Kevin Wilson Press Conference: Pre Purdue

This is a transcript from Kevin Wilson's weekly press conference previewing the Old Oaken Bucket game with Purdue.

Here is a transcript from Indiana coach Kevin Wilson's press conference Monday previewing Purdue and looking back at Ohio State.

(Opening remarks)

COACH WILSON: Going back to Ohio State last Saturday. Tough day over there for weather and a good opponent. Tough loss. We had a much better effort across the boards in competing, and doing things a little bit more positively. We had 92 offensive plays, 442 yards. Only two touchdowns. So that equates to basically for every 46 plays we scored a touchdown. Which in your efficiency, we didn't turn the ball over, you don't have the negativity there, but you're moving the ball and not getting points. The field is 100 yards long, for every 220 yards long we get a touchdown. We have to go up and down across the magic line a couple of times. Three opportunities in the first half with nothing. All five opportunities in the second half. We go to the 9-yard line, get a holding call. We had some success moving it. The only thing we ever talked about other than W's, and turnover ratio, what you're getting and giving up. Plus 3 in turnover ratio. And points scored and points given up. You can see those stats, and you have X percentage yards. Points equate to W's, and possession of the ball equates to the W's. We're on the wrong side of the ledger because of our inability to score. One hundred sixty-two yards rushing. But 40 negative yards. Didn't have as much balance as you want. I think with the weather and the scoring zone, our inability to stay on schedule at the 35 and 25 yardage, when we got third and long. Defense played a lot harder. We've got a lot to improve on. We caused three turnovers. Led by Marcus Oliver, Raphael Green had four tackles, two tackles for loss. He was recognized by the Big Ten as one of their co freshman player of the week. Raphael played his best game the week before at Wisconsin. Against good opponents, against good line of scrimmage teams. Both of those teams have quality offensive linemen, and pride themselves, I think we can see that Raphael and Darius Latham, those young guys are gaining on it. And the true freshman Marcus Oliver. And Raphael is a redshirt guy.

Snap pulled us left on the short side, kind of directionally kicking. Our timing placement, scheme a little bit off. And they had a really nice player, makes a great block off the backside. 14 0 game, 7:20, 7:30 left in the second quarter, that gave them a short field and got the ball on the 8 or 9 yard line and two plays to score.

We missed two field goals. I thought Mitch hit them well, watching them on the tape. The first one is rock solid, it's cold, snowy, both those kicks were in the weather, about as bad as it could be, and the wind was blowing, a crosswind and the first one he played it the wind pushed it into the bar. You can see the ball pushed and just hit it. Missed it. And hit it well. Came back the next one and played for the wind to push and it didn't push it. Another one well hit. I don't call it bad luck. Two kicks in tough situations. No difference. No different when you've got an open jumper, you take a good look and it hits the back of the rim. Got nothing against him. He's been a great, great player.

We got nothing in returns. We really made no plays in the kicking game. We had the one negative that hurt us. These players were recognized with winning performances on the offense. Collin Rahrig coming back off his back injury, did well, Shane was solid for us and competed and played well. And Kofi Hughes stepped up and had a really strong game for us. Finished with 9 catches, 120 yards. Was also good without the ball. And we recognize Kofi Hughes as our player of the game.

Defensively our performances, Raphael Green, Marcus Oliver that I mentioned, also T.J. Simmons, Mark Murphy, we thought played well for us. Our player of the game was Raphael. Like I said he was recognized by the Big Ten.

Special teams we had no winning performances. Snap placement, pulling us to the short side. We've got to clean that up. We had no winning performances, nothing other than that. No one stuck out at a high level.

Our offensive scouts, Billy Ivan, fourth year guy is doing a heck of a job for us. One of the best on the team. Set to graduate this year. He's been awesome, down the line snapping and punt snapping and down the line O-lineman, has gotten that award about four times. Isaac Griffith did a nice job for us. He plays receiver, but we used him, he played quarterback early in his career, and we used him some. Also Replogle and Ben Bach.

We're sitting here, 4-7. Purdue coming up. Rival game. A lot of people say that, but we are blessed to have as a team a very strong rival, quality opponent. With fans that know each other. You're lucky when you have. Seniors, 4-7, Bucket Week, Senior Week, have your best week. Got 10 true seniors and fourth year guys that I think are potentially on track, and in talking about I think some of these guys are going to graduate early that are spot playing or not playing a lot that we'll recognize as our seniors this week. It's the real deal, it's an opportunity to play Purdue. I know this year record wise, you can say they're struggling, if you look at their record. When you look at them on tape I know their coaches and a lot of them well, have competed against them and respect them, watched how they played here recently, last week, defensively flying around, offensively, looked like we did several years ago with some young players, and they're getting better, competing, and opportunity last week to get a W.

So I like the way their team is playing. I think it's going to be a challenge. Again, we're sitting here four wins, needing five. We're not going to be a bowl team. We need to have success, have a great week, and put ourselves in position to have our best week of practice and our best play against our rival. As much as anything prepare as coaches and as a total team to have a good week, and wrap up a season where we made strides, but cosmetically short. We need to finish this thing on a positive note.

And again, a lot of seniors that have done well for us when you get those guys out here. Tough challenge. Rival challenge. And no matter where you are, you throw out the records and all those coaching clichés. We need a great crowd. Our students are on break, they're opening up the dorms. After being home all the way through Thanksgiving, they'll want to get back on Friday and get rolling. We've got our alums here. Looks like the weather is going to cooperate. Pushing the upper 40s. I think we've got a little cold November nip out of the way. I know the Big Ten Network a year ago went through rivals and rated the rivalries in the Big Ten. And the Old Oaken Bucket is the third one. For us it's the game. Red letter games and goals, but when you're building a program, you want to have success against your rival and in our time we came up short. We need to have a good week and play well, and give ourselves a chance to see if we can be in position to win the game this week.

(Now that you've been here a few years, do you feel that rivalry more personally than you did say your first couple of years?)

COACH WILSON: Well, no matter who you are, and when you're trying to build your program, again, we won't publicize or talk a lot with our team, but there's certain goals and standards we're shooting for. We don't red letter games and circle them. And when you meet someone it's blah, blah, blah beat Purdue. We've got so many Indiana kids here, I think the teams that do well in this game, again here or the Purdue teams, it's the teams that embrace the week and the players, it's the preparation and the physical and the emotional and the mental side of getting prepared to have a strong week. There's a lot of great rivals and there's a lot of them this week that are played. For us as a senior team and year three senior, 4-7, and to some degree cosmetically disappointed where we're at. We've got a chance to finish on a strong note against a strong rival opponent. I've got a lot of respect for their coaches. Now that we're the in state deal you're going to recruit against them, and for our seniors and for our fans, I know it's a big game for so many people in the state.

(How important is to have that rivalry game this week, especially since you don't have that bowl goal in front of you anymore?)

COACH WILSON: You know, there's certainly rivalries at the end of the year. But across the board, this is an in state rivalry. I remember it was back when you were in our era there's only, quote, one game on, and the best week was really the Thanksgiving week, because you'd see Oklahoma and Nebraska. And Alabama, Auburn. And Southern California, SC game. They're all, quote, the games. And in our state this is the game.

I've been very fortunate as a player, coach that almost every school I've been on, it's actually been a strong rivalry. This is a strong one. They've had their fair share of wins, and won more than we have We have to rise our team up and compete and have a good week and do what we can to put the I on the link for us this week.

But as a player, and as a coach, you will remember a lot of games a lot of memories, but your rival games and the rival games you win are going to mean a lot. Got a lot of respect for some seniors. I've got a lot of respect for our football team this year. I've got some kids that have done well, given us a lot. And it would be awesome to have our best week of preparation, and that's all I'm asking is our best week of preparation, and to go out and play as well as we can and see if that's good enough on Saturday.

(Standing here now, where do you feel the strides were made? What kind of progress have you seen this year?)

COACH WILSON: Except for one game we competed I thought last week we competed okay, came up short. I didn't like the lack of Wisconsin fight our team had, and the way we were handling it. I was looking today on the stats yesterday on the and look at their statistics, they have trends, and we've got the No. 2 schedule in the country right now. Our opponents have a record of 80-30. So we're right there, kind of are playing winning football, and on the short end of making a play, making a stop. Doing a better job coaching. Doing a better job playing to get a W. To be sitting with a chance to be sitting on six. Played pretty well in Michigan, came up short, but had a chance.

Where I think we made strides we've got to make strides on scoreboard, and on W's. But the best stride that we made is every day in the building is a positive day with our guys. There's no negativity or finger pointing. And our guys give us a good go. And they have bought into our values and the way we want to live and work.

So the best thing I do is every day, the guys down the hallway you work with and the players in the locker room are giving you a lot. And I've got to go back, and I was saying last week, I've got to look at myself. What am I doing in overall managing, if we're coming up a little bit short. Margin is not great, we have some injuries. And we have played a reasonably competitive schedule. We've looked in the eye, and right now we have to make another team this week and play as well as we can and see if we can get to five. It's not going to be easy. We're going to have a really good week to have that one. Until we get scoreboards, it's all rhetoric.

(The seniors you've got here, how are you going to remember this group of guys, what they did for the program?)

COACH WILSON: Well, there's 10 of them, a couple of JC's, half the crowd that came in went by the wayside. I think these guys I've got as much respect without the success, I would drawback to this crowd about much as any, their ability to hang in and stay and buy in and give us a great go. I had the opportunity for several years at different places and different degrees of successful and not successful years in coaching, this has been one of my most successful years in relation to guys. We've got our our guys are down into what we're trying to do.

I go back in as a coach and will go back to player development and recruiting, what do we need to do to get over the building and branding and over the hump, but they've bought in and pushed. There's no give me that one again. There's a couple of plays on the field, make a play, call a different play, call a different defense, make a tackle and you get a stop or two, and you're a play or two from being where we want to be. The next ring of being a winning team and a bowl team.

We didn't really talk about we've got to be a bowl team. We talked about getting better, getting better, getting better. We talked weeks ago, if you're ready to retire, do you like the money you have? Have you given up and don't want to work anymore, or work as hard as I can and make as much money as you can and take off in your retirement. I've been about you're going to work as hard as you can and cash in as much as you can. These guys have bought into that. Pretty good players, all-time kick leader. Ewald missed his first two field goals of the year on two pretty good kicks. A tight end that's going to hold every record. Kofi Hughes playing as well as anyone. And then you've got Griffen Dahlstrom, was starting for us, actually tore his groin. He's been out and trying to get him back this week, he's missed six weeks. Did a good job last year. Jacarri Alexander has been a great special teams guy. Greg Heban has been awesome, another pick the other day. So there's a core group of six or seven guys that have to me given us a good go, and set a tone. Last year we had two. This year we've got about six or seven stronger, really good players that are really good leaders. And it's moving the direction you want. And when you have a really good team you'll have a really solid core. We're getting that.

(On the seniors)

COACH WILSON: Some of those guys, I'm not sure I want to ask them. To me if you do this for four years you've earned it's a phenomenal amount of trust me, there's no one anymore frustrated when you come up short when those guys have been all running, lifting, busting their tail, smashing their faces, really committing a lot of time and effort for very few opportunities. You play very little football. You practice and work a lot for a few days. And I can't make these guys participate in Senior Day, but to me they've had the right to be treated as a senior. Kofi Hughes, plays as a freshman, and we've got other guys that are redshirt. But they're on track to graduate. You're sitting here, a couple are graduating from the Kelley School of Business. My role hasn't been that big. All that summer lifting and winter, getting up at 5:30, 6:00 in the morning, do I want 29 preseason days, my role might not be a huge role. But at the same time they are about us building a winning culture. There's been minimal, if any, issues with any of these guys. They're all set to graduate. Some of these guys are already graduated now. All the fifth year guys are graduated or will be done by midyear. And all the fourth year guys are set to be graduated by spring semester. And some of them are out of eligibility, like Kofi, and some other guys that aren't playing much, that just I kind of put it on it them. Here's the workload. Here's the routine. Here's your role. Do you like it? Do you want more of it? And all I ask if they want to stay with us, I need you to give your best, be a positive senior. And at the same time when you're working hard and not having a lot of personal success, some of these guys are like, I'm ready to move on. And with that I'm, hey, that's good for you. Trust me, I respect you. And we're going to bust our tail to help you down the road. You have the right to be treated as a senior. Whether we make the announcement on a Senior Day, we honor them at the banquet.

(I guess the only guy I wasn't sure about Chase's situation, was that physical?)

COACH WILSON: It's almost like he's apologizing. You're not quitting, you know, your body hasn't held up. He started the Ohio State game in 2011 our first year, last year through the year, you know, had the injury, came back. Had an ankle sprain this spring. Looked great in the summer, I was told. And about a week before turned into a stress fracture. And he was the first one. And it's what he wanted. I didn't disagree with it. And I wouldn't have been mad if he wanted to come back. I just think workload that's where he was at and what he felt.

(As far as current guys, how far has Tevin come along, you sounded positive Saturday?)

COACH WILSON: Again, we've got him doing all the running stuff. Different levels, whether you're doing it in the zero gravity treadmill where they can put your body weight to certain percentages, and get you 50, 60, 70, 80 percent and build up your ankle. He sounded good. But until we get out there and really practice. He's really been rehabbing at a high level. And I know he wants to get back. But we'll see how it goes. I know he's working at it hard. He's yet to, quote, truly practice. He plays a position with speed and cuts with an ankle sprain. I think he's played enough and a good enough player that I don't think we need him practicing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, I think he's a veteran. I think he's good. And if he is at a high level, then I would expect him to play. If he's not at a high level and he can't play full tilt we're not going to the put him in a position to do any damage to himself or not be productive. I think as we go through the week we'll see. It's looking better. I think it's going to be a little bit of a stretch to say it's probable or questionable. I mean I know he's working hard, pushing. I know he wants out there. And he's trying to get there. We'll see how it goes.

(To clarify, are any of these fourth year juniors, who are going to go through the Senior Day, if they're listed here they're almost certainly not going to come back.)

COACH WILSON: Yes. And they've been redshirted. And again the way we've got every player here, because we started our time, we're playing freshmen. Right away. So we have everyone on a four year track to graduate. We're using our summer school hours and our loads we typically are getting guys about 33 hours a year, and they need 120 to graduate. Stephen Houston graduated a year ago. And he's had a year of some postgraduate. So we've got all our guys on four year plans. Now here you are, and you're a backup, Paul Phillips has been a backup tight end. Matt Zakrzewski is going to be a fullback. Pete Bachman has been a backup tackle. He plays on our field goal team. He plays on our punt team. Some of those guys have different degrees of rolls, where we're not playing a lot. Do you want a commitment of a fifth year if your role isn't Jason Spriggs and I'm starting every play. Stephen Houston last year and I expect to be playing a lot. He ends up splitting time. But I'm playing a lot. I come back for my fifth year. Every guy has been different each year. Charles Love was in a situation a year ago. Teddy Bolser is a tight end, you're going to be committed as a tight end. He could have graduated at four, and he wanted the position. I say work hard, follow the team rules and be a positive senior team leader. Those guys are set to graduate.

And each one we hit them before the season starts, let us know, do you want the fifth year. And as the year goes matter of fact I think a year ago I wasn't after the season is when Lawrence Barnett and Jamonne Chester said they did not want to come back after the season. I had some guys tell me I don't want to come back, but I don't want to participate in Senior Day. Those aren't my seniors. My career hasn't worked out, I've got a bad back, I'm not playing much. It's roster management. The nice thing is all those guys are graduating and you've got four years on scholarship and you've got a IU degree. And they've been positive guys. That's to me the one thing I talked to all of them, there's not been one guy where we have issues. No, you've given us a good go. There's different degrees of talent and competition and injury that's taken guys or some guys roles have been real strong, and some guys roles have been minimal.

(One game left in your third year. Just looking back what are your thoughts on your development of the program from then to where it is now with one game left and the future?)

COACH WILSON: To me the only thing is our lack of W's, which is ultimately all it's about. We can talk about graduation rates, and all these guys graduating. I think we'll reset our record for Academic All-Big Ten guys. I think our recruiting has gotten a little better. But it still comes back to putting guys in position, developing players and winning ballgames. We're sitting at 4-7, we have to play our best and give ourselves a chance to win vs. Purdue. That would be three Big Ten wins. Four goes to five, it's a little better. Even if 5 got to 6, it's still not what you want. We're a work in progress. And we're never going to have it, you're working to get it. As soon as you get it it's fragile and so easy to go. You can look at teams in your league that are there, and all of a sudden not. It's competitive. It's tough. Our margin of error is going to be slight. And that's where, again, to me our strength of schedule has been strong.

I come back and look at me, what can I do in managing our program, developing players, coaching, and doing a better job of coaching to help these kids that now, like I was talking with David with these guys, these guys are giving us a good go. And let's find a way to get the W's and keep edging. I think we're changing the culture, we need more W's. I think that would change the outside culture, the fan base, the attendance, the student body. We need to win, and I've got to look as a coach to do the things I can to get the W's.

(What is impressive about Purdue?)

COACH WILSON: To me, transition is tough. And I watch their offense playing so many young guys. They've got some injuries, and it reminds me of our first year. Freshman quarterback running around. I know it's tough. And I'm watching their defense the last couple of weeks, flying around battling, and playing hard. And they've got some athletes. They played like ourselves.

If you look at matter of fact a couple of weeks they were first on the week of toughest schedule. I think they've fallen to fourth in the country for toughest schedule. They're non-conference schedule, who they've had to play in the Big Ten. But to me when you watch tape and watch guys play the first thing you're judging is their effort. That shows they're buying their attitude. I'm impressed with their effort and attitude. I know the guys that have been recruited, I know they've got skill, they've got speed.

Again, they came up short, but to me when you play in a rivalry game, you throw all that out and I expect it to be a dogfight. And I expect we're going to need to play our best if we're going to have an opportunity.

(On where the program is at)

COACH WILSON: Well, playing a lot of those young guys now. So I do think that, like I said a week ago, I thought our offense was very, very poor. And when we first started. And it got a little better. And hit a tail spin the last few weeks. Those young guys have grown up. We still don't have a senior offensive linemen. This year you've got no seniors and basically the whole right side hasn't played. You're still a work in progress. It's still a work in progress. I think that way defensively, Baylor got Baylor was 123rd in the country in defense. And the same players and same coaches this year, they were fourth or sixth in the country going into that game last week. To me, before I start saying, hey, it's players, because you can always blame players. These are guys I'm recruiting. When you go year three, you're part of the problem, you're part of the answer. I've always been about what I can control instead of what I couldn't. Here's the cards. My original boss told me years ago, you know, every hand is a winner, you have to know how to play the cards, the old Kenny Rogers song. Sometimes you're bluffing, but you've got to play your cards.

I've got to look as an offensive coach that I'm doing things that gives us a chance to create a stronger defensive culture, and that's to me it starts everything starts with me in our hallway. And from there it goes through the weight room and from there it feeds into the locker room and eventually players we recruit and all that deal. Coach Harbaugh was in town last week. Taking care of in town with his grandkids. And he actually came over to practice. It was our Wednesday practice. And he popped over and we were having lunch. That's as good a spirit and hard working practice I've seen in a long time, this time of year. That's why I go back to player buy in. I like the way the guys are working, if the kids are giving you a good go. Keep developing the culture, and keep getting better product by recruiting better players.

(On recruiting)

COACH WILSON: One good question is when this game is over we're basically in a two week period of contact, actually I think it goes through Sunday, December 15th. Then starting December 16th to January the 16th we're back to a dead recruiting period, can't see anyone. And no one can come see you. That's what the holidays, bowl season and our national convention, this year it's held in downtown Indianapolis. All the great administrators and coaches. But it's an honor for our state and our city. It's going to be a great host, like the Big Ten Championship game, those two teams. We've got a dead period for a month, and three weeks at the end of January, January 16th basically two and a half weeks of active recruiting until the signing date.

The maximum number you can sign this year is 25. That's not us, that's a new NCAA rule. There's no oversigning. You can sign 25, the most you can sign. I'm looking at schools on paper, they've got 27, 28, 30 commitments. If I had 82 guys on scholarships and didn't use them in the fall, I could bring a kid in and count backwards, if you're 85 it counts forward. Going forward all you can have is 25. The only way you can improve your roster is by 25, if you have spots open.

There's no oversigning. If you sign someone you're betting on him making it. Last year we had a couple of guys came up short and didn't qualify. Two are in JC's, one is trying to make it on his own. It takes two years to come back from JC. We're looking at commitments a little more halfway done. With our graduates, and the early graduates and the walk-ons that we give a scholarship to, it's one year, and you re-earn it back. We're able to use unused money. Even though we have on paper only 10 true seniors, it's a small senior class, we will still be able to sign 23, 24, 25 guys. You've got one senior on defense, and you've got three or four on offense. You've got a lot of guys coming back. You're seeing some of these freshmen play at a very high level - Kris Smith, Chase Dutra, some guys you haven't seen yet.

So, again, this class, we didn't take any O linemen last year, we need a few this year, even though we're not losing any, we'll probably take three or four. You don't want to wait until afterwards, you need to groom them a year in a perfect world and not play them as a freshman. Three or four D-linemen, if we need to take more than that it needs to be an upper level, special guy. We need help on corners, safeties, backers, I think when the game gets in space our abilities to make tackles one on one, we've got some guys blitzing unblocked. We had one the other day. He misses it, and he gets out and the next play they score. You should have them on schedule. To me it's some skill guys.

We'll look at JC players. But I'm not convinced unless we see enough tape and the guy's a good enough kid that he really can impact us. Ryan Thompson was playing a little bit here at the end of the second year, and Jacob Bailey and Wes Rogers, and they've got three more years. So to have a little more time on task, so to say, hey, you need to improve a certain position, go take a look at JC. We are looking at junior college players, but I need to make sure we do a greater job of eval and get guys that can really impact us. To me it's some defensive skill and a couple of offense guys. A tight end, receiver, a couple of guys down the stretch. Top Stories