Perhaps the most-talked about aspect of Ohio State opening against Indiana is the extreme familiarity involved, thanks to former Hoosier head coach Kevin Wilson now being the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator.
Indiana’s offensive system has changed, so the OSU defensive coaches may not be able to pick Wilson’s brain about that, but they have certainly gotten the scoop on the personnel involved. Wilson recruited almost every last one of the players suiting up for the Hoosiers on Thursday, so he knows what they can do, what they can’t do, what they like to do, and what they don’t like to do.
His knowledge of the Indiana personnel is an invaluable resource.
But familiarity goes both ways.
Indiana is already familiar with Ohio State’s personnel, and now the IU coaches have a very good idea of what the Buckeyes’ playcaller likes to do because they’ve seen it for years.
So does knowing what Kevin Wilson likes to do offense give the Hoosier defense an advantage?
“I’d like to know what I like to do, because I don’t know,” Wilson laughed. “I never had a playbook. You just go with what works and what the guys are and the way you attack. You have a game plan and as soon as you get hit in the mouth and things happen you wad it up. You have to have the ability to adapt and adjust. Every week is different, every year is different, every game is different, and I’ve got a job to do and that’s get these guys ready to play. Then come game time be ready to adapt and adjust and try to put those kids in a position to succeed.”
Without a playbook or any perceived tendencies, Wilson has remained one of the most-respected playcallers in college football, and maybe that lack of tendencies is why.
Kevin Wilson’s offenses have been run heavy, pass heavy, balanced, and everything else in between. What has set him apart over the years, however, has been his ability to counter punch. Urban Meyer likes to equate it to checkers. One move leads to a counter move and so on.
Some truly great college football coaches have entrusted their offenses to Wilson in the past. Some of those years went better than others, but the good years were really good.
Wilson doesn’t believe he has a knack for playcalling, though he does give credit to a keen understanding of spatial awareness. But even when things have been difficult on offense, the message from the head coaches was the same — trust your eyes and be aggressive.
“I think I’ve called plays since 1990, and so you get to where you’ve made mistakes,” Wilson explained. “Coach (Randy) Walker used to say all the time ‘Don’t call a play thinking about who is in the game, call what you see.’ Coach (Bob) Stoops would talk to me about you have to call plays like you’re playing craps, you have to let it roll.
“You talk about players being aggressive, you’ve got to be smart, you’ve got to be calculated, but I don’t know if there’s a knack for it, a feel for it. We call a lot of stupid plays, but we’re going to work as hard as we can to get our kids in good position. There will be a lot of distraction. We talk to the team about the fog of game day. My deal is to be able to eliminate my fog, keep my focus and put our kids in great positions to win.”