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October 30, 2017

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

COACH ALLEN: Welcome. Just some comments regarding Saturday before we move on to Wisconsin. Just really disappointing loss for our team. Really very disappointed with the way we played in special teams. Felt like that was something that really let our team down and has been one of our strengths in many areas.

To give up a blocked punt like we did at a critical time, which there is never a good time. Then to get a score right off of that when we had an early lead, had on offensive turnover that led to their first score. Had a chance to get momentum and set the tone for the whole first quarter and did not do that.

So just really, when you look at the big picture, you play really well offensively and did a lot of great things. Definitely very strong performance to win the game on that side of the ball.

Defensively played well across the board, except for a couple big plays that we can't give up. Disappointed we gave those up. That ended up being the difference.

But the long kickoff return, the blocked extra point, some kicks out of bounds, short punt once, just multiple things in our special teams that we take a lot of pride in and was just unacceptable. You don't win on the road when you make those kind of mistakes.

All that being said, you got a chance with the ball at the end to go score to win the game, kick a field goal to tie it or score to get the win.

But as is always the case, you have to focus on the things that you control now, which is the way you respond. Had a really good meeting with our team. Obviously they were hurting and disappointed on Sunday as well, as they should be.

But we've got strong leadership on our team. Thought we had a really good practice last night to get ourselves refocused.

To wrap up the game, just really proud of some of the offensive guys that stepped up in a huge way. Had three receivers with ten catches for the first time in program history, one of those being Whop Philyor, Big 10 freshman of the week. Named that today. He had 13 catches, which is a new freshman record.

The thing I love about him is he was really upset about the 14th one that he didn't get on that last drive. Was really, really -- took that one hard.

Same with Luke Timian. Had a drop there, but they all had a lot of the great plays and they played hard and played long.

Whop was playing on special teams and so many reps. We have a mileage tracker, and the guy ran like five miles during the game. Just really proud of his effort and toughness, all those guys and guys up front working hard and overcoming injuries.

Peyton getting dinged up and coming back and dinged up and fighting and clawing. 67% was his percentage, almost 300 yards.

Rich coming in and giving us a touchdown drive and trying get another one. Thought he did some really good things. Just proud of those guys and the way they executed.

They have been scrutinized here recently, and for them to bounce back and play that well was what we needed. Unfortunately we didn't have the whole team playing to their standard, and that's unfortunate.

As far as the game, because of that. Simmie Cobbs, Luke Timian, and Whop were all the offensive players of the game.

Nate Hoff was defensive player of the game. Continues to be very, very consistent. Tough, physical. Just love his demeanor that he brings every day, and it shows.

Isaac James on special teams has really stepped up his coverage and ability to help us in all those specialists areas. So proud of his attitude and effort each and every day.

As we move here into this next week, want to congratulate Ken Kaczmarek on his induction in the Hall of Fame as linebacker here and great, great player; awesome person. Enjoyed getting to know him and meet him.

And Ernie Jones, a guy who I don't personally know but know he was a great player here as wide receiver. So they'll be inducted this weekend and recognized at the game in the Indiana Athletic Hall of Fame. So tremendous career here and legacy that they've left and continue to give back to our program and support us.

Also going to be a Salute to Service game. Wearing we'll be special decals in honor of our service men and women across the country in all that they do for all of us here and the freedom that we have and often take for granted. So appreciate them.

Just want to continue to reiterate that the fight of this football team and of our staff and opportunity to welcome Wisconsin, No. 4th ranked team in the country. We're the only team in the nation to play three top 5 teams this season, and that's just the fact of our season.

We have a great opportunity this Saturday to play a great football team, Top 5 defense coming into town with Wisconsin and a big-time running attack with several quality runningbacks and tight ends and receivers. A very good football team we'll play that's undefeated.

Really excited to see our team respond with the toughness and the grit and the mindset we have to have to play in this league. And especially to bounce back from a game where you feel like you had -- you look at all the different stats, and stats don't really matter -- but did so many great things and just didn't get the job done.

So to be able to respond from that and be able to pull together as a team and to work through the challenges of this part of the season with injuries and all that goes along with it, to be able to come together and do something special for each other, that's what we plan to do.


Q. Peyton had to come out a couple times because of different hits he took. At any point do you get worried about maybe the buildup of the physicality that he is dealing with, and does Rich's play on Saturday in his absence on Saturday rethink those two together?
COACH ALLEN: Well, you know, I would say first of all, we're going to -- Peyton right now left the game, so it's day-to-day right now to see what will happen this weekend. He's rehabbing to get himself squared away. Yeah, he's taken some hits and has that style of play. He is an amazingly tough kid.

But Richard was ready to go on Saturday, and is going to have to be ready to go this week as well. We'll get both guys really and see where we are later in the week.

Yeah, and you see is across the country. Quarterbacks take hits. That's why you have to have a couple of them. More than that. So we're always trying to find everything we can do to give our team the best chance to win. Whoever that is, that's who it's going to be.

Q. With all the injuries, have you ever coached anything like this? Is there any type of common denominator? Bad luck?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, I've never had this many injuries, just on that note. Just very disappointed to have to announce that J'Shun Harris is out for the season with a torn ACL. Heart breaks for him. That's his third one. Kid has been an absolute warrior to come back from the first two. My heart breaks for him. He's just overcome so much.

No, I haven't seen this many. You go back and evaluate, and there have been so many different kinds. Donovan Hale is probably out for the season. I would probably go ahead and assume that. It's getting so late now we're not expecting him back after his knee surgery. Was not an ACL, but just not one that looks like he's going to be able to recover from.

You have different kinds of injuries. Sometimes cards just aren't stacked your way. But we don't dwell on that. I don't dwell on that. Hope to get some guys back. Probably lost a couple more guys just because of the nature of the game this past weekend.

You know, that's part of it. It's part of football. Other guys have to step up. Yeah, it's an excessively large number. I have not seen anything like it.

Q. Did you sense anything in your defense after you guys got a 14 to nothing lead? Was there any loss of focus? They just didn't look the same.
COACH ALLEN: I totally agree. As a matter of fact, that was a huge part of our discussion trying to figure out what was missing. You know, obviously you don't know for sure, but what I think it was was I think we had a mental letdown.

I think we got a pick the second play of the game. Our offense had just gone down and scored in a methodical way. We're up 14-nothing, and that really frustrates me that we didn't have enough maturity.

You sense a little bit of that. As a coach you continue to coach hard. But for whatever reason, that's the only way I could explain it. We had a little emotional let-up. When they punched back, we didn't have a counterpunch. Not to the same -- wasn't that we were completely just flat, but I agree with you, we didn't have the same sense of urgency or, as I call it, playing with a fever pitch. You got to play with a fever pitch I think every snap to be great.

We're one of those teams where we don't have the luxury. We can't have both depth and -- we got to play up here. When we play up here we're a certain level. When we don't, there is a substantial drop off, especially matched of against their speed.

They have some legit -- we knew it. No. 1, he's a special player now. He made some phenomenal catches. We have to match that. If it's a little bit off, just a step here, a step there. That would be our assessment, was that you know what, we just had a little bit -- just keep rolling. You can't think that way. You got to know it's going to be a struggle. It's going to be a 60-minute battle every time you take the field.

It might have been just enough to throw us off. I don't know. That seemed to be what we as a staff defensively thought happened.

Q. Guys like Ian, I think Mike and Morgan didn't make the trip. Ian, seemed like he was in for a little while and then back out.
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, you just hope that Ian can continue to progress. He played about 20 snaps or so. Still just getting him back, so certain things he can and can't do. Hopefully a week of rehab will help him be stronger and better.

Morgan is still rehabbing. Love to get him back. Don't know for sure if that's going to happen. Know more here in a few days.

Don't think Mike will be ready yet, but he should hopefully be ready soon. Just try to get as many guys back as we can. Got a lot of question marks on guys. Won't know here until we start getting into the week heavy with our preparation. But the next guy has to step up and be ready to compete and perform at a high level?

Q. How do you think Cole Gest played?
COACH ALLEN: I thought he did a lot of great things. He had touchdown on that catch and ran the ball hard and picked up his blitzes well overall. So solid, solid performance by him. I was happy for him to be able to get an opportunity, and he took advantage of it. He needs to. We got to have guys like him step up, without question.

Q. The physicality of Wisconsin's offense, they're known for that. Has it gotten better during the course of the season?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, when you put the tape in, it's what you expect to see from them. It's three tight ends at times, two tight ends most of the time, I-formation, and hunker are right at you. So that's what they do. They give you lots of looks and don't make mistakes and protect the football well.

They have just a stable of runningbacks. They keep rotating them in and pounds you, pound you, pound you, pound you, and try to beat you into submission in the course of a game.

Then they play great defense matched up with it. Right now they're ranked 5th in the country defensively. Pretty good combination. You know, ball control, eat the clock, and then try to limit your possessions by that style of offense and play really good defense. Very stingy against the run. Big, physical guys; very well-coached. Coach Leonhard does a great job. He's a young coach and doesn't coach with a lot of youth.

He's a very, very good on that side of the ball. So great staff. Coached against Coach Chryst in the past when he was at Pitt and I was at another school. They do what they do extremely well.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
COACH ALLEN: They will, uh-huh. Yeah, we call it FSL, formation strength to the sideline. Yeah, I expect them to do that. That's kind of what they do. We'll find out on Saturday. Yeah, that's part of their strategy I'm sure.

Q. (Regarding Whop.)... since signing day and kind of coming into the season something you had high hopes for. Just what made Saturday's performance in your mind so good for him?
COACH ALLEN: Well, you know, he came into fall camp and got injured, so he really got off to a slow start. We had thoughts that we may have to redshirt him because he just wasn't able to get healthy. Then you loose all those reps because he's not here in the spring and you're just behind, you know, and so he didn't know the offense.

Really what I saw Saturday is what I really expected to see out of him this year, this season. He has an unbelievable energy level. We call him the Energizer Bunny. He just keeps going and going and doesn't seem to get tired.

I've seen that in the past when he was in high school and played both ways. Just ran all over the field and never -- there was never a dropoff. Some guys have that ability and some don't.

Now that he's learned what he's doing, his confidence level has increased highly in the area of his execution just because he knows where he's supposed to be and the routes, where the ball is coming. He's been able to get open. He has that ability to separate. He can put his foot in the ground and change direction or that little fly sweep and he hits it and goes. Try and get him the football.

I thought he was going to be one of our better players, and it's proven to be true. Just took a little time.

Q. After the blocked punt I noticed you guys kept Haydon pretty much stationary, more traditional, kicking with out the rollout. Was that because of that?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, we were just concerned. Couldn't get another one, you know, and so just modified that. It was just really a mistake by one person missing their block. But we have the ability to change that launch point, and wanted to make sure we took advantage of that.

Yeah, we just wanted to make sure we were getting the ball off and getting no more blocks. That should never happen. Completely unacceptable.

Q. On the long kick return, was it a similar issue to what happened at Penn State where guys got a little bit out of their lanes?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, unfortunately, and I hate to -- when you have the injuries we've had, you get a lot of young guys that have to play special teams and guys get fatigued and we had some guys subbed in there. That's no excuse. You got to execute. We had two guys out of their lanes.

No. 6 was their guy. If you notice, we never kicked the ball to him. We kicked it to the person we wanted to kick if to, and didn't stay in our lane. Got out of it and created a big crease. Had a chance to get him tackled on 15 and missed that tackle. Then with the two guys out of position right where they would've been running, it created the issue. Our backside safety was too tight, so he ended up catching him, but on the 80-yard return.

So just once again, have to fix it. We're making some changes there with some personnel and couple adjustments to scheme, and we're going to get special teams right. That's the one area we've got to have the advantage. In order to keep everything, to give us a chance, we have to be really good on special teams in order to allow us to win football games, especially on the road.

So, yeah, that was another bad, bad deal. They ended up scoring off that play.

Q. Like Michigan punting seemed really good, field goals were good; Michigan State obviously a really strong special teams state. Then just a sharp swing in the other direction. Can you attribute that to any one thing?
COACH ALLEN: You know, hard to say one thing because there are three different special teams that I felt like let us down. Even just the field goal protection was not what it needed to be. The blocked punt was really -- we haven't had one of those. Been doing a great job on that. But it's just like anything else. That's why it's so important when we talk about -- you got to be at your best when it counts the most on special teams because you get so few opportunities.

Everybody must do their job. One guy doesn't do his job and everything breaks down. That's the case with those most things that you do. Got to trust the guys around to do their job, the punter has to trust that the guy is going to do his job to block his man, and we wouldn't even be having this discussion. But it did, it happened unfortunately.

Sometimes a guy misses and you can still get it off. No one really knows much. You may see it on film and get it corrected, but doesn't have that affect.

So then the kickoff cover, that is obviously the second time we've had a breakdown. We've changed personnel. We'll make some more adjustments. Try to get the right guys on there at the right time at critical points in the game.

If you notice, the last time we kicked off we put in several defensive starters on there. They've already played a bunch of snaps, but we said, Hey, this is a critical cover, and we put them on there for that. We're going to have to do some more of that for sure.

But just becomes numbers and run out of guys, and a lot (indiscernible) on just guys being able to be -- to stay fresh in the game.

These young guys got to still keep bringing them along. Work more on it this week. Point of emphasis. Worked on it last night. Worked on the fits in last night's practice, so it's a constant, constant effort to correct and get it right. That's what we're going to do.

Q. Tony Fields over made the switch over. I think Penn State was his first game. Kind of got picked on a little bit, bit since then seems like he's played a high level.
COACH ALLEN: He has. He got the pick early. They were testing him right out of the gate with one of their fast receivers that's really talented. He made them pay for that. He's just been excellent really. So consistent. He's really become even more of a verbal leader on our team as a senior. Just really encouraged by his play.

When Lino went down, that was a huge loss for us. Obviously still don't have him back. Tony has filled a huge void for us there and has consistently played at a high level, and is going to have to do that here for the rest of the regular season.

Really proud of Tony Fields and the way he's performed.

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