Image courtesy of IU Athletics
Garrett Winegar summarizes the IU football coaches’ presser, including a recap and reflection of the loss to Ohio State, and a look forward to the upcoming contest against Navy.
Ohio State Recap:
Kevin Wilson opened his press conference by stating simply, “Good effort, but once again we fell short.”
Throughout the press conference, coaches made it clear that there were many positives against Ohio State and they were proud of the effort, but moral victories and getting close to a win isn’t good enough. Offensive coordinator Seth Litrrell said it best when asked on the importance of winning, stating, “That’s what [players] came here to do; they came to play Big Ten football and compete.”
A big positive coach Littrell highlighted on the offensive side of the ball was the stellar play of the offensive line. Being down most of the game, the Hoosiers were forced to rely heavily on the pass, culminating in 54 pass attempts for the game, and placing a lot of pressure on the O-line. The line accepted the challenge head-on, allowing no sacks against the physical defensive front of the Buckeyes.
On the defensive side, giving up 52 points was an obvious negative, but co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory stressed that the effort is there.
“Kids are competing,” Mallory said, “and you always have a chance when kids are playing hard for four quarters.”
The major area of concern on defense was giving up big plays.
“You feel like you defend them, defend them, defend them, then all of the sudden you give up an explosion play; the big plays killed us,” stated Mallory. These explosion plays Mallory mentioned accounted for 345 yards of offense for the buckeyes on just 12 plays.
Preparing for Navy & defending the wishbone:
Saturday’s matchup faces off two teams of opposite forces, Navy’s stout defense against Indiana’s potent offense. Navy has given up just 49 points over their last 4 games, a total that the Hoosiers reached in the game against Ohio State alone.
Navy’s offensive attack is primarily on the ground, centered on the wishbone formation and the triple option, with a few play-action passes sprinkled in. With this game on the schedule, Coach Wilson and his staff have been preparing the team for the triple option since before the season started, with coach Wilson himself even traveling to Air Force to see how the triple option is ran and how to defend it.
Wilson hopes that by introducing the team to the triple option early on, this week’s preparation will be a little bit easier. Coach Wilson explained that it’s still going to be difficult to defend, stating, “We have introduced it but we were simple; these guys are in chapter twenty, we were in chapter one.”
Along with players being disciplined with their eyes and remaining in their fits, to defend the triple option successfully, coach Mallory stressed taking away the fullback. “You have the defend the option inside out, it starts with taking away the fullback, then the quarterback, and then the pitch…Where people get killed is when they don’t take the fullback away.”
As well as defending the triple option, a key to defending Navy is getting them off the field on third and even fourth downs, as they are willing to go for it on fourth-and-short in many situations.
Mallory explained, “If they get across midfield, it’s four-down territory. Get them in fourth-and-long and they’re going to punt, but if it’s fourth-and-anything-under-three, the chance is they are going to go for it.”
Getting over the hump:
Regardless of strides and progress, wins are the ultimate goal; ‘almost’ winning isn’t means for congratulations.
“Around here too many people can congratulate you on almost winning because we have struggled,” Wilson said.
Getting so close, yet not being able to achieve that victory, can also take a toll on young players’ psyches. Coach Wilson explained that he is preaching remaining steadfast and pushing forward to his players.
“Most people are closer to more things than they realize,” he said. “We’re going to get there.”
Wilson used an analogy to encourage the players to keep fighting, saying, “Don’t start acting like my kids when they were little and every time we were going somewhere they would say, ‘when are we going to get there?’ We’re going to get there when we get there… If we stop, we’re never going to get there. So quit worrying about it, quit complaining about it, let’s keep going down the road, keep fighting, and see if we can get there.”
Can they get there Saturday? If they continue to score as they have, the opportunity for a win will be there.
One thing is certain: as the Hoosiers continue to progress and head down that road toward victories, fans are along for the ride, just waiting to celebrate once they get there.