Friday, July 29, 2011

Gunner Benefit -– IU Should Go After Other Elite Prospects

Okay, now that Gunner Kiel has committed to Indiana, let the benefits begin.

You get the nation’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback, as Hoosier coach Kevin Wilson has done with the Columbus, Ind., standout, and good things are bound to happen. You get more recruiting buzz. Guys who wouldn’t think of Indiana suddenly wonder what’s going on with the perennial football loser.

Look, Kiel can’t win games by himself. He needs help, and the better that help is, the more likely IU is to start shocking the Big Ten, and beyond.

Maybe the Hoosiers now have a shot at some other top-rated position players. So we at Hoosier Hoopla decided to see what stud players are still available. In other words, who hasn’t verbally committed to a school?

Right now, IU isn’t in the mix with these guys, but that can change fast

A good quarterback needs good receivers and it just so happens that the nation’s two top-rated receivers haven’t committed to a school yet. The nation’s No. 1 receiver in the Class of 2012 is Dorial Green-Beckham. He’s 6-6 and 220 pounds and is from Missouri. Basically the entire civilized world is recruiting him. The No. 2 receiver is Stefon Diggs from Maryland. He’s listed at 6-foot and 188 pounds and is very, very fast.

Wilson is big on tight ends and the nation’s No. 1 tight end is still available. That would be Kent Taylor from Florida. He’s 6-5 and 220 pounds.

Getting Kiel plenty of skill help won’t mean much without an offensive line that can protect him and still and still generate a strong running game. The nation’s No. 1 guard and tackle are still available. The top-rated guard is California’s Jordan Simmons. He’s listed at 6-5 and 333 pounds. The top tackle is D.J. Humphries, who is listed at 6-5 and 265 pounds. The nation’s third-ranked center is still available. He’s Matt Cochran from California and he’s a mammoth 6-4 and 340 pounds.

Sure, the odds don’t favore the Hoosiers in getting any of these guys, but why not take a shot when you’re hot? There might never be a better time to go after guys like this.

It’s kind of like asking out newly single Jennifer Lopez. The worst she can say is no, and the best is, well, we don’t have to tell you that.


Wilson is an offensive coach. If you understand nothing else about him, understand that. He likes points. He likes to coach teams that score gobs of points. He understands that now more than ever the best teams win with offense rather than defense.

Wilson’s offense goes at such a fast pace than it usually runs 20 percent more plays than typical offenses. This can wear down defenses and force mistakes. That assumes, of course, that the offense is moving the ball. If the offense goes three-and-out a lot and does it fast, well, that puts a big strain on the defense.

For the record, IU rarely plays good defense, which is why it traditionally struggles to win. Wilson knows this, but he isn’t going to change his approach. So when he was asked about modifying things to protect the defense –- as in slowing his uptempo style –- he treated that suggestion as favorably as one to cut off his left foot.

“It’s all about turnovers and help defense,” Wilson said. “When is the last time IU won a 10-7 game? When was the last time Indiana won 17-14? We won five games last year, so it’s not like we totally stunk.

“My deal is you have to score points. Look at the teams that won nine to 10 games last year and how many times they scored 30 points.

“We need to protect our defense, but that’s by turnovers and special teams. You have to score.”

Wilson remembers when he was the offensive coordinator at Northwestern. The Wildcats shared the Big Ten title with a 6-2 record in 2000 thanks to a potent offense.

“We went over 50 points three times,” he said. “We had the worst defense I’ve ever been around. We were Big Ten co-champs by scoring points.

“Yes, we have to protect the defense. You do that by not turning it over and being better on special teams.”

So if the Hoosiers limit their turnovers, get a lot of punts inside the 20-yard line, kickoff well and cover the returns better, they have a chance. It sounds good, but implementing that won’t be easy.

But then, landing the nation’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback wasn’t easy, either.

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