The Indiana linebacker group should be one the deepest and most talented position groups for the Hoosiers in 2017. Last week IU linebackers coach William Inge met with the media and talked about his players, and why he has been pleased with how they have performed early on in spring ball.
Q – How are you going about trying to find the linebacker to fill the spot next to Tegray Scales?
WILLIAM INGE: It’s all about competing. There’s a high standard and a high level of expectation to be a linebacker here at Indiana University, so we’ve been grooming the young men to be the next man up. They’re going to be prepared and they’re going to be ready to do what they have to do because in our system you have to be a driver, and you have to be mentally in tune with what’s going on with our defense.
Q – Do you see much of a drop-off from Marcus Oliver to the next guys at that position?
WILLIAM INGE: That won’t be able to come out until you get to the fall because we have a lot of time to develop. The one thing we do like is we have some young men that are ready to fill the shoes, and are ready to attack. The one thing I think we’ve been able to do a great job of is being able to play multiple guys, so we’ve been developing young men to be able to compete and to be able to play.
Q – How much does Tegray help with bringing along the younger guys?
WILLIAM INGE: It helps greatly having Tegray in the system for another year as a leader, as a senior, as an upper-class player, and as someone who can dominate a football game. That helps because he’s going to communicate, he’s going to help those guys raise their level of expectations, and sometimes the younger players can lean on him because he is going to help them. For me, that’s been the best thing that I’ve liked, seeing Tegray emerge as a leader in the meeting room helping those other players develop.
Q – Is there anybody that has really jumped out early on here for that spot opposite Tegray?
WILLIAM INGE: Well, Chris Covington, he’s been doing very well in practice. It’s great to see him moving around, flying around, learning the system. That helps when you have had time in the system, so knowing that he was here a year ago, he’s been performing and he’s been playing. It’s good to see him out there driving.
Q – Chris Covington said that last year he sometimes took it personally when you would criticize him until he finally realized you were just trying to make him better. How much have you see him mature as a player?
WILLIAM INGE: That’s been great because that is the very conversation we had. I wanted to challenge him personally, because I told him for him to really know the effectiveness he has to take this personal. To see him grow and learn and do those things, to me that is very gratifying as a coach, to know that he can step back and look in the mirror and know there are some things he has to get fixed to make the football team better.
Q – What have you seen from some of your other linebackers like Dameon Willis and Reakwon Jones?
WILLIAM INGE: For Reakwon (Jones), he’s in a great scenario because he’s backing up an All-American at this point in time, and he’s competing with one as well. So he knows that he’s going to be spot-on with respect to his game. He’s been preparing to do everything right, he’s been showing up at the point of attack, he’s been communicating well, and we’ve been pleased with him so far in practice for sure.
With (Dameon) Willis, he has always been Mr. Consistency and he is a doer. Being able to see him the mix and working with the guys from a communication standpoint. We’ve been happy with him as well.
Q – Talk about your initial impressions of newcomers Mike McGinnis and Thomas Allen.
WILLIAM INGE: I’ve been pleased with them, and I’ve been more pleased because of their preparation and because of their effort. Seeing them prepare and work together during the off-season that we had, I’ve been very impressed with them because this is important to them. Seeing the things that they’ve been doing the last couple days, I’ve been happy to see it and pleased knowing that we continue to grow continue to add things onto their plate. And slowly but surely they’re going to master the musts and the things that it takes to keep them on the football field.
Q – After the season Tegray had last fall how much do you and the other coaches push him to take another step up and be even better than he was?
WILLIAM INGE: One of the greatest things about Tegray Scales is that he is a self-starter. Often you don’t have to push him because he has a button inside of himself that he’s going to push and that he’s going to deal with. We’ve been happy to see that on our football team. He doesn’t lose sprints to anyone on the football, and that is something within him and it’s been great to see.
Where I’ve been trying to push and challenge him is just preparing mentally for the things that he can do to grow in the system, and I think he has been really good learning that and enjoying that process.