Wilson's offensive expertise was never a question, and he has turned the Hoosiers into a juggernaut on that side of the ball. But Wilson, who had never been a head coach before coming to Indiana from Oklahoma in 2010, recognizes now that he made plenty of mistakes in his first couple years here.
He's become a great media and public relations guy, and he's developed the ability to recognize his own mistakes and quickly correct them. That factor should not be understated.
When I listened to Wilson speak after his team's scrimmage on Saturday afternoon, something immediately stuck out to me. In Wilson's first season, especially, the Hoosiers struggled in end-of-half and end-of-game situations. They too often mismanaged the clock, went to fast, and gave the other team an opportunity to score before the break, something they often capitalized on.
Clock management is a critical thing for every team in the country, and it's something Wilson made sure was a focus in Saturday's scrimmage.
He put 1:50 on the clock and told his offense to go score. One of the groups went 3-and-out in a hurry. It's an interesting give and take. You want to give your offense the opportunity to score and gain momentum, but you don't want the other team to have the same chance.
"It’s the first half, so you don’t have to score," Wilson said. "I don’t know if you guys remember, but it seemed like my first year here there were many games — 3 or 4 — where in the last two, two and a half minutes of the half, we didn’t manage the clock well. And all of a sudden, we’re down seven or 10, it’s 14 or 17. And you felt like, ‘Wow, what happened?’ Fourteen went to 21 against Iowa, I remember that one. Incomplete pass, run out of bounds, incomplete pass, 10 seconds ran off the clock it seemed like and then they scored. We felt really, you know, kind of demoralized.
“We tried to do some of those situations. We did 30 seconds and no timeouts and you had the ball on the 30-yard line so you had to do the hurried field goal. We went nine seconds and had the defense blitz and the quarterback took the sack. So we went into the locker room without any points.”
It's things like those end-of-half situations that show how far Wilson has come in four years. It's great to see he has taken a self-reflective approach and is willing to go to great lengths to fix the mistakes of the past.
Indiana will make a bowl game this season (that's my prediction), and Wilson's coaching will be a big factor in IU's success.