Indiana University Football Coach Tom Allen’s Monday Media Day 09.24.18

by | Sep 24, 2018 | Football Blogs, Headlines, RRSN News | 0 comments

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana heads to Rutgers on Saturday, Sept. 29, for a noon ET kickoff. The game will be televised on BTN.

Head coach Tom Allen and selected players met with the media on Monday to preview the matchup with the Scarlet Knights. Below is Allen’s transcript.

TOM ALLEN: Good afternoon. I’m disappointed in the outcome from Saturday, but encouraged by the fight of our team and the character they showed to be able to stay together and give us an opportunity in the fourth quarter, to be able to score 14 points and cut the lead to seven with three minutes to go, but then back to one of the points of emphasis and focus, which is to finish, and defensively did a lot of good things throughout the game, but didn’t finish out the half, didn’t finish out the game there and gave up that long run and held them to 56 yards rushing up to that point and then gave them a 75-yarder really to kind of make it very difficult. So disappointed in that, obviously.

Didn’t run the ball good enough, and that’s pretty clear. Too much pressure on our quarterback. Bottom line, it’s a seem game and both sides had opportunities and got to go back as we’ve done and looked at everything and continue to evaluate and continue to improve in the areas that have to be addressed and move forward.

Our young defense is growing. Nine tackles for loss and three sacks, four takeaways against that team is the kind of performance that you want in those areas, but have to continue to focus on the little things. You get guys dinged up and new guys are playing, and a young team gets even younger pretty quickly at times when things happen a certain way, so that’s part of the growth process of our team.

So had an opportunity with a really good team at home and didn’t take advantage of it.

Moving on to Rutgers, that allows us to be able to focus as we wrap this last one up before we get to this, I just do want to say as we always do each week, the guys that we recognize for performances. For our scouts, Sam Slusher and Jonathan King were defensive scouts of the week. Jonathan has really continued to develop and grow. Sam continues to give us tremendous effort in all that he does and helps our team get better. Offensive scouts of the week, Aidan RaffertyDavid Felton and Justin Berry. Really appreciate all the work that they do making us better every day and letting us be prepared offensively and defensively. Owen Strieter is our special teams scout player of the week, the effort he gives us on special teams during practice.

Offensively Whop Philyor was our offensive player of the game, 13 catches, 148 yards and a big touchdown that gave us a chance. And then defensively Jonathan Crawford continues to play at a high level, led our team in tackles, and another tackle for loss, recovered fumble, and just really proud of him and how he’s leading and how he’s performing during his senior season, and Logan Justus continues to be consistent, kicking two field goals, and big one there at the end to give us a chance to make it the type of game where we could go down and score to win at the end, if possible.

Positives and negatives, as is often the case in a setback, but focused on the things we have to improve and we’ll continue to get better.

Rutgers, a team that — Big Ten Conference game that we know is very important to us and to our program as we get on the road. Road games in the Big Ten are always huge for us, and to be able to focus on improving as a football team, addressing our areas as we have to address them and keep getting better every time we take the field.

Really talented young quarterback that as a true freshman always has ups and downs in that area, but can really throw it and does all the things that you want in regards to a guy at that position. Talented running backs. I know they haven’t played the way that they want to, but the bottom line is that we will have to be prepared for a tough battle. We went there two years ago, my first year here, and were not sharp, and that is a vivid memory in my mind of how we played in that game as a team.

So the objective is to be on the road, playing a noon kickoff game, it’s going to be a very important opportunity for us to be at our very, very best as we play a Big Ten Conference game at Rutgers.

Questions?

Q. You talked about Whop; he seemed okay after the game but he seemed to have something that was kind of bothering him during the game. Is there anything long-term concerned with that, and also Luke, what’s his status going into this week?
TOM ALLEN: Whop was hobbled a bit as you could tell, but he’s a tough nut and fought through it, so hopefully we’ll continue to get him better. But he made plays and had to kind of keep him going back and getting some treatment and getting squared away. But he wanted to stay in there, and he was able to obviously stay in there, and I think he needs to continue to work to get better.

In regards to Luke, that will be a game-time decision. I don’t know yet the status. He’s obviously improving, and so getting closer for sure, so would love to be able to get him back, but we don’t know for sure if he will be. But need to have everybody possible that we can get healthy, and if they’re healthy, they’ll play, and if not we’ll have other guys take their place.

Q. How about Cam Jones, too?
TOM ALLEN: He had to come out of the game. Once again, he’s on our list of game-time decisions. We won’t know until later in the week. Definitely do not know right now if he’ll be available. One encouraging thing in that position is we have several guys that we feel have the ability to do a great job there, which is not — was not that way in the past, and so — but the guys there will do some good work with the younger guys and get them ready to go to be able to play at that position.

Q. In addition, Marcelino has to sit out the first half. We saw Fitz in there, Isaac James, who else are you talking about?
TOM ALLEN: Fitz is a guy that played that position in the spring, played it, and I think he’s a very natural guy there, so he’ll be getting a lot of reps, and then Jamar Johnson, as well, is a young man that I feel has the skill set as I mentioned, can play all five spots in our secondary, so those will be the top two guys working that position outside of Cam, as he works to get back, and then Marcelino will be not available until the second half.

Q. You mentioned the running game; against Michigan State obviously it’s a top-flight defensive line. How much of it was a matter of just not executing and how much of it was what Michigan State was doing?
TOM ALLEN: A little bit of both. You’ve got to give them tremendous credit. They are really good in the box. They’re hard to move because they’re so physically strong. They’re so well-coached, and they use their hands well. But we had some errors. We had some technical scheme — not executing it right, and then also them just disrupting, and that’s why that part of the game was so huge. It’s hard to get things going when the line doesn’t hold up, and it’s hard to stop somebody if you can’t do it on either side. So it’s just a matter of a combination of both. I think that they’re a really good run defensive team for sure, and it showed on Saturday night.

But we have to find a way to run the football.

Q. I’m guessing that you see that targeting as a teaching moment, but I mean, what do you tell your guys about the quarterback sliding into them in a situation like that?
TOM ALLEN: It’s really challenging, and I’m trying to be as real with them as I am with you about everything, and that is it’s a tough position to be put in, I get it. And I want them to protect the quarterbacks. I understand that completely and I fully understand that. And I’m a defensive guy, so when I played the position, when I played linebacker, guys run at you full speed and he’s a big ol’ guy, he’s got the ability to run you over, he’s shown he can do that on film, and then last minute he slides. So it’s hard to just completely avoid him. So there’s two things. Number one, we say never lead with your head, ever. Don’t lead with your head. If you put your head down, you put yourself in position to be called for that. And number two, you’ve got to understand it’s a quarterback. It’s a different position. They’re going to treat that guy different, and when he slides, he’s to be protected, and he should be. And so you have to — if you don’t lower your head, you have the ability to try and avoid the contact to his head, and that’s what you’re trying to do.

So those are just tough calls. I said it before, it’s a tough break. I said it to our team, you’ve just got to understand, and that’s the first one we’ve had since I’ve been here, and that’s three seasons, or almost three seasons. We work really hard to teach our guys to hit — we talk about lowering our target for where we hit defenders to avoid these types of situations, but when it’s a quarterback sliding, man, it’s tough. We had the same thing happen with our quarterback, and it wasn’t called. And so that was — my biggest challenge was with that whole comparison. I want that position protected, but I also want it called equally the same on both sides.

But it’s just a tough position to be put in as a defender, and I’ve seen it — seen guys — I just hate you get kicked out of a game for it, but that’s part of the rule. So that’s the part I was kind of — I didn’t feel like that was accurate. But I’ve had situations in the past where I didn’t agree with calls, and there will be more in the future I’m sure.

And I thought Marcelino handled it like a man. He was torn because he thought he let his team down by not being in there, but he realized, he said, Coach, I understand, and I’ll make sure I get these other guys ready for next week first half, and I’ll be ready to go in the second half. It was just a teachable moment for our whole team on how you handle those kind of situations on the field.

Q. It seems like the defensive signals have been coming in a little bit slower than we’ve seen in the past. What’s the challenge of getting the information to your guys in a timely fashion while also making sure those young guys get set in a timely fashion?
TOM ALLEN: I would say, and there’s different reasons for that, and you go through and you play certain styles of offenses and you try to look at formations, too, before you make the calls, and so that’s kind of different things you try to do, and so rather than just see the personnel and just make a call before they ever line up, so it’s all based on their tempo and how much time you think you have, and so you’re trying to wait as long as you can, and the other part of it, too, is that people are really, really good at stealing signals, okay, and so you want to be able to wait as long as you can. So there’s just always that — there’s a lot of things that go into it. In a perfect scenario you’d love to have the guys have the call way in advance so they have plenty of time to make all their adjustments, especially because you’re young, but sometimes we don’t have that luxury. When you’re trying to get the right/wrong based on what you’re seeing and let our guys get adjusted, it’s definitely a challenge for sure, but you want them to be able to get their feet set, get their eyes right and play football. If we get that done, we feel like we’ve got a better chance of being successful.

Q. A couple of guys said this morning on the jet sweep there was a misalignment.
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, and you go back to — we were down to our third string guy that didn’t get a lot of reps at that, unfortunately, but as a matter of fact I used that as a teachable time for our team in this morning’s team meeting to say, hey, we got down to our third string guy on the field at a critical time to go win the game, give us a chance to go win the game. That just tells me you’d better be ready. If you’re a third-string guy and you think you may never see the field and you’re not preparing the way you’re supposed to prepare, you’d better, because you may be in there because that circumstance happened to us during the game.

And so it’s just — and it’s tough to get those guys — they’re not going to get phenomenal reps. They may have to just be mental reps during walk-throughs or be on the side watching things or watching film. Just a great reminder for all of us, so that’s obviously part of it, too, and just is a call we worked on and have used many times, and we were more aggressive for sure just because of the situation. We had three timeouts. No one really talked about an onside kick because we didn’t need to. We had three timeouts and three minutes to go in the game, and you have to stop them regardless or else you’re not going to get the ball back, and so the bottom line is if we didn’t have timeouts, we’d have had to do an onside kick for sure, but when you have timeouts and you can get the ball back and give your offense a chance to go score a touchdown, which is what we were trying to do.

Q. I know how important special teams is for you. How disappointing was it on the fake field goal to be kind of off guard with that?
TOM ALLEN: And the thing that really is frustrating is we called a call for that purpose. We thought they were going to fake it. And so didn’t execute it. That’s really — that gets you. If you get caught off guard, hey, they got us, but they didn’t, because we studied them. As a matter of fact, we had extra time we spent in our meetings the day of because they had had a history of doing that in other games and even years in the past. We’d go back and show video clips of several years ago. They did one against Notre Dame in overtime; showed that exact clip. Anyways, so we made a call for that purpose and didn’t execute it. So that’s really frustrating. But they did, and that’s why they won the game. So give them credit where credit is due.

Q. Also, Coach, speaking of guys that are banged up, looked like Jacob Robinson was out. Any update on where he’s at?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, he was, and it was something that happened during practice last week, so really didn’t expect it at all, and we’re trying to get him ready to roll, so he’s a week to week situation right now. Don’t know what his status will be for sure this week, but an important guy for us and want to get him back as soon as possible. But yeah, he’s definitely — definitely did not play, did not dress.

Q. Probably seems like a weekly question at this point, but Mike Penix didn’t play Saturday. Are you still trying to find him snaps and get him in situations or are you getting into a point in the season where you would try and protect that redshirt if you could?
TOM ALLEN: Well, right now you look at it, he’s played in two, so you have two more to work with. So that still gives you that flexibility. But I think that at the same time, as I’ve said before, he’s our backup quarterback, he’s our No. 2 quarterback, and so I expect him to play. So we’ll see how that all ends up working itself out. If it continues to be the case where he doesn’t play enough and you have a chance to redshirt him, I think you have to use that as a thought. But right now when you’re the backup quarterback, chances of that guy playing is pretty high. And so — but that final decision has not been made yet, no. Obviously you’ve got two more games left to work with, and we’ll see how that plays itself out.

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