Kevin Wilson Press Conference Part 1

Here is the first part of what Kevin Wilson had to say in his weekly press conference leading up to the Iowa game.

Here is what Indiana coach Kevin Wilson had to say at his weekly press conference Monday prior to this week’s game with Iowa.

This press conference will be separated into two six-page transcripts.

COACH WILSON: "That was a good win for us last Saturday. I thought we were pretty solid. Didn't play perfect by any means, but we played pretty hard in all phases, a lot of guys playing. So I like their energy. Effort was pretty good, a couple of lulls that we just didn't take advantage of some opportunities, but pretty solid performance in all phases. Like I said, a lot of guys contributing. I think our kick game is getting better, not just because of kickers by any means, but just coverage or blocking. And we need to continue. We had an opportunity for a return or two to be a little bit better. Kind of got a couple different looks, and we had a critical error on the one kick fumble, which is not acceptable, but I do like some things in the kicking game, and I say that because I thought kicking was a big part of playing well a couple of weeks ago at Missouri. Thought we did a really nice job against Maryland, came in, very talented in their kicking game.

"I thought our road game earlier at Bowling Green, our kicking game had no impact; didn't hurt us, but didn't really help us, so to have some success you need to play good in all phases on the road, and I like that we're improving there, but we need to continue to keep making plays and not give up things. Our defense was decent, held them to 360; something to build on. In this day and age, you're playing, again, a different opponent this week, a team that will run the ball and take shots. Last week, you need to defend the field, every guy, and we busted some coverages and some things to clean up on, but held them to 140-something rushing and 360-some total, something to build on. We haven't had a lot of numbers like that, let's keep working on that. Offensively we had 590-plus, which is good. Need to keep finding ways to be more consistent, so not a bad day, but a good solid day as a team.

"Our defensive players, had a lot of guys we thought played well in all phases, but our players again defensively, couple young guys, Chase Dutra and Tegray Scales. They're both playing well. The more they play, the better they get. Chase is a young guy that -- not because he made an interception. He sometimes is maybe not exactly where you want him to be, but as a young player, he's playing hard and harder than a lot of guys have played for us. That being said, because of his energy and effort, he's making some plays for us. We sometimes want him to be a little bit cleaner, but be careful, if you coach him too much, he'll slow down so he's playing fast, he's playing hard; he needs to keep being in better positions. Same with Tegray Scales, there's a redshirt freshmen and true freshmen, they're good young players; they played outstanding games. We had a number of defensive guys play pretty solid, but those guys were the best.

"On the offense, had several guys, again, play well. Blocking was really good, but with our two skill guys at tailback, Tevin and D'Angelo both ran hard, played well. The tight ends and perimeter guys did a good job. We thought Nate -- want to recognize Nate for a solid outing in managing us and getting us in the end zone with some touchdown passes. So those three guys.

"In the kicking game Erich Toth was awesome. We didn't communicate one time in our coverage to maybe down one punt that would have been a hard down, but if he gets that, he would have been 4 for 4 punts inside the 20. He's been very, very good with that this year. He had a couple down there. One was huge. And we recognize T.J. Simmons, who's starting at linebacker, made several critical plays for us in the kicking game, as did David Cooper in one of their all-out blocks they're coming at, did a great job of protection and makes the tackle. So a couple of your starters playing well in the kicking game was great to see.

"Scouts, for the offense, Coray Keel, wide receiver, freshman, and Sean Damaska, been here a couple years, big, tall, developmental tight end, he's doing a great job for us on the offensive side. And defensively, another young guy Dameon Willis, linebacker, he's been doing well, guy that's been close to playing, hadn't played; maybe does, maybe doesn't. He's close enough, where in years past he probably would be playing with some depth right now, but he's a good young player we like a lot. And a guy we're proud of that's doing well is Jordan Heiderman; he's getting on the field maybe a smidge, but he's also a guy that we use on the scout team because he needs reps, and as a senior he goes over there and does an awesome job. So I want to recognize those guys. Some things to work on, again, score zone opportunities. We're leaving points off the board. That'll get you in conference games; that'll get you on the road.

"We had a turnover on the plus side of the 50 with no points. Chase made a great play. I think we come out in the second half, and I think we scored, and then we get the pick. Got a chance to go again if we don't let them off the hook. We downed a punt. It was 4th and 1, we ran a route short that we didn't like and we decided to punt, we pinned it down, great play by Nick Stoner and Erich to the one-yard line, and we won a chance on third down to get a stop, but we need to tighten our coverage up, give them an easy spread pass. We did hold them after that, they only got one first down, but when the offense got the ball back, we got no points. Those are point opportunities, where your defense or kicking is creating a chance to score and we got nothing to show for it. It was just another play. And again, in conference you need to correct that. Also, we had a fourth-down scoring opportunity in the score zone, we didn't score. Thought at the time it was 42 to 10, and our defense, I really wasn't trying by any means to run the score up, but I felt their best chance of scoring would be a blocked punt, because we had really played pretty good defense for a couple of quarters. I thought, just, hey, we're running it good, let's run it, and we didn't block it well, and we didn't score there, and we could call some better plays, but we were just kind of playing not conservative, but what we thought mathematically were the right odds, and it was disappointing that didn't work for us. Defense had a little bit of a lull. And we had the kick turnover right there. After we didn't get that touchdown, they went down and scored, and we fumbled a ball and they scored again. So we need to clean that up.

"Iowa coming in, very good as always; 4 and 1, one of the top teams in our conference, have been for years with Coach Ferentz. West division; some people think one of the premier teams that can win that division, and they're sitting undefeated with only one conference game. Sitting at 4 and 1 they've played a good schedule. Solid and strong as they always are. Legit on defense. They lost three great linebackers. They plugged three guys in, with their structure and defensive front, their coaching, hadn't missed a beat. Played really, really good defense. They've given up three touchdowns in 12 red zone opportunities, so 25 percent of the time, when you get in the scoring zone, you get a touchdown, and that's not a good formula on the road. Not scoring when you get an opportunity or kicking field goals is not something that wins on the road a lot in the lifetime of football. So that'll be a challenge for our offense. Offensively, as always, got a great offensive line, starting with their head coach and their line coach and their background. Always good. Maybe the premier player of our conference is their left tackle. So tremendous offensive line, awesome with the run game, and they stay with it. Their numbers aren't that good because they do it and people load up, but with that their passing -- you would come in saying we're the passing team and they're the running team, yet their passing statistics are way better than ours and our running statistics are way better than theirs. So it's kind of like our passing sets up the run; their running sets up our pass. Did a great job with their play-action game and their balance and what they do.

"They don't beat themselves; solid at the kicking game. If you play well, it'll be a dog fight. If not, you'll get your butt beat by a really good program. So great challenge. I know our guys are looking forward to it. Great chance to go on the road, we'll be playing at noon on ESPNU. Questions."

(On using tight ends in the passing game)

COACH WILSON: "Again, good point because you'd like to get them all. Of course, one was just a play-action pass, but we had a couple of opportunities, went to Anthony Corsaro. It's good to get him back. We've had a couple balls go at Michael Cooper and again, Fuchs is very athletic guy, and as a young player, if he and Simmie Cobbs will practice more consistently, they'll get on the field more, because all you do is watch practice, and you build trust as either the quarterback, the coaches. So as those young guys keep coming along --

"You get those guys on linebackers, but their defense knows it, too; meaning they know there's certain routes or concepts that you think have an advantage, but they also work to defend those. It was good execution. It was nice to go to them, but it was really nice to execute it and have a nice, what, third -- I think it was a fourth-down conversion to Anthony on a 4th and 6. It was just a play where he was the guy that had the leverage. It wasn't really trying to go to him, but based on coverage and structure, that was the matchup and you needed to go there."

(Iowa plays two quarterbacks. Do you prepare for both or is their style so similar it doesn't matter?)

COACH WILSON: "It's not like one becomes the athletic zone read or one's just a running quarterback. One's a throwing. They're going to run similar stuff, and I don't know if it's due to just how they played or if the one guy that starts got maybe nicked up a little, I don't know. They're very fortunate because I remember going back and listening to preseason where they thought they had depth in the position, so I think it's just the nature of where they are offensively, but I don't think it changes dramatically. They're going to do what they do, and they execute it really well, and I'm sure that Coach Davis and Kirk will get the guy they think is going to give them the best chance to win, and it's kind of nice they got two guys they can do it with."

(The fact that you guys beat them the last time you played them in 2012, how can that help the mindset of the guys going into the week? Do they have some confidence from the prior success?)

COACH WILSON: "Yeah. I think our team's getting more confident just because we're slowly having a little bit more success; we're more mature. There's more talent with the younger guys; the veteran guys have grown. They've been battle tested and been on the road and played in games. That team two years ago had some injuries, I think, at Iowa, with running back and whatnot, and we were a different team. We threw it a lot that day, didn't run it very, very well; and so it's kind of, you know, we're kind of different, and both of us are at different points. They're a better team, for sure, just with their experience and growth and the way they coach them, and I think we're different. In some ways we're a little bit better, but it'll be a different matchup. I think our team realizes from how we've played that if we play hard, we can match up and compete; if we don't, we're very, very vulnerable and very susceptible to not having a positive outing, and that's all we've talked about, the preparation and the choice to go out and play the way we need to play to be successful, because we can practice it, but you need to choose to now go out there and let's play. And if you do that, you've got a chance, so I think it's more of just the confidence where we are this year versus a couple years ago."

(You talk about your consistent approach week to week to week. How do you make sure that they I guess go along with that program?)

COACH WILSON: "Again, we'll stay -- because, again, we like our players, and they're a great practice squad and do a lot of things around here and around the building and around the community in the right way. We're going to kind of keep staying with our structure. What they need to realize is what they need to invest outside of just coming to practice. For example, we got a great business school over there at Kelly, and if you just go to class and sit in there, you're not going to get a degree. You better do some work and some extra stuff, so we've got our 20-hour rule, how many hours I can spend time coaching you, but you better do some things in your rest, in your nutrition and in your self-preparation to get yourself ready to go. And that's your responsibility. Like we tell them all the time, it's not our job to come in here and give you some rah, rah 'Win One For the Gipper' speech and you're going to go win. That's done through the week, and you're building that point. And with some young players you learn to do it, and with some old players I think we need to learn how to keep focusing. It's so easy with all the technology we have just to get easily distracted, because you can Google and check anything out and get infatuated with yourself and where you are. You better come back to getting grounded and getting prepared. So we'll stay with the practice routine, but a lot of it is those kids need to realize what they need to do to be ready to make that choice to play, because bottom line, it's a choice. And it's so easy, in this day and age, you can walk out with your hands down. If you do, you're going to get smashed. You better come out with your hands up ready to fight. Talk about it. The other guys fight."

(On injuries)

COACH WILSON: "I don't think there's anything. We had Spriggs who could have went last week and didn't practice, and we gave Ralston Evans a spell, and Greg said, do you want Jason to go. I said, he's been standing around cold, Peyton Eckert started to play, so he should be full go. We had light work yesterday, and outside of that, no issues as far as any cheap bruises or bumps. We're kind of where we've been."

(On J-Shun Harris II)

COACH WILSON: "He hit his head on the -- just snapped, I think a concussion, I think in this day and age, there's probably more whiplash hitting your head on the turf than actual contact. And he said after the game he was fine, but again, in this day and age, you need to be -- he felt a little woozy, and our guys looked at him; and we got some things in place, like all schools do, that again, when those guys say a guy is down, he's down. He looked (good) yesterday. What we did yesterday was so minimal it doesn't really count as a true practice. But it'll be interesting how much he can do tomorrow, we'll see, and for sure by Wednesday. And he appears to come out of it. I don't know if it's going to linger. I don't know. Everybody can say it needs to be seven, eight and nine. Sometimes, too, you say your head's hurt, and the doctor says your out. Well, you just said that, so what's the degree of the hurting. So I don't think there's a time line, a guy's out three days, five days, two weeks, four weeks. I think our guys are always going to err on protecting the athlete, but I think in talking with him afterwards, it didn't appear to be that big, but we'll see, because again, we do all these pretests with guys to get a baseline of where they're at, and then with your recall, you post test and you show that you're up to speed. So he'll communicate, does he have headaches, whatever. I think every school's about got the same policies going now, and we'll see. Again, we're not going to -- I'm not saying we're rushing a guy with a concussion, but it didn't appear to be a heavy, big one. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's my take, from Saturday, what I heard yesterday and what I'm hearing today. So we'll see. Not that he's going, but we'll see. I'll be surprised if he doesn't. We'll see. We'll do what's best for him."

(On improvements on defense and depth)

COACH WILSON: "And you know, again, the thing we keep talking about about playing hard and competition, a lot of guys playing, understanding roles, the more guys we play. Dutra we thought was outstanding, he only had about 25, 30 plays, but when he's out there, he can go hard, full speed. And it's not like we got a guy, if you mess up, you're out. It's just you can go play hard. You don't have to save it because we're playing -- instead of playing Tim Bennett the whole game at corner, we're playing some guys, so when he's out there, he can be more -- because we need to get more aggressive in the -- I thought Murphy's play on a pass interference, which was for sure a P.I. call, but it was an aggressive play. I just like that we're being a little bit more aggressive, and I'd like to see it be a lot more than it is. That doesn't mean blitz. That just means that we're teeing off up front, we're active in the perimeter, we're not missing a bunch of tackles. We need to tighten up coverage. We need to get up to the quarterback a little bit more. But man, those guys are young, and we've got a new system in place, and to me they're doing kind of good and they're not close yet, and that's kind of fun, and do they see that -- hey, I see myself getting better and I'm playing and making some plays, and that feels good, but do I realize it's not even close, like I'm really pushing the coaches to realize that it can be so much better. And it's never going to be perfect. This is all a tremendous challenge to coach defense in this day and age. Tremendous. It ain't easy, the way we're doing it, with running plays and linemen down field and throwing the ball like everybody's doing, it's hard. You know, and you're making them defend every guy on the field, and then the running quarterback. So it's almost like you need 12 or 13 guys sometimes. So you're going to get worked, and the deal is, though, is to keep playing hard, and those young guys are playing hard, and I think the old guys are doing a good job now of embracing roles and what they're bringing, and my challenge to them is that I like what I see, and I don't think it's close to what it can be, and that's what we want to keep pushing for, because we're a lot of young players and we're very new into this process of where those guys are right now."

Stay tuned for the remainder of this press conference in part two that will follow shortly.

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