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Indiana Head Football Coach Tom Allen Press Conference 12.07.2020

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Indiana Head Football Coach Tom Allen Press Conference 12.07.2020
ALLEN: Good afternoon everyone. Appreciate you taking the time to be with us today. Just wanted to first of all say, very proud of our football team. The way they responded to a lot of adversity, the way they came together this past week and individually, challenged to improve one percent in all areas of their responsibilities, and all 11 position groups to be 11 strong on game day. We were able to get a very important road win at Wisconsin. Just really proud of Jack Tuttle and the way he responded leading our offense and leading our football team. The way our defense continues to play, creating more takeaways and at the end, the two-minute situation. We really were able to play at a level we needed to play at in the red zone, scoring two touchdowns in our two trips down there and holding them to two field goals, which was really the difference in the game. So, still much to be worked on and improved but once again just proud of the grit, the toughness and the fight of this team. I want to recognize a few guys from the game. The Big Ten has recognized Micah McFadden as the defensive player of the week. Congratulations to him for that. He and Tiawan were our defensive players of the game for our team, and Haydon Whitehead with the Big Ten, special teams player of the week. He was also our player of the game as well. Micah was also a national recipient of the Walter Camp National Player of the Week. Those guys did a tremendous job, then Jack Tuttle was our offensive player of the game just for his performance. Just his touchdown passes, and his toughness, and execution, we are really proud of him for that. And then especially our scout team guys, which I really wanted to make sure get recognized for their effort that do such a tremendous job. Jordan Jusevitch and DeKaleb Thomas defensively throughout the week, and offensively on the scout team Trey Walker, Ryan Barnes, doing a great job with their offensive style, their tight end personnel, those group of guys really stepped up and gave us a great look. And on special teams Jeremy Boyd and Caleb Murphy just continue to give us great effort in all areas. Many guys were recognized. One thing I will say to you is you think about the game, leading the team, I felt that Jovan Swann’s leadership on the sideline, just in that type of a game, that setting, on the road, his maturity showed. And I just think that just the leadership of our team, and the culture we are creating here, the do not blink mindset, really for our guys just to pull together, and just play good football. It was not perfect, but it was very disciplined and not a lot of glaring mistakes. Obviously, there are things we need to get better at and that will be addressed. But proud of our team, and that brings me to the focus this week, which is Bucket week. Very, very special week here for our program. We are playing for a trophy, we know it is going to be a tremendously difficult battle on game day against a very good Purdue football team, which we know is going to take our very, very best. Coach Brohm has a very talented football team, the best receivers in the country on that team, a lot of weapons, a lot of hungry guys that are going to play really hard for this trophy. So, a lot of respect for them and their staff and what they do, and know that our guys are going to have to have a great week or preparation, and be very, very diligent in our pursuit of keeping the Oaken Bucket.

Q. On preparing for the eighth straight game without a bye…
ALLEN: We have. I think it is a legitimate concern, and we have addressed that even prior to this game. That will continue. Just really rely heavily on Aaron Wellman’s expertise and our strength staff. The guide me through that and guide all of us through that. So, really feel good about what we done so far leading up to this game and what we need to do again this week. We have made modifications to our preparation to be able to make sure our guys are properly rested, properly prepared, and ready to play their very best on Saturday. So, we are one of the few teams that has had to do this, but we are also blessed to be able to have consecutive games and be able to take the field each week and be able to play. So, it has definitely been a blessing.

Q. On Jack Tuttle’s play…
ALLEN: I think that it is always good to have that first start under your belt. That first experience and to go through that process and I thought he did a tremendous job of handling those responsibilities in that position, and just kind of what that looks like in game week. Now he gets a chance to go do it again so as always it is the case. I think you get the chance to do it a second time you feel more comfortable, and you feel better about things and I thought that he showed tremendous toughness in that game. Really that is what stuck out to me. He made some really, really good throws and took some hits, took some shots and just kept coming back. That is a great message to your teammates and to your opponents as well. But like you said, the mental part and the preparation you go through, and now he has got to go through a whole, another process again of getting ready for the Purdue Boilermakers, and all the different things that they are going to do defensively. So, to me it is just about getting in that routine and now that he has had a chance to do it, he has always been an extremely hard worker like we have stated multiple times, and that is not going to change for him and he understands that he has to prepare at a high level to be ready for Saturday.

Q. On Micah McFadden and Tiawan Mullen’s play…
ALLEN: Well first of all, really good football players. I will just start with Micah. As I have stated in the past just knowing him the way that I did, watching his growth and development as a young high school player, and coming here and just seeing; he just keeps getting better all the time. His instincts have taken over. He has always had that ability to get to the football. I do not know how much you can coach that. I think is very God given, just the ability to, once you see something just pull the trigger and go. But the thing that improves is the ability for you to be able to do that consistently when you are getting a whole bunch of different stuff. Sometimes you study all of this film and then they do different things that maybe you did not expect them to do on game day, or maybe it is a little bit of a formation change, or whatever, this or that. So, but that confidence grows. So, he is just playing at an extremely high level of both speed and reactionary processing of everything mentally. But that just innate ability to just burst to the football, he has gotten faster since he has gotten here. He has really bought in to our strength staff and he has physically developed, so he has improved in that area. But like I said really the finish on the ball and being able to, he has gotten facts so effectively and just always around the football. His leadership has really grown. Even over these last couple weeks I have seen more of that verbally. He is a special one and he is one of the best linebackers in the country, there is not any question about that and people are starting to recognize it. Then Tiawan, he came with a little more hype out of high school than Micah for sure. Similar instinctual things he has that the lord had given to him that we cannot take full credit for. But I do think that the way we have done some things schematically, and the way we utilize his talents and to try, that has been a hug plus for his play making ability, and even just being to able to; the pressure, the sack that he got, which was a huge play in that game. But that is just him. He comes up with those kinds of plays, and then the pass breakups there he got on those touchdown attempts were huge, and game defining type plays that he was able to make. But he just has so much confidence. He just really plays with that. He has such a great personality, a great work ethic and you say what are the similar things about those two guys, man, their work ethic. Weight room, the film room, the practice effort, I mean it is just always are at that level that you want to see and it is neat to see guys like that rewarded. When you hardest workers are your best players, that is usually when you have really good football teams and they practice to a certain standard. You never have to get on them about their effort, you never have to get on them about their attention to detail, those kinds of things and they just continue to grow and develop. It is like anything else. The more you do it the better to get at it usually, and when you are talented like both of those guys are then they reap the benefits of all that hard work and all that focus.

Q, On Matthew Bedford and the offensive line…
ALLEN: He was dinged up a little bit from the previous week and was actually expecting to play, but he was not going to start as we progressed. But Luke was playing really well and he still was kind of struggling. I think he will be fine for this week, but it is good to be able to get him rested. He did not get to play in this game a year ago. So, should have a chance. But Luke is playing well, which is great to have depth at that position because it is a critical position for sure. But I expect Matt to have great week of preparation and be ready to go for Saturday.

Offensive Coordinator Nick Sheridan
Q. On Jack Tuttle’s play…
SHERIDAN: I like his toughness. That is probably the thing that I like most about him, he played tough. I think that is a good trait to have and it is one that you need in this conference. I thought Jack played tough and made good decisions with the football. I would not say we were not trying to be aggressive but I think we were trying to make sure that we did what needed to do to win the game. There were a couple opportunities down field where we could have been better. We need to connect and execute them but I was proud of Jack and his toughness. We expected Jack to be tough but you do not know how a player is going to respond until it happens. There was no indication prior that Jack was not going to be tough but it is a little bit different when it actually happens. He responded great and that is this league. Part of playing quarterback in the Big Ten is that you are going to have to be tough. It is just required, nonnegotiable, and he was great. He did a good job of that. He hung in there, took some shots, made some good throws, and did enough to help us win on the road. He did a nice job.

Q. On the importance of Ty Fryfogle in the passing game…
SHERIDAN: It is important and I think we had some opportunities on Saturday. That is an area that I think Jack recognizes that he could improve at. Just making sure that we give our guys some chances. Obviously, we hit the one that was a 35-yarder which was a big play where we ended up scoring. Ty did a good job of battling. I think we drew maybe two pass interference calls on some vertical throws down field. That is a part of our offense, as it is to a lot of offenses, that If you do get one on one coverage you have to be able to beat it, got to be able to throw and catch versus the one on one. It is an area that we can improve on. There have been times this year where have done a nice job and there have been times where we could be better. Whether it be in the pass protection, the throw, the release, or whatever it may be. Ty has had a great year and we are going to need him to be big on Saturday.

Q. On Caleb Jones…
SHERIDAN: I think there are a few things that he would like to take back and correct but I think by and large Caleb did a great job. We did not play that many plays on Saturday, that is just the nature of game, there were only about 55 plays, it was not 75. I thought he did fine on the conditioning piece. I thought during the week of practice, you practice hard and I felt comfortable from a conditioning standpoint. It is hard when you are out for a few weeks to come back and you are playing a big and strong front like Wisconsin. That is a tough ask for guys on the line, just to be able to withstand the effort and intensity that it takes and I thought he did a nice job. I did not think it was an issue, temperature probably helped keep him pretty cool. We did not have that many snaps but I thought he did a nice job. There were a couple things that he could be better on just like there is for everybody each game but I thought Caleb did a nice job and it was good to have him back out there.

Defensive Coordinator Kane Wommack
On who picked up their game with Demarcus Elliott being out…
WOMMACK: You never want to lose your starting nose guard going into Wisconsin week. Those guys, as I think Micah McFadden put it, look like mountain ranges when they walk up to the line of scrimmage. I am really just impressed with a number of guys. It was certainly a collective effort to stop the run defensively. Probably the guys are most excited that Sio Nofoagatoto’a was able to step in and I thought he just played so physical, so hard against some of their guys. They had some counter back blocks and a one-on-one with a guard. He just throwing people around in the interior and then probably most excited about what C.J. Person and Jonathan King both did at the defensive end position. We went to a bigger personnel package when they got into their 12 and 21 packages, which was primarily what we saw most of the game and C.J. played the defensive end spot to the field and John played kind of our hybrid bowl outside backer, even dropped in the coverage some and just both of them played very physical, very violent. For those young guys to step up in that moment and produce on the level that they did was a big step for us as a defense and certainly for our defensive linemen.

Q. On disguising blitzes…
WOMMACK: A lot of it is timing and pictures and our main understanding and getting a feel for when teams take shots. There were some tendencies that we had against Wisconsin. Once they cross the 50 and got in a certain formation, we knew what they were going to do. We just roll with it. He was at the corner position, actually whenever Tiawan Mullen blitzed there, which is kind of fun. You blitz from a lot of different places and we bring pressure from a lot of different, in a lot of different ways with a lot of different personnel. He was not playing the nickel back position as he calls it all the time but whether we call it the husky, whatever but I just, I think a lot of it is timing. And I think a lot of it is our guys, the backend disguise if we can show a certain look on the back end. There are certain alignments that we run defensively that basically an offensive lineman and the quarterback are not going to anticipate a corner fire. I think that is something that we have done a really good job of this season is we show pre-snap alignments on the back end that would indicate that this player is not going to come but maybe these two players will and then we bring the player that they are not expecting. And so, that takes a lot of work and it takes a lot of discipline on the back end. And I think sometimes we just credit the guy that made the sack but often this season probably more than any other season I have been a part of, it has been a collective effort of pre-snap confusion that has allowed for a lot of these pressures to get home.

Q. On preparing for Purdue’s passing attack…
WOMMACK: I think it is a collective effort like we talked about, I think, when you play a team like that that is as dynamic as they are in the passing game. I think what their coaching staff does is a phenomenal job in terms of finding ways to get their players the ball in space. A big piece of what we do is we got to win some one-on-one matchups and we also got to do a great job of rallying to the ball and making tackles in space. So, a lot of times you make this out to be a scheme game and there are a lot of things schematically that both sides of the ball are going to try to do and we have gone against each other for a number of years now and I think I talked about this last year. Their system versus our system, it goes further back than just the Bucket Week rivalry and so, there are certain schematic things that we want to try to do and create some confusion on the back end but ultimately, it comes to being able to fundamentally tackle in space. And I think that probably is one of the best things their offense does is they force you to make those plays in space and we got to be up to the challenge. So, something that our guys take personally and are ready to go do what they need to do to win this game.

QB Jack Tuttle
On the Purdue game…
TUTTLE: My dad is not a big fan of Purdue and neither am I. It is a great rivalry game and we are looking forward to this week. We are going to have a great week of practice.

Q. On his toughness…
TUTTLE: It was not necessarily a wakeup call but it was the first time I had really been hit in a year or year and a half so I am a little bit sore.

Q. On Ty Fryfogle…
TUTTLE: Ty is a great player. I think all of our receivers are great players. They are going to have my back and I am going to have theirs. We are just going to keep getting better.

LB Micah McFadden
Q. On the defensive group as a whole and how well you work together…
MCFADDEN: I think that just starts with the depth that we have created over the past few years here. It is a testament to our coaches going out recruiting and getting the right guys but it is also great effort coming from our players each and every week putting in the work in practice and getting prepared for the game and there is an attention to detail that is on this team and everybody lives it and you can just see that every get every guy is focused and every guy wants to play as well. So, when they get on the field, they take advantage of their opportunities. It is good to see.

Q. On how exciting it is to play in the defensive schemes…
MCFADDEN: It is definitely exciting for us. As a linebacker you definitely like to get in the backfield and make plays back there but at the same time, Coach Kane Wommack does a great job just kind of mixing it up on people. They do not know who is coming and what gap and where. So, he does a great job with that and then, once we get that opportunity, we just take advantage of it, hit that hole as hard as we can and go see if we can make the play. So, it is really exciting.

Q. On attention to detail and preparation…
MCFADDEN: Film preparation is a huge piece of our game and mine, particularly. We jump into the field or jumping in the film throughout the entire week, me and James Head Jr. are getting there a lot, just watch it personally ourselves but also it is just communication out there and making sure everybody is on the same page because if we are all wrong, we are all right. It is just each of us communicating and making sure we have the right defense in place and we are doing what Coach Kane Wommack wants us to do. So, it does not really matter what they are throwing at us. It is just, if we can play what we are doing, we will be okay out there.