Every Tuesday during the football season the Big Ten coaches participate in a teleconference with the media where they talk about their previous game and preview their upcoming opponent, and they also take questions from the media. Peegs.com has the full transcript of what Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson had to say during his portion of the teleconference earlier today.
COACH WILSON: Tough game last week. Guys battled hard. Fortunate to be on top at the end. I’m proud of our team and their effort. A lot of things to correct. Keep moving forward. A very, very strong challenge playing a tremendous team this week. Ohio State is a really good football team so we’ve got our hands full again. It’s just Big Ten East football so a great challenge.
Q – You have competed very well against Ohio State the last four years, but how much of a challenge is to compete against a program that has more populous state to itself more or less when you are in a smaller state with two other programs?
COACH WILSON: I don’t know if the state because there are some other states geographically where you’re at. We use our proximity to Ohio where there is great football. Whether it be the population of Ohio, I think just as much as anything it’s their tradition. Over time it has been established, great players great program. The commitment to the sport and the way the university and their fans embrace it. Now you’re sitting here once again as good as most people in the country. One of the premiere coaches in the history of the game with good staff and good players. To me it’s not necessarily the state. I think the state and the populous helped it a long time ago, but I think it’s just created tradition that has that program always going to be one of the best in our game. Urban and his guys are doing a great job and his team is playing awesome.
Q – You guys have turned it around on defense. What’s been the key to that?
COACH WILSON: Well we’ve got four games, I don’t know that it’s a turn-around. We’re doing better and we’ll see over time. They’ll get tested this week with speed and a lot of things on the perimeter. I think one of the premiere players in the country at quarterback. We’re playing harder. A new defensive coordinator in Tom Allen. He’s done a great job in trying to get our coaches on the same page and very, very consistent in setting the standard he wants and getting the coaches and then the players to buy into that. We still have a lot of errors and we still have a lot of things to clean up. We have a lot of players that played last year. We’re not the most talented group but there’s a lot of guys back. There’s experience, it’s maturing, but it just really starts with strong leadership and direction from Tom Allen. Our kids are buying in and for four games he’s done a good job, but there is a lot of water to go over the dam to say we turned the corner. We’re playing better in a short window of time, and to be good we’ve got to continue to do so.
Q – I was wondering when you saw Mitchell Paige for the first time did you think he would be capable of doing what he is doing for you guys given his size and everything?
COACH WILSON: No.
Q – What has he done to kind of develop for you guys?
COACH WILSON: It’s amazing because I thought he was like a fraternity guy playing in the intramural league. He’s a great golfer. Very competitive. He’s actually a little bit stronger than people think he is. He’s short in stature but he’s got some thickness and some quickness. He is very competitive, competitive spirit. He is a very well-rounded athlete. You get these guys that want to walk on…and walk-ons have been great for us…I think we’ve got seven walk-ons on scholarship. I think our tenure here we’ve got…it’s pushing 48, 49 walk-ons we’ve put on scholarship so it’s been a very, very big part of what we do. But half the time those guys show up and they don’t stick with it. Mitchell found a niche, had a great competitive spirit about it, went about it hard. He is one of the best leaders on our team, and one of the better players that play the position. I’m proud of him and it’s a credit to him because it’s not coaching. He had the spirit and he had the perseverance to give himself a chance to be what has turned out to be a heck of a college football player in the Big Ten.
Q – I think the natural comparison would be to someone like Wes Welker. Do you see something like that in him?
COACH WILSON: Yeah. I had a chance to see Wes in person when I was at Oklahoma. Maybe a little quicker but same deal. The guy got overlooked a little bit but Mitchell is a skilled kid. He lacks some size, but the combination of quickness, hands, strength, intelligence, competitive spirit…I’m not saying he’s the next Wes Welker, but he is a heck of a good football player.
Q – When you look at Ohio State’s defense, they have given up two touchdowns in I believe 56 possessions, which is pretty crazy. When you and your staff broke them down what was the first thing that really jumped out at you?
COACH WILSON: Their structure is sound and they don’t misalign. They play a lot of guys so they play hard. To me it looks like there is a lot of talent over there but there is a great competitive spirit with that team. The kids are playing together and their playing hard. They challenge every play and they play a lot of players. Lot of talent, lot of depth, well coached. You can see a little bit of influence from Coach (Greg) Schiano’s background. Luke (Fickell) has always done a good job, Coach (Larry) Johnson, Coach (Kerry) Coombs, I know those guys well. It’s a collective great group and they’re playing…they make you compete every play to get every inch on the field.
Q – How do you begin to break them down when you get there Saturday?
COACH WILSON: As far as?
Q – As far as getting some points on them?
COACH WILSON: Well we’ve got to cross the line with the ‘G’ and that’s going to be hard to do. I think if their offense wouldn’t have played I think they would still be undefeated because I think their defense has outscored their offense. And then you look at their offense, they run a tempo offense yet they are first in the conference in time of possession at 36 minutes a game. The margin of points scored and points given. You look at their punter, who would lead the nation in punting, he doesn’t make the stats because he doesn’t have enough opportunities to punt. It’s a tremendous football team and we’ve got our hands full.
Q – I was going to ask about when you hired Tom Allen did you have a list of guys? Was he high on the list, or was he a little bit of a flier that you took a chance on?
COACH WILSON: Great question. I had several guys in mind to talk to. I didn’t know Tom but I had heard about the impact he had made at South Florida. I knew his pedigree where he had some Indiana ties. I did some research behind the scenes and everybody spoke highly of him. I know he had a great run with Hugh Freeze who has done an awesome job. Once I met him there was a dynamic spirit about him, but I didn’t know him. I did have a couple people in mind, but for what we were looking for, a coach that had coached in in tempo offense where the tempo offense wasn’t the reason the defense couldn’t be good. Ohio State has got a tempo spread offense and there a premiere defense. I was looking for a guy that could work with a tempo offense and play good defense. Everywhere he had been there had been some programs that had struggled and done better. It wasn’t just him, sometimes it was a staff deal, but he had been a part of culture change and culture improvement. I’m glad he’s here. It’s been good for us.
Q – I was wondering how Richard (Lagow) has really grown into this offense? How has he put poor performances like the one against Wake Forest behind him? How has he led the Big Ten in passing offense?
COACH WILSON: Well we had the one big game so those numbers can get skewed with stat numbers. Early I would’ve said his greatest attribute was being calm. He got rattled in our Wake Forest game and lost his composure which was very concerning, not because of the interceptions. He lost his composure in the fourth quarter that hurt us with his body language and his ability to be a leader. You can’t be a leader when you can’t lead yourself. He came back last game and got into a competitive game and got into a similar situation and got it corrected against a very challenging team in Michigan State. So what I saw last week was a guy that got into position where he could’ve lost his composure and he kept it. He’s got a long way to go. We do have a decent surrounding cast that helps him, and when the cast does their job Richard gets the stats. But it’s a team effort right now, and last week we were a better team. This week we’re playing a tremendous defense that is going to take an awesome team effort to have a chance to be competitive in this game.