Now that football practice is almost here, consider the mystery that is Indiana. Can it win in coach Kevin Wilson’s debut season? Will that elusive bowl trip become a reality? And who the heck will be the starting quarterback?
The quarterback answer figures to come down to Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright Baker. Heralded freshman Tre Roberson might make a move, but that likely wouldn’t come until midseason. Quarterback is too demanding a position for a true freshman to figure it out in just a few weeks of preseason camp.
As far as the other two questions, that can be boiled down to this -- What does IU have to do to get to the next level and become a winning program?
Wilson has an answer.
“We’ve got to win those close games,” he said. “Every week it’s nip and tuck. Winners do the little things. For instance, last year we won the turnover battle in two games. The No. 1 factor in winning is turnovers. So we should have been 2-10. Instead, we still won five games with the most critical thing going against us.
“We have to learn how to play smart football and not beat ourselves. That’s 80 percent attitude. The physical part for us isn’t that bad. We have some talent. We have to win some close games.”
That’s why Wilson has pushed confidence. He’s looking to change the mindset so when the Hoosiers absolutely have to make a play, they do. In about a month we’ll start finding out if they’ve bought into that.
The Hoosier basketball world did not end with Garrett Green picking San Diego State over Indiana. The 6-11 Louisiana State transfer made the best decision for him by picking a school in his home state.
Yes, IU could have used another big man, but it has enough talent to have success. Green, after all, only averaged 6.3 points and 5.1 rebounds last season. Those are decent numbers, but not rock-the-Big-Ten-world ones. He would have been a solid one-year pickup, but not a program changer. The Hoosiers would have been good with him and can be good without him.
Now the biggest inside burden falls to heralded freshman Cody Zeller and senior Tom Pritchard. Juniors Derek Elston and Christian Watford also are in the mix, although neither is a true inside player.
No matter. If the Hoosiers get good point guard play, if they are efficient on offense, smart on defense and keep the fouling to a reasonable total, they will get the job done. Figure they will get it done. After three straight losing seasons, it’s way past time for a turnaround.