Written by Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
Tom Allen took to the podium for Media Monday ahead of Indiana’s homecoming matchup against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Allen was able to go out and recruit last Thursday and Friday
- Indiana will host its annual Homecoming football game this Saturday
Tom Allen Quotes:
On the open week activities and plan:
We mapped it out for our guys and specifically talked about the next four games that fall into this next window before our next bye and what that looks like in terms of just the progression that you go through mentally and physically.
Definitely wanted to give our guys a chance to get a change of pace from the normal grind of the season. It was great to be able to have one after five weeks. You go through the entire fall camp, which can be very -- a long period of time -- it was a week longer this year than it was even a year ago because of our school schedule.
So that -- I just think that those things take a toll, especially when you have a lot of young guys. And so just being able to get them out of that routine and get them refreshed and rested. And then just from a fundamental perspective, really think we were able to focus on those things.
You talk about some schematic things you want to emphasize and work on. And those three practices that we had, all those things were able to be accomplished. Obviously getting just with our offensive line, with losing Coy right before that, just continuing to solidify that and technique work and really kind of resting some of those guys that have got a lot of snaps.
And went through on both sides of the football and evaluated the guys that have taken a lot of hits already and when we went through the team periods we pulled them out and let the younger guys get most of those reps. They all did work during fundamental time, technique work. But let the younger guys get a lot of reps and the young receivers and offensive linemen and defensive linemen and DBs, and all positions really.
Just really tried to accomplish that and really mapped out, even this morning, talking about the next step and how it phases into the next bye and what comes after that. And so just try to be very proactive with our guys and very up front and honest and very accurate in what we see the future holds.
But our emphasis is very clear; that is, our number one objective is 100 percent focus on Rutgers and 100 percent focus, once we get to know who we have each week is to make sure we're getting better. And that was the approach today, make sure we walked off the field a better football team. Did some fundamental in special teams as well.
We just gotta keep getting better every time we take the field and every time we strap it up on Saturdays, that we're a better football team. And that's the goal and it's obviously something that everybody wants, but we have to have a great plan for that and our guys have to buy into that. So I think that's what we set out to do and I feel good about the direction we're going.”
On the play of true freshman Tiawan Mullen:
“I thought he would be able to, but you really never know how a freshman is going to respond when they actually get to campus. And you see them play in high school and you see them compete and the different things you evaluate them with.
And I just thought he had a lot of natural ball savvy to him in regards to how to play the football. Watched him play in person and just saw those qualities in just being able to understand how you respond when the ball's in the air and how you naturally play it. And some guys have a knack for that.
And I just felt like there was just a moxie and a swagger that he brought -- very humble, doesn't talk a lot. Isn't a real loud guy, but extremely confident.
And I think he brought that with him. And I expected that, I did. But you never know how it's going to transfer on the field. But I think this last game was where it really -- he performed at the level that I thought he could. I really did. I expect him to come in here and be a guy that would play as a freshman, and he proved me right.
But he's got to keep competing. He's got to keep getting better. Technique work, needs to continue to improve because now he's no longer a guy that people may not know as much about. He's pretty much eliminated that. But at the same time just encouraged by when you see a guy on film and you evaluate him and you work so hard to recruit him and it took a whole bunch of guys on our staff to really do a great job convincing him to come here.
But I think you get a guy like that from an area that we love to recruit in, the state of Florida, and it just puts another -- I mean, to me, we talked about this yesterday in our staff meeting, you've got guys several guys from that state. We even talk Michael Penix from Florida and the way he's playing. And then you've got Matt Bedford from the Memphis area coming in as a true freshman, how he's playing, an opportunity he's been given and how he's taken advantage of that.
I know it's just been that one game, but a pretty big game. So you take these young guys, redshirt freshmen, guys right out of high school in areas that we recruit hard. And I could go on and on with those guys in those areas.
You take a guy like Tiawan and you go back and say, hey, you have a chance to come to the Big Ten and compete and play right away if you're good enough. He wasn't promised any playing time early, but he was promised the opportunity to come compete to play. And if you perform and deserve to be out there you'll get your shot. He got his shot took full advantage of it.
He's a special kid, he really is. His work ethic and attention to detail, he's got a long ways to go with regards to being a complete Big Ten football player because there's a lot to it. But he cares a bunch and works his tail off and does everything that we ask him to do. And he's an awesome young man. Just a tribute to his family and the way he's been raised and his high school coaches and everybody who has put in to help him be who he is.”
On being able to handle entering the game as a 25-point favorite over Rutgers:
“I think that the challenge is you've got to be a mature football team to understand it's a Big Ten opportunity for teams. Been in this league long enough to know those things are irrelevant.
And they've got a unique situation they're in right now, but we have no control over that. And all we can control is how we prepare. And I know that we're playing a Big Ten football team all Saturday. We'll have to be at our very best. That's the absolute truth.”
On the way quarterback Michael Penix approaches games:
“I think you do have a plan for that. We talked as a staff and we made a decision to go with Michael -- was that he's young and he's going to be -- some mistakes are going to be made. And you've got to help him grow, and you want to try to get him off -- we talked about the way we wanted to start against Ball State.
And even just getting on the road, against Michigan State, his first true road game, definitely his first conference road game.
And so the crowd and how you handle all that and you try to -- but at the same time you almost, you kind of got to take the training wheels off when it comes really down to it.
So you try and do as best you can. And I think more than anything it's -- even Peyton's role in all this and the way he helps him and Peyton has been awesome in that regard, been a great teammate, and helping him mentally get ready and all the things that it takes and just being in meetings together and working through things that you see. And they talk a lot. So that's a great thing.
But just more than anything it's just try to take some pressure off him, say you don't have to, you know, win the game yourself. You've just got to execute the offense, distribute the football, make good decisions. But at the end of the day he's got to go out and do it. And he's shown tremendous poise.
And I think we saw that in him, and I felt like that was one of his strengths for sure. But until you go do it and you have a chance to then evaluate it afterwards and you really know where you are.
So he's still got things to continue to learn and keep getting better, stay locked in, stay focused. But I think there's no question that you can see his growth. And it's been very exciting to see what he's becoming. But he's just got to keep working like everybody else. We've got to keep finding ways every week to score points and win games.”
On the adjustments made on the defensive side of the ball:
“I think even going into the Michigan State game, we made some adjustments. And then based off some things that we did there, good and bad, continue to make more, absolutely.
Really thought we had some very productive meetings as a defensive staff and me just going through -- I rewatched the Michigan State game three different times and took three different sets of notes and just kind of -- and then meshed them and just tried to go through and find ways to keep getting us better, because we're not where I want to be yet defensively.
But we had some great time together because we had the time. We weren't rushed to get ready for another game plan like you usually are after a game.
So I thought it was very, very beneficial, and Coach Wommack and I sat down and some of the other coaches. And just going through and just trying to -- with the young group of guys it's just continue to find what do we do best and what do we need to adjust to help our guys be more successful.
So just felt like that some things we definitely need to get better at and some things we changed. Yes, absolutely. But that's a process of going through and getting everything the way I feel like it needs to be.
And very excited about our group of guys on that side. They play so hard and just gotta continue to execute better. That's the key. We've got to execute better, and so we have to go through and ask some tough questions about why in those situations that we're not. And that's what we addressed and I continue to feel good about even just today things we're working on in today's practice. It's kind of an off-growth of that conversation and those meetings.
But just was very, very thorough, yes, during these last, during this bye-week period.”
On the offensive line’s pass protection:
“I think, first of all, I think Simon's right; it is about communication. And we've talked about that, as a group develops working together in that position, their communication is critical.
But it's really ultimately the quarterback, because we put a lot on the quarterback to be able to make those adjustments and calls. And the center has a big role in that as well. But as far as them trusting the quarterback, because he sees more than they can see, just from where he's standing in the shotgun, and so I think that the ability to read coverages, which that goes back to coaching.
It's a tribute to Coach Hiller, our offensive line coach. I think he does a tremendous job of just -- he's a great teacher and he's got answers and he communicates. I sit in their meeting room, I sit in their last week or two different times, and just so thorough in every little thing. It just makes you realize how much they have on their plate. But communication is critical.
And then obviously the way the quarterbacks are coached. They go through and create videos and work on this all the time, about recognizing pressures and where is it coming from, and where we need to help to be slid to and matched up to, however we decide to do it. And at the end of the day, the quarterback has to be able to get rid of it and eliminate some of those.
So, a lot goes into it, for sure, but I think we have some veteran guys there and having a veteran center really helps a lot. I think that gives you a lot of -- Hunter is a bright guy that works extremely hard and he cares so much. So he puts the time in, study as well. So those are all variables.
But then you throw in a true freshman replacing Coy, and so you really had a major drop-off from experience in reps. And I think that's where it was even more impressive with what we were able to do against a really good front seven against Michigan State.
So, we've got to keep working. It's going to give us a challenge. And I saw several games yesterday where there was a whole bunch of sacks in this conference, I mean a lot of them. So, these defenses are aggressive and there's a lot of great athletes on the D line, and they're bringing pressure, and they're disguising stuff and trying to confuse you. Takes a lot of work.
It's a full-time job just making sure that we get the protection right, because it's all about protecting that quarterback. And defensively it's all about affecting that quarterback. So that doesn't change.”