Saturday, April 16, 2011
IU Football -- The Search To Reach The 'Highest Level'
So this is what we know now that Kevin Wilson’s first spring game at Indiana is over.
First, quarterback Dusty Kiel can’t play if he’s a turnover machine. He threw two interceptions and one was returned for a touchdown Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Still, he threw for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns, plus busted off a few nice runs. His overall spring play showed he could be the guy to replace Ben Chappell in the starting lineup.
Second, the defense once again gave up too many big plays (touchdowns of 41 and 28 yards, plus a 52-yard pass), a habit that seems impossible to break no matter who’s running the show. Still, it scored a touchdown on an interception return, and forced a fumble that set up the winning score.
Third, the punting needs work. Lots and lots of it.
Fourth, threw turnovers is no way to win, although forcing three turnovers is.
Fifth, why are we being so negative?
Good question. Maybe it’s because the dog kept us awake all night and we’re grumpy. So let’s start over.
First, Edward Wright-Baker showed the kind of quarterback consistency you can win with by completing 8 of 10 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown without throwing an interception.
Second, receivers Damarlo Belcher, Dywyce Wilson and Kofi Hughes ooze with big-play potential. So did Dre Muhammad, who might finally get a shot at significant playing time.
Third, nickle back Greg Heban was all over the field making plays.
Fourth, well, let’s just say the first public viewing of Wilson’s football vision showed a lot of upside. Was it mistake free? Not even close, but there is enough potential to think that maybe, just maybe, a winning record is in the Hoosiers’ near future.
Yes, we know, it appears that way every spring, especially with a new coaching staff and approach, but hope is what this time of year is for. And there is plenty of that.
So what have IU coaches learned about this squad? Here’s what co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith had to say about that.
“I learned that the guys want to win. They’re ready for a change. They’re eager to listen.
“Sometimes it’s foreign to them. It takes a while for them to grasp how hard they have to work and how fast they have to play, but they’re eager to do it. They’re ready to embrace something different and take the next step.
“Nobody wants to be a .500 team. We have to change gears and make this a program we all want it to be. That’s at the highest level.”
The Hoosiers have all summer to work on reaching that level. Coaches can’t work with them, so the players have to run the football show while the strength staff builds their size and strength.
“Going into the summer we need to develop commaraderie and leadership and togetherness,” Smith said. “That’s what the summer is about. It’s those guys digging in, being together, working on the timing. It’s where you foster that team chemistry that propels you into (training) camp.”
That’s part of what we know. What about the rest? That’s for an upcoming blog.
It was rainy and cold and wet, but that didn’t stop the Cutters from winning their fifth straight Little 500 bike race Saturday. It’s a dynasty, of sorts, in what remains very much an IU tradition.