Image courtesy of IU Athletics
Physicality: Head coach Kevin Wilson stressed the importance of physical play the Hoosiers need to develop for this week’s matchup against Michigan State. “They’re a physical football team,” explained Wilson. “When you’re playing a big, fast, physical team, you cannot be timid and tentative. We were Saturday.” Wilson stated that practices this week have been structured to reflect this mentality as he pushes the receivers, backs, and the defense to be more assertive and provide a greater physical presence. Wilson has been telling his players, “You just have to trust yourself not to make the game bigger than it is and go attack your opponent.”
Communication: Wilson and defensive coordinator Doug Mallory discussed the issues the Hoosier defense faced last week, and at the top of their list was poor communication. “I still think we’re getting a lot better defensively as a team,” Wilson said, “but we’re still struggling with base alignment communication.” Mallory took the blame for the lack of communication saying, “It starts with me with the call. Sometimes you get into tempo situations, you got to make a call and the kids have all got to get on the same page.” Mallory did praise his defense however, saying he was pleased with the three takeaways against the “pretty darn good” Northwestern offense, but quickly re-iterated there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Third-down efficiency: This concept was discussed on both sides of the ball. Wilson stated his offense needs to do a better job of converting on third downs and developing third down efficiency. “We need more consistency,” Wilson observed. “We show flashes of quality offense, then hibernate a little bit. Our challenge to the guys is, ‘If you’re a good player, good players repeat it.’” Wilson also stated it was disappointing to be within five yards of the goal line twice last weekend and not score. Defensively, Mallory discussed how important third-down efficiency is this week. “We need to step up in those third-down situations,” Mallory said. “We have to create a stop in the red zone, or at least keep them to a field goal.” Wilson also agreed with this statement, saying twice, how important it is for the defense to keep opponents to just a field goal when in scoring positions. “I don’t know if we can be a lock down defense,” Wilson said, “but we can get better.”
Quarterback rivalry (or lack thereof): “Personally, you watch a practice and they’re about the same,” Wilson said of his two main quarterbacks, Sophomore Cam Coffman and true freshman Nate Sudfeld. “Neither one of them likes not being the guy. They don’t say that but I know that’s how they think.” Though he didn’t say much, Wilson did observe that the team respects both quarterbacks, and the main focus for Sudfeld and Coffman should not be who earns the starting position, but becoming good teammates and leaders.
Wilson concluded the press conference by saying, “We’re never going to be perfect, but the more cohesive we can get together, the better. We’ll need to be Saturday because Michigan Sate is an awesome team, but I think our kids are looking forward to a tough challenge playing at IU.” Kickoff for Michigan State is set for noon this Saturday at Memorial Stadium.