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November 18, 2017

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 41, Rutgers - 0

TOM ALLEN: I just want to say how proud I am of our seniors. To God be the glory for the opportunity to be able to compete together as a group and play well. Just that's what they deserved. They've given so much to our program. They've sacrificed so much. They believed, when they came here, to help us re-establish some things and change the culture, change the expectations, and there's so many of those guys that are a huge part of that.

So a really, really special group to me, especially on the defensive side of the ball, coming here a year ago, and those guys bought in from the very beginning. Just so proud of Tegray and Gooch and Tony Fields and Chase Dutra and on and on and on, Rob McCray, and all those guys, they just believed -- Nate Hoff. Really special.

And then offensively now as a head coach, just so happy for Rich to see him persevere and come back and play so well when we needed him to. Just really a balanced approach -- 250-plus yards rushing, 250-plus yards passing, and over 500 yards of offense. We ran 24 straight plays running the football and got two touchdowns out of that.

So just, to me, really proud of our guys. We've worked hard to allow ourselves to be in a position to play well, and all three units came together today and really proud. And then with the break, they came back and didn't really miss a beat.

A couple things here that I was just given. First Big Ten shutout since '93, second one of the season, and that's only happened since '93 as well, to have two shutouts in the same year. And then it's the largest margin of victory in a Big Ten game since '90. That's team football.

Once again, all the guys involved -- offense, defense, special teams -- just really proud of our players. They've worked really hard. They've stayed the course. We've been through a challenging season. When you play so hard and play so well and come up short over and over and over, it does take its toll on you. But our guys have stayed the course. They believed, and I'm just really happy for them to be able to be rewarded for their perseverance.

Obviously, the season has a lot more to be played, and one last key game that we will now turn our attention to once this is over, but we're going to enjoy this one tonight.

Q. Coach, you said that so many things went well. One thing that stood out to me was the play of the offensive line. They really seemed to move the line of scrimmage back, the holes getting bigger, and they seemed to be getting stronger as the day went on.
TOM ALLEN: And that's the key. We talk all the time about running the football on offense, and I know that's been a struggle at times. But when you can do that, you see what happens. It changes everything. It allows you to close games out. It allows you to even enhance your passing game more. I felt like we could throw the football on them, but I thought running the ball was going to be a challenge based on their front and how they've played this year and their style of defense. They do some good things.

But for our O-line to do what they did today, even without all their guys, is a tremendous compliment to Coach Hiller and all of our O-linemen up front. Very proud of them.

Q. You talked about it a little bit in the opening comments. In your mind, how fitting was it that this group of seniors goes out with a shutout? That performance with under 200 yards.
TOM ALLEN: That's pretty special. That's really hard to do now, really hard to do. I would just say it is very fitting. For a group of young men that, unfortunately when I got here, they were struggling and had lost their confidence and really had some soul searching to do. The guys that were out there today were really the core of the guys that were responsible for the turnaround.

So I just can't say how much I love and appreciate them and respect them so much for believing and appreciate that they have stayed with us. I'm really, really proud of the leadership on that side of the football.

So, yeah, getting that shutout in a Big Ten game was very, very appropriate for that group of young men.

Q. What does it say about the team just as a whole, just going through the last month and the struggles there and having just a total, complete game?
TOM ALLEN: That's what you want. You want to put that game together where all three phases are working together, and that happened today. I just love that we started strong and finished strong. Didn't have a let up, didn't have a lull. You work all year to get to that point where you play in that mindset. I think we had one penalty as well the whole game. Just so many areas of being disciplined and playing well together, that's what you want to do this time of the year.

All we focus on is just what's ahead of us, and that's what our guys have done. We haven't tried to dwell in the past. The disappointments have been there for sure. Proud of our team's ability to stay focused, stay the course, and put together this kind of performance today.

Q. Coach, with Cole Gest's advantage -- obviously, Morgan's in there (indiscernible), but with his speed and ability to get around the edge, how much has he helped the running game the last few weeks?
TOM ALLEN: He's been huge. We had two 100-yard runners, rushers today, Cole and Morgan. When you have that complement, it's hard for one guy to keep getting rep after rep after rep. Once Mike Majette went out and just to be able to have two guys to give us that punch, we just tag team them and let them keep coming.

I love how hard they run, how downhill they run, how decisive they run. Cole's been huge for us. He'd been dinged up a little bit, but he's back now and really, really proud of his performance for sure.

Q. How much fun was it watching the second team guys preserve the shutout?
TOM ALLEN: That was huge. The older guys were just screaming and encouraging them. We want the shutout. We want the shutout. To see them get that fourth down stop was big. Zeke walker is the one who knocked the ball out there at the end. My challenge was, hey, execute the defense. You guys work hard, they practice just like everybody else does. Execute the defense.

So we kept them out there, and they preserved the shutout. So that's big time.

Q. About Rich too, the conditions were not optimal for passing, but he made the passing game work. Maybe his play of the game was a slick shotgun snap, went up in the air. He not only gets away, he gets the first down.
TOM ALLEN: Exactly. I just think his poise, his confidence, you can see it. The bottom line is he's responded exactly like you want him to.

I feel like he's being rewarded for being a quality, quality person that handled adversity like a man and learned from it and did nothing but be a great teammate all along the way. Then when he was called upon, he's answered the call. So Rich Lagow is a guy that I have a ton of respect for and always will.

Q. What did you do during the time you were waiting??
TOM ALLEN: Sat there and watched college football games. Really tried to get the guys off their feet. Got the TVs going. Let them relax. Gave them some snacks to keep their stomachs full. It was weird. I don't think I've ever had one like that before, definitely not one that long. Went up and saw my family up in my office, which I don't usually get to do during the game. Said hi to a bunch of coaches' wives and their kids. It was just a very unique environment that we had had today.

The biggest thing was to get the guys off their feet. We had to just rest because, at that time, we didn't really know how long it was going to be. They gave us some tentative things, and nobody knew. You just try to get your guys to relax. I don't think there's a textbook way to handle that. You follow your gut, what your guys need.

We came out ready to play. You play like that and have that long of a break, and I've seen teams come out just flat as can be, watching games and experiencing that too at all levels. Once again, it's a testament to the leadership of your guys. Proud of them.

Q. Is there a measure of satisfaction to have a performance like that on the day the Rose Bowl guys arrive?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, it's pretty cool, isn't it? Those guys set the standard. We talk about the 50, 26, 10, that's the first one. That's the chance to get to the Rose Bowl. Win the Big Ten and get to that Bowl. Just so much respect for what they did here. I got to get to know several of them, and I love to hear the stories. I love the tradition. I love their passion for Indiana football. To be able to do that in front of those men made it even more special for sure.

Q. Did they talk to the team at all?
TOM ALLEN: They did not this time. In the past, they've talked a few times.

Q. You've gone through the Purdue week as an assistant coach. What do you think it's going to be like going through it as a head coach?
TOM ALLEN: We understand the magnitude of the game. Coach Hagen played in that game many, many times and understands as a former player. I've coached in it now and understand.

Like I said, just being around this state my whole life, I understand the magnitude of the game and how big it is. You throw out the records, and it has nothing to do with it. It's all about playing for a ton of pride and who you represent and bragging rights for the whole year for our fan base and all those things wrapped up into one.

Tremendously huge challenge for us this week to get our guys locked in and focused because you don't want the distractions of the whole week to overwhelm that, but at the same time, we're going to take this thing one day at a time, and we're going to make sure that our players understand, our freshmen understand this game and what it's all about.

That's why it's so important to have a core of Indiana guys on this team because those guys have a personal stake in this game that means a lot. That's why I know that, even as a coach, bringing coaches that have -- a core of our coaches have those same ties, makes it even more powerful. That's important to me.

Q. I think you said early in the week that special teams is going to play a big role in this game. Just talk about that first big special teams play that led to your touchdown.
TOM ALLEN: There's no question. You get a chance to get a takeaway on that, it's like huge. We got the ball on the 6 yard line. For us to be able -- they mishandle the punt, we fall on it, and go in and score on the next play. Special teams is huge, huge, huge. We work on it so much. I understand how critical it is and how it really, really can set the tone for every single game. So many big play opportunities occur on special teams.

Q. After going through that brutal stretch during the middle of the season and injuries and everything else, what does it mean to you and the players to be able to play for the right to go to a Bowl game next week?
TOM ALLEN: It means a lot. It really does. And I go through, and you try not to look back, but you look at this game and that game and where you were at, but you've got to just flush all that and say, you know what, we've made it through all those tough times, and now we've got an opportunity to do, once again, something very, very special here. That's important to us.

And we're still building the culture here. We're building the expectations. We're building this program and want to continue that. So to be able to withstand all those things and setbacks and discouragements and now to be able to say, okay, it's coming down to one game. That's very, very rewarding, knowing that our guys have stayed the course and kept believing. That's why I really love them so much and respect them.

Q. This will be the third year in a row that this team is 5-6 going into Purdue. I know you guys have been kind of up against it the last couple weeks. Do you reference at all the experiences of maybe being in those do-or-die moments for the postseason going into a game like this? And do you see some of these guys referencing them, looking back at what they had to do?
TOM ALLEN: It's interesting. I never once mentioned anything about the do or die, one-game season. But the players, when I had the seniors talk about what this game meant to them, that came up over and over again. They know. They know.

And so now you get to the final game, and you can understand what's at stake. So I don't think I have to make a big deal about that. They understand how huge it is. But at the same time, it's Purdue. Nothing else needs to be said.

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