Indiana coach insists Hoosiers defense will improve
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) He was unhappy with the number of points his team gave up, unhappy with his coaches and unhappy with those players who did not meet their ''responsibilities.''
In short, Indiana coach Kevin Wilson knows changes must be made following a 48-47 season-opening victory over Southern Illinois in which the Hoosiers gave up 659 yards.
''The structure and preparation by our staff is not close to what it needs to be and we're trying to address that immediately,'' he said at a news conference Monday. ''I think our players' effort and buy-in is awesome on that side and legit. But there are some things that I think need to happen and things I want to see from the way we're doing business.''
Indiana on Saturday was without nine players, including six on defense, who missed the game for ''not living up to their responsibilities to the program.'' Just before kickoff, the school announced those who would not be playing: linebackers Tyler Burgett, Greg Gooch and Tegray Scales; defensive back Will Dawkins; offensive lineman Tim Gardner; defensive tackles Ralph Green III and Darius Latham; receiver Isaac Griffith; and running back Alex Rodriguez.
At the news conference Monday, Wilson took exception to reports that the players had been suspended.
''We had nine guys not available,'' he said. ''If they were suspended they wouldn't have dressed. They weren't allowed to play in the game. It was our decision. Our program has standards that we live up to. When something happens you miss the next game. If something happens tonight, you'll miss Saturday. So nothing has happened in the last week, month, two months, there are no issues.''
Later, however, the university issued a statement with Wilson taking back his earlier comments and admitting that the players were indeed suspended.
''I want to clarify my comments from earlier today,'' Wilson said in the statement. ''All nine players listed prior to the season opener against Southern Illinois were suspended for that game, eight of whom had a one-game suspension that they served on Saturday. Tegray Scales was given a two-game suspension, which he will finish serving at Saturday's game against Florida International.''
One other player who didn't play was starting free safety Chase Dutra - he was out with an undisclosed injury from practice last week. Wilson wasn't sure of his status for Saturday' night's home game against Florida International, but he said the injury wasn't serious.
Wilson wants to see better adjustments from his defense.
''I've been telling them for several weeks that you need to get comfortable being uncomfortable,'' he said. ''I made a comment to the defensive coaches that I think they should go to practice without a script. They should feel how unprepared they are and now solve the problems. Don't go out there with all the answers.
''You need to be in a reactionary mode. And that's the gist of no huddle. And the teams that are good on defense they flip and go the other way. They found ways to attack. We have to find ways to be more aggressive.''
In the first half alone, Southern Illinois scored 31 points and piled up nearly 400 yards.
''We had some young guys out there who it was their first game ever and they weren't quite up to par and we just had some key communication issues,'' said linebacker Zack Shaw, a fifth-year senior who started against Southern Illinois. ''It's an easy fix though. We worked on it yesterday in practice and I feel like it's going to be a lot better this game.''