Indiana coach Kevin Wilson won't get many more opportunities against regional nonconference opponents like Indiana State.
That's because the Big Ten, past 2015, won't be allowed to schedule Football Championship Subdivision opponents. It's an effort to strengthen schedules in the conference that commissioner Jim Delany announced earlier in the year.
"I know there's a number of our schools playing Missouri Valley teams, some of the teams out of the Ohio Valley Conference as well that I think, to me, makes a little bit of sense," Wilson said on the Big Ten teleconference Tuesday. "Moving forward, it is what it is. We do want quality opponents."
But the Hoosiers don't want to overdo it.
The Big Ten is already a strong conference, and in the next few seasons will move to a nine-game conference schedule. That leaves space for three non-conference games and means all 14 teams will be vying for the services of FBS opponents.
"Everybody's gonna be fighting for those other conference-type teams to come in and play, and those teams are gonna want home-and-home, or those teams are going to spike the dollar and make them pay more," Wilson said. "It's not easy right now."
And with tougher slates on the horizon, there's also the worry that teams like IU will overschedule and put themselves in holes record-wise. Still, Wilson understands the decision, and he embraces scheduling quality opposition.
"With HDTV, it's a difficult deal getting fans to the games," he said, "so we've got to play great opponents as well."
Freshmen defenders grade out well
The Hoosiers played six freshmen on defense during their 73-35 win against Indiana State in Week One. Those players, overall, performed well, Wilson said.
"Marcus Oliver did a nice job – three tackles as a backer," Wilson said. "T.J. Simmons was the leading tackler at nine tackles. We ended up playing eight of those guys, six of them on defense.
"First time out, we had a couple busts – still learning how to play hard. But it just gives us more depth, more competition, gives us better special team play. It's just nice to have those guys in the program."
Those two players, linemen Darius Latham and David Kenney, linebacker Clyde Newton and safety Antonio Allen came on for IU. The freshmen, Wilson said, combined for 18 tackles, 1 ½ sacks and a fumble recovery, which Allen nabbed.
IU won't back off run game, Wilson says
IU emphasized the run game in its blowout of the Sycamores, and although sophomore running back Tevin Coleman put up career numbers, Wilson expects more from the Hoosiers on Saturday.
Coleman went for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries against ISU. However, his counterparts on the depth chart – No. 2 back Stephen Houston, No. 3 D'Angelo Roberts and No. 4 Laray Smith – contributed just 21 yards on 12 touches combined.
"We've got to clean it up a little bit more," Wilson said. "They tried to outnumber us last week (in the box) and gave us single coverage (on receivers). We tried to stay patient and get our run game going. It was a little bit of uphill sledding mathematically just because they were putting seven people up on a five-man box with five blockers."
Coleman did well in those scenarios, but IU will need more than him when it goes up against a Navy squad that plays contain coverages and focuses on eliminating big plays in the passing game.
Much of that starts with opening holes in the defense, Wilson said.
"We need to be better in the offensive line," the third-year coach said. "We were OK last game – we need to be better."
The Midshipmen beat IU 31-30 last season, largely because they stifled the Hoosiers' rushing attack and managed to do just enough offensively.
"It's nice Tevin had a big game, but his carries were about where they're gonna be," against Navy, Wilson said. "We're gonna play those other guys, and we expect those other guys to play at a high level, too."