With his first camp coming to an end at Indiana and the season about to start, Coach Terry Hoeppner talked with HoosierNation.com about his first few months as the new head coach of Indiana football.
Q: How do you feel your first camp at Indiana went?
A: You know, I challenged the staff and the players and I told them we need to tie or be first in the nation with efficient use of our time. I just told the team that I think we've done a good job. I think we've pushed them hard. They reported in great shape. We had a lot of heat early, which was good. We held up under that. Physically we look good. We are improving on both sides of the ball and special teams. The final thing is we need to play somebody. I think this signals the end of camp, we're into the game preparation now and we're ready to play the game.
Q: Were you surprised by anyone in particular during camp?
A: We had 15 days in spring to see most of the guys. The unknowns were the freshmen and the guys who were unable to play in the spring. The most pleasant surprise for me has been Victor Adeyanju. He is better than I thought he might be. I watched him on tape, knew he was a good player, but he is the real deal. He's had a great camp among others. And we're happy with this freshman class. This is a talented group.
Q: How did your first recruiting class do in camp?
A: You're always anxious, even when you're involved in recruiting them from day one. Some of these guys we weren't involved in recruiting from day one and some of these guys we had three weeks to recruit. Plus, one guy we didn't get until the end of this summer. It was really an anxious time to see how good these guys were going to be. Are they going to be as good as we think they are? And almost to a man they are and in some cases really special. Some guys are more mature, a little quicker, a little faster or more talented than we even thought. I think Kellen Lewis, our last recruit, is definitely one of the best.
Q: Were you as involved in the promotion of the Miami (Ohio) program as you are here at Indiana?
A: It was part of the deal. There's always something for a coach to do to reach out to the fan base. But no, not to this extent that we've had here, but I've had experience going to golf outings, alumni outings and doing whatever they really ask me to do. It's the same things I've always done, just a lot more of it.
Q: Are you excited with the "Coach Hep Wants You" campaign and the more aggressive promotional efforts?
A: Very much so. Our marketing staff has done a fantastic job within the athletic department of promoting Indiana football. They told me that's one of the things we need a new head coach to do – to reconnect with the students, the alumni and the season ticket holder base. I said give me something hard to do. It's been fun for me getting around the state. After being introduced on over 50 occasions as the new head football coach at Indiana University, I never got tired of it. It was a good spring and summer.
I was glad to get into camp and actually do some coaching for a change, but looking back on it I think it was a success. It was a win for IU and IU football.
Q: Do you feel like you have brought a good amount of fans back already? And how do you plan to keep them coming back?
A: Well the second part of that is relatively easy. I said from the second I was introduced at the Wisconsin basketball game in January, I went to the student section and I said I have a plan, I have a formula for winning football games and you're part of that formula. Plugging them in and getting them involved is very important. Obviously, the easiest way to measure that is are they buying season tickets? That number is nowhere close to where I want it to be. I'm not even close to being satisfied with that, but at least we're headed in the right direction. The next part becomes us performing on the field. I think there are some people who are still waiting. Their verdict is out and they haven't bought the tickets yet. Some have written me and told me, they're going to wait and see. I said that's fine, we're going to be successful. It would be easier to do it with you, but we are going to be successful and you can watch that from TV and hopefully we'll see you in Bloomington sometime.
Q: Do you feel "The Walk" is something that will bring fans into Memorial Stadium and how do the players feel about it?
A: I know it will bring fans into the seats. I hope it will have the same effect that it did at Miami. It became a tradition and it became very meaningful to the team and the fans. The players drew excitement from symbolically marching into their stadium. It was an opportunity for the parents, for the students and for our fans to see the players up close two hours before the kickoff. A lot of places do it and hopefully the walk will become a great Hoosier tradition.
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