Indiana linebacker Marcus Oliver is confident the Hoosiers defense will be much improved this fall

Even though most people are not expecting much from the IU defense, junior linebacker Marcus Oliver is confident the Hoosiers will be a much improved unit on that side of the ball. The Ohio native spoke about why he believes the Indiana defense will prove people wrong this fall.

Indiana will be running a new defense this year under first year defensive coordinator Tom Allen. After playing in a 3-4 scheme the last two seasons the Hoosiers will switch to a 4-2-5 alignment that emphasizes speed and athleticism. IU linebacker Marcus Oliver met with the media at the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago to talk about the change on defense.

The Hamilton, Ohio native said the biggest difference for him between the old defense and the one that Coach Allen has implemented is there is more freedom in the new scheme.

“I would say just freedom,” Oliver said when asked what is different about the new defense. “And not only what we’re doing but having a disguise. We could be running multiple things on one play and you don’t know what it looks like because everything looks the same. I think the way the 4-2-5 works it is unique and it is tough to pick up and to read for an offense and I think that’s going to help us a lot.”

Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson has talked a great deal about building a culture on defense and Oliver said that started to happen the day Coach Allen joined the staff.

“I think Coach Allen has already started it, and I think it’s up to me and other leaders and everyone on the team to hold people to the standard,” Oliver said. “And not just defense, but offense not allowing us to be bad, special teams not allowing us to be bad, and then us not allowing them to slack either.”

To establish the culture that he expects from his defense Coach Allen made an example of Oliver back in the spring to show the rest of the players that there is a standard of performance that is expected.

“He told me that from the first day he got there he was waiting for me to mess up, even if it was just the slightest thing like me not stepping right or something, he was waiting for it,” Oliver said about Coach Allen. “As soon as I did he used me as an example in order to show everyone else that nobody is too good to not do everything right. He made an example out of me and then told me that I need to hold everybody to the same standard I hold myself to.”

Marc Lebryk/USA TODAY Sports

Oliver said this summer has been a very good one for the defensive unit as the players have worked hard to learn the new scheme.

“This summer has been like no other summer,” the Indiana junior said. “We’ve got the new strength staff and we’re doing new things and all of it is different. I think the best thing for our defense that happened this summer was how we started to implement the whole defense each week for every player. So each player had a quiz, but it’s not so much a test, it’s actually writing it down and learning it so that when we have out player practices we are able to walk through that. Now that the end of the summer is here you can see that everyone knows what we’re doing and everyone is playing fast and playing with confidence. It is just an exciting thing to see because it is the way I learned, and now everybody is learning that.”

In Coach Allen’s defense there is a position called the Husky that is basically a fifth defensive back who also has the ability to play closer to the line of scrimmage to help against the run.

“The Husky position is a unique one,” Oliver said. “It is a little bit like our Sam (linebacker). You have guys like Jayme (Thompson) and Marcelino (Ball) who are really athletic and they are really aggressive. They’re not just safeties because they like to play the run, but at the same time they are more athletic than a linebacker. It is unique to see them go out there and play it every day. Those guys are really athletic. They are probably some of the best athletes on the field for our defense.”

Oliver said he hears what people are saying about the Indiana defense and how bad they are, but for him it is just extra motivation for him and his defensive teammates.

“It’s definitely a chip to play with,” he said about the criticism of the IU defense. “It’s been brought up so much and that’s all I keep hearing and it just excites me more for this year. I know Coach Allen is excited and we’re going to get it done this year, there is no ifs, ands or buts, it’s going to happen.”


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