Sunday, August 14, 2011
IU CB Coach Wants His Guys To ‘Find a Way;’ BTN Returns; Last Thought On Wilson Vs. Radio Dudes
Brandon Shelby plays mind games with his guys. He admits it. He pushes it. No, Indiana’s cornerbacks coach isn’t some control freak looking to torture the players under his command. But he does want them ready for what they’ll face in the Big Ten.
Receivers, quarterbacks and offensive coordinators spend a lot of time and energy trying to make life miserable for defensive backs. And if you’ve seen Indiana’s sieve-like pass defense in recent years, you know how miserable life can be.
Shelby wants his cornerbacks tough enough to handle the heat. He’s part of a new group of IU coaches trying to turn the program’s perennially poor unit into something capable of thriving against Big Ten offenses.
So what kind of mind games does he play?
Glad you asked.
“I tell them, it’s hot, you’re tired, are you going to quit,” he says. “Are you going to give up? That guy (the receiver) won’t quit. You’ve got to find a way to push. That separates an average team from a good team.
“When we played USC, they had a confidence that said, ‘It’s only a matter of time before something good is going to happen. Whether it’s return a punt or intercept a pass, something is going to happen.’
“That’s what you have to do. Is it going to be you making a play or are you going to wait for the other guy to get it done? As a corner, we want the ball thrown our way. Throw a fade on me in the fourth quarter. Either we win or lose. Accept it after that.”
More often than not in the annuals of IU defense, that meant losing. Last year Indiana gave up 27 passing touchdowns, which ranked among the worst in the Big Ten. You could blame the secondary, and many did, but the problem was deeper than that.
“It’s all tied together,” Shelby said. “The D-line has to do a good job of pressuring the quarterback. The corners have to hold the receivers off early so we can get pressure on the quarterback. It’s a team effort. You can’t start dividing up.
“We gave up a lot of touchdowns last year, but how many sacks and pressures did we have. That makes a difference. It’s all one unit. The corners didn’t give up 27 touchdowns, the defense did. I don’t separate the two. You can’t say, he did that. No. What did you do to make him do that? It’s about accountability. You can’t just preach it. You’ve got to show them what it is.
“I will say this. In our (cornerbacks meeting) room, we want accountability for our position. I don’t want to hear a lot of excuses. We’re going to get the job done and do it at a high level. The best people will play, young or old.”
BTN (previously known as the Big Ten Network) showed up at Indiana on Sunday as part of its tour across the Big Ten. Former IU coach Gerry DiNardo was there for BTN along with Dave Revsine and Howard Griffith. They interviewed coach Kevin Wilson and several players, including standout receiver Damarlo Belcher.
The Hoosiers hit two-a-day practices hard this week, starting on Monday. Wilson is set to talk during Monday’s eighth and final Tailgate Tour stop at the DeVault Alumni Center across 17th Street from Memorial Stadium. The event starts at 5:30.
A final thought on Wilson and last week’s radio dust up with those who shall remain nameless. Some have praised Wilson for defending the program. Some have ripped him for being a jerk. In the end, it’s about perspective and winning.
Mostly, it’s about winning, but for perspective consider that Wilson is a competitive guy who takes pride in the job he does and the places he works for. Bad mouth the Indiana program and he goes into Father Bear mode.
Is this wrong?
You have to be passionate in what you do. In sports, it’s often about being more man -– or more woman –- than the other guy. It’s about imposing your will on your opponent. You’ve got to be tough to do that. You have to be ruthless -– within the rules. There’s a reason why Michael Jordan won all those NBA championships and it’s not because he was gentle and sensitive.
Wilson is trying to get the Hoosiers to buy into that and finish the darn game, something they haven’t done in decades. You don’t submit, you dictate. It’s an attitude. It’s a belief. It’s a self confidence.
IU football hasn’t had that since the Bill Mallory glory days. Can they regain it under Wilson? Performance will determine that. Everything else is just hot air.