Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Needs Fixing – Youthful IU Defense Remains Work in Progress

What do you do if you’re Doug Mallory and your defense plays the way you absolutely don’t want to see it, certainly not coach it?

Prayer might help, but for now it comes down to old-fashioned work.

Sure, at times the Hoosiers get things right, but as the Wisconsin beat down showed, you’ve got to get it right most of the time.

Indiana (1-6) isn’t close to doing that, which is not good news entering Saturday’s game at Iowa (4-2).

“The inconsistency is killing us right now,” Mallory said. “I’m really disappointed in the effort. I didn’t feel the kids played as hard as they’re capable of playing. We struggled getting off blocks. We were poor fundamentally. We did not tackle well, particularly on the back end (secondary). As a result, (Wisconsin) had big plays. Those are the things we’re trying to fix.”

Because this isn’t the NFL, Hoosier coaches can’t hit the free agent wire and try to sign new players. They have to use the guys they’ve got, and a lot of those guys are true freshmen who sometimes get confused.

When they do, big plays if not touchdowns often result.

The good news is, these guys are learning.

“The plays we screwed up, (Wisconsin) came back and ran them again and, at times, we played them well,” Mallory said.

True freshmen defensive backs Michael Hunter, Mark Murphy, Kenny Mullen and Forisse Hardin, plus redshirt freshman Drew Hardin, are playing major minutes, and it shows.

So how do you minimize the mistakes?

“We try to keep it simple,” Mallory said, “but we don’t want to make it too simple that you’re not giving the kids the chance to be successful. Sometimes (mistakes) happen.

“Sometimes you have to live a little bit with making mental mistakes, but we’ve got to get that our of our system.

“The biggest thing we have to improve on is fundamentals. Our effort was very disappointing. We had more more loafs (non-hustle plays) in that Wisconsin game than we had all year. That’s not getting off blocks and not tackling. Those are the essentials of playing good defense. We’re not doing it right now”

IU has played 16 true freshmen overall, which was not the way coach Kevin Wilson envisioned it when he pushed his “Win Today” theme.

“Some of it is through injury,” Mallory said, “and some of it is the young kids continue to get better. We’re going to play guys who bust their butt, who prepare and produce on the field. Those are the guys we’re going to try to win with. You never think you’ll play that many young kids, but sometimes that’s how it works out.”

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