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November 7, 2016

Kevin Wilson

Bloomington, Indiana

KEVIN WILSON: Good afternoon. Again, it was good to get that win on the road last week. Going back to the Rutgers game, again, defense with some good stats, and 3rd downs, some stops, and really battled. I think we gave up the one long play early. They score on the touchdown fumble return, and then they score after the kickoff return were their three touchdowns, so one big play after that, defense was good.

At the end of the game, defensively a little bit -- our Maryland game at the end wasn't as strong. Michigan State, we gave up the score late, Ball State at the end we gave up some points, so even in some of the successes, finishing strong, Coach Allen has talked about that with the kids and wants them to keep moving, but a lot to build on there.

Offensively we had some numbers in the pass game. Run game, two big plays, and not anything after that. Didn't block well. Lines of scrimmage, tight ends need to do better. We did have the ball many times across the 40 and didn't score, which has been a little bit of a recurring theme because we moved the ball, but we needed to have point production to relate to that, and that keeps us in games or keeps us from winning games.

Kicking last week with the really good kicker and a proven kicker. We actually started the game with Del Grosso kicking the first two kickoffs, which he mis-hit. He needed to have a little bit more pop in his leg. But again, with the hold, the spot protections, we had many issues there we've all talked about.

And again, we're not going to win with that kind of play this week or any week moving forward with a rival game and a road game and a tremendous team coming this week with a three-game stretch. We've got a lot to clean up. People that played well, Robert McCray, really good game up front, two tackles, an assist, TFL sack, two quarterback knockdowns. Played really hard, made a great play on the quarterback scramble on 3rd and 14, caught a kick from behind to make it a 4th and 2, which several times, several tackles. Tegray Scales made one early in the game, second quarter I think it was to hold them to 4th and 1. Marcelino Ball made a tackle, holding them to the 4th and 1 where they missed the field goal. That play by Robert McCray, making it 4th and 2, forced them into the punt.

We had a lot of plays at the chains where the defense did a good job keeping leverage on the ball, tackling, the defender tackling him backwards, not allowing the chains to move. It was good to see.

McCray, really good up front, great effort play on the 1.

Marcus Oliver, really good game, nine tackles, a fumble recovery. Probably I think our coaches felt first time he ran the defense. He's been out there and he's played a lot and he's been a good player, but his presence, communication, body language, really taking ownership. I know Coach Allen and Coach Inge felt by far the best he'd been just being the guy of the defense and getting them set, and also playing a good football game himself. He's played a lot of good games, but sometimes when you're playing your game, it's hard to be a strong leader.

He played a great game, and he was a strong leader, and that was a great, great step.

Fletcher didn't play enough to get into championship mode. Had two tackles for loss, the big sack there at the end was awesome. Jon Crawford and Chase Dutra, both safeties, had championship grades, eight tackles for Jon, best he's played in a couple weeks, Chase Dutra, four tackles, doing a great job on special teams, as well.

And both corners, Rashard Fant with three tackles, a tackle for loss and a PBU, and A'Shon Riggins five tackles. Those were good defensively.

Offensively, Dan Feeney, six knockdowns, he played two positions, kind of back full flow looking good. Devine Redding had 73 yards rushing, 32 yards catching, and two touchdowns, so 105 yards of total offense and two TD's, was really great in pass pro, as well. His best game there.

Our three receivers had some plays, Westbrook, Jones and Paige. Nick with five catches for 80 yards, three big plays. Ricky Jones, 5 for 65 and several big plays, including the fumble recovery. Mitchell Paige, 6 for 100 yards, and then our quarterback had the two picks, one, he didn't go through the progression right and he threw a swing route, and the other play he just needed to not try to force one in on a greedy play to Mitchell. But came back off of that. Hit his 3rd down throws in the fourth quarter, standing in the pocket, going through the progressions from one to two to three to a couple great 3rd down shots was huge.

Some things to clean up, but he was 70 percent, 72 percent on target. He's got one throw away on the screen, you take that out, he's 28 of 39, so he played a pretty good game, cleaning up the mistakes.

Again, defensively, we talked about the three-and-outs. Offensively we scored early, and we had a good answer late. We did have some glitches that need to be cleaned up. Had some great kicking effort from Isaac James who we recognized as our special teams player of the week. Was outstanding a couple teams, Luke Timian was very strong on a couple teams, Zeke Walker's punt block. I think we now lead the Big Ten in blocked kicks, which is a positive.

We've got to clean up the fumble that Mitchell had that didn't haunt us. The kickoff fumble by D-Will was a concern. Gideon had some strong punts. The sky punts were good, and a couple good punts.

Players of the game, defensively, two. A'Shon Riggins and Marcus Oliver. Both guys from the same high school, Hamilton High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. Freshmen, and our team leader, two really strong games.

Offensively, Ricky Jones, several big plays, the fumble recovery. Been playing great as a senior down the stretch. A lot of juice and energy. I mentioned Isaac James.

Justin Berry was our offensive scout along with Shaun Bonner, Shaun is a tight end, Justin is a wide receiver out of South Carolina, both freshmen.

And defensively Garrett Lukens, who's a transfer, his brother played for us here, of course, as a walk-on lineman, but Garrett is going to be a good young player for us, transferring in, and Johnny Albomonte, who's really doing a great, great job in the scout deals.

A lot of things to clean up. Still good to clean up after a win, but a lot of things to address. We addressed a little bit of that yesterday, started in our prep work today. We're on to what is a really good team. Penn State is coming in and playing really hot, really good, won five in a row. Should be, I think, they're 12 and 14 in two polls. Interesting to see Tuesday night that they were 12th with two teams in front of them losing. Might be a top-ten team by the College Football Playoff deal.

They lose to Pitt, they lose at Michigan, but since then they're playing outstanding. Offense is going up and down the field. They've always played great defense, and they're putting together a good kicker and a good punter in the kick game. They're led by the running back Barkley, who's the leading rusher in the conference, a very, very dynamic player. The quarterback McSorley, they're a good one-two package and they throw the ball 230 a game. Those two guys with the spread and the zone read are doing great.

A couple great big receivers outside with Godwin and Hamilton. Their tight end Gesicki has played outstanding, and as always they've got safeties at linebackers and they're getting after it up front with Sickels and Schwan that are good up front. They're good in the back end. It's a typical Penn State team that comes in playing very, very good. It'll be a good challenge for us. I know our guys are excited. We're going to need a really good week, and we're going to need to be better than we were last week, and we've got a lot of things to fix.

With that, we'll see what questions you've got.

Q. There have been like 18 sacks in the last three games. Are they doing something differently? Is it just strong defensive line play?
KEVIN WILSON: They pick their spots to blitz, and they do pressure, but it's really just their front. In some of these games they've done a really good job of getting the team one-dimensional and getting them in situations, and then their D-line is really just pushing the pocket and playing hard. They're playing a lot of guys defensively. Their one defensive end is having a great year. They moved a really big, athletic defensive end to D-tackle that's very explosive inside, so they're playing a lot of guys, but like snap numbers and the guys that are playing, they're throwing a lot of bodies at you, they're stopping the run. They're getting you one-dimensional.

The offense is making some big plays, and all of a sudden it gets 31-10, 31-14 and you start throwing a little bit and they pin their ears back. They've played really strong these last few weeks, really gotten after the quarterback. The nature of how they're playing as a team, nature of the score, and then stopping the run, and they've gotten after it really good. It'll be a challenge for our linemen and our whole offense.

Q. I think you were asked about this a little bit Saturday, but just as you watch film, how effective was Dan when he was being asked to rotate between guard and tackle there?
KEVIN WILSON: Yeah, I mean, his only issue was -- when you play guard, you line up a little bit behind the center, and so sometimes you're used to looking, and I'm a little bit behind the guy, well, he got called for a penalty for lining up behind the guard at tackle when he was in the backfield because, you know, our tight end is off the ball, that was the tight end you saw, and they said no, and then we kind of put it together, and he just -- he had a misalignment. But as far as assignments and playing hard, and again, Delroy and DaVondre Love, those guys can help us at tackle, they'll play, but Jake Bailey is a good player, so it just gets our best five on the floor, and Dan is mature enough and he's long enough that he can play the tackle spot. He can play all five spots at the college level. I mean, he'll play a little bit of both this week I'm sure. We didn't think that was wrong. We just thought the combination of him playing -- he's kind of back -- I don't know if he plays all the game, but he can play a lot of it, and then it takes a little bit off of Jake and Bailey's play and a little bit off of Delroy's plate, and collectively those three guys will handle those two spots on the right if we stay healthy and fortunate there.

Q. You mentioned Brandon wouldn't need surgery, but do you anticipate being able to get him back?
KEVIN WILSON: Yeah, I don't know here with three remaining, but I think he's into that, three, four, five weeks. You know, it's a leg injury that doesn't require surgery, but it's like pain tolerance and strength level. Again, he's a young guy, and so if we're fortunate enough to have the whole team -- I don't know if you even rush him back for the bowl, but I think he'll be pretty good by then. You know, it's kind of risk and reward and no guarantees. Just kind of move with that and see.

But right now, he's not day-to-day, he's week to week, and he's probably a few weeks out, and it'll be a stretch here by the season's end. We'll see, but he'll drink a lot of milk and rub a lot of dirt on it between now and then if that happens.

Q. Where have you seen Devine Redding improve as the years have gone on?
KEVIN WILSON: I think initially -- I think he ran a little tight and rigid. I think last year at the end of the season he relaxed and became a little bit more fluid where he made some more cuts, where I think everything was just -- he was trying to go hard, and I think he's ran faster as he's just been more relaxed and he's made more cuts. He is a really great practice player. I mean, if you just watch guys that practice on a daily basis for us, I think you would grade he and Dan Feeney on offense as two of the best practice players. They give you what you've got, and Coach McCullough does a great job of managing reps so that their volume -- they'll be intense, and you don't fatigue them. So again, he's got great practice habits.

He had some good stats on the day, which is hard running and tough sledding. His pass pro was awesome. Sometimes, too, when you're playing without the ball -- those receivers had a bunch of really good plays, but you look at it, it was five catches, it was six catches, it was five catches. Well, what are you doing the other 40, 50, 60 snaps of the game. I think that's a credit to Devine. He's gotten better as a runner, four really good catches the other day, but he's getting complete. He's a good pass pro.

He's maturing, and Deland does a great job coaching those guys, too.

Q. (Indiscernible) what impressed you?
KEVIN WILSON: Well, you know, we had him in camp, and that's a good question, because it was a little bit of a reach and not sure, he was transferring from school to school, going from a really good school in Ohio, and then he wasn't allowed to play a lot of that year with the transfer rule, so you almost get worried what's he going to be. What we got is we got a kid that -- like the other day, his dad just showed up at practice. We've got a kid that comes from a great family, and there's a lot of pride and there's a lot of workmanship. He's a blue collar kind of kid, and he comes to work every day. You didn't really -- sometimes you think you know that in recruiting, but that's hard to tell.

And so I think fortunately we got a kid like we always say, we want a better person than a player, and I would tell you that he's a better kid than what you see on the film, and he's a really good football player. But I think the comment that was made, too, is he's really coming along.

Again, we thought we'd be a good player, but he would not be as good as he is without him being the person he is and the way he works. The way he -- if he had more players that approached it like that, we'd have a lot of kids playing a lot better football. He does a great job of prepping and rolling and coming -- he's a fun kid to coach because he buys what you sell. He's really good.

Q. The percentage of snaps that Dan played at right tackle as opposed to right guard, was that number -- based on what you went into the game hoping to see, or was it just kind of feeling it out?
KEVIN WILSON: It was -- I couldn't even tell you the numbers, and I don't think we had a deal. You want to get Bailey out there, see how Dan is doing. If Dan is struggling, go with Delroy. I think you'd prefer to play the two older guys a little bit more, but what the numbers were, I don't know. I know there was some crunch times where Delroy was in there, and there was a couple times, I'm like, hey, I'm doing this, putting Dan back out there because there's certain things I just wanted a little bit more of a veteran guy based on certain situations we were in. But I don't know what the numbers were.

Q. Being on the verge of a bowl game for the second time, is there anything you tell your team to kind of take a step back and not try to press to get that sixth win?
KEVIN WILSON: Well, to me, you're always pressing to have your best week. Now, you don't want to squeeze too tight, but our deal is we, again, haven't handled success good, and so you've got a couple, and we didn't even play well the other day. So again, is that maybe one of the reasons we were not as clean, that running game goes from a lot of yards to not a lot of yards, and the week before we just blocked hard and played hard, more than scheming and play calling.

Last game, the other team, their defensive front played harder than our guys I felt and got off blocks and defended the run. You know, we're not -- we just talked about the process of the week, a week ago. It's like a game we had to win. Our guys were like, you've got to win them all. You approach each game and do what you can to win each game, and you don't look at the total, you don't look at what's to come. It's just, here's today and here's the plan for this week, and you start it over -- we come in Sunday and grade it, and when you walk in here Sunday night, it's okay, boom, now Monday we've changed gears. Our practice mode Thursday is our recovery day, so we come in Sunday, clean up mistakes. We don't talk a lot about the next team, very, very slightly. We talk about what we just did. We come into today, and we've moved on to the next game. We just get it evolved with the week.

It's hard because they're going to read, listen, everybody has got Twitter, everybody follows whatever, so they're going to hear comments. You just can't make sure that the comments distract you from you doing your job, and our job is we've got to prepare and play well because if we don't play better than last week, we're not going to have a good outing Saturday, and we've got things that have got to be corrected, and we've got to come -- we've got to learn, we've got to put together the game plan, and we've got to grow and put it together this week. Win, lose or draw, there ain't no draws anymore, but win or lose, you've got to do it again, and that's the process we talk about, period. It's corny, but if you look at the big -- we don't look at the big picture until it's over, and then you go back and look at what you collected.

So our deal is it's going to take our best effort, it's going to take our best week. It's a strong challenge. It's a great team we're playing, and we're going to need to have a great week to have a chance, and that's all we're talking about.

Q. (Indiscernible) has he gotten better at shaking off some of those mistakes, and is that a factor of time and experience?
KEVIN WILSON: I think so. You know, I mean, it doesn't -- he appeared a lot better in the game. Again, I think some of those fourth quarter throws, standing in there and going through a couple critical 3rd downs, which I think in a two-point game or whatever it was, and making those plays was great to see, because been in there before, gotten a little rattled, flushed, eyes off target, didn't go through the progression, and the first guy wasn't there. And a couple times getting to move some defenders to fit a throw in, he had to actually move a flat defender to throw a corner route on the first one to Nick Westbrook or to get really to his third progression on a 3rd down, which I think he threw the one to Mitchell. Wasn't there one, two, come to the three, so to go through progressions was good. So again, he's gaining. I think Zander played a little bit and him coming on the bench, I think it helped him, too. I think he likes that, and I think he's becoming a good teammate. Not that he ever wasn't, I think he likes Zander playing, I think they pull for each other, and I think there's a little bit of -- even though Zander didn't have as much and he had one big play and he had one negative play, I think him just coming back and forth, I don't think he feels like he gets cold there. We didn't play him as much last game, it didn't work as well, we had one critical error, but I think the combination of those two -- I think it maybe takes a little bit of pressure off of Richard.

But he had a play the other day where they loaded the box, and we needed to block better, but he had to make a lot of those one-on-one throws, and those kids had to make a lot of one-on-one competitive plays, and there was a bunch of one-on-one plays, and we made our fair share, and that was good to see.

That's two weeks in a row now, you go from 400 running one game to 400 passing one game. We didn't get away from the run. It didn't work statistically well, but then you had to get to the next element of the offense. It was nice to see the next element come through, and it's not perfect, as good as we want, as good as it can be or we want it to be, but it's kind of good to kind of get a little bit of that going back and forth. We need that.

Q. Talking about one-on-one plays from your receivers, Ricky Jones made a lot of different kind of plays. He got a fumble recovery, which was obviously huge. Have you talked to him about NFL scouts looking for multifaceted stuff, special teams play, all that stuff? What is Ricky giving you now as a senior?
KEVIN WILSON: First thing he gives us, just a great attitude, great body language, and great juice in the building, just having fun showing up and ready to have a good meeting and good body long, and into the meeting, out into stretch, he knows, I think, much like Devine that Coach Johns will work the practice reps where he's not going to gas him, where if you're running around, go hard. If you're running full speed, run that little skinny post in there and run that little stop route and run your comeback and run your go route, and we'll work the reps where we don't tire you but go full speed, so I think he's matured where he trusts what's going on, and he's a really good practice player.

So a little bit of that is maturity, a little bit of that is mindset, but he shows up every day as -- we've got some guys that come into the building every day having fun in the process of the week and going through it, and he's one of the best we've got. When your seniors and veterans are the guys that are most into the meeting, doing the best job stretching, leading the fundamental drills, covering the kicks as well as having the offensive plays, it's just volumes to the program. That's a sign of strength that your veterans and seniors and leaders are buying what you're trying to do. Appreciate and respect those guys.

Mitchell Paige, those guys, they've been -- that's a good -- there's not a lot of seniors, about nine of them. You've got the couple three linemen with Bailey, Feeney and Wes Rogers, so you've got two starters, a part-time guy, and you've got the two receivers, and defensively you're playing Ralph and Fletcher plays a little bit, but the rest of it is a bunch of sophomores and juniors and some freshmen playing. It's not a lot of seniors. But the seniors are the guys that are giving us good -- because Ralph had a lot of energy the other day, was in the backfield making good plays. Dawson and Fletcher, it's good to see those seniors really playing good football down the stretch, because to be a good team, you've got to have good seniors. We don't have a lot, but they've got to be good, and that's good for our football program.

Q. You talked about the kicking game; what can be done with the protection at this point?
KEVIN WILSON: Well, I think some of it comes back to we've been a little bit inconsistent with the hold, and because we're a little inconsistent with the hold, I think our kicker is a little hesitant and a little late getting started because I think he's not trusting where the spot is going to be. So sometimes you're blocking certain guys based on some timing, and you're beating an edge guy with time. So we had one the other day off the edge where we were slow. As a matter of fact, we had a kid that was on offense, ran off the field and ended upcoming back on the field, and he was honored as academic all-district, all-American, whatever, the other day, so it's not like he doesn't have intelligence, but all of a sudden on the 5-yard line he ran off the field. He was fighting a little bit of injury he had going on, so mentally he was dealing with some stuff. A minor thing, but he was dealing with something, and I think he was just a little funky.

You know, we've been a little inconsistent. We'll figure it out with the hold what's going on. There's a couple things scheme-wise, but bottom line it's -- Rutgers got two on us. Penn State got two against Ohio State, a blocked punt and a blocked field goal, and they scored 24 points. They get 10 off of kicking because of blocked punt gets them three and then the blocked field goal is a kick six. They run it back. So they win that game with blocked kicks. It's going to be huge, so we'll work it.

I don't think, though, where our kickers have kicked that we can over-kick our kickers because I think our kickers are getting a little psychotic and we've got to work through the mental demon, but I don't think I need to pound the kids' legs because there's only so many swings in that leg, so we'll work some fundamental work and we'll get it addressed with either scheme or personnel, but we're going to put a team out there this week that's going to be confident, and they're going to make kicks, because this time of year and the games we're playing, they're going to have to make kicks if we're going to win, and they're capable, but they're going to have to get the job done.

Q. But it's not a case of bringing other people into that protection scheme, you stick with the guys you've got?
KEVIN WILSON: Oh, we've added some changes as the year has went along, between who we started with tight ends, wings. There's been -- so we'll look at that, but at the same time, too, it's not a hard play, and just do your job. To score points, it takes 11 guys to do their job, and the kicking team is not the kicker, it's 11 guys, and as a team, that was addressed with that team yesterday, and it's the team's fault. The team will work as a group and answer the problem, or the entire team will be the problem. We just put it on them. You're going to fix it as a group because your group is accountable to perform, and that group needs to answer the call because they'll get challenged by Penn State. Michigan is doing a great job, and Purdue won the last game because we've opened up a can of worms to come get it, so we're going to have to answer the call.

Q. Mitchell Paige, Zander, is there anybody else --
KEVIN WILSON: Yeah, we'll look at it again. To me, Mitchell was my thought from the beginning because he's such a competitive guy, and he's got the most -- we worked a little bit today in our work, and we'll see as we go through the week. The one thing I don't think I can do at this time is I cannot over-kick the kickers' legs, and we do have several kickers that have the legs. It's not a leg issue. Functioning as a team, getting the hold spot and some confidence with our kicker is all we need.

Q. Can a sports psychologist help not just the kicker but all of them get together with a sports psychologist to work through the mental part of it?
KEVIN WILSON: You can, and we have several on campus, but our department has one. At the same time -- sometimes you do worry, I've worried since I've been here, again, about the noise and voices, who are you talking to. And for example, like during the game, and I can get all fired up and competitive during the game, I was very calm with the kicker. I said, look, you've got a million great kicks, so calm down, we're going to get the spot and make the next one, period. Because when you can't do it, you've got a problem, okay, you know the guy can't. And I used the analogy, but when McIlroy flopped at the Masters several years ago, and you can't hide, but to come back a month or two later, and it was either the British or the US Open, you've got to be good enough to flop, and then you've got to get past that.

Most, very few people are great enough not to flop, because you've got to be good enough to know this is what is expected, and all of a sudden I didn't make the shot. Like Michael Jordan, I missed a lot more game winners than I ever hit. I struck out a lot more than I ever hit home runs. So the misses are there. It's now getting to the point of just going -- and sometimes it's, like I did the analogy of the old Gary Barnett years ago at Northwestern when the monkey reaches in and grabs the banana, and he can't let his hand open because once you've got it -- you've got to let go to pull it out. Sometimes you've got to let go of some things because you're holding on to it so fast, you can't move forward. Sometimes you've got to let go and you've got to move on.

I'm actually a pretty good sports psychologist when I want to be, so I -- just like, hey, man, come on. I mean, it's hard to be a sports psychologist when a guy can't. The guy can, and I came in, you tell me whatever you want, and then you've got to work at it. It's going to show up.

What gives me confidence is I saw the kick he made to win a big game. I saw the kick he made right before half into the wind, which was a huge kick for us, so I saw last year the best kicker in the conference, you know, and it's not like he's not working. As a matter of fact, if he has a problem, he's trying and he's carrying two dadgum much. Let it go, and we'll move forward.

But he'll need to answer the call. But last week, too, Del Grosso is a good enough kicker. That's why I kicked him off first. I would have told you last week in practice, Aaron kicked better than Griff on kickoffs. That being said, Griff was great Saturday in kickoffs, and I said, either your leg was feeling better or psychologically you were ticked off. He said, it was the second one, because competition is sometimes a great coach.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
KEVIN WILSON: He's got an ankle injury, and he's going to be probably a couple weeks.

Q. The 40-yard touchdown catch on Saturday, what's he doing well right now, and what does he still need to --
KEVIN WILSON: Well, again, he's -- you look at our receiver deal, a year ago, J-Shun had an injury and it took 11 months before he was cleared. This guy is now not quite seven months. I think it'll be seven months next week from an injury, so he's way ahead of schedule, and he's out there playing in Big Ten games, in Big Ten arenas.

I still think Mike or someone asked the question afterwards, like hey, is that what you've seen in practice. That's what we have seen. Recently we've seen inn consistency because of the mood swing. I want to play more, I'm frustrated. So hopefully making that play, the more he gets on the field will energize his mood as he's fighting through injury to be full speed. He's not quite there, but just to jump start him and just to get him going because he's not a bad -- but every kid can be a little selfish, I want the ball, I want to be the starter, and here's a kid that had to go through a sit-out year, and then you're ready to play and you get injured, and now he's wanting to come back faster, and to me he's a heck of a kid that's way ahead of schedule, and he's done nothing wrong. I think he's fighting through some of the moods and psychological things that a lot of people do in different -- our kicker is dealing with one, I think Cam has been dealing with one. And I think the more he has success on the field, he will blossom back to being what -- I don't think he's quite 100 percent. He's close. But he is so talented, I mean, you saw, quote, A play. There's a lot of plays in that kid if we can just keep bringing him along, and that'll be our plan.

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