CHICAGO -- Every year, the narrative is the same. If Indiana wants to improve as a football team and program, it must be better on defense. Much better.
Indiana coach Kevin Wilson talked at length about defense at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago on Monday. Wilson hired a new defensive coordinator -- Brian Knorr from Wake Forest -- and he hopes that a new 3-4 scheme is the answer Indiana needs on that side of the ball.
What was interesting, though, was that Wilson didn't talk about significant defensive improvements. He just said, to support Indiana's high-powered offense, the defense must be a little bit better.
"We're not expecting it to be lights out, but you just want to see some consistent, constant improvement," Wilson said. "And as we end the season, we kind of took our time, evaluated ourselves, thought we should go in a different direction.
"What I was looking for, again, wasn't an unproven guy, but someone I thought that had played solid, competitive defense, because I think if we could just be competitive and get a few stops, everybody -- I always kind of almost laugh, they say, you know, your offense versus your defense going fast, if we get a couple of stops and get the ball back, think how much better our offense would be. So I don't use that offense hurting the defense. I think we complement each other."
Wilson: Everybody buying in
Wilson was very honest in his interviews on Monday, admitting some of the challenges he faced in his first couple seasons in Bloomington. Some guys, he said, didn't want to follow his team rules and left.
Wilson's two-a-day policy is different now because almost all of his guys have bought in. Wilson said his team likely won't have any true two-a-days but will instead use the second practice as a walk-through or something that involves less intensity.
“The first year, you’re trying to see who’s in and who’s out," Wilson said. "Now you’re trying to get ‘em right. It’s more about quality practice.
“Even though you’re a college kid and you want to go have fun, you’ve got to handle it in a very respectful way. And I think it’s taken our guys some time to understand.”
Now, Wilson says, he has a group of guys that love Indiana and that love each other.
“I hear comments of guys saying, ‘Now when we’re off the field, I see more groups of guys hanging together just going to watch a movie or going to someone’s house to hang out and play video games,'" Wilson said. "And the more those guys are together, the closer they get. At the end of the day, you’re playing for your teammates. I think that’s why our kids our excited because I think they like themselves.”
QUOTABLE: KEVIN WILSON
** "We're not aspiring to be .500."
** "Stephen Houston's pretty good. He might make a pro team. And Tevin Coleman beat him out. I'd love to see somebody beat out Tevin. Feel free to. Let's go. And we have Nate Sudfeld. I have no problem if one of these other guys wants to beat out Nate. Feel free to. Let's go. Competition's what wins."