BLOOMINGTON – After his seventh practice of the spring, David Cooper had a simple way of describing what a change a new system could bring.
“Just trying to bring a little more swag to the defense,” said the senior linebacker of the new revamped Indiana scheme for the 2014 season.
It been brought in by new defensive coordinator Brian Knorr, who replaces Doug Mallory after a few seasons to forget on the Hoosiers’ defensive side of the ball. Last season, the Hoosiers finished last in the conference in both total defense (527 yards a game) and points (38 per game) and it proved costly.
Had Indiana allowed 34 points a game, they would have had three more victories and would have qualified for just their second bowl game since 2003. Instead they had to settle for a somewhat frustrating 5-7 record that left them again searching for consistency on the defensive side of the ball.
“All eleven guys on the same page,” said Cooper when asked what it would take to get the defensive issues solved.
To do that, everyone on the field better be ready to move.
At its root, Knorr’s defense this fall-which is being installed this spring-will be a 3-4 look which is a change from the 4-3 under Mallory. Yet the coach insists that this scheme will feature a number of different formations and sets in an attempt to fool the offense and allow the Hoosiers to use a building talent base on that side of the ball.
The new coordinator says the defense can show defensive fronts of three or four players at any time.
“We’re trying to be a little bit multiple,” said Knorr of the defense. “Just get our guys really chasing the ball and being better technique players.”
Seven practices in, some of the veteran Hoosiers can attest to the fact that adjusting places on the field will be the norm of this new scheme.
“Everybody’s moving,” said senior defensive back Tim Bennett of the new scheme. “Nobody is just standing in one spot just waiting, everybody is moving.”
When Knorr did the same to Bloomington after Mallory’s firing, he brings with him a track record of producing consistent defense. At Wake Forest his defense ranked 31st in FBS in total defense and was second in the ACC with 12 forced fumbles to go along with 23 turnovers overall.
When head coach Jim Grobe was fired he found himself in Bloomington, where the coach said his changes have been met with open arms by players and staff.
“Tremendous energy just like our players,” said Knorr of the coaches during spring practice–a few of whom were holdovers from the Mallory staff. “They’ve done a great job of pushing the kids, challenging the kids, and our guys have responded. I feel fortunate that have some guys who played when they were really, really young. The good thing about that is they get older.
“They’re hungry and we just not take to many steps back, keep getting better each practice.”
While adding a little more “Swag” to a unit in need of it.