Image courtesy of Indiana Athletics
This week’s recap of key components from Coach Wilson’s presser.
Special Teams: Late in the first quarter of the Michigan State game, Indiana lost their starting punter, Mitchell Voss, forcing freshman Eric Toth to step into the position. After an impressive performance in his debut – averaging 41.3 yards after 7 punts, including a 50-yarder – Wilson commended the Indianapolis native on his performance, saying the team was “pleased and proud of him” but that they’re going to need him “to keep coming through” in upcoming games.
“Voss is going to be out for several weeks,” explained Wilson. “ We think he’s got a hairline break on his lower ankle.” Special teams coordinator, Mark Hagen, believes Toth can handle the pressure though.“He’s a pretty level kid,” Hagen said of Toth. “He just needs to build on that and keep it coming.”
That is exactly what Wilson wants the entire special teams unit to do. “We’re going to play in B1G games where a lot of games are close,” explained Wilson, “and in one possession games special teams make a difference.” Wilson’s is an ideology that has been solidified in the past two games with a successful punt return and onside kick both resulting in points.“Coach Wilson is devoting a lot of time to (special teams) and it’s starting to pay off,” said Hagen. “We’ve seen a lot of positives…but there’s certainly room for improvement.”
Mindset for OSU: As the Hoosiers prepare to face the No. 8 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0), they are not letting the numbers scare them. “You don’t take your cards and fold your hand in college football,” said Wilson. “You have to play your cards, and as a coach that’s our job to learn how to play the cards.”
One of the biggest cards OSU possesses in hand though is their star quarterback, sophomore Braxton Miller. Miller is not only No. 3 in the B1G in passing efficiency, but is also the ranked No. 11 nationally for rushing yards with 127.2 yards per game to his name. “He’s a great player,” acknowledged Wilson. “ (He) plays physical for a quarterback and it’s going to be a great challenge.” The challenge will be one the Hoosiers are ready to accept though.
“These kids came here to compete at the highest level,” explained offensive coordinator Kevin Johns, “and it’s going to happen Saturday night at 8. They play extremely fast. They run through people, so it’s going to be a very good challenge…but one that I know our kids are excited for.”
Making our best better: No one can argue that Indiana isn’t a better football team than they were last season. Although the Hoosiers have come up short in the past few games, the numbers are still impressive. Currently, IU leads the B1G in passing offense (305.2) and kick returns (28.2) and is second in total offense (471.4).
While they’re still learning and growing, Wilson firmly believes his team is improving daily. “You know there are scoreboards out there that aren’t all visible but the score is being kept…unfortunately for us, on Saturday there’s a clock and out there and it says 0:00 and it’s a final score and that’s a segment of our life that’s over. That we’re trying to win. We haven’t gotten the W’s, but I’ve been saying for weeks I think our team is getting better.”
Johns agreed with Wilson adding, “You take the good with the bad and those are called growing pains and sometimes you go through those things.” But instead of allowing these ‘growing pains’ to hinder them, the Hoosiers are using them to learn valuable lessons. “We’re learning how to attack,” explained Wilson. “We’re learning how to play B1G football. We’re learning how to give our best…our best needs to keep getting better. That is the motto and the foundation of what we’re building. A little better every day. If you keep doing that, good things are going to happen.”
And who knows? Maybe Hoosier fans will finally be able to see those good things happen against Ohio State on Saturday night. One can only hope.