling the right stuff. It's not just one guy making that play. It takes 11 guys to make the extra point. It's not just the kicker. You've still got to block your gaps and do your job. When you're doing something right, takes 11 guys to play good run defense. It takes 11 guys to pass. It takes 11 guys to throw it. If you're throwing it well, your line is pass blocking. It takes 11 guys.

Yeah, there are some one on one match ups, and they'll be competitive match ups. The way Michigan State plays is they compete. They get up in your grill. They get up in your face. They do what they do, and they do it every week. They do it no matter who it is, and they do it good and make you compete. There are going to be competitive plays. Their type of defense is they make a lot of competitive plays so that you're going to have to. Same deal defensively. We've got to find a way to get stops and not let their offense get in rhythm like they did last week against Iowa, because I think that was the big thing last week is their offense got in rhythm, and even gave them more gaps last week.

(You guys had good offensive balance Saturday. How important is it for you guys to gain some form of balance? )

WILSON: It's always easier because of what happened to Missouri. It's just easier when guys start really locking you down and getting your eyes on receivers. Really pinning their ears back and getting your quarterback throwing on his heels. The first pick in the Iowa game by one of the great corners was really caused by protection. The quarterback couldn't get through the throw.

So some dude that no one even knows that's fighting on a twist, coming through, getting a hand. The quarterback couldn't transfer his weight, ball comes up short. He says great pick by that guy. It was a team play. If you get one dimensional, it's hard. These guys are going to make it tough. They're really good. Because of that, they have a chance every game because they're going to play great defense. That being said for us, our defense needs to be better. We've got to find a way not to beat ourselves on offense and making enough plays to be on the right side of the ledger. We'll only have a chance as a team. It's not about our offense against their defense. Our defense last week, their offense really matched up well against an outstanding Iowa defense. Controlled the game, and that's where that game really went Michigan State's way. They played very well as a team last week.

(You talked on Saturday, you mentioned that you're kind of always viewed as an offensive coach and you've got to coach the whole team. Did you make it more a point during the bye week to spend more time working with defense? Have you tried to do that just in general and put more of your focus working with those guys and making sure you're doing what you want to do?)

WILSON: A little bit. Sometimes maybe even trying to organize practice and get on the field with them. Sometimes the coaches go with the quarterbacks. Coach Johns has quarterbacks and receivers, Carter does great as a receiver guy helping him. Sometimes I was over with those guys.

We try to work practice where I kind of go over there, and the I kind of stood where the umpire was right between the linebackers and started yelling. Let's go. Get the call. Get lined up. I don't have any defensive answers, but there is an attitude and effort that we need to play with. It was bothering me that I didn't see us playing as clean as we needed to play.

It wasn't bad. It just wasn't what I thought we needed. I didn't give them a bunch of answers. I did say here's what they're doing, and what I think they're going to attack you with. As an offensive coach, I study offenses. I'll sit there and watch plays with them. Okay, right now it's this or this. As an offensive guy, you can get it right. As you guys as fans you get ready to say they're going to do this play. You guys call the play. He's getting ready to run it up the middle again. Everybody calls plays, right? So I do that. You watch plays.

But I ask our defensive guys to be more assertive, more confident, get our kids to speak up and be louder. If you're a confident team, confident person, you're loud. You don't have to brag, but you're loud. When you have a new kid at school and you go to school, you're real quiet and you put your head down and walk away from people. A confident person without bragging kind of has a presence. We talked last week about having more defensive confidence, being more vocal, being more simple so our kids weren't thinking. That's all I talked about with those guys. I tried to get into a couple meetings and have an offensive view of what I think and what I wanted to see. Then I went over to practice a little bit just to have a little presence. But I didn't give them any answers. I said here's what I think you need to do. Now you figure out how to do that. Coach Mallory and his guys did that; not me.

(When you say you don't give them any answers, what do you mean exactly?)

WILSON: I'm not a defensive guy. Coach Stoops said all the time, don't listen to me. Here's what I think as an offensive guy, but I don't have that view. When you're looking at a picture, there are different views that people have. Randy Walker had an offensive view of running a program. Coach Stoops had a defensive view. I saw that as an offensive person. I'm trying to get this offense to be a little more of a head guy. We're doing everything we can to try to give our defensive players and coaches, as we still run our offense and practice, what can we do to help bring our defense along? We've worked very hard in the positive way in the open date.

Again, I credit those guys. Here are the problems I see I think you should fix. We're not getting lined up right. We're misaligned. How many guys on this play didn't do the right thing? Two guys, three guys. We'll have errors, but we're having too many. If we're having too many errors, that's on me. That's on us. Let's simplify. We tried to make it easier.

(Do you spend more time trying to get that mindset or get that view so you can look at it from both angles?)

WILSON: I don't know if you ever to me you're going to see it the way you see it. Shoot, there are a lot of times my eyes go to the box because I used to be a line coach. I coach quarterbacks, but I watch their feet, watch your feet, watch your read, get your body aligned like a golfer, because I understand that.

I can't sit behind the quarterback and say you should throw here, because they start moving that way. I never saw that. I saw what guards and centers see. I saw those. You have visions. You have things you see. To me you've got your view. My thing was, I don't know if I'm ever going to see things, but there is a presence. I think our team needs to play as a complete team. I felt last week I appreciate the way our special teams and our defense and our offense played because it was a little more of how I feel and I'd like our program to be. Not being selfish, but the way I think we ought to play as a unit. That's why I think that's the way it ought to look. Still wasn't perfect. Still gave up some yards, too many third down conversions. Didn't convert enough third downs. We had errors, fourth down scores. We had some things in the kicking game weren't perfect. But it felt like something how I think we ought to play.

(The true freshman on the defensive side of the ball, are they developing the way you want? What would you like to see more out of those guys? )

WILSON: I think they're doing well. It's still, one of my comments is I think I'm mothering you too much. Turn your work in, be nice to people. Clean up your locker. You're a man, don't act like an 8th grader. You know the rules, do the rules. If you mess up, that's our fault.

Okay, we'll take a little on and off the field. There are guidelines and rules. You understand how to practice. You've got to get on the field. But it's a two way street. They're doing okay. They're gaining on it. But I do think some of those things they're talking about in simplifying our communication helps those guys. Because athletically they're doing well.

(In that vein, have they maybe gotten some of those front seven rotations to a point where you feel like time of possession isn't as important of a stat because you control a lot of fresh bodies? Or you can keep legs fresher because you've got deep rotations along the defensive line and at linebacker? Maybe in part because of some of those young guys?) WILSON: We are playing a number of those guys like Marcus Oliver and T.J. both played a lot at Mike. Cormier was back practicing last night. So we'll get him back in the mix, and Alex Todd has held up and done well.

But, again, time of possession, we've got to quit, not being quick, but you can't go three and out. You can't turn it over. This is a team that probably leads the country in three and outs that we're playing. They do a great job of getting you off the field. That would be a formula for disaster, so it's going to be hard to get your drive started and have some success. But I mean a part of that is getting defensive stops on offense. You can't go three and out. We do our tempo, but part of our tempo is one of the reasons we scored as many points as we scored. That's part of our formula to win. I don't know if we're talented and built to win 17 14 right now. Maybe not our dynamic physically with our line playing and the structure of our guys. We just got to put it together. Put together a chance to maybe score and we've got to push that deal.

(From a health standpoint how are you doing with David Kaminski?)

WILSON: Good. David got a knee injury, but I don't know if it's a surgical knee. I'm waiting to go get an MRI read. I didn't hear this morning. I would anticipate we'll have again the same crowd. Again, Peyton Eckert's back has not responded, so we'll have the same two guys at tackle with Spriggs and Evans.

We'll have Reed at right, Bernard back at left, and Collin Rahrig at center. Other than that, offensively, tight ends, backs, everybody's good to go.

Defensively, Griffen has got a pulled groin. Didn't play last game, but playing seven, eight linebackers, so we were able to get away with that one. Cormier's back in the mix, which helps the front.


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