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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

football

Column: Wilson quickly changing culture of IU football

Spring Football Game

There’s just something different about the IU football team.

When I talk to the players and coaches now, I get the feeling they are no longer the soft little brother that has been toyed with by other Big Ten teams for years.

They look stronger, they act stronger — heck, they talk stronger than they did just a few months ago.

Coach Kevin Wilson has brought with him things that were previously missing with this program.

He holds players accountable. He’s honest. He believes in practicing in pads. He doesn’t care about seniority.

All of those things were on display throughout the spring, which comes to an end with one final practice today.

Two moments from the spring stand out.

Wilson called two of his offensive linemen “slow and lazy.”

And after the spring game, he said freshmen Ralston Evans and Cody Evers “haven’t been here long enough to learn how to play soft.”

Ouch.

But it’s true.

This team didn’t practice in pads all of last season — soft.

This team folded in the fourth quarter on more than one occasion — soft.

This team gave up 83 points in a game — very soft.

I wrote a column last year about the losing culture that had been established within this program. I said that until that culture had changed, the Hoosiers are not going to win games like the Iowa, one they could’ve won on the closing play.

Wilson is changing that culture. He’s trying to make his guys believe that it shouldn’t be out of the question for them to beat Ohio State. He’s trying to teach his guys that it’s okay to step on Iowa’s throat when they get a lead. He’s trying to show his guys that they can compete for more than just a lower-tier bowl game.

Wilson said in a radio interview last week that he spent his first couple of months in Bloomington working on the team’s psychological weaknesses and not their physical ones. (That’s not to say they didn’t have physical weaknesses.)

Wilson told the players that what they were doing wasn’t good enough. He told them that no one’s starting position is guaranteed going into next season.

You started a defensive end? Don’t care. You caught multiple touchdown passes?
Doesn’t matter.

Work harder and prove yourself or sit on the bench and watch.

“There’s nothing locked down,” Wilson said Saturday. “There’s a lot of water to come across the dam.”  

Keep in mind that this was Wilson’s first spring as a head coach. He’s still learning how to manage an entire team and not just an offense.

But everything we’ve seen from him so far has been encouraging. He’s come in, given the team a dose of culture shock and seems to still have everybody on board.

As I sat at the spring game Saturday and watched wide receiver Damarlo Belcher make a catch 10 times more difficult than the one he dropped against the Hawkeyes, I shook my head and thought, “What if?”

Then I remembered things would be the same as they always had been. IU would have been in a random bowl game and the old coaching staff would have returned.

In the end, I guess that drop wasn’t all that bad.


­— jmalbers@indiana.edu

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