This morning the Indiana football program held its 2016 Media Day in the Henke Hall of Champions in the North End Zone of Memorial Stadium. Head coach Kevin Wilson discussed a number of topics and we have put together a notebook highlighting some of the topics he touched on.
Wilson talks about the QB battle
With Nate Sudfeld graduated and off to the NFL the IU offense is looking for a new leader under center. Coach Wilson talked about the candidates that are battling to be the replacement for Sudfeld.
“Zander is our most experienced guy, but had a minor deal, but the procedure done, which was a quick recovery and he was full speed end of April, first of May, but he lost his spring practice,” Wilson said. “So here's a guy that's got the most reps that got no work. You have a junior college player everyone's excited about, but he only has 15 times where I can stand there and watch him throw and give him critique of what he needs to do. Then our meetings that we have in between spring ball when you're watching video, so there's not enough time on task there. And then we're working with Austin King, Danny Cameron were the two two guys getting the bulk of the work. And we did sign Peyton and Donovan (Hale) wanted to go back to receiver. So five guys are in it.”
This is not the first fall camp for the Hoosiers where there is no clear cut starter at the quarterback position, but the way the coaches will handle will be different than what they did in past years.
“We're not going to be equal, not trying to be fair,” Wilson said. “Few years ago I tried to be equal and fair, and all I did was make everybody mad, and they got equal reps and equal throws and equal opportunity and everybody was getting mad. We were trying to be so fair to everyone that, egos got involved.”
Hale moves back to wideout
At the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago last month Coach Wilson announced that Clyde Newton was making the move from linebacker to running back for his final season of college football. Today the IU head coach announced another position change, and that is the move of Donavan Hale from quarterback to wide receiver. Hale came in as a quarterback but was used at receiver last fall, but in spring ball he was back at quarterback. Coach Wilson said it was Hale who asked to be moved.
“It was him,” Wilson said when asked about the thought process on moving Hale back to wideout. “His thoughts. In my opinion I think he's got the skill set to be a very good quarterback. But I also think last year he was a young man that was coming off a knee injury. He missed basically our summer workouts last year, and so he wasn't ready to play college quarterback as a freshman. He was a good enough athlete and we tried to get him on the field.”
Coach Wilson said that the message the staff gave Hale was he could be a very good quarterback, but he was probably a year away from having a chance to get on the field at that spot, but at receiver he would have a good chance to play this year.
“His thought as the season ended, he wanted a chance to be quarterback,” Wilson said about Hale. “My thought with him when it ended if he wanted to be a quarterback, he had a chance to be one, but I felt he was probably a year away from really being good enough. I told him we'll go developmental year and we're going to work on throwing. He throws the ball well, but we're going to work on passing, and getting the ball to target, and throwing in rhythm, and understanding and all that. We'll go full-tilt all summer, all year. Or if you want to play, you've got the skillset to be a very good receiver, and there's no guarantees you're going to start, but odds are, your skill set, he played last year, and would have played more if he had been healthy and would have been here all summer.”
Wilson talks about Greg Frey as a coach
As a former offensive line coach Kevin Wilson understands what it takes to coach that position and coach it at a high level, and when he watches his O-line coach, Greg Frey, he sees a guy that is as good as it gets when it comes to developing good linemen.
“He was a great player,” Wilson said about Frey. “He's very, very smart. He's well-trained. When you start and spend 11 years with Coach (Jim) Leavitt building a program from scratch, it was about player development, and then you work with Rich Rodriguez for those years.”
Wilson said Frey is such an outstanding coach because he recruits guys that fit what he wants to do, and then coaches then very hard to be the best they can be.
“I think Greg Frey is our best coach,” Wilson said. “He is very demanding, and you've got to understand him pushing you because you can have some push back. But he's consistent in what he does. He's very knowledgeable. I think he's been able to attract personalities that fit him and fit what we want to do, because there's a personality of not just what a lineman is, but a person that relates to you as a coach. So he's done a great job recruiting.”
Wilson said that even though he background is as an offensive line coach he stays out of Frey’s way and lets him coach his guys the way he thinks is best.
“I seldom, if ever, walk to his drills or walk in his room because I have a great deal of confidence that we're on the same page,” Wilson said about Frey. “And he does things different than I, but, man, his players perform and he gets them ready to play. He’s a tremendous coach and we're blessed to have him.”
Wilson thrilled to have Mark Hagen back on the staff
When Kevin Wilson decided in the off-season to make a change at defensive coordinator he also thought it would be best to bring in a new voice on the defensive line, and to do that he brought in a familiar face in Mark Hagen. The former IU standout was a part of Wilson’s first staff at Indiana before going to down to Texas A&M for the last few seasons. Wilson said he gave some thought to hiring Hagen for the D-coordinator job, but after he hired Tom Allen for that role he decided to try and get Hagen back as the D-line coach.
“I was thinking about making some changes and I saw Mark,” Wilson said. “And one of my first thoughts was what am I doing at coordinator? And my thing was Mark's more of a front guy and coached linebackers down there. He hadn't truly been a coordinator, but he was in the back of my thoughts. The deal was we had a relationship. He's from here, his family is from here. When I went with Tom (Allen) I came back (to Hagen) and told him that I was going to go this direction. But in the D-line spot, would you want to do this? I can make it attractive for you. No guarantee if Coach Allen were to have an opportunity and move on, that he'd be the next guy in line.”
Wilson said that the experience Hagen gained in his time down at Texas A&M has made a very good coach an even better one.
“In my opinion, him having been where he was, because when you're coaching in a place like that and the standard is so high, Mark left here, all his years playing here for Coach (Bill) Mallory, and then all his years coaching and the great job and working for Coach (Joe) Tiller who is an awesome coach and the job he did, when he came here he was a really good coach,” Wilson said. “He came back three years later way better than he left because of the stress and the pressure and the demand and the expectation of playing football at that level. He's holding our players at a higher standard. He's recruiting at a higher standard. And he left good and came back better. I'm grateful he's here and I appreciate that he and his family are coming back.”