IU football: Looking at the defensive coordinator change

When Indiana University lured Kevin Wilson from a comfy job as the Oklahoma University football team’s Offensive Coordinator, and hired him as their football program’s head coach before the 2011 season, they knew it was going to be a rebuilding process. Now after three seasons, changes had to be made in order for the Indiana football team to be competitive, and Wilson did just that by replacing his defensive coordinator.

Indiana football

Kevin Wilson

IU is not regarded as a football school, but more of a basketball school. The program Wilson was taking over had many changes that needed to be made. So the first two years in which Wilson’s teams totaled five wins were brushed off, and the third season was being looked forward to with higher expectations. Wilson was bringing in better recruits and had implemented his high-octane offense which was improving every year. Unfortunately, IU won only 5 games and missed out on a chance to go to a bowl game.

The problem was not specifically Wilson, especially not his offense. The Hoosiers averaged 201.8 yards rushing yards and 306.7 passing yards per game, which ranked 30th and 18th respectively among the 125 football bowl subdivision (FBS). Those numbers combined to make IU the 9th FBS-ranked total offense.

So how did they win only five games? Their defense was not just bad, they were absolutely horrible. These were their FBS defensive rankings in 2013: 110th against the run, 112th against the pass, and 121st overall. Their 506.2 yards allowed per game in conference play is the worst all-time in the Big Ten Conference’s history.

This was the handy work of IU’s defensive coordinator Doug Mallory, who was in charge of leading the IU defense to be ranked last in the Big Ten in all three seasons he was on Indiana’s staff. Like Wilson, Mallory was given a chance to turn things around because it was known that this program’s success will take some time. But Mallory’s defenses had not improved each season like Wilson’s offense had. Their overall FBS rankings were 109th in 2011, 106th in 2012 then 121st in 2013, and the 514.8 yards his 2012 defense allowed in conference play made Mallory the coordinator of two of the only three defenses in Big Ten history that game up over 500 yards per game. With statistics like these, one can only wonder if his hiring was solely due him being the son of Bill Mallory, who is a beloved former head coach at IU.

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Wilson’s offense averaged 38.4 points per game in 2013, while opponents averaged 38.8 points per game. Could you imagine if the 2013 IU football team had just a mediocre defense? It would be easy to assume that they could have won at least one or two more games, maybe even a few more. It was time for Mallory to go, and Wilson made the correct decision in firing him.

Shortly after Mallory was cut loose, Wilson hired former Wake Forest University’s defensive coordinator Brian Knorr. In 2013, Knorr’s defense allowed just 366.2 yards per game, which earned a 32nd FBS ranking. His defenses are known to have multiple blitz packages that help create sacks and turnovers, which were lacking from Mallory’s defenses. Knorr’s 2013 defense also allowed an FBS 38th best 24.1 points per game, which is significantly better than IU’s 2013 defense.

If Wilson can present an offense similar to that of last season, I believe Knorr’s defense will help get the IU football team to at least 6 or 7 wins, making them bowl eligible.