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July 26, 2016

Kevin Wilson

Chicago, Illinois

THE MODERATOR: Our next coach is Indiana's Kevin Wilson. Wilson enters his sixth season at the helm after leading the Hoosiers to the 2015 New Era Pinstripe Bowl, the program's first post season appearance since 2007. Indiana returned 17 starters from last year's team, including eight on both offense and defense.

Coach, go ahead with opening statement.

COACH WILSON: All right. Thank you. Good morning. Everybody awake? We good to go?

Like a lot of us, again, our thoughts with not just the Nebraska and Michigan State football families, but I had a chance at the National Football Foundation to actually sit with Mike Sadler's parents a couple years ago. We had a player up for that deal.

So as a dad and two kids in college and several kids in high school, just feel for their families. And as a program, we send our prayers for those guys.

Good to be here. I think we're continuing to grow as a program.

We appreciate the opportunity the administration has committed to us to continue to advance our program. We got a lot of things going on from facilities to stabilizing of our staff to recruiting and whatnot. So we are encouraged where we are at.

We are not pleased where we're at. We've been very competitive, a little bit inconsistent the last few years and let a few games slip away that we've been in, but we played some very good football and what I think is a tremendous brand in college football. A great bracket in the Big 10 East, just a great bracket in Big 10 because the West is awfully strong as well.

So excited about where we've positioned ourselves in our league. Everybody talks about how challenging it is, but we embrace that challenge, embrace that opportunity. That's how we've been able to track I think not only good coaches but some more talented players. I think that's why we're playing good football.

So I think, like all of us, we've been very encouraged. We have a lot of guys back. We're a young team. We will miss a couple good players. Several guys were drafted. And our quarterback, Nate Sudfeld and Jason Spriggs, Jordan Howard, a quality running back right here playing for the Bears who had several guys drafted, moved on.

But we've got a good core of guys back. We have got five excuse me. We have four fifth year seniors in our offensive line. That's a very, very good group led by one of the best players in the conference, led by one of the best coaches in the conference in Greg Frey.

Dan Feeney is an awesome, awesome football player. And Dimitric Camiel who is up here with us, he's, I think, one of the best right tackles in our league. And Jacob Bailey, Wes Rogers, we're pretty solid in the offensive front, a lot of experience.

We've got several receivers back. A year ago we stood up here and we had this quarterback and our leading returning receiver had 18 catches. And he blew out a knee that I think we announced at this thing last year so I think our leading returning receiver had eight catches, and he didn't even play last year. But we found a guy that could catch 60, another guy with 57, another guy with 50, or 54 I think it is.

I think we have three of top 14 receivers in the Big 10 are coming back. So we've got some good players there. And Simmie Cobbs, Ricky Jones, Mitchell Paige, J Shun Harris that was injured last year's back healthy. Nick Westbrook, a talented freshman in the mix.

So we will be five, six, seven deep. Recruited several good players. So our front is awfully experienced and pretty good. Our perimeter I think is also experienced and pretty good.

We're fortunate to have Devine Redding back at running back. Jordan Howard is a quality back.

I think it was three years ago we stood up here and we had not had a thousand yard running back in Indiana in 20 years. Kevin Coleman was rolling pretty good. About 950. He got an ankle sprain in the Illinois game and missed the last three games that year so didn't catch it but the following year had 2,000.

Last year, Jordan Howard had 1200 and Devine Redding had 1,000. Jordan came out early for the drafts. We got Devine back.

We were one of I think it was the fourth time in college football history last year, we had a 3500 yard quarterback, two running backs go over 1,000 yards, 3500 passing, two running backs over 1,000 and 1,000 yard receiver. So got some skilled guys back. And not besides Devine. Mike Majette will be in the mix. Devonte Williams. We've got about eight, nine. Got several freshmen coming in.

So Deland McCullough, our running back coach, is doing an awesome, awesome job of developing those guys so I think we'll be balanced.

I think the critical positions outside the maturity, though, I think last year our tight end play I thought was very, very solid for us. And we lose Michael Cooper and Anthony Corsaro as seniors.

So in this day and age of spread football, if you got a tight end, you can do some things. If you don't, you're either throwing it too much or you're running the quarterback an awful lot.

So I think that tight end position last year we actually played Brandon Knight, an offensive linemen played tight end for us to give us the presence that you need. Everybody says, you know, your line is not blocking if you can't run the ball.

I think the tight end, he's always at the point of attack on front side schemes and then backside in the cutoff games. So James Patton will do a great job with those guys.

And then quarterback, we'll see as we go through. You know, we brought in Richard Lagow, a junior college player. He's had 15 practices. We don't think that's enough to merit being a starter yet. I think he's had a solid summer.

Zander Diamont's our most experienced player who's made some plays and a smaller guy, little bit of a runaround guy, who has a good arm, very competitive guy, a lot of moxy and spirit about him. He's had his best summer.

We've got a couple players, Danny Cameron, Austin King. I really like our freshman quarterback, although I'm not excited about freshmen playing our league, although we've done that a few times. But we'll see how it goes moving forward. We don't want to drag it out.

I will say this: In our last three years, we played three quarterbacks. So we don't need a starting quarterback. We need more than one. In this day and age, those guys are going to get hit.

We were fortunate last year, we had the fewest sacks in the conference. We had the most plays. We had the fewest sacks. We had the fewest turnovers. So hopefully we'll be able to take care of that quarterback, but we'll let it play out. We were not going to drag it out. And we'll see as it moves forward. We'll play one, play two. We'll just let it go.

Defensively, we've made a change last year. We've not played strong defense since we've been there. Got a lot of players back. We have everyone back at linebacker, everyone back in the secondary. We had no seniors there last year. We do have a few losses up front that we'll need to overcome. I think we've got some talent and depth there.

But I'm expecting and been encouraged by what I've seen by Tom Allen who comes in from South Florida, is an Indiana native. That didn't excite me as much as his passion and pedigree and his ability to connect with staff and players. Spent a few years of [Q3]s at several places but was at Ole Miss, so I've been very encouraged with what I've seen.

The standard he's setting, we've not really it's not scheme and Xs and Os, and we can talk about that till we're blue in the face. Our Xs and Os aren't as good on offense as our standard and the [colts] we've been able to create, we've not been able to do that defensively. And I'm very excited to see what Tom can do and encourage there.

So a lot of players back defensively. Ralph Green up front, Nate Hoff up front, Jacob Robinson I think will be solid players.

Greg Gooch outside coming off the edge. I think our two linebackers, Marcus Oliver, great skills. T.J. Simmons, I think we'll have some depth and good players there. And our back end does need to step up.

Jonathan Crawford I think is an awesome safety, one of the best freshmen in the conference last year.

And we got a good kicking game back. I think we got one of the best kickers in the Big 10. Griffin Oakes I think was 24 29 last year. He's just going to be a junior. I think he's an outstanding kicker.

I think our punt snapper, Danny Godsil, is one of the best in the game. We've got to find a punter. We've got a leg, but it's unproven. We'll see how that goes. And our return unit, Mitchell Paige is pretty dynamic back there.

This is by far the deepest our team has been. So we've got some depth, we've got some experience. We've got some excitement. And I think they have a chance to be a solid football team.

We start with three nonconference games. And I will say this: Florida International last year, we have to we have a pick six in the last two minutes to secure that game in Florida International. That's their opening game. Second game, play Ball State, and they beat us the last three times we played them, two times against the teams that I have coached. So no strong [chest].

And our third nonconference game's against Lake Forest who last through threw the last play in the end zone trying to tie it up.

So our first three games matchup, we're going to have to play well. We need to come out of the gate fast. Going to be some teams that are going to be road gamed to Florida International and some opponents that we've had some contests and haven't won.

And then the league sets up with five home games and love our conference state.

And again, have a good football team. I think we'll play very, very well this year. We're going to be very exciting on O. Everybody pretty energetic on defense. You guys make sure you keep the TV turned on because it's going to be a lot of fun watching the Hoosiers play.


THE MODERATOR: All right. If you have a question, please raise your hand.

Q. Coach, you announced in invasion campaign with camps around Indianapolis, Florida, and in the Chicagoland area. How does that impact your program? And what's the main goal you want to get out of that in terms of marketing your program and taking a look at local kids and kids around the country?
COACH WILSON: I'll say our recruiting right now, we've always been I felt to get the players we needed to compete in our bracket and our schedule, that I wasn't really fired up about a lot of the early commitments.

We've been a lot slower than a lot of other guys. We've taken our time. We've tried to earn respect and trust and loyalty.

So I think the one thing that's helped our recruiting the most has been the contract extension because a year ago, I don't know if we were getting that. I think a lot of kids, like, hey, what's going to be the offense? Who's going to be your coach?

I think right now, with the six year extension, I think you got a lot of guys buying the fact that we got a chance to be successful. Our administration is committed to us, and we've always tried to recruit our state hard. And I listened last year to several coaches, and we talked about these camps are about making the game better. We want to do these camps to make the game better. And we want to give coaches a chance.

You know, we almost didn't do them because guys are going all over the country. So I felt like a great deal we're doing five camps in our state for free. We're not giving them T shirts. We're not giving them meals. We're not giving them anything, but I want to reach back to my state, my coaches, my guys, my state.

So we had one in Fort Wayne the other day. We'll have four camps on Wednesday, and it's almost like a spring recruiting day. I see Coach DiNardo sitting back there. It's just like an old spring recruiting day.

Instead of going to the school, we're going to show up at 9:00 o'clock and have the linemen camp at one school. 11:15 we'll be at another school with the skill camp. Take a break, and at 5:00 o'clock, come back with another linemen camp on the other side of town and then a skill camp at 7:00 o'clock that night.

I thought it would be a great way all these guys are talking about helping the game, but they're flying around in private jets. Their LLC is not playing for the traveling expenses. It's coming out of the recruiting or discretionary budget.

Hey, if we want to make the game better, and that's the gist of why as coaches, I want to make a commitment to my state. We'll see if it goes. I hope we have phenomenal turnout. We've got a bunch of coaches from a lot of small schools around our state and some of the max schools come and help us.

So I'm excited to see how it goes. I think it's going to be a heck of an adventure. We'll see how it goes.

Q. Hey, Coach. You alluded to, in your opening statement, letting some games slip away in a few of the past seasons. Some of those games last year, Iowa, Michigan in overtime, and the bowl game, Duke. So the question is: What is your program doing to prepare for some of those tight knitted ball games this upcoming season?
COACH WILSON: Great question. And I don't think those are games that we've, quote, blown. You know, we had the fewest turnovers in the conference. We had fewest sacks in the conference. So I don't think we're giving games away, but I think it's the difference between confidence and belief.

Everyone has confidence. Not necessarily it's always positive confidence. We have leaders. Yeah, we have leaders. Are they good leaders or bad leaders? Strong or weak leaders?

So we're dealing with a little bit more than belief. I think the way we've played again, what came first, the chicken or the egg. The more you win, the more you believe, the more you believe, the more you win.

So right now, we're at a deal where it's not moral victories or backhanded compliments, but I think our team realizes that when we play and play hard and play well and play as a team, we can match up and have a shot.

Bottom line, we keep fighting and scratching, and it's not more conditioning and it's not error. It's just the ability to make it stop. It's the ability to make one more score to win a one possession football game. And we're going to work hard to do it this year.

Q. Hey, Kevin. How you doing?

Q. Jordan Howard going to the Bears, what kind of player are Chicago fans going to see there?
COACH WILSON: Very, very physical. Great kid. You know, we were lucky. I think he was very, very torn when UAB dropped their program. Took it very emotional. He's a Birmingham kid. Had a great relationship with our running back coach, Deland McCullough.

I think Jordan is a guy, he's a big body, plays very physical. I think he needs to continue to get his body hard, and it could be the pounding player to take the pounding of the position.

But great kid. I was kind of encouraging him to come back to get stronger. Kind of encourage him, you need to go how long does your body last at running back?

So but I appreciate him being with us for one year and encouraged him to realize although they dropped football UAB and only had one year with us, to realize you're a Hoosier for life and continue to use our school and our people to help him for life. I think he'll be a tremendous pro.

Q. Coach, you mentioned Coach Allen, your third DC in six years. What has to change on that side of the ball?
COACH WILSON: Well, and not pointing fingers, but in the staffing of our game, most people have five offensive coaches. We have a tight end coach, a line coach, a running back coach, a quarterback coach, and a receiver coach.

When I was at Oklahoma, Coach Stoops being a defense oriented, five guys in one room, five in the offense. When I was at Northwestern with Randy or Ohio, there was six in one room offense. Randy was an offensive guy.

So what I did is I brought five guys in on defense and said I'll help Coach Johns coach the quarterbacks and call plays and game plan, and he'll coach receivers and quarterbacks and we'll do it as a group.

That being said, in a practice format, it just gets to be a little bit more in the offensive field. And we've created a standard on one side of the ball that we've never created on the other. It's not for two. It's not zone blitz. It's not man free. It's not zero pressure. It's not four man. It's not three man. It's a standard of playing hard. It's a standard of holding each other accountable and loving each other, and pulling for each other and playing together.

And we've got one side of the ball that's hit out of the park pretty good. I think Coach Allen, when I visited with Coach Allen, I met with him for three hours and talked about how do you get your staff to buy in? How do you get people to believe in you? How do you get kids to play hard? How do you get them how do you correct mistakes?

And we're going for throats. And I said, hey, what kind of defense do you run? I had no clue. He runs a 4 2 5. That's great because I think that's one of the better plans, but all the 4 2 5 is, you take a [pond] linebacker from the inside and you put him outside and spin it's six to one half dozen or the other.

So to me, it was all about creating a culture because although I think we've had great coaches, I don't think that's connected yet. And that's been his charge and I've been very, very pleased with what I've seen.

When the bullets start hitting start flying and things start hitting the fan as we get into games in the season, but been very encouraged with his leadership and the positive nature and the standard he's setting for our defensive players. And we're going to have to recreate and set that standard for the offense in our team as well.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you very much, Coach.

COACH WILSON: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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