Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
As they heading up to Chicago for Big Ten Media Days, the Indiana Hoosiers are surrounded by several elephant in the room questions. Some of them were answered, others were, as expected, replied to with coach speak. So let's clear to smoke and see what was left as the Big Ten media and teams clear out of the Windy City.
1. Who Will Be The Starting Quarterback?
On Monday night at an Indiana alumni event Wilson joked that Indiana will indeed use a quarterback this season. On Tuesday, he had a more serious answer.
When asked about the quarterback competition Wilson said, "I don’t think it’s fair to anoint someone until they have earned it. They have to earn the respect of the guys. I’ve got some guys on the program for three years busting their tail every day, and one of them didn’t even practice in the spring. In fairness to him and Zander, and I think he’s had an awesome summer, and I think Lagow has had a really strong summer too".
Diamont missed all of spring ball with a lower body injury, but he is not the only one competing for the job. Wilson added, "We've got a couple players, Danny Cameron, Austin King. I really like our freshman quarterback (Peyton Ramsey), although I'm not excited about freshmen playing our league, although we've done that a few times. But we'll see how it goes moving forward. We don't want to drag it out.".
2. Roster and Health Updates
With any media day usually comes an avalanche of roster and injury updates as players join or leave programs or are recovering from an injury suffered either last season or in the spring. The biggest injury news for the Hoosiers was an update on running back Camion Patrick, and it was good news at that.
"Camion has a target date of shooting for the Big Ten opener." Wilson said, "but you’ll see as the more running you do, is there swelling and setbacks, but he’s well ahead. They’re encouraged and pleased. He’s just a different body type. He’s doing well. He’s had no setbacks… but we could. I always give him a hard time, they say it could be 4 weeks or 6 months, I say every kid is different, every injury is different. What if it takes a little longer? Some guys don’t come back as quick, some back quicker. I know our medical staff will do a great job with him. He’ll be in preseason, but he’ll be limited.”
In other injury news, wide receiver Isaac Griffith,'s "knee still has not responded. They are getting ready to do a procedure on him, which will cost him his preseason, maybe his season.” Wilson added that freshman tight end Shaun Bonner could also miss time as he is getting his knee scoped, which means he will likely red shirt unless the Hoosiers absolutely need him.
Two other players Wilson and his staff will take their time with are safety Chase Dutra and Zeke Walker who is listed as a Husky as they come off of leg injuries suffered last season.
Incoming freshman Allen Stallings is, “Completing a class that will be done this week. We have all indications that things are good. He’s the other guy that hasn’t been there.” Wilson added.
Another roster update is that Brandon Drayton will not be enrolling at Indiana due to a failure to get admitted. “We had an issue with admission, where he’s not going to be admitted. He’s not going to be with us, and I think he’s found another place, but I’m not sure on that. We just had an issue going through the admission deal where that wouldn’t work.” Wilson stated.
3. The Defense Has To Catch Up With The Offense Both Culturally and With On-Field Performance
Every year for the past 20-plus years there have been questions surrounding the Indiana defense. 2016 is no different. IU brings in their third defensive coordinator of the Kevin Wilson Era in Tom Allen, and the program is ready for the culture to change and provide results on the field.
To kickstart the change, Wilson has hired another defensive coach to even up the staff. Five on offense and five on defense.
So what I did is I brought five guys in on defense and said I'll help Coach Johns coach the quarterbacks and call plays and game plan, and he'll coach receivers and quarterbacks and we'll do it as a group.
That being said, in a practice format, it just gets to be a little bit more in the offensive field. And we've created a standard on one side of the ball that we've never created on the other. It's not for two. It's not zone blitz. It's not man free. It's not zero pressure. It's not four man. It's not three man. It's a standard of playing hard. It's a standard of holding each other accountable and loving each other, and pulling for each other and playing together.
And we've got one side of the ball that's hit out of the park pretty good. I think Coach Allen, when I visited with Coach Allen, I met with him for three hours and talked about how do you get your staff to buy in? How do you get people to believe in you? How do you get kids to play hard? How do you get them how do you correct mistakes?
And we're going for throats. And I said, hey, what kind of defense do you run? I had no clue. He runs a 4 2 5. That's great because I think that's one of the better plans, but all the 4 2 5 is, you take a [pond] linebacker from the inside and you put him outside and spin it's six to one half dozen or the other.
So to me, it was all about creating a culture because although I think we've had great coaches, I don't think that's connected yet. And that's been his charge and I've been very, very pleased with what I've seen.
When the bullets start hitting start flying and things start hitting the fan as we get into games in the season, but been very encouraged with his leadership and the positive nature and the standard he's setting for our defensive players. And we're going to have to recreate and set that standard for the offense in our team as well.
Are there questions still surrounding the program as players start to get ready to start fall camp next week? Yes, and most of them will have to be answered on the field and not in a conference room in Chicago.