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Indiana looks for defensive improvement after bye

Published on NewsOK Modified: October 1, 2013 at 2:32 am •  Published: October 1, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Indiana coach Kevin Wilson is becoming a regular fix-it man.

He dissects problems, finds solutions and works relentlessly to clean things up. So, of course, that's how Wilson spent a weekend away from football — working on the defense.

"A lot of it is that you're supposed to put your eyes where you're supposed to go," Wilson said, noting some defensive players were taking extra peeks around the field. "That's what we tried to do this week, just emphasize playing your gap, playing structurally sound and keeping your eyes where they're supposed to be."

At Indiana (2-2), stopping opponents has been a continual problem.

The Hoosiers allowed 35.2 and 37.3 points per game during Wilson's first two seasons. And if the Hoosiers can't improve on the 32.8 points they're allowing this season, which ranks 97th out of 123 Football Bowl Subdivision schools, it will mark the ninth time in 12 years that Indiana's opponents have averaged at least 30 points.

Things were supposed to be different this season.

Hoosiers coaches repeatedly emphasized the need for defensive improvement throughout the offseason, and in August, it appeared Indiana was better positioned to stop opponents than it had been in years.

It hasn't turned out that way.

Heading into this weekend's Big Ten opener, the Hoosiers are ranked 115th in yards rushing (247.8) and 106th in total defense (463.3 yards), so the bye week turned into a working weekend for Wilson and his coaching staff.

"We've worked very hard to make sure our kids understand the calls and where to go," Wilson said. "I don't think we've played as structurally sound or as clean as we need to. We've had a significant amount of miscommunication and misalignment and we've put a lot of time into it to get it right."

This has not been any typical practice week for the Hoosiers.

Rather than pushing players harder after another sub-standard performance against Missouri and another dismal showing from the defense, Wilson changed the usual practice routine. He gave them a couple of days off, asked them to focus on classes and even treated them like they had won the Missouri game.

It's a dramatic change for the blunt-talking coach, who has never been shy about critiquing his team.

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