Kevin Wilson has a vision for where he wants Indiana football to be and it absolutely ain’t where it is now.
He pushes a hard-hitting, relentless style. He wants a ferocity that follows the rules while intimidating opponents.
It’s the way Wisconsin does it now. The way Iowa, Saturday’s opponent, has done it in the past.
It’s a be-more-man-than-the-other-guy mindset that has yet to take deep root.
So Wilson lets the Hoosiers know with a direct approach not big on worrying about a guy's feelings.
“As I told the guys, I’m disappointed that we have not developed more physical toughness. We don’t hit. We can do that as we mature, get bigger and stronger. To some degree we can do it with recruiting. At the same time, the more you play, the more comfortable and confident you get.
"The big mode is to try while we’re in-season to build physical toughness. We’ll move forward after the season. Right now, in the short term, it’s guys getting off blocks on defense. On offense it’s staying on blocks, running hard like Stephen (Houston) has been doing. It’s receivers being more competitive. It’s the D-line getting off blocks. It’s DBs when they get there (to the ball carrier) really striking and clubbing up.
“We can’t beat our team up in practice, but I’m disappointed we don’t show a more physical style in all phases.”
This is Wilson’s message now, and for the rest of the season.
“As we move forward these next four to six weeks, that’s what we’re looking for in practice. Not just smash mouth and beating us up, but work on being a tougher team. That’s the essence of football.”
It also looks like reciver Damarlo Belcher won’t get a shot to set IU’s career receiving record this Saturday, and center Will Matte’s consecutive-game streak is about to end.
Knee sprains have kept both from practicing this week, and Wilson isn’t big on playing if you haven’t practiced.
Belcher remains IU’s top receiver with 25 catches for 286 yards and a touchdown this season.
“He’s been out there a little bit (practicing), but I don’t think he’s going to play,” Wilson said. “He’s half-way jogging and running, but he really hasn’t timed-up plays.
“To me, when a guy hasn’t timed-up reps and we have enough other guys, he’s probably out of the mix.”
That means Duwyce Wilson and Kofi Hughes will start, with Dre Muhammad, Cody Latimer, Jay McCants, Jamonne Chester and Shane Wynn getting lots of action.
Matte, meanwhile has started every game in college, a streak of 31 games. While Wilson didn’t go overboard with praise, he did acknowledge Matte’s accomplishments.
“He’s always been reasonably steady with the snap,” Wilson said. “You’re losing a guy that’s played a couple of years pretty steady. Hopefully he’s just a week or two away.”
Redshirt freshman Collin Rahrig will replace Matte. He has started at rigt guard.
IU is 1-6 overall and 0-3 in the Big Ten.