A game against Indiana will never be just another game for Kevin Wilson.
That’s natural for any coach facing his former school, especially for one let go under a cloud in 2016 after six years as head coach. But the Ohio State offensive coordinator’s second meeting against Indiana on Saturday won’t be as emotional as his first.
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“Last year was very, very difficult because 1) it was the first game and 2) 90 percent of who ran through that tunnel last year were guys we had recruited or hired,” Wilson said Thursday on coach Urban Meyer’s radio show.
Last year’s opener, in which Ohio State struggled early until pulling away for a 49-21 victory, was in Bloomington, with all the memories that brought. Saturday’s game is at Ohio Stadium.
Still, Wilson said, most of the players likely to play for the Hoosiers played for him or committed to Indiana when he was there. Indiana parted ways with Wilson amid allegations that he was insensitive to injured players.
“There are some young guys I don’t know,” he said, “but the old guys I know very, very well and have a lot of respect for.”
When Wilson was Indiana’s coach, the Hoosiers were potent offensively but porous on defense. Under Tom Allen, whom Wilson hired as defensive coordinator in 2016, Indiana has made significant improvement on that side of the ball.
Wilson said Allen’s system is based on the same defensive scheme that TCU uses. The Hoosiers use Marcelino Ball as a hybrid safety/linebacker.
“It’s a team that plays with a fair amount of speed because you’re basically playing with five defensive backs.” Wilson said. “They’re going to present a lot of problems. It’s going to be a big challenge for our offense. I’m excited to see how our guys react and play on Saturday.”
More radio tidbits
Meyer said that defensive back Marcus Hooker has been medically cleared and will play this week. Hooker’s injury has not been specified. Hooker was suspended for the opener because of a DUI charge over the summer.
Meyer said developing offensive-line depth is a priority and he said that guard Wyatt Davis had his best week of practice and has put himself in position to play. Meyer said center Matt Jones is “another guy getting better and better.”