Written by Sammy Jacobs (@sammyj108)
On Wednesday afternoon head coach Kevin Wilson took the podium in Chicago at the Big Ten Media Day. Wilson talked about many of the unanswered questions surrounding the Hoosier program heading into fall camp. While the coach did not elaborate or even give a hint on the starting quarterback situation or who is going to start at running back, he did shed some light on the expectations for the 2013 team. As we all know most of the answers given at Media Day are in coach speak, we decided to help you out and translate them into English.
"We're unsettled at quarterback. Got three guys in a dead heat. It's not because I don't think we've got a good player. We've got three guys that are all very unique, can manage us."
Coach Wilson talked at length about his quarterback situation, but refused to give one guy the nod over the other, which is fair. All three quarterbacks have seen significant playing time and each brings their own unique style to the table. What Wilson did not elaborate on was how the quarterback position will be used. Is there going to be one clear starter and then two backups? Or will the coach have a short leash with the starter like he showed at times last year? Will Wilson think about using a two-quarterback system? There is plenty left unanswered going into fall camp, but clearly Coach Wilson is confident in all three of his guys and feels much better about the situation than when he first arrived in Bloomington in 2010.
"Some depth at running back. Tevin Coleman out of Chicagoland, guy's a (sophomore), giving our returning starter a battle."
Another question that we had going into Media Day was about the depth chart at running back. While sophomore Tevin Coleman was listed first on the depth chart after the spring, it is pretty clear, from the quote above, that Wilson was using that as motivation for senior Stephen Houston. Wilson went on the say that the Hoosiers sport three good backs that will share the reps to limit the wear and tear of a Big Ten schedule. The last two years Houston has been the clear workhorse in the backfield, while Coleman and junior D'Angelo Roberts round out the group. Look for all three running backs to get carries, especially early on in the season against lesser competition.
"Mitch Ewald, our kicker is here, and I think he may be the best in this league. He'll set every record at Indiana for points. I think he's an NFL type player, and you'll get a chance to see him while you're here."Kevin Wilson has a major weapon here. Rising senior Mitch Ewald was erratic with his right foot at times last year. However, the head coach clearly still has confidence in the three-time Groza Award Watch List member. Wilson was adamant that his Hoosiers could be much better on offense in 2013 than they were in 2012. The big question is will he be ok settling for field goals instead of pushing the envelop, as he showed at times last year, and going for it on 4th down in the red zone.
"I think some of those young D-linemen are going to give us competition and depth. And I think the linebackers, which we need to be significantly better at linebacker, are going to give us some competition, and I'm really excited about the corner and safety guys. I think a lot of those guys are going to be, if not two deep, fringe two deep, we'll see when the bullets start flying some of those guys get on the field. My inclination says you'll probably see some of those guys on the field. Might be some growing pains, but we'll be growing with guys that are faster and more talented. That's exciting to me."
After the best recruiting class in recent Hoosier football history signed in February, Wilson is very excited to see what these highly touted defensive recruits can do in practice, while he never mentions anyone being guaranteed a spot in the lineup, Wilson does think he will need the youngsters on the field at some point during the season. The overall talent of the whole team has been upgraded and that will pay off in practice as there will be more competition for starting spots. Also, the upgrade in talent means that the first-team offense and defense should get better looks when running plays in practice. It is a very exciting time for IU football and Coach Wilson knows it.
"So we're building. We're growing. We are, though, a veteran team. I think we're going to be fifth or sixth in the country with returning guys with starts. So we do have guys that are battle tested. We have guys that are getting more mature, but I do think we're a young team growing and there's a lot of growth potential with our football program in these next few years."
The Hoosiers are in a very unique position in terms of being a young team that has a lot of experience. Thanks in part to Kevin Wilson's willingness to play the best player regardless of age the Hoosiers have built a core that looks to be ready to win now. Wilson would not say what the specific goals for the 2013 season are, but it sure sounds like they should be focused more on winning ball games this year rather than feeling out what talent he has. That does not mean he did not want to win in the first two years, but it seems that he has all the tools he needs in order to take this Hoosier squad to its first bowl game since 2007.
"We're excited. Coming out of last year, not the season we wanted. Maybe made some strides on paper. Maybe a little bit better record. But we got a great school, making a great commitment and we want to build a winning product and start getting the victories that we need."
Kevin Wilson has never been a guy who is going to be overly complementary about a team that won just four games last season, but he is one that can credit the team with making improvements and seems genuinely excited to get into camp with these guys. The change in his attitude, from drill sergeant to the guy who organized the spring break dress down day, is refreshing to see. While his attitude has changed, his expectations about turning the Hoosier program around has not and from what we heard on Wednesday he loves every second of the challenge.