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August 25, 2017

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

TOM ALLEN: Welcome to Ohio State week. It's been a great camp. We're excited about our football team and how hard our young men have worked and the coaches and everybody involved in our program for the last several weeks through fall camp. Obviously, culminates with this part of the season, the spring and the summer is a big part of that and our preparations. So, just a lot of anticipation for next Thursday from our players, coaches and everybody involved.

So really excited about the opportunity that it's going to create having "College Gameday" here. Biggest home opener in the history of our program. I know I've said that many times, but it is what it is. That's exactly the situation we find ourselves in. And having game day here and being able to get our fans exposed to that, I know they're going to open the gates an hour early so we can get more fans here for that, which is a big deal for us and get them here at 5:30 and pack out our stadium, get our fans involved and get them behind us. They've been super.

I've been out speaking the whole spring and summer, and really encouraged by the response of our fans and all of those involved. So a lot of excitement about our program and this opener is kind of one that is very unique, for sure. But very exciting and I know our players are in the build-up mode. We've still got several days left, lots of prep ahead of us, but we know that we're excited about what's ahead.

In regards to an update with our roster, we've got Austin King who has decided to transfer, and we really wish him the very, very best. He's a fine young man, and a very good family, so he will no longer be with us. And Omari Stringer is a young man that just physically had lots of challenges, so he will remain with us and help us, but won't be playing this fall, just because his body is not able to do so. So he's going to be a student assistant with us, and helping us help our guys. We decided to help him finish up, and just think he's a quality, quality person, so excited about him and him being a part of us.

Got captain's for this week. The Ohio State game captain's defensively, Tegray Scales as you would expect, and Greg Gooch, I think those two guys have separated themselves and their leadership all spring and summer.

On the offensive side of the ball, Richard Lagow who has done a tremendous job in his leadership and taken over our team and really grown. And Wes Martin is a guy who is highly respected by his teammates and his toughness and what he brings. So those four young men will be our game day captain's for Ohio State, and we'll start the trend. Those could change each week, and our coaching staff and players have input on that.

Q. (Inaudible)?
TOM ALLEN: No decision has been made yet. So still looking at all of that.

Q. (Inaudible)?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think I mentioned it before. Donavan had a tremendous fall camp and it's all about competition here at Indiana. Nobody's guaranteed a spot. Nick's worked hard, done a lot of good things, but highly competitive at several positions. And obviously they're both going to play a tremendous amount.

So sometimes, I know it's a big deal about who is listed as a starter, but at positions like that there are several. You don't rotate your quarterbacks every few plays, but you often do receivers and D-line and sometimes DBs and even running backs, those guys all play. But to list a guy right now in the actual depth chart that's where we see it.

So it's about earning something new every day, and that's what we want here. I want that competitive mindset. I want our guys understanding that nothing is set in stone. I don't care what you did last year. It's just really more a tribute to what Donavan has done. So I like that. I love having guys battling for spots. I think that makes everything better. And it makes our team better. So that's definitely one that that's the reason why.

Q. Richard's leadership, where have you seen him take his biggest step? What have you seen him do even in fall camp?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is the confidence to confront your teammates. That's hard to do. You know, if you're going to run something, you've got to run it. I demand the same thing of the linebackers. They've got to run the defense. If a guy is out of position or doesn't do his job, they've got to have the courage and the confidence to stand -- in the right way; correct them. Whether it's a technical thing or, you know, an assignment or just effort. You know, so just seeing him grow in that is a big thing, also just communication.

But once again, when you are comfortable and what you know and what you can do, you speak louder, you speak with more vigor, and you just aren't afraid to do that. If you're not quite sure, you kind of have that -- if you don't know the answer to the question, you don't just shoot your hand up. But if you know the answer to the question you have a whole different response, kind of one of these, to me, that's the same thing.

So I feel like he's grown in those areas and a lot of that is just maturity. Some of it is just being year two and being here. But obviously he's learned a new system. So just encouraged by his desire to want to do that, and then he's actually going out and doing it. He's making plays in practice, you know. As we do a lot of situational work that wasn't always happening in the past.

So I really, really feel like that's things I've been able to see tangibly that's encouraged me.

Q. With your offense, do you anticipate it being the Urban Meyer offense that Kevin Wilson's running, is it the Kevin Wilson offense that Kevin's running, some sort of hybrid?
TOM ALLEN: That's a great question. We've been having those same questions for a while. I think that's what everybody kind of wondered. Obviously, Coach Meyer is the head coach, and he's still there. As you go back and look at how they performed last year, they hung 63 on Maryland and beat Nebraska by 60-something. It wasn't like they were anemic, you know?

So I don't think there were certain things that they didn't finish the way they expected to, for sure. So it wasn't like it was just completely broken off and you want to go in and change everything. So you have to believe that it's going to be the core of what they've done with influencing Kevin Wilson. That's kind of what I perceive it to be and how that influence looks. You know, we'll find out.

That's why I continue to tell people and tell our coaches, tell our players this game's going to be about adjustments. Both sides. Everybody has to find what the other team's going to do, really, when the kickoff occurs and we start playing football. Then you've got to adjust. But that's kind of the -- that's a chess match and the strategic part of it that you're trying to figure out is what's it really going to look like.

And you know what, you kind of go through, you know it's not that unusual for game ones. Every year, when you get somebody on the staff that's new, and even if they're not, you're still trying to figure out, okay, this is what he did last year, what are he this going to do different? Now when you have certain guys back at certain positions and maybe quarterback may cause a little more consistency just because you know what you're going to get from that position and they'll have some new receivers, some new running backs depth-wise, but the main starters are back.

So you kind of, I guess, you'd have to assume you're going to see a core of what you're going to see in the past with Kevin having his wrinkles on it and doing what he does.

He does a great job and always has everywhere he's been. So he'll have them ready, for sure.

Q. Do you address at all just the whole sort of Coach Wilson coming back? Obviously a lot of guys on the team, including you, know him very well. Do you talk about that much this week or is it something you just leave alone?
TOM ALLEN: No, we really don't. It's all Ohio State. Very genuinely, it's all Ohio State. Really haven't mentioned that once.

Q. You guys recently had the hype and build up to this game, is there a balance you try to have between getting too hyped up and getting lost in all the excitement?
TOM ALLEN: Oh, there's no doubt. You've got to have -- this is what I told are our team, no matter what happens game one, we've got to turn around and play Virginia next week. No matter what happens. Good, bad, whatever. That's how you have to approach a game like this. You do what you want to do, it's a big win. You don't do what you want to do, it's a disappointment and you move on. But you can't make it all encompassing. This is thee game that we have to have, you know.

Yeah, it's a big game. And I told him, Nick's a big game that we're playing in at Indiana. The season, the moment, all of that, you just want your guys to be at their best. You want our guys to play for 60 minutes or beyond, whatever it's going to take, to be able to finish.

So I think that you just have to as a head coach, as a staff member, all of our guys have to understand. The more you've been in as both a player and a coach, it helps, for sure. Because you've been on both sides of it, and you've also been, hey, what happens afterwards and how do we respond to this. And so I think that's a maturity you have to have.

We've got some older guys on our staff that have been through it, and we've got some older guys on our team that have played a lot of big games here. So it's Nick's big game at Indiana.

Q. Preseason honors, I think it's 90-something percent of defensive production from last year is back. How good can this group be and what are your expectations for performance level?
TOM ALLEN: Being a defensive guy, you know, I have high expectations for our defense. I expect them to execute better than they did last year because we have so many guys back. I expect them to play hard like they always have. I expect them to tackle well. And we've said before and I'll say it again, I want us to be a top 25 defense.

It's harder to go from where we were last year at the end of the year to even move up to top 25 across the board. We dipped into a couple stats in that area, than it is to go from the bottom into the middle. So that's the good to great model that we've talked about as a staff and a program all spring long, during the summer. It's an organizational challenge in any area of life or business or anything that you do.

So just use the principles of that to try to teach and how is that created. So that's the expectation. We want to go from being a defense that was, you know, I would say playing good defense a lot of time to I want to be great on our side of the ball.

Now, we have to have guys that were here before, just because it's year two doesn't mean they're going to play better. You know, there is often an edge that you have and a chip on your shoulder that you have when you're trying to prove yourself. And sometimes guys lose that when they think -- that's why to me it's almost like I've been harder on them this year, even though I thought I was hard on them last year to get them to elevate everything that they were doing in their preparation to now just continue to grow that and to not let them have any sense of letup whatsoever that, okay, now we've got -- no, we haven't done anything. That's where we break it down, tear it all down, these preseasons whatever, they don't mean Jack. I told our team that. We have a lot of guys in preseason, whatever, awards, that doesn't mean anything.

Everything you did last year can give you confidence, but it has nothing to do with your performance this year on the field. You have to recreate that. Recreate that intensity, that passion, that edge, and that's what we've been focused on as a program defensively.

Q. Game situations scrimmage yesterday, what did you take away from that?
TOM ALLEN: It was good. Kind of exposed some logistical things that you're working through. A lot of times it's special teams, just the mechanics of having so many different individuals from both offense, defense, the guy gets injured, has a helmet issue, hits the back-up. Now you can be the back-up on a special team, and everybody talks about two-deep. Well, if your number one goes down, number two becomes number one, and number three becomes number two. He's one injury away from being number one. Guy can go from being a three to a one, just like that.

A lot of those transitions happen on punt team and punt return team, because those are in-game transition, special teams. You're working on all those situations. Just even how you, as a staff on the sideline, handle this special team here. How many guys? You've got 11 guys. Well, do you have the right 11 guys? The way we organize ourselves, it kind of exposes some of that if you don't have it where you want it, you have to make sure you get it right.

To me, it was more of that, and we did work on specific situations, offensively, defensively, and into the half, into the game, those kind of things. What you're trying to get the right personnel and the right concept executed.

So you need that. We had the head sets working. Had a coach in the press box. Came out, simulated coming out of the tunnel, simulated everything. Going in at halftime where the players are, where the coaches are. It was truly every phase of the game simulated. Then even simulated, when we win, here's where we go. Just sing the fight song with our student section. So everything was covered and expectation of what's it to come.

Q. Do you have any night time workouts?
TOM ALLEN: We did, because of catching. Catching punts, catching kicks, catching balls at night with the lights, yes, we did.

Q. (Inaudible) on two deep at left tackle. I know he's a guy that you like, but it what did you see from him?
TOM ALLEN: He absolutely has been a pleasant surprise. I really felt like we would need to bring him in here and red-shirt him and just to get his body and his foot work and everything physically get stronger. Been a lot more athletic than I expected. Very good feet. Without question the numbers show he's very big, tall, big old kid that really is tough.

It's always hard to find tackle bodies. We say that all the time in recruiting. I don't think I've ever been on a staff that didn't have such a huge challenge to find tackle bodies on your team. Guys that could play left or right tackle at this level. So that length is a big part of that.

So he's really been -- got a lot of work to do, but that's what he's listed at and that's what he is. So we've been encouraged by his progress for sure. He's got to continue to get growing. Going to have to grow up really fast.

Q. (Inaudible)?
TOM ALLEN: I think it's going to be four or five guys that I can see all being meaningful minutes Mike Majette is kind of that solidifying, does everything really well kind of guy, Morgan Ellison has been a surprise. I knew he was a good player, thought he may need to come up and have time to develop. But he's right there in the mix. So that would be the guy that I really feel like, you know. Devonte Williams has been as quick and explosive as he's always been and Cole, getting him back was good. He's got a great burst.

So those guys are all going to be in that rotation. So it will be interesting to see who separates when the bullets are live and it's game time who makes the plays. Last year we thought we had so much depth there, and by the end of the year, it was thin, really thin. So you've just got to keep guys in the mix and keep them rotating and practice and in games, and let them keep developing.

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