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August 25, 2014

Kevin Wilson

COACH WILSON:  All right, Indiana here, the opener.  For us, you know, noontime, so an early kick, first couple of years have always been night games.  It's kind of had some heat the last couple of days, practice has been great.  Nice to have it on a Saturday, open the following week, so all concentration on this game.
First game, you always got those glitches, working out the kinks.  It's going to be on national TV, ESPN News.  Third year we've played these guys in a row.  They've always played with a lot of effort and fight, and kinda flown around in a pretty good way.  Obviously look at last year's game, we made a few big plays and there was a couple of the first game error plays where it kind of goes against them and we get up 45‑7, and then at the end of the second quarter, end of the first half and start of the third quarter we throw a pick‑six, and they score 21 straight points to make it a 45‑28 game.
They didn't quit.  It was obvious because the next week they go to Purdue and lose to Purdue 20‑13, and I believe Purdue returned the opening kick‑off for an opening touchdown ‑‑ excuse me think they lost 20‑14, in a game that they won by 6 points at Purdue, so it shows the fight of the team.  It's evidence, too, with the previous team the year before, it's a 24‑17 game, chunking the Hail Mary in the last part of the game into the end zone.
We got a lot of respect for team.  It's Indiana guys, Indiana, Indiana State, Terre Haute, I think we're excited.  I think we're recognizing Anthony Thompson this week, and his accomplishments of being one of the greatest, if not the greatest to play here, and also being from Terre Haute, that game is going to mean a lot to him, and I know he means a lot to Hoosier Nation, and he means a lot to the our program on and to our kids, so we're going to be excited representing A.T. this week as well as the alumni, and the team, and really it's a new start, new year.
It's new for them.  They have always played us well.  It's three in a row, so we'll see what happens this week.  For us, you can kind of talk and look at the film and last year's game and there are new guys and always new wrinkles, sometimes the first games are kind of hard to gauge when you're watching tape of someone, watching last year's team playing last year's guys, and that being said you kind of start concentrating on where we are of us so here is where we are in the update of us, because it always starts with you more than the opponent, and you gotta take care of with us.
We're more than ready for game week.  We have 350 returning starts, guys that started games 350 times.  There is a lot of experience of.  It's the most in the Big Ten, one of the most in the country.  I think our preparation through all our phases has been pretty good, going back to winter, winter including the recruiting process and the way that went down for us.  Spring ball and the way we came out of spring with the new implementation of a defensive scheme, a lot of guys competing, fighting, getting guys that were nicked up healthy and back.
Summer was outstanding, new rules, coaches could be involved in some degree of work outs or video, your freshmen are all here, love those guys, it's a good class, getting those guys acclimated, up to speed is awesome.  I think our preseason practices have been outstanding so I like the prep part of what's going on and all that does is sets us up for our journey.  We're bigger, strong, we got experience, we got some depth with a lot of guys come being back and depth with a lot of freshmen coming in.
We come out of camp in good health, I think we come out in very good health, I think we come out in a good state of mind, physically how we prepare, a good group of core leaders that will lead us and go through this journey.  I'm looking to this first day.  Coaches worry about wanting to see what you got when you go at it, because you've just been going at yourself.  So how we start and how we handle the high and lows of the season, the tough practices, the nicks that guys get along the way, the calls or bounces that don't go your way, there is ebb and flow in games and in the season and in life and really just want to see how these guys handle it.  You guys to the your two‑deep today and I think you guys want more than I worry about.
I think I called you about an hour ago and said this is it, because we don't post it to the team, it's not in the locker room, it's not on media room doors.  They practice every day, they know who is one and two and there are some three's that are going to play, that maybe aren't on your piece of paper right now.  I expect many guys to play each and every week.  I expect guys to help us win each and every week, I'm not really concerned with who starts because there will be two's playing as much as ones.  One guy might be go out there first, because somebody is going to be the first.  Kevin is a great tailback, we are going to play two or three tail backs; we have to.  Shane Wynn is an awesome receiver, but we're going to play guys out there to keep him fresh.  We have nine offensive linemen that have started games, so 10 returning guys on defense that have started games.
So a lot of guys that have started and to me what's exciting.  A lot of guys that are going to play, and what I like about that is it's going to keep us playing fresh and it's going to keep us playing hard throughout the year, more than anything it's going to give us a chance to see who is playing the best.  Give us competition, a guy gets a hot hand, plays well, if a guy gets an injury or something, so I'm excited about our depth and what we got.
Injury updates, to wrap it up for you.  We have two guys that have injuries that are going to probably it looks like end their season.  One senior linebacker, Steven Funderburk, had a back injury.  Steven would have been in our 2 two to three‑deep playing some and special teams.  He had a back surgery deal that's going to take about 12, 14 weeks to recover and that's going to eat the bulk of his season.  He's a senior linebacker, played for us the last couple of years, done well, tough break because he's a senior and you feel for him.  He's a heck of a kid.  We're lucky we have depth there so as a team we can handle, it but you don't like that for Steven who is a senior.
And our freshman running back, Tommy Mister a week ago had an injury, it's going to require surgery.  I think he's got not an ACL but a PCL injury, and I think he will have surgery it looks like this week, which basically will end his season, making him a red shirt.  So two guys right now on the shelf.  We don't expect maybe to have for the season.  Fortunately those are two positions where we've got six running backs on scholarship and a lot of linebackers, you don't like it for those guys but I think the team will have the depth to overcome that.
Wes Rogers, Danny Friend, Anthony Corsaro and Dawson Fletcher have all had injuries in preseason that have limited them.  They're day‑to‑day, week‑to‑week, kinda gettin' back in it but they've missed some of the prep time and I don't anticipate them doing a lot this week and with opening day coming it might be two or three weeks, whether they have had a high‑ankle sprain or knee sprain that glitched them there so those four guys are gimpy, but outside of that we're in good health as far as consistently having guys practicing, had a good camp.  Unfortunately you losing two solid kids for their season, we hate that, but preseason has been awesome.  We're look forward to the opener at high noon, 12:01 with Indiana State and we expect them to come in with a lot of energy and effort and flyin' around like they did last year with their‑‑ it's going to be‑‑ they have nothing to lose.
They will be coming from all over the place, and couple years ago if you don't remember 4th and 1, play action pass for a touchdown on 4th and 1, because you're playing a team that wants to get a hunk of you and again, respect 'em.  Know it will be tough.  I do expect this team to have a great week of preparation.  Our camp has been awesome.  I anticipate this week to be a lot of great focus and work and looking forward to getting started.  Questions.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH WILSON:  Well, I think as much as anything we just‑‑ so many guys have been around so long, that there is just a good understanding of how we want to practice and things we want to do for the most part and handle our business.  I think we've recruited longer bodies and bigger guys and we have had now four years of Connor, for instance, he's benched over 400 pounds now, and it starts when you bench 315 and you gain 20 pounds per cycle and then four years later you're at 395, 400, 405, it's 15, 20, 25‑pound increments over time.  So with a lot of those third and fourth year guys in the program to be developed, that gets you excited, then you've recruited the last two years better, so you've got some very good young talent and experience.
But as much as anything to me what you just don't know in the opener is how you're going to put it all together.  You're always going against yourselves.  It's "O" versus "D" and you're kinda kicking, but you're not playing the game.  How does the defense handle an offensive negative play on our part.  If we put them in bad situation, can they come out and get a stop?  When they create a turnover can the offense take advantage of it?  When we need to punt the ball with a veteran punter, can we down that thing deep and give them a long field and pin them back and now go get points?  So how do you play as a team?  You've been practicing as a team, now you gotta learn to play as a team.
I think that's what's always interesting early in the season is how do you put it together?  'Cuz you've been working hard, but you've been working against each other.  Now you're kinda lockin' arms and hookin' up together, so I think it's interesting just to really see when you put it all together what you are your deficiencies and how do you maximize and minimum nice those things.

Q.  You seem more excited about these team than you have been the others?
COACH WILSON:  I think we're always‑‑ I'm not flat a lot of days.  I don't drink decaffeinated coffee, but I don't drink a lot of coffee.  I've never had one of those energy drinks.  I don't need those.  I'm kinda ready to roll.  Nothing against those 5‑hour guys, and all them Monster drinks you guys have, but I don't need that.  I'm ready to roll.  I was ready the first couple of years, but I think the team is more prepared and that excites me.  Man, you gotta go play.  You know?  And everybody is going to say, you beat these guys the last couple of years, you got a better team, na, you gotta go play.
You know?  And you have the opportunity every week to be off your kilter and not play well, and as a coach, I'm accountable to get these guys ready to go.  They're responsible to get ready to play.  I'm accountable.  I gotta get it all set up and man they're responsible, too.  Everybody's got to be all in.
Again, you're just ‑‑ I think we've always been excited.  We've been close the last couple of years.  You can say, hey, you have underachieved.  We haven't‑‑ we've lost some games where at the end we couldn't make a play we needed to, but we been on the verge of winning six, seven, eight the last couple years.  We've been a little shy of that.  This team could do the same thing or this team could stay shy.  That's what I'm saying, you're just kinda lookin' forward to seeing how these guys want to ride it out.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH WILSON:  If it was a real schedule, and we didn't have another bye week, I wouldn't like it, because I think it's too early.  I think you want to ‑‑ you work hard and you want to get in rhythm.
So I mean to me right now it's all about Indiana State, and then we gotta find ways to improve from that in the open week, and you can say it's a learning curve but you want to get in rhythm.  If we didn't have another bye week I would really not like it, 11 weeks in a row, you kinda get nicked up or beat up.  I think sometimes you like it after that fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh game.  You don't like it week one or two, most of the time, and you really don't like it when it's the last two weeks.  You want it somewhere in the middle, so you can kind of regroup, eval, catch your breath and then make a run down the end.  That's what I'm looking at now.  We pointed everything into this one, we have a chance to regroup and have a six‑game run and then an open date and then a five‑game run.  Right now all our focus is on Indiana State.  Then we are going to catch our breath and get ready and see if we can jump‑start again and see if we can get ready for the fall and six games in a row.

Q.  What would you like to see from Bobby Richardson?  What does he need to give you?
COACH WILSON:  I think he's one of the more under appreciated guys on our team, and he's kind of been fighting this first couple of years through just some hip and low back and almost like a sport hernia deal, where he gets gimpy and can't play at the speed he has.  He comes here as a defensive end, we play him at 3 technique tackle, now he's playing at 4, 5 technique for us in the scheme that we're doing.
He's very diverse.  He's had the best preseason he's ever had.  He's healthier than he's ever been, and I think he is one of the more‑‑ I think we have guys on our team that have better stats, that have better name value to our fans, but he might be our best senior as a player, and he's one of our better leaders, so I'm expecting him to play at a high end and have a great year for us.  He's had his best practices to date the last two weeks.  He's been very, very good.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH WILSON:  No, he's better than I ever thought about being.  He's a guy, when you go through your journey, he was a guy that was not coming to preseason practices freshman year.  He was not an invited walk‑on.  Everybody wants to be invited, preferred, and all these fancy words.  He was a guy on the numbers was on the outside looking in, and I think one of the freshman in that class that year broke an ankle, and now all of the sudden he couldn't play, and it opened up a spot, and the day before reporting day, the year before our staff was here, he was invited to camp, and red shirted.  Our first year in spring, he's a little bit undersized, but he's battling, but as we got into the season, his second year, you know, we weren't particularly playing as hard as you wanted, and he had a lot of buy‑in and he was a little small, but we went with it.
He spelled Will Matte a little bit, when Will got hurt at center for a game or two.  He started in a handful of games as a right guard, from there he got ‑‑ kind of rolled it, and to me he's basically a four‑year starter, although he hasn't started every game.  Barring any injuries, he's going to be a two‑year starter, 20, 30‑some games in a row.
He's a very good player, I think he's a potential pro camp guy.  I worry about his size and on the pro roster they only keep seven guys, and you have to be a center guard guy, and he's a little more just compact enough, where he's kind of ideal at center.  Sometimes in the pro game he will have difficulty against those three techniques, because of his size, but he is extremely athletic.  He's, like Bobby, one of our best leaders, he's a great worker.  He's what we want guys to look like.
When you're telling guys maybe how to do things now you don't tell them, you say watch that guy and stretch like he stretches, practice like he practices.  I think he's one of the better centers in our conference and I know he's one of our best players and I like him a lot.  I don't know how he compares to anybody else but I know he's awfully good for us.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH WILSON:  You said Tevin; right?  He's a dynamic player.  Some big‑play capability and I think we're going to look for a little bit more consistency, too, and what's going on, and I think that comes from the offensive line with all those guys back, that we can take runs that‑‑ we can press into the line of scrimmage, instead of making backfield cuts and going sideways, and you got safeties and backers coming up, if we can get him going downhill and downhill fast, he can split some seams and take it to the distance.
So, again, he's looked very good here the last few days, he had a fast bounce in his step last night we need him to have a good year, but he'll go as that line goes.  As good as he can.  That line and those perimeter guys, our ability to throw the ball and keep 'em out of there, or lock 'em up and block in the perimeter.  He's a really good player but it will‑‑ if he has a great year, it's because he has some great teammates gettin' it done for him.

Q.  What are you looking specifically for out of this 3‑4 defense's debut against Indiana State's team?  Are there any one or two things that you want to evaluate and that will determine whether that was a good introduction into that or not?
COACH WILSON:  I don't think it's as radical a change as on paper it will appear to be.  I think we've adapted to it really well.  I would like to see us play with an unbelievable amount of energy and effort, which means you know what you're doing.  'Cuz if you're sittin' out there and you don't know the call, now all of the sudden it's a game, and you've done it in practice a hundred times, and now I'm on the game field and hey I'm not supporting the run or cancelling the gap or having my proper alignment, so I would like us to be aggressive, which means we're gonna know what we're doing.  Because if you're thinking ‑‑ like I tell the guys all the time, if you're thinking, you don't know.  If you know, you know.  You know the call, you know the job, do the job.
If you're thinking, you don't know.  So I like to see these guys playing fast.  That means they gotta know what they're doing.  So that will be interesting for Coach Knorr how much he wants to do, because I think the faster we can play with being assertive and confident.  I think the second thing, our ability to tackle and tackle well, and not hit people but tackle and wrap up.  And we've worked a lot on wrapping and squeezing and getting people on the ground through our fundamental work and through our scrimmages and it's been significantly better, practice, but let's do it "when it counts."  And I think the last thing is the ability to communicate, get lined up and be sound.
Let's be aggressive, tackle well and let's be sound.  When I say "sound" you got the call.  So I don't know how much we're going to do.  We've done a lot in camp.  I guess they can ‑‑ Coach Knorr will give you some magical number of what percentage of his playbook is in.  In all honesty he doesn't have a playbook, 'cuz nobody reads anymore; it's video stuff, but he'll give you some 53.4 percent or something.  I don't know where he came up with that number.  But they've done a lot at us, and they've been throwin' a lot at us, and I don't think we're going to sit there and be vanilla.  I would like to see these guys fly around and I'm expecting‑‑ I'm expecting to see this team play well.
We're expecting to have a better season.  It's nice, you've worked hard and practiced and all those things give you a chance, but what needs to happen is we need to start doing the thing.  We need to start playing; we need to start winning.  The first game is going to be difficult, we're going to have some issues, we're going to have some problems, but if we're a good team we'll handle it and I expect us to‑‑ we got enough veterans back, we've recruited well, and I expect us to look and play like ray good football team.  We're going to see where we start and the how far then we can take it.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH WILSON:  I don't know, it kind of frees up for them, where if you say I can't‑‑ because we're only allowed so much time "with them."  Used to be okay, you gotta come into the building to watch tape.  Now you got a chance to say‑‑ like today is the first day of class, so when you're done at night ‑‑ we practiced last night.  Now during the day, they can access ‑‑ and no one else can.  I mean, we have to give it to the guy in house on his computer.  He can only log into it there, so it's a very secure system but, you know, you can watch‑‑ whether it be Indiana State games from last year, our practice from last night, and so guys can just‑‑ they have more time on their own.
But, again, I told the team last night, physically we're a better team but mentally are we?  Are we going to work mentally like a real high‑end team does.  We've worked physically, but are you going to study, are you going to invest, because we're trying to get these guys to a point too, the way we practice, I'm trying to practice to keep this team fresh.  If we physically do some things to keep you fresh, you mentally have to push yourself.  Because if you're mentally not going to push yourself, we physically got to get more reps on the field.
So how much can these guys take advantage of the iPads as a teaching deal to learn so going back to the one question a minute ago from David, we can play fast, because we know what we're doing.  To me it's just a great learning resource tool I think with our Bill of Rights, every athlete on campus has one.  It's also today being used for notes.  So instead of class checking, when a kid leaves class, he e‑mails the notes back so you know he's in class.  That's a good deal, too, so we don't have to drive around campus and seeand say, "show me your notes."  It's immediate.  Walk out of class, that's a pretty good deal, too.  That way my GA can study football.  I don't have to do class checks on Fridays anymore.

Q.  Receivers and tight ends have been your biggest losses.  Are you encouraged with what you've seen?
COACH WILSON:  What about fill‑in?

Q.  That has been your biggest losses.  Have you seen some freshmen step up?
COACH WILSON:  You see some flashes.  Now they're young, and there's gonna be some growing pains with it.  You got an older crowd with Stoner and Roundtree and Wynn.  You've got the intermediate guys in there, guys who have been around a little bit, Damon Graham has really picked it up, a kid we put on scholarship.  He had to touchdowns the other day and some developmental work.  He's got some speed, and again, not a primary guy but going to have a good role, and a special teams role that you like.  And we finally got Ricky Jones back healthy, and he's looking better, and he's in them mix but it goes from the old guys to the middle crowd.  The freshmen crowd with Dom Booth, J‑Shun Harris, Simmie Cobbs, Coray Keel right now is the fourth one.  He is probably not in that top mix right now, so maybe he plays, maybe he doesn't.  In the opener he's not set to play but J‑Shun starts at a higher place than Shane Wynn did.  I think Simmie Cobbs is starting at a very high place.  Now, he's not as good as Shane Wynn, but he's starting at a higher level than Shane started.  Still freshmen, there are going to be mistakes, not ideal, but you're excited about Dom and J‑Shun and those guys, and they will be very much in the mix and they will be playing on special teams, I'm sure, and they'll be playing as a part of the offensive rotation and you'll see them early, and we'll see how much they grasp and how it grows.
But they start at a reasonably positive level for fresh‑‑ because there is a lull between our seniors and some of those second and third‑year guys who haven't played well or done well, there is a void and we're fortunate we have recruited well, but until they play in games we'll see.  Like the things they have done in practice, they have made a bunch of plays in practice.  Tight end, Jordan Fuchs, very athletic tight end.  MichaelCooper, scholarship player from Arizona, transferred in.  We lose Bolser, but Jordan is very, very athletic‑‑ I didn't see Ted as a freshman, but knowing Ted's skill set as I saw him older, I think Jordan starts at a high place, as far as where he starts.  Now, it's not going to be as good as Ted, Ted leaving year 4, year 5, so there is maturity going on, but they're talented kids.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH WILSON:  Um, let me see here.  I think as far as freshmen that may be‑‑ Devine Redding at running back has chance to go in the mix, with special teams and playing, because we did two deep.  Some of these times we listed three but mostly it was two deep.  D‑line, I think what you see is what you got up there.  I think Robert McCray at oura spot can be in the mix with Mangieri and Shaw.  Dameon Willis at the sand backer, where Flow and Clyde will have a lot experience.  If those guys are healthy and playing good, he's third, but if not he's in the mix and he's playing special teams.  Week one Dam's ‑‑ he could be odd man out, because you have two veterans guys that have played well for you.  All of the sudden if there is an injury he gets worked up and on special teams, but in our eyes he's in the mix.  I don't know if he's playing game one but he's in the mix.
I think at linebacker, Gooch and Scales inside, Sykes possibly, I think he's a little farther with depth.  It's kinda like Dameon Willis, is it worth the special team, little bit of play or a lot.  So I think those couple of guys, and I think Donovan Clark at corner is another guy that's in the mix that we‑‑ there is not a deadline of when you gotta red shirt or not.  If you play you play, but I think you're going to see 10, 11, 12 of those freshmen playing.  I don't know if they play week one, because you might wait and see ‑‑ Wes Martin in the offensive line, we had a knee injury with Bailey last year, a knee injury with Kaminski.  Wes Rogers wasout.  If they get nicked up, Wes Rogers is very good and can play as a freshman lineman, but right now if we're healthy, we're going to red shirt him.  It's good to red shirt kids, if they're not ready to play and they're not going to play a lot, but I'm going to tell you, in this day and age where everybody wants immediate gratification and satisfaction, as hard as you work when you don't play in games, this game sometimes can be tough.  So we like to play as many freshmen as we can.  We don't want to burn the year.  I think you go between now and Missouri and you figure it out, it gives us a four‑week window, counting the open date.
And the by then, third, fourth week, you might say, hey, we need to get this guy in the mix, so and so is nicked up.  A lot of those guys are on the varsity field, they're slated maybe to play, maybe not, but what you're seeing right there is going to play with the names I've mentioned, Redding, Donovan Clark, Scales, Gooch, some of those guys get in the mix and they'll be playing special teams.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH WILSON:  When they come in, it's for our recruited guys.  We'll keep using our walk‑on deals, one‑year deal, because we use that for two fold‑‑ a lot of guys‑‑ I don't want to give a guy a scholarship; I want the kid to help us win.  I have had a lot of walk‑on's, once they got their scholarship, it's almost like they quit working, like they got what they wanted.  I need you to help us win.  You almost want them to earn it back.  It's a one‑year deal.  So if you got a class like a year ago, we had 10, 11 seniors, but we had 5 or 6 juniors graduating in four years, that gets you to 15 or 16, you have five or six walk‑ons, you can take those back, and now you can go sign 22 guys.  Then when you have attrition, and a guys does something he shouldn't do or a guy that doesn't want to be here and transfers, all of the sudden money comes open, but when money comes open in May, June, Julyand Augustthere is no recruits to go get.
It's an aggressive way of allowing us to recruit at the maximum level and telling the walk‑on, don't get content on us.  We have had walk‑ons have it one year and not get it the next and did nothing wrong.  The team got more competitive.  Anything else?

Q.  Your thoughts on the Sam Bradford thing?
COACH WILSON:  I saw the other day ‑‑I saw the grimace on his face, and I said, what did he do, and they said a leg injury.  I hadn't had a lot of chance to watch the sports and news with our practices, and he's a phenomenal player and a tough deal, and I did catch one of the NFL shows, tried to catch highlights of what was going on and as Kurt Warner said he's almost missing two full years, it's going to be a hard deal.  I know in their world, they got business deals, he's got a contract, they got all those things to get through.  But, for example, when I was talking to our quarterbacks the other day, and I said, hey, the amount of time I see you compared to Sam Bradford working extra, and I have a GA that was at Oklahoma, I said, "What do you think?"  And the GA said, "It ain't even close, how hard that guy was working to be a great player," which is his commitment to study, extra study, taking care of his body.  Phenomenal college player, and it's a bad deal for him and you love him and pray for him and he'll be fine.  Have a good one, guys.

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