Neither head coach Kevin Wilson nor coordinator Brian Knorr come right out and say Indiana University is throwing away its old 4-3 defensive scheme.

Not that the idea is without merit. That defense has been porous since, oh, the entire 21st century.

Knorr insisted the Hoosiers merely are "tweaking" so that they can employ multiple defenses – i.e. both a 3-4 and a conventional 4-3 alignment.

"It's not a tremendous difference," Knorr said Tuesday after the Hoosiers' fourth practice of spring, first wearing pads. "I don't want people to think we're wholesale changing what we've done in the past."

Indiana ranked last in the Big Ten in total defense in each of Doug Mallory's three seasons as defensive coordinator, a standing that ultimately cost him his job. The Hoosiers allowed an average of 527.9 yards and 38.8 points last season to rank 123rd and 115th, respectively, out of 125 major college teams. At Wake Forest last year, Knorr's 3-4 defense ranked 32nd and 38th.

After Thursday, Wilson said, the defensive coaches will evaluate what they've seen and decide what's appropriate for IU's personnel. Players are on spring break next week and won't reconvene before March 24. The annual spring game is April 12.

Wilson said he is less concerned with scheme than with attitude.

"It's more the effort and mindset of playing better defense," he said.

The Hoosiers have had one winning season – and one bowl appearance – since 1994. Players are seemingly ready to try anything that will override such futility.

Clyde Newton, one of three linebackers to play regularly as freshmen last fall, said the Hoosiers began learning elements of a new defense during winter conditioning.

"I think this team, this defense, needed something new, something to look forward to coming into the season," he said. "I think it will set a fire for it."

Cornerback Tim Bennett said a theme of the defense is "attacking the ball." Bobby Richardson, who led Indiana linemen with 39 tackles, said a new scheme might fit this team.

"If you've got something new and you don't really buy into it, it's not going to work for you," Richardson said. "You've got to buy in, you've got to focus, you've got to want to learn it, you've got to want to do it, you've got to want to go hard at it.

"If we all go hard at it, everyone does their job, we'll be a dominant defense."