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November 13, 2017

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

COACH ALLEN: Welcome. Start by just saying it was great to get big win for us. Really happy with our players and happy for them. They've worked extremely hard and prepared with a sense urgency, and practiced that way. I felt like our walk-throughs at the end as we get close to kickoff were focused.

So our guys -- I didn't think we played our best game, but we did what we needed to do. Really encouraged by the way we closed out the game, being able to -- all three phases working together. We get the punt, pin them down on the one, get a three-and-out, and then our offense takes it down and scores with about five minutes or four minutes to go in the game; made it a ten-point game.

So being able to finish. Got three takeaways in the fourth quarter defensively. Those are the kind of things you're looking for to be able to finish out a game, so encouraged by that. Just got to continue to work to be at our very, very best on game day and eliminate some of the mistakes and continue to grow.

As far as the game itself, offensively Cole Gest was our offensive player of the game. Really happy with his performance. Ran really hard and with a sense of urgency and purpose; held on to the football.

They do a great job of creating takeaways themselves. Coach Smith emphasizes that tremendously like we do. They've gotten a lot of created fumbles, and we had zero on the day that we lost. So our runningbacks had a big charge to do that, and they did a great job.

And then defensively, Jacob Robinson and Chris Covington were our players of the game. Jacob Robinson had a great day; multiple sacks. We had seven different players that got sacks, eight on the day, which is second-most in school history. We've had nine twice and eight now once.

So that's a big deal. Holding them to 14 points was I believe the lowest road game Big 10 win point total that we've held a team to since '93.

So just doing some good things. Encouraged by our guys' effort, their ability to stay with it. I know it can be hard when you just work so diligently for something and you come up short.

So the guys have stayed true to what they believe. But as I said before, needed a win, and it was great to get one. On the road is never easy, so excited about being back home this week and being in front of our fans.

Excited about having our Senior Day. A lot of the guys we get to recognize that have done a tremendous job and have given a lot to our program. So really excited about our week of preparation that is ahead of us.

Excited about chance to play the Knights. Coach Ash does a tremendous job there. He's rebuilding that program. He's a very good football coach and has recruited well and has guys playing hard. They run the football well and play good defense and have good special teams play.

So Coach Ash is very, very good coach, and those guys will be focused and ready to play and it'll be a great game day for us to be able to have at home.


Q. When you assess the quarterback situation, where are you with Peyton and Rich?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, you know, just continue to meet with our training staff. Hopefully he'll have another week to continue to heal and get better and rehab and try and get as much as we can. Right now I would say Richard is the starter, and that isn't going to change.

We just got to get to where Peyton is ready to play. I feel like he's getting a little closer. He was definitely in a position where if we had to have him I think last week we would've felt like he could've got us through some snaps, but I don't think he would've felt great if it was a long-term situation. So that will continue to progress.

But encouraged by Richard' play and the way that he's responded. Just needs to continue to do what he's doing and play at a high level, with confidence, and run the defense and run the offense and the team. That's kind of what we charge our seniors with.

Richard, I've kept him in that role as captain all through this whole process because his leadership has never wavered. That's a tribute to him. I see him just moving forward. Just got to get Peyton ready to be there if we need him.

Q. With Ian Thomas, how have you had to balance the amount of snaps?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, you know, he's getting healthier. It's also you try balance what you're doing with him in there, not in there. So Coach DeBord handles that. We're just trying to get in position. He's one of our better playmakers that we have, and so trying to get him -- still continue to get him more healthy each week with his rehab.

He's been a trooper. He's stayed in there and fought through it. Each game now he's gotten a little more involved each week. Hopefully get more involved again this next week. It's just about managing him during the week, getting him to have more practice reps.

Few week ago it was basically just get him to game day and didn't get a chance to do much during the week. Now he's getting more actual practice reps. I expect his involvement to increase.

Q. How important has Simmie been for the offense this season? There have been injuries and changes all over the place, but he's sort of been that one constant.
COACH ALLEN: He has for sure. He's kind of been that rock there that you can count on. Made another big play on Saturday where he just went up and got the ball and just kind of just horsed the corners and big-boyed them a little bit.

It's just been his mindset the whole year. He's even fought through some things that we don't disclose as far as injuries and all. Hasn't kept him out, but it's hindered him a little bit. But he's always right there. He's so tough. So proud of him what he's been able to do, and want to see him finish out the season on a great, great way.

So he's been -- like you said, he's kind of been the one constant amidst a lot of injuries and a lot of revolving door guys at each position, especially in the skill spots.

Q. I know it's probably not quite time yet, but at what point do you have a conversation with him about his future? I would imagine he is a guy with a fair bit of professional ability.
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, he will, and, you know, we had this situation last year. Once the season is over, we'll sit down with them and talk it through and weigh their options and go through the process and allow the NFL to give us their feedback, and they will.

That'll give us the information that we need to be able to sit down with him and his family and make the best possible decision for him. That decision hasn't been made yet, but, yeah, he's one of the guys that would fall in that category.

Q. Do you have a list of the guys that will participate in Senior Day?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah. We'll have that list posted. It should be out real soon. He'll be going through that, just like Rashard did last year. Without knowing for sure what the future holds, but we'll handle it that way.

Q. (Regarding walk-ons.)
COACH ALLEN: I tell you, I told him, because I watched the game on the bus ride home. I didn't really see it live, what it really was -- to give it the credit it deserved. But, wow, what a play.

I told him, I walked into the room, defensive line room yesterday, and I said Gavin, that is just a testament to how hard you play. That is a great effort play. That was pretty awesome. So, yeah.

And he's a guy, I mean, he plays. He's played meaningful minutes the whole season and comes here as a walk-on. Just a high-energy, high-effort guy that never really says much. He just works.

From Center Grove High School here in Indiana; a great program. Coach Moore does a great job there. Neat to see; heck of a play.

Q. With Cole Gest, what kind of development have you seen from him? Better pace as a runner?
COACH ALLEN: Well, a lot of times at that position, you know, you always have a lot of different guys in the rotation, and then you kind of settle in on a few guys that rise to the top when you try and get them.

You want to try and get them in the rhythm and into the flow. What I love about him is his burst. He just does such a great job. He gets top speed really, really fast. His ability to get that one cut and go.

So to me, for him it's been just to stay healthy. Last year he struggled with some injuries and could never get to that point. Got him through that, and then he missed a couple games.

So jut keep him healthy and get him in the flow learning, feeling comfortable with the offense so he can stay out on the field in the throw game, whether we're throwing him the football - which he's shown the ability to catch it, and also the pass pro. That's a big part of the development of a runningback, especially a young one.

We need him to step up. Morgan has been a pleasant surprise, but Cole is a guy that I always really from last year always felt like he had a chance to be a really good one. Just need that; you can't have enough of them.

Last year we got to the bowl game and we had like three guys healthy. The room was overflowing in the beginning of the year, and then there was only a few left standing at the end.

I think at that position you just need a lot of depth there.

Q. You mentioned Morgan. He's been dinged up at times, but he doesn't shy away from contact.
COACH ALLEN: Uh-uh. He ran really hard Saturday downhill; puts his foot in the ground. And you're right, he been dinged up and he's not 100%. I know a lot of guys aren't this time of year.

But really encouraged by his toughness. He's battled through injuries in his high school career. That was the question mark coming in. I'm sure it had an impact on his recruiting. But we believed in him and he chose us.

So I just agree with you. I think he's a physical, physical guy that has a great lateral quickness and good burst. He's got some size, too. He's only going to get bigger. He's young.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH ALLEN: You do. I think you ride the hot hand. You know, the flow of the game. I don't think you -- you like to keep it as balanced as ass you can. You want to keep those guys fresh for sure and they'll rotate in and out based on what happens on the previous play and if they get a long run.

It's definitely who is feeling it and how they're handling the game.

Q. Is A-Shon able to do full reps in practice now?
COACH ALLEN: He is. We kind of had him on I would say standby might be the way this past week. Was really kind of getting him back in the flow. He's really battled a lot of injuries going way back to the off-season. He didn't play if the bowl game. Kind of ever since then had some different things.

So really kind of bringing him along slowly. I'm expecting a big week out of him. We need him to rise up and give us that depth. You just never know. And that's special teams, too. We need his speeds and his playmaking ability; he's a good tackler and a tough kid.

Yeah, really like to see him really increase his reps in practice and get him back to full speed.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, we really came out -- this is really the first week I feel like we came out, and we had bumps and bruises for sure, but don't have anybody that played in the game that is not expected to play this week, which is great.

I think that's the first time that's happened all season, so that's good.

Q. (Regarding Marcelino being out for the season.)
COACH ALLEN: Getting close it that point. Yeah, it's getting really close. But that decision will be made here probably in the next -- obviously if he doesn't play this weekend, you know, be hard to justify playing for the last game and then the bowl game.

So I think you just got to -- it's getting close to that point for sure.

Q. Coming of the win then, was it any different on Sunday in terms of guys more jacked, maybe more focused?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, I think two things: first of all, yeah, there's an excitement for sure when you win. I thought our practice was highly spirited, which is great to see. I think that comes from just the feeling you get after you win a football game.

Then also I think that they know we didn't play our best. We were tough on them in the film sessions, and in the right way, just because we have high standards here and I believe we can play a lot better. I really do.

But that just kind of added to the -- you know, our one word for this week is "hungry." I want a hungry team to take the field on Saturday against Rutgers. I think that experiencing that success on the road, getting a Big 10 win, increases that hunger to be able to want have to that feeling again after the game is over, and play really well doing it.

So, yeah, I thought it was very positive day, and we'll see how they approach tomorrow. I expect them to be locked in and ready to have a great week.

Q. It's especially important, isn't it, just have to a reward after four weeks of not being rewarded, emotionally and everything?
COACH ALLEN: Oh, there is no question. The coaches needed it. I think coaches' wives. Everybody, every part of our program. You feel different. Not that winning makes all your problems go away, but definitely you feel different.

You work so hard, invest so much, sacrifice so much. These players, everybody in this program does. You want to see them rewarded for that. That's what this past weekend gave us. It's just one win, but an important one, no doubt.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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