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October 2, 2017

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

COACH ALLEN: Welcome. Good afternoon. I'm going to begin by saying proud of our team's response yesterday, coming back from a disappointing performance at Penn State, getting our minds back right, having a good practice yesterday and good meetings to be able to get refocused. Just addressing in our meetings and our practice special teams. The poor performance that we had in that area was things we gotta get corrected. Ball security was a big emphasis. Create takeaways on our side defensively. Offensively protecting it, defensively taking it. Worked on that yesterday, again. We'll continue to emphasize that. Really, 21 points off of those turnovers is really devastating, really hurt us in the game. And giving up 21 points off special teams, or really 14 directly, and then the roughing the punter that gave them a first down and they ended up going down and scoring off of that was really frustrating and disappointing and needs to get corrected.

So I feel like that our guys mentally were ready to play and did not execute the opening kickoff. And that's a really momentum killer when they just take it right back the opening play of the game. And so that to me is just inexcusable. So had to address personnel on that, made some changes with that. Talked about a couple scheme adjustments with that. But the placement of the kick was right where you wanted it to be and didn't do a good job at all with the scheme of covering it. So can't do that, and really hurt us for sure. And then being able to go through the game and fight back after being down 28, which is tough on the road. And then you get to 28-14 at half and really feel good about the way we bounced back.

Really pleased with our defense, especially stopping the run, did a great job on a tremendously talented running back, but gave up some big play action passes and some deep balls that hurt us, for sure, and not good enough to overcome the earlier mistakes of our team.

So really, they put a lot into that game, as we always do, and felt good about our preparation, and disappointed in the outcome, without a doubt. So very frustrated to start a game like that and dig such a big hole. Nothing but compliments to Penn State. They're a first class organization in everything that they do, and they got a lot of good football players. Their coaches do a great job. So you just can't give a team like that with that much talent and resources that they have to take advantage of to be able to spot them those points. Makes it really hard.

So if you look at the game and you go through that, you know, we did not have any offensive players that we felt like as a staff were worthy of being the player of the game. And then defensively Tegray Scales was phenomenal. Effort was what you always expect was off the charts. But just the way he produced with multiple sacks and tackles for loss. We had 11 tackles for loss and five sacks. We actually got six but they don't give us credit for the one that's RPO, I guess by the book technically. So in my mind we had six. And he was a big part of a lot of those. So just really happy with him and Chris Covington played well, extremely well. Both those guys. Defensive line, several guys. Allen Stallings continues to produce, and really excited about his growth. He responded a couple weeks ago when Gooch was out. He's really kind of stayed at that same level. There was a play also, Jerome Johnson, redshirt freshman, ran down Saquon Barkley from a long ways away, just shows tremendous athleticism for a 300-pound defensive it tackle, effort. So just pleased with that. And Jacob Robinson played super hard and did some great things. So was really encouraged by those guys stepping up and playing well. And in the back end, Jonathan Crawford did some good things, had a blocked field goal. So he was our special teams player of the game. And then Tony Fields had to switch positions and did some good things. It was tough matchups for us in the perimeter with the receivers because of being down some guys. But he played really well. And Chase Dutra same thing, forced to play a lot more snaps with the special teams responsibilities, and really encouraged by that, but just gotta continue to bring guys along, and gotta have more depth. I keep saying it, keep working on it, emphasize it this week. And then just going through and evaluating where we're at as a team you still got your scouts that's working their tails off. So really proud of them this week and the offensive scouts gave us another great look simulating Penn State's offense. And Alex Rodriguez was the scout team player of the week as well as Nick Tronti at quarterback and then Rod Lloyd, who's a true freshman here from Indianapolis, did a great job running the football. So those three guys. And the defensive scout player of the week was Thomas Allen at linebacker. So just developing those younger guys and bringing them along and helping them get where they need to be for the future.

So those are all the things to me as you reflect back on the week and the things that we did and didn't do well. So we sit here 2 and 2 and got a chance to come back home, have a couple-game stretch here, very important for us to continue to get some guys healthy, get some guys back with us. I know we lost some more after this last game. So continues to be a challenge. But that's part of it, and we'll continue to move ahead and feel good about the guys that we're developing and trying to get healthy.

So to me the biggest thing that we're going to be doing is we're going to be making a change at quarterback. So Peyton Ramsey is going to be named the starter, as of today. Met with both young men last night, and as you look back at the first four games and where we're at and our ability to move the football and score points and build a team around whoever I feel gives us the best opportunity to have success on game day. And I feel like and our staff feels like that Peyton Ramsey is the person for that responsibility. And so he's going to be our starting quarterback. And Rich will be a great teammate and continue to work really hard and be ready to go when called upon.

So that's to me a very important decision we're making, and excited about moving forward with what Peyton can do at quarterback.

So would kind of close my opening statement by just saying my thoughts and prayers are with the individuals, victims of last night's horrendous incident in Las Vegas. And our hearts go out to them and their families and everybody affected by that. Pretty shocking situation. So questions.

Q. You talk about building the offense around Peyton, but what changes when you've got a guy obviously has more of a mobile element to his game? Do you take some routes out? Do you change the way you use guys like Simmie or anybody like that?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, I think to me it has to be, you know, a situation where we build our offense around what Peyton does best, the throws that he makes and can make and will make and be able to force the defense to have to account for him in the run game as well as, you know, extending plays. And so that's for sure his strength, and getting those balls to those guys. And so they're obviously two of our best play makers we have on the team. So the objective will be to be able to get those guys the ball in multiple ways, which will be similar, but obviously a little different, just based on what he does well. And so -- but to me it's about, you know, moving the chains and creating scoring opportunities for our team. And so building of the game plan around that that's going to be featuring Peyton's strength. And so there's a leadership piece that he has to step into and all that that entails. And so I just feel like at this time, where we're at and what we've evaluated and the body of work that we've been able to examine, that this is the best decision for our program.

Q. I'm assuming there won't be any more like Rich will play X number of series?
COACH ALLEN: That's not the plan. To me -- I like that. I wanted to see what they could do. I wanted to see what each one of them could do when they were out there and not just bring Peyton in when maybe things weren't going good or whatever just to have it scripted and go from there. But that gave me a chance to see, you know, in a pretty objective way who's able to move the ball. And so -- and we did not do a good job in the second half, obviously, as a team, scoring points. And so we've got to build what we do from day one around the strengths of what Peyton brings. So yeah, it's not going to be a rotating and he's now just a starter and rotating back. It's going to be I believe that we just need -- as we move the stage of our season we need to be able -- now, he's gotta be ready to go. There's no question. That's the role of a person in his position, and that's what he'll do. But you know, Peyton is going to be the starter.

Q. New injuries, can you bring us up to date on A'Shon and maybe Morgan Ellison?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah. I think A'Shon we'll find out more this week. Obviously he's a probable for this weekend and hope to get him back. And then Morgan Ellison is also I think a guy that's likely to be able to go. Mike Gesicki should be returning with us, which is a positive. And just I would say Mercelino Ball and Sean Riggins will continue to be doubtful. I doubt they'll be playing with us on Saturday. So not expecting them to be back. And then as well as offensively just couple guys that were out that got injured during the game we just have to wait and see what that looks like.

Q. One of those guys is Brandon Knight. Looked like to me the offensive line is making some strides in some way, including the run block?
COACH ALLEN: There's no question. We gave up one sack against a really, really talented defensive line, ran the ball 181 yards, 4.7 yards a carry. So we held them to 1.1 yard a carry. So we out rushed them by over 100 yards. So I thought that our offensive line is coming together. You know, Brandon will be fine. He'll be ready to roll this week, and Coach Hiller is doing a really good job with a group that's learning to gel together, work together. And they need to. We need to be able to run the football. We need to be able to score points. But to me it's about -- and you go through the season, you really don't know the personality of your team, and after about three or four games you got a pretty good idea what you are and where you're at and where your strengths lie. And I think you kind of -- now you start saying, okay, now as you get into these situations you feel like you kind of know your team and you gotta adjust to injuries and all that. But what do we have to do to win football games and where do our strengths lie, where are we at. And so to me it's about playing great defense. It's about being really, really good on special teams and it's being able to protect the football on offense and score points so you can win the game. And to me that's -- we gave the ball away. And those turnovers killed us. And you go through and you look at first downs and the numbers and the yards. There was 18 yards difference in the offenses, total yards. You know, one difference in first downs. They had one more than we had. Yet the points differential is dramatic. It's because of 21 points off turnovers. We had four, they had one. There's your difference. So that to me is about protecting the football and doing a great job of moving the chains and allowing us to be able to win the game. So that to me is what we're going to emphasize and become that, and that's where we're at, and I think that's -- but you figure out as you go through, and I feel like that we got much better feel for our team now than we did a few weeks ago.

Q. Was Saturday encouraging, seemed like once again watching the game that you guys were not losing in the trenches.

Q. Is that encouraging in the sense --
COACH ALLEN: It is because that's where the game -- to me, if you're losing that battle, you have some legit concern. You know, the future is -- there's not a lot of answers to change that. There's no question, I mean they run the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. We fumble a punt; they pick it up and run for a touchdown. We fumble the ball on the second play of the game on offense after a 20-yard run. You know, so those are three early huge plays that made it hard, you know. But defensively we -- we won the line of scrimmage. You take your 16 total plays behind the line of scrimmage, negative plays, tackles for loss, which includes sacks. That's a lot. You know, and so offensively, once again, not getting sacked and running the football effectively is what you need to do. So yeah, we're not looking for moral victories or anything like that, but when you go through and evaluate -- that's why the score doesn't really match the play. It was just we turned the ball over, and that's a huge part of the game, and it cost us the game in my opinion. So that's our fault. And so that's -- you just cannot do that and so we've gotta get it fixed. But you're right, there's definitely some things to be encouraged by.

Q. To follow up, you said Brandon is kind of one of those guys that's just on a day to day at this point?
COACH ALLEN: I can't say 100 percent sure, but I would say he's likely. Brandon is likely.

Q. Did Haydon Whitehead have a bad day or was he just kicking away from that return?
COACH ALLEN: We were concerned about three. He's the No. 2 returner in the Big 10, and then after what happened in the -- the plan was to either kick it outside of numbers or out of bounds. Because my whole thing was -- I'll take a 40-yard kick out of bounds or a 38-yard kick out of bounds than the threat of a return for sure. And when you do that, sometimes that's hard -- it's easier said than done for a kicker. So you don't want them to be worried about kicking it too far out of bounds or too short. So I thought that that might have hampered him a little bit in his ability to be as effective. But there was a couple that I got on him about, just because I'm all big, hey, do your job. Be at your best when it counts the most so you got these opportunities. Capitalize on them. So yeah, it was definitely -- we weren't going to let him after that opening kickoff for sure I'm like, we're not going to give up another one. So we'll just let our defense play.

Q. Was there anything in particular that you saw from Peyton this weekend that let you know that now he's ready to take over?
COACH ALLEN: I think more just collective. It would be collective. It really wasn't even just this game. It was just the buildup over time and just other things that you see from both situations. And so it's just -- I've already commented previously, love both guys, awesome people. I do think Peyton has that look in his eye about him that's different from in terms of just as a team member, not even just -- I'm not comparing -- I'm talking about he's -- there's a grit to him. There's a toughness to him that he's got a linebacker mentality in how he works and how he handles adversity and all that. I've noticed that since he's been here, you know, in our leadership training. So those are the kind of things that I always saw that he had in him. So those need to come to the forefront. That's what leaders do.

Q. We hear a lot about through the off-season, Rich talked about it. Coach has talked about it. But now he's kind of put a fair bit on these first four weeks, do you feel like this is the player that maybe you saw spring, summer, fall camp?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, I think it is. I think he's playing the way that we thought he would, and trying to get him the football, and he's able to do something with the ball once he catches it because of his athleticism. So want to see that continue. And I believe that he'll be a guy that really can help us moving forward to be able to grow our offense. So it's about getting -- you identify, hey, who are the top play makers on your offense be and just continue to find creative ways to get them the football.

Q. Big 10 schedule when you're making this kind of change in the offense? Does that allow you to kind of try out some things that you wouldn't otherwise?
COACH ALLEN: I think so. Yeah, I think that, you know, we got -- you got a two-week window here before we play back in the Big 10 again, so it gives us a chance to be able to look at some things. But Charleston Southern, they're a team that we play that's obviously all week focused on now, schematically and just came from our meetings, working that. And so they have our full attention for sure, because we understand where we're at. But in terms of being able to continue to develop as a scheme on both sides, you know, you really want to be able to take advantage of a week like this to be able to not be in conference play and keep moving forward.

Q. Charleston Southern offensively?
COACH ALLEN: It's really -- it's Georgia Southern's offense. It's triple option all from the gun. So very, very similar. So challenging, once again. Assignment football. The last two weeks they've put up a lot of points and yards. So it's your typical run the football, run the football, run the football and then play action passes off of that. And so it will force us to be very, very assignment sound, extremely fundamental. We're hoping that the benefit of playing Georgia Southern a couple weeks ago will be very helpful schematically in terms of not having to go through and do things that we haven't seen, the techniques that you have to teach. So that should help, but it still creates challenges. That's why they do it. That's why they run it. But they do a good job.

Q. How big is it that you started to elevate his play, especially I know with Gooch and Sykes you had two guys when you lose Sykes for the season. How much does that allow you to maybe do things defensively that you couldn't do before you had him stepping up?
COACH ALLEN: It was huge. You kind of get to a point where you sit a young man down and you say this program needs you to step up. And he responded. So I'm really encouraged by that. When we lost Nile that just was a big void there and he had had such a great off season. And to Allen's credit he's responded well. And you gotta keep elevating. Each week it doesn't change. So we needed him to do that. That's why guys on the roster have to respond. And so sometimes it's -- the situation has to draw it out of them. And I think that's what this has done. When Gooch got the situation, the targeting and had to sit out the first half, he didn't have a choice. You know, he was forced into that, and I was encouraged by the way he responded, because I still hadn't seen consistent practice or performance. And then when that happened, it really kind of a trigger went off. And so that's been good to see.

Q. Tegray Scales going back and watching the last two games, obviously he's got athletic ability, but seems like there's no wasted motion, whether it's time to go up, go back, move left to right. Is that an accurate observation?
COACH ALLEN: I agree. He's very efficient.

Q. So that is part of his level of play?
COACH ALLEN: You know, I think that -- because when you go and look at him, you know, because we go through and the scouts all go through and want to talk about him and different things and they have their opinions and they see it from their perspective. He's very -- because he's not a big guy, you know, and he isn't -- he's quick and athletic but he isn't like necessarily a burner. He's not an exceptionally fast guy. So you say, how is he so effective. And I think what you said, being -- there's no wasted motion. His footwork is clean. He doesn't take false steps. We're big in everything we do is flow driven. And so I think he's really flourished in the system that we have, and his skill set fits it and he's able to -- we're not -- the downhill game has changed. It's not like that anymore. So everything to me is your hot feet and shuffle and your lateral movement and being able to read the back. We read the back field. And so to me that is really what he's good at, and so he's able to anticipate. He studies film. He cares so much about being prepared and making sure the team is prepared. So his preparation I think it adds to that. It adds to his -- he's more effective. He understands where his eyes are supposed to be, and he's able to get there very efficiently. But there was a play, you know, when their quarterback broke, contained I mean it was just unbelievable effort, you know, and just absolutely willing himself to get there on a key third down and ended up knocking him out of bounds, got credit for a sack for that. But that just epitomized him. He knew exactly where he needed to be, took a great angle and busted his tail to get there, all the way across the field. So he's a really good one, very, very -- you know, he's tough. As a matter of fact, just read an article about him that they did on him back at home there in Cincinnati and talked about his wrestling background, just all those things -- interviewed his high school coach you just need to read because you'd like to see how young men have grown and he was special there for sure and he's continued to get better and better and better. So just really a tribute to him and how hard he's worked. But yeah, he's a very efficient player.

Q. Chris Covington you mentioned. You thought he played really well this weekend, but in general it seems like he's kind of just been very steady these first four weeks. A lot of people kind of wondered how you replace Marcus Oliver. Just how important has his play been?
COACH ALLEN: It's been very important. And when you lose a guy like Marcus that was the captain and starter for so many games and years here. So once again, we sat him down and challenged him, and this is what you need to do. And it was just change in the way he did things, you know, in his thoughts, how he worked and how he trained and how he took care of himself and how you live. And just getting your mind right. And all those things that go into being an elite player. And he bought into all that. And I think that it's a tremendous tribute to him, because we needed him to. We needed him to in a huge way in order for us to play the kind of defense we wanted to play. So those two guys, really proud of them. And Chris is a guy that had some question marks, for sure. It wasn't like it was just a given that he was just going to step in there and do what he's done. So but it's neat to see him rewarded for all the hard work in the way that he prepared all spring and summer and now into the season. Same thing with the preparation and the film study and getting the defense setup. They've owned the concept of run the defense, and I hold them to that every day, and Coach Hiller does a great job with that as well, and those two guys are playing at a high level.

Q. This is off topic a little bit, but did you know Coach Tiller and can you reflect on his passing?
COACH ALLEN: You know, I did. Not to the extent that I knew the coaches here. I would go there and visit. As a matter of fact, Coach Hagen was on his staff and Coach Brohm was also there for all those years when I would go as a high school coach. But I vividly remember sitting in on the high school coaches' clinic when he was first announced. And so he came in as the new head coach at Purdue. I really didn't know who he was. Being out at Wyoming I really wasn't familiar with him at all. But there was something about him. There was just a -- he made things just kind of seem simple, even though he was very sharp and had all -- he did so many innovative things that people weren't doing. But when you talked to him he was just such a practical person that he just cared about people. He always made us feel so welcome as high school coaches. I spent quite a bit of time there, too. I just never got the one-on-one time like I did with Coach Epp here and Coach Lynch. I know the high school coaches in this state highly, highly respected him. And there's without a doubt -- first thing I think of is bringing in the style of play that he brought to the Big 10 was so different than what everybody was used to seeing. And ran those bubbles. Just basically caught everybody off guard and just seemed like it was just a simple concept that was, you know, totally new. And obviously had a great quarterback. But just so much respect for what he did for Purdue football. I know we're rivals and all, but that really makes you respect them more, you know, because you appreciate what he did for our conference, what he did for our state, and such a quality man. I know Mark Hagen worked with him. And it's tough to hear of his passing and Mark had told us a few weeks ago that he knew he wasn't doing well. And we were praying for him recently and praying for his family. So my heart and thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family. But he was a great person. You love to see guys that are good people do well. You know, he treated people right. The coaches that worked for him -- I didn't work for him so I can't speak to that, but I know Mark thinks the world of him and appreciates what he did for his family and the opportunity he gave him at Purdue. So just a tremendous coach, tremendous person and will be missed greatly and appreciate everything he did for our game.

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