Kevin Wilson: ‘Talent doesn’t win — it’s the ability to play together’

Even before Kevin Wilson was hired by Urban Meyer to be Ohio State’s offensive coordinator, people were talking about what he could do with the kind of talent that the Buckeyes possess.

After all, look at the success he had at Indiana. When his teams weren’t decimated by injuries — and sometimes even when they were — his offenses were able to put up some pretty good numbers.

Now just imagine Wilson’s production with Ohio State’s pedigree.

The Hoosiers led the Big Ten in scoring in 2015, averaging 36.5 points per game, and they were second in the conference in 2013, averaging 38.4 points per game. Even though Wilson improved IU’s recruiting in his tenure there, they were never in the conversation in terms of the B1G’s best classes. Despite that, defensive coordinators rarely looked forward to playing the Indiana offense. The preparation and execution that Wilson, his staff, and his players put into each game was a matchup problem in and of itself.

Wilson and his coaches also did a great job of evaluating and developing players, which is why he took some umbrage this spring when he was asked if OSU’s personnel got him excited compared to what he was used to at Indiana.

“We’ve got high talent here, but the talent we had over there was really good too because we recruited and developed it,” he said. “What we did in the weight room, what we did off the field, what we did in the practice. You can talk about talent, but it’s also getting guys to play. Shoot, a year ago we’re the best offense in the Big Ten at a place you said had no talent. Talent doesn’t win, it’s the ability to play together. That’s what I’m saying.”

Talent is a great start, but it’s just one building block. Getting that talent to rise together and then mesh seamlessly is when the real production comes together. Wilson has shown an ability to get that done over many years and with a variety of different offensive styles. This is possible because while the styles and players may change, the approach is unwavering.

“My ability to connect with J.T. (Barrett) or Coach Day’s ability to connect with J.T., then my ability to take that and Coach Stud and Tony Alford and Coach Smith and then bring those groups together to play as an offense,” he said.

“And I think that was one of our strengths over there, to get a bunch of individuals to come in and play as a group. That was the thing I think we’re most proud of what we did over there. And over here, that’s going to be the challenge.”

The Ohio State offense has had its good moments over the last five seasons as well, finishing first or second in the B1G in scoring every season over that time. Nobody who pays attention expects that to suddenly stop now. The process will continue just as it had before, which means Wilson will rely on the same ability to get everyone on the same page that he’s used everywhere else he’s been.

“We’ve been really good offensively, there’s a lot of individual players, but it’s the ability offensively to collectively bring it all together,” he said. “And that’s what we’re going to work hard to do.”