Indiana returns to the field this Saturday following their bye week when they host the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at 3:30. Here are 10 takeaways from today's press conference with head coach Kevin Wilson and defensive coordinator Tom Allen.
1. THE DETAILS: Looking to open the 2016 season 3-0, Indiana hosts the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept 24th. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. eastern and Big Ten Network will broadcast the game. The play-by-play announcer will be Joe Beninati and the color analyst will be J Leman.
2. NOTES: The Hoosiers and the Demon Deacons are playing for the second time as IU won the only meeting between the two schools last year, a 31-24 victory in Winston-Salem. Wake Forest comes into the game with a 3-0 record this season after wins over Tulane, Duke and Delaware.
3. PLAYERS OF THE GAME: Coach Wilson announced the players of the game for the Hoosiers from the win over Ball State. “Players of the game, Devine Redding on offense, Marcus Oliver on defense, Griffin Oakes as the specialist,” Wilson said. “Dan Feeney and Dimitric Camiel, Dan had a lot of plays, was playing really strong. But Dimitric also played well up front in the offensive performances, Devine Redding, Mike Majette, a lot of yards after contact, both good rushing performances. Devine for 110 and Majette, six for 57. Mitchell Paige and Nick Westbrook were both good in perimeter, six catches and Mitch had five knockdowns in the perimeter, Westbrook had three, two big touchdowns.”
“Defensively, Ralph Green played really well, had a sack and two quarterback knockdowns and graded 88 percent, was solid. Marcus Oliver, eight tackles and a forced fumble, really good. Tony Fields, four tackles, one assist, two pass breakups. He was 7 and 9 out of opportunities. And when he got a chance to make a play, and really making it, is playing well for us. Rashard Fant, didn't get a lot of action, but when he was two-for-two in pass breakups, those guys went well.”
“Kicking game, our punt team let us down. Working hard to correct that. First week it was our field goal. We have to be complete in all phases, so we're working hard there. Didn't have a lot of kickoff return -- our kicker was very solid. Mitchell did a great job kicking, but the field goal before the half was really good.”
“Our scout Players of the Week were Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Watercutter, two upperclass guys. A-Rod has been awarded a scholarship, former walk-on. Jake Attar, doing a nice job.”
4. UPDATE ON INJURED PLAYERS: Coach Wilson gave an update on the status of a few players that suffered injuries in the Ball State game. One was offensive lineman Dan Feeney, who left the game with a concussion. “We'll see what his situation is this week and just the doctors, letting him go if he does,” Wilson said about Feeney.
Coach Wilson also talked about running back/wide receiver Camion Patrick and where he is at with his rehab and how soon he might be able to play. “We're waiting for the doctors to clear him,” Wilson said about Patrick. “So he's practicing. He's cleared for practice. And you know, it's not my call. It's those guys determine that.”
Freshman wide receiver Kiante Enis is also banged up and awaiting clearance from the doctors on when he can get back on the field. “Yeah, he has a concussion protocol deal,” Wilson said about Enis. “I just saw him at lunch.”
5. WILSON TALKS ABOUT COBBS POSSIBLY RETURNING THIS SEASON: Junior wideout Simmie Cobbs suffered a serious ankle injury against Ball State that required surgery. Coach Wilson was asked today about the chances for him to play this year, and what goes into that decision.
“Well, one is health,” Wilson said. “It's short-term and long-term health risk with anyone coming off injury. That's what the doctor is looking at. Hey, short term, where is he today and this week. And where are we long term. Long term this season and long term your life when you're looking at things. That's what the doctors are looking at now.”
“So it's one thing, you've got a game coming up here in five, six days. But you have more games, you have a career and you have a life and the sport can be very demanding on you. First thing you look at is just physical well-being, and from there, I'd ask a serious question, if you've got a redshirt year, if you're a five-year guy or not. And if he thinks he's not a five-year guy -- but at the same time, too. We could be talking about a moot point, but maybe the injury will be such that it's not even till bowl time if you're a bowl team. So we've got a lot of work to do about that.”
6. THORNTON BACK ON OFFENSE: Sophomore Leon Thornton came to IU last fall as a wideout but was moved to defensive back late in the season. He stayed at DB all through the spring and all through fall camp, but Coach Wilson said today he is back at receiver.
“We moved Leon Thornton back there today, but it's more for Leon than we need him at receiver,” Wilson said.
Before Thornton has a chance to get on the field Wilson would like to see him have a better attitude about his situation. “The defense was doing well, but he's been a little bit moody and just needs to mature and grow up,” Wilson said about Thornton. “I said, hey, you know, I don't need you at receiver, but you're not playing defense. So we'll see, maybe that guy gets back in the mix. He was playing a year ago at receiver. I thought that we needed him at DB. Played great over there. Was playing great, had him playing some (buffers). He needs to grow up a little bit but I thought part of his immaturity might be frustration.”
Wilson said Thornton told him he would rather play on offense. “I said, ‘Where do you want to play?’ He said, ‘I want to play receiver.’ So I said, ‘Well, come on back. No guarantee you're going to play.’ But maybe that helps a little bit.”
7. WILSON HOPES FANS WILL START STAYING FOR ENTIRE GAME: In the second half of the Ball State game about half the fans that were in Memorial Stadium for the start of the game had left and did not return. Coach Wilson noticed that and he made a plea to Indiana fans to stay for the entire game.
“We've got good fans,” Wilson said. “Those tailgates are still there. If you buy the good enough cooler, that stuff will stay cold for you. Just ride out the second half, man. Just play ball.”
Wilson did say that he understands that it is up to the team to give the fans a reason to stay engaged for all four quarters. “I'm not complaining about them but the great thing about the home crowd is the energy of the fans, and you love to have second half energy,” Wilson said. “And at the same time, the football team has to create it. The fans aren't going to cheer if you don't make plays.”
8. WILSON PLEASED WITH ATTITUDE OF HIS VETERAN PLAYERS: Coach Wilson talked today about nice it is to have older players who are fully invested in the team even when they aren’t able to get out on the field for whatever reason.
“You've got old guys buying in. T.J. Simmons is coming off a bum knee where he's not really playing yet,” Wilson said. “He's got a redshirt year but we are just trying to get him -- he's practicing full blown on the scout team. He came the other day and said, ‘Coach on the punt team, let me tell you something about a snapper I think would help us.’ When Chase Dutra and Ralph Green didn't play the first week, they might have been our two best practice players and when you have guys like that practicing hard, they are buying in so then as a coach, you're not pulling teeth at practice.”
9. WILSON IMPRESSED WITH WAKE FOREST DEFENSE: Wake Forest comes into the IU game with the sixth best defense in the nation as they are only giving up around 250 total yards per game. Coach Wilson said the Demon Deacons defensive coordinator, Mike Elko, is someone he has long respected as a coach. “Their defense, Coach Elko's defense is extremely stout, extremely strong against the run, pressuring the quarterback,” Wilson said. “They have been…they were at Bowling Green. He's been a coach that I've respected in the way they played, and I've had my eye on him as a coach for a long time. Thought he was just an awesome coach. His kids play hard. You look at the way Louisville is playing, I think last year, their Louisville game was, what, 19-17. They played late in the year. I mean, they go toe-to-toe with those guys. I know it's the next year but still the same quarterback. I guess the guy's gotten better, I'm sure he has, but you watch those guys play, shut out Clemson in the second -- watch them, how they played against us last year.”
10. ALLEN ASSESSES HIS DEFENSE AFTER TWO GAMES: New Indiana defensive coordinator Tom Allen had this past bye week to evaluate his defense and he talked today about the things that have pleased him and the areas he feels they need to make improvements. “I would say, things that I like, I like how hard that we’re playing,” Coach Allen said. “I think there has been growth in understanding our system and being able to communicate better. We still had some breakdowns in that area against Ball State, but as a collective group I think that’s improving. I think you can see from a run fit perspective that we’re still…I think even during the bye week we got better with some of those things.”
“But we’ve got to finish,” Allen said. “I did not like that we didn’t finish the game. We were up 30-0 and really in complete control of the game in all three phases and we didn’t finish. We had them on a critical second and nine that I thought would’ve created another third and long and we had just gotten two three and outs in the third quarter and we’re taking all the energy from them, and then we let them pop a long run because we didn’t fundamentally…it was one of our second team guys, but still we’ve got to be able to create that depth. So then you let them off the hook and give up a pass and then they get a field goal and then gave them some momentum back. So we didn’t have that killer instinct that you’ve got to have to be a great defense.”