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Indiana University

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vs. Indiana State
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 102.7 FM

IU facing urgency to live up to praise

It’s time to stop talking.

Indiana coach Kevin Wilson has been very complimentary of his team throughout the winter, spring, summer and preseason. But he’s always had a common refrain each time he does it.

Those words don’t matter until the scoreboard reflects them.

The praise means nothing without a positive result Thursday, when IU kicks off against Indiana State at 7:06 p.m. in Bloomington.

“Just because I think we’ve done better doesn’t mean we’re going to do better,” Wilson told reporters Sunday.

“You need to go out and get into game mode. It’s a little different sense of urgency and preparation.”

The Hoosiers should look about the same schematically but with more depth, more quickness and more overall talent. The key word there is should, because IU fans have heard all those things before and been left looking for them.

This game will be the measuring stick.

It will tell IU just how much better its defense is, which of its three quarterbacks play best in game situations and how it stacks up against a Sycamores team that came within seven points of an upset victory in Bloomington last season.

“Came in last year to win the game, they’ll come in this year to win the game. It’ll be an exciting game for their players,” Wilson said.

“Our deal this whole week is we’ve worked very, very hard. You don’t get do-overs in this … I don’t think we’re good enough to come out and be off our game. We’ll be beat every time we play.”

Despite all the perceived improvements, IU still has little margin for error. The Sycamores are dangerous, especially Shakir Bell, a FCS running back who by most accounts will be a NFL player after this season.

Bell ran for 192 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries against IU in 2012.

“It’ll be a great test, one, because he’s proven,” Wilson said. “Moving forward, in order to be good in this league, we’ve got to play better run defense.

“It’ll be a nice here’s where we’re at – and no matter where it is, where we start, we’ll need to continue that through the year.”

That continuation, that improvement process, starts Thursday.

IU has yet to name a starting quarterback between Tre Roberson, Cam Coffman and Nate Sudfeld.

Whoever it is, the third-year coach said, the offensive game plan will remain the same.

The Hoosiers will spread it out, change tempo, emphasize the run a bit more and focus on red zone execution.

“I think they’re all three quality leaders,” Wilson said. “I don’t think there’s any favorites. If one of those guys makes a bad throw, you’ll hear guys getting on him … they make a good play, you’ll hear guys cheering for them.”

Wilson expects every player on the two-deep, and even some guys behind those players, to get time Thursday.

That’s a luxury IU hasn’t had in Wilson’s tenure.

The depth, physical readiness, mental preparation and overall ability are at their best in his three years.

That means no more excuses.

It’s time for the Hoosiers to back up words with action.

“This is about winning some daggone football games,” Wilson said.

“It’s about time we started doing it.”