Indiana assistant Ekeler calls out defense

Longtime blog readers are probably sick of hearing my position on Indiana football, but it's worth restating.

Until the defense gets a significant upgrade, the Hoosiers won't consistently compete in the Big Ten. Indiana's defense has been porous for more than a decade, ranking no better than 71st nationally since 2000.

After Indiana fired Bill Lynch, I wrote that the school should value defense in its coaching search. And while I liked the Kevin Wilson hire, he follows a line of mostly offensive coaches -- Lynch, Gerry DiNardo, Cam Cameron -- who haven't gotten it done in Bloomington.

Offense sells these days. I get that. But Indiana might be wise to hire a guy who knows a thing or two about defense.

Hoosiers co-defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler knows a thing or two about defense, having come to IU from one of the nation's best defensive staffs at Nebraska. And Ekeler didn't like what he saw Saturday night at North Texas, as Indiana surrendered 24 points in a 16-minute span.

North Texas piled up 427 yards in its first victory of the season, and Indiana had no answer for Lance Dunbar (127 rush yards, 152 receiving yards).

Ekeler didn't hold back in his assessment of the defense following Monday's practice.

"We had 28 loafs and I think it was 18 missed tackles," Ekeler said. "… That was an embarrassment for us. Tip my hat to North Texas, but the way we look at it, we play us every week. Us kicked our [butt]. We didn't come to play. That's on me, and I take it very personal. I'm embarrassed that that tape's out there how we looked on defense. We had guys out there playing like they were scared. Scared to go up there and put their face on somebody."

Ekeler and fellow coordinator Doug Mallory have put all their players on notice this week heading into the Big Ten opener against Penn State.

"There is no depth chart at this point," Ekeler said. "We're not gonna watch that."

Indiana already has seen a shakeup on the offensive line, as freshmen have replaced veterans in the starting lineup. Don't be surprised if youth is served on defense Saturday against the Nittany Lions.