Losing stinks and no one knows that better than followers of Indiana football. This season’s 1-3 debut is yet another grim reminder of how far the Hoosiers have to go to become football relevant.
How do they get there?
Hard work, coach Kevin Wilson said. Also a few surprises as IU prepares for Penn State (3-1) on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
“We’ll look to shake some things up in practice in the way we’re doing things to not lose our kids physically, emotionally and mentally,” he said. “We’ve got to keep building, got to give ourselves a great opportunity to win Saturday, a great opportunity to win each and every Saturday.
“We need the seniors to have a great experience down the stretch.”
Wilson has shaken up the lineup and benched some veteran players while playing some freshmen, particularly on the offensive line, who aren’t ready for the physical nature of Big Ten ball. No matter. The veterans have to lead by action as well as word, and if they won’t practice and play with the necessary passion, effort and efficiency, he’ll go with the younger guys.
“On the offensive line we’re playing some young guys and they’ve got to keep battling and playing through it. Some of them lack a little size, girth and strength.
“We need to create some velocity and force coming off the ball. Our older guys need to get a loving feeling back into the way they’re going about their business instead of going through the motions because as they go through the motions, the young guy by evaluation is just as good as the young guy. I’ve got more value playing the young guy and that’s not slamming the old guy. The old guy has got to earn his right. Everything we want is still in front of us and we can still accomplish things that haven’t been accomplished here in quite a while.”
Can they? Absolutely. Will they? Tradition, history and performance scream no.
Wilson has little patience with tradition. He’s a “Win-today” now and if that better resembles “Win-Tomorrow,” well, you can’t control everything. He sees encouragement in the close losses.
“I think we’re close,” he said. “I don’t think there is doubt. I don’t think there is give up. I think that during a course of a game we’re not strong enough, mature enough, good enough and tough enough of a team to go at it for 60 minutes. We’re doing it in spurts.”
For those wondering if there is a quarterback controversy at IU because Dusty Kiel hit some big passes at North Texas to lead a late comeback, forget it. Edward Wright-Baker is still the starter.
In part because Kiel turns the ball over too much, Wilson said. He did it in preseason camp and nearly did it in the South Carolina State victory.
Wilson wants both quarterbacks to spend more of their free time watching film. Because of NCAA rules, he can only suggest that, not mandate that.
Tom Crean is excited about Hoosier Hysteria. Does that shock you? The guy lives for basketball. It’s not just a job, it’s a passion for him, and Hoosier Hysteria is the first public chance of the season to see that passion and whether the Hoosiers really could be a NCAA tourney team.
Yes, the event is mostly about hype, getting a bunch of canned food items for the Hoosier Hills Food Bank and generating fan interest for what looms as a break-through season after three years of misery.
Oh, yes. Showing stud recruit Gary Harris what Cream & Crimson excitement is all about.
The event is set for Oct. 15 at Assembly Hall. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the women’s team taking the floor at 7:30. The men will arrive at 8.
“Our players look forward to this event each year,” Crean said in a university release. “Any time we can go out and play in front of a packed house at Assembly Hall, it makes a lasting impression on everyone involved.”
Events such as a dunk contest and three-point shooting contest are being finalized. Men’s and women’s players will be available for autographs afterward.
“We have a group of young ladies who are going to work hard and give everything they have for this program and this institution,” women’s coach Felisha Legette-Jack said.
Crean hopes the move to Saturday night will lead to more first-time visitors to Assembly Hall and Cook Hall.
“One of the things I enjoy most is to meet families who come to a game or this event with their children and expose them to IU basketball for the first time,” he said. “Our hope is that we will have a lot of first-time visitors who when they experience this event with all the long-time loyal students and fans, become Hoosier fans for life.”
Yes, we had a few brain-dead moments (since corrected) in the previous blog. IU plays AT Wisconsin on Oct. 15, the same day as Hoosier Hysteria is set for Assembly Hall. IU also did commit 20 penalties against South Carolina State, not Virginia. We will run Memorial Stadium stairs as punishment while listening to Justin Bieber’s greatest hits.