Kevin Wilson kept his new football team on the field a half-hour longer than he expected to on Tuesday and he still wasn’t thrilled at it once it was over.
Indiana’s new coach wasn’t specific on what upset him but made it clear that he wanted to see more than what he was seeing.
“They’re mentally not as well-conditioned as they are physically,” Wilson said when asked about the team’s conditioning level. “We mentally are weak. Mentally fatigue, we’re not a mentally tough team. I think physically we can go out there and run, but I think we get tired a little too quick when we practice. It’s just playing through it, learning through it, growing through it. … It’s repetition, day after day. It’s why we’re late today.”
Wilson suggested he could see this group getting better, but he said he also hopes it gets better immediately with an injection of talent from the incoming freshmen. Wilson has already made it clear that redshirting players will not be nearly as vital to his philosophy as it was to former coach Bill Lynch’s. On Tuesday, he suggested that the use of freshmen would be even more prominent than he had previously indicated.
“Our plan is to play as many freshmen as we can,” Wilson said. “From watching some of our guys, I would hope some of our freshmen are better than the guys that we have on our team.”
He continued on that track later.
“I’ve seen seniors get beat out by freshmen,” Wilson said. “I would think here there are some seniors that can get beat out by guys coming in. I hope. I think we have some guys on the two-deep that can be beat out by guys coming in. We need to develop our team. That’s lifting, but I don’t see it as a five-year deal. I see development by competition. Not development by waiting. We’ve been waiting 40-some years to go to a Rose Bowl again. It’s not about waiting, it’s about increasing the competition, increasing the energy level.”
Wilson was also asked at length about the quarterback position, with the primary actors in that being rising sophomores Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker. He didn’t mention either name, though, and suggested that the competition could be a long one and determined by a lot of different factors.
“It’s not like we got ‘Win one for the Gipper speeches,’” Wilson said. “We’re a no-huddle team. It’s not like he’s talking like he’s in the huddle and he’s Bart Starr and giving the great speech or something. He’s the guy who’s speaking the plays, playing the offense. In summer, it will be interesting to see who can be the guy that chases the players around and gets them here for the voluntary workouts. … The players make players come, and one attribute of the starting quarterback will be to get guys to come follow him. We’ll see if that happens this summer.”
He said respect earned from teammates would be crucial.
“You can’t give that position to anyone,” Wilson said. “It’s not a political vote. It’s not a media deal. That’s one of the reason practices are closed. A guy can statistically look bad and it’s not his fault at quarterback. So then, we’re in the paper, ‘Well this guy looks better than this guy.’ Does he? That guy that looked good went the wrong way three times but got lucky. So that’s why we don’t want people seeing what we’re doing all the time. We’re letting our players earn the respect of each other and earn the jobs. The quarterback is a critical position and that position has to be earned. We’ll see in time how that goes.”