Indiana University head football coach Kevin Wilson was quick to tell me that the culture within the administration and the athletic department at IU was solid and supportive, and the commitment for future prosperity is there.
All he needs now is the success on the field to fulfill his goals regarding his quest to revamp IU football.
“We are a young team but we have some great young men returning,” said the second year coach in a phone interview between meetings while preparing for the season opener on Sept. 1 against Indiana State at Bloomington.
“It’s a bit easier to coach returning players who recognize what we expect,” he said.
Returning letterman are no doubt a welcome sight for Wilson after using 16 freshmen last season to go along with another 16 red-shirted freshmen who also saw action. Collectively, the 32 that found their way on the field for IU explains quite a bit in terms of the growing pains experienced in a season that delivered just one victory in 2011.
Arguably the best amongst those first year players is sophomore quarterback Tre Robinson. “He is obviously still learning the position,” said Wilson regarding the former Lawrence Central High School standout. “Playing quarterback at this level is a big challenge, and good play at that position is key in our conference.” Wilson is looking for Robinson to improve on a solid first year, which saw him become the first true freshman to call signals for Indiana in nearly 35 years. Robertson was also the Hoosiers’ second leading rusher and completed 58 percent of his passes.
Defense obviously was a problem during Wilson’s inaugural campaign and without improvement it could be yet another long season for the IU faithful. Surrendering more than 40 points a game to five opponents last year can certainly be attributed to inexperience, and the maturation process should help Indiana some. Linebacker Chase Hoobler and safety Mark Murphy both earned honors last year and will be expected to improve.
“We certainly have the opportunity to be a better football team this year,” added Wilson. “Our fan base which has been fantastic, expects that and so do our coaches and players.”
Notes: One area that Indiana football distinguished itself in last year was the standard of excellence demonstrated in the classroom. Twenty-four players earned All Big Ten status academically – a new school record.
* * * * *
Seth Littrell joins coach Wilson’s staff after experiencing great success at the University of Arizona, which was ranked third in the nation last season in passing offense under his tutelage. Tre Robinson should improve even more as a result of this hire.
* * * * *
Wilson talked glowingly regarding the impact of the Big Ten Network, both for Indiana and other conference schools. “It certainly gives us a higher profile and greater visibility for both recruitment and the advancement of the conference,” Wilson said.
* * * * *
There are still some tickets available for Indiana’s home opener against Indiana State. For more info call 1-866-IUSPORTS.
Danny Bridges can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or at Bridgeshd@aol.com.