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August 2, 2018

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

TOM ALLEN: They added five spots, so that was a good thing, and allowed us to bring in five additional players to fall camp than we've had in the past, so that's why the numbers are larger. So we have a couple young men that are not going to be in that group due to some medical setbacks. So LeShaun Minor and Grayson Stover are both going to be guys that you wouldn't notice them out there practicing right now due to some medical situations.

Other than that, we're ready to roll and have a strong 110 guys ready to have a great fall camp together.

Also some changes, we've made a couple title changes for some coaches. Just want to make sure we put that out here. Coach Mike Hart is going to be -- he will be the running backs coach as he has been, but he will be also be the assistant head coach and have that role. And Mark Hagen has been titled assistant co-defensive coordinator, he's now co-defensive coordinator in terms of his title. Two guys that work extremely hard, do a great job for us, and I'm really excited about our staff.

We've talked about the guys we've added since last season, and really, really excited about the guys that are here with us and ready to have an awesome fall camp. It's a very important time for us. With a lot of new faces that we have.

So really important reps, and meetings, and film study and evaluation. So very important next couple weeks for us as we continue to progress and build our program. So questions at this time?

Q. We asked a little in Chicago, procedural questions. But the four games, that can be spread out in any way, right?
TOM ALLEN: That's correct.

Q. Not that you have to have them prerecorded?
TOM ALLEN: No, you don't know ahead of time. And if a kid steps on the field, that counts as a game. So you've got to have a good plan. We've already, even in our meeting room area, we have kind of some areas where we've designated certain guys. You never know how that's going to play out. Certain guys will change their status, maybe, just like any situation where you thought eight guys may or may not red-shirt.

At this point coming in everybody's -- nobody's been designated to say this guy's red-shirting or not. But you have to prepare them reps in special teams for sure, and then reps on offense and defense during fall camp while you have a little extra time to get them seasoned. So when you do plan to use them, and it may be the first four games, it could be the middle four games, it could be the last four games, it could be a bowl game, so that's pretty open-ended with the new rule, and they can't play anymore four.

Q. How much do you use that as maybe motivation for a guy who in the past, scout team early on, and then maybe by a certain point in the season would mentally switch to the off-season?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think that's a big part of it, you know. I think that as you look at the rule, and it obviously benefits the student-athlete in a big way, it benefits the coaching staff for us to be able to have that flexibility. But I think from a motivational perspective, there is no question. He has to be ready, you know? Because before, you're kind of do you play him, do you not? Do you use a whole year for just a few snaps? Well, you obviously would not unless you had to.

So now they're going to know, hey, I can play four games. So every freshman in my mind has to be ready, and that's how we're going to approach it. We're telling them that too. You never know what's going to happen. So now it's realistic that they can play and get in there, even if they do get limited reps. Their preparation for that is important, their focus in the meetings and just what they did. Sometimes, you know, I don't care how highly motivated they are, once you kind of figure out that you're probably red-shirting, it's hard. It is challenging. It's not that they don't do a good job. But it's just in the past that's been a challenge to be able for them to -- that's why you try to recognize those guys with their look teams and keep them motivated each week. But now it's totally different.

So they definitely would have to be on call and ready to be called up, as some people have looked at it, to be able to get a chance to play on a game day. So I'm excited about it. I think the rule is very, very good for our game, and it helps us. It also effects player safety and all the guys that we can utilize if we have some injuries along the way.

Q. What's it mean for you as a staff to make game plans week in and week out knowing that you have that in your arsenal as additional depth to you?
TOM ALLEN: It does. And I've clearly stated this off-season that's been one of our focal points of allowing us to be able to change the outcome of our games as happened in the past. The depth has been a challenge for us. So to me it's a huge asset. You know, I think that as coaches -- but the thing we have to remember, and the part that's going to be challenging is that you still have limitations.

When you're on the road, you can dress 70 guys for conference games, so you can't just take unlimited guys. So you have to make sure the right ones are ready to play in those positions. It's just not throwing them in there just to throw them in there. They've got to be ready to contribute and help you win those home games, away games, whatever. So I just think that it's just caused us to really have a proactive approach to getting guys prepared. So we've got to do more of it.

Q. You're coming back in your second season, you've got the first season, got that experience under you. You're coming back with a great team and great offense, that could be very prolific. What's it mean for you to now get that year of experience under your belt as a head coach?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think anytime you do something a second time, you learn from things and mistakes you may have made or things you say that maybe wasn't a mistake, but, hey, I would do it a little differently, and we have. You go back and reevaluate.

So I think there is just a comfort level of knowing what's next, and you've been through it before. I think those are important. Whether it's during the game or whether it's in your preparation or how you utilize your assistance, and just how you run your program. We've added some off the field guys that have helped us in recruiting.

So I just feel a lot more comfortable in this position, and you feel like you're in a better position to maximize your players. Obviously, offensively we have a lot of guys returning, and our on entire offensive staff has returned intact as well, which gives you a lot of continuity in a lot of ways. Defensively we've had a couple new faces, one with the tenth coach rule. Then a lot of potential to have new faces on the defense.

But guys that have been around to just wait their turn, and now they have the opportunity to rise up. You sprinkle in some true freshmen that we believe have a chance to give us depth and also maybe be competing to start early on. We'll see how that plays out.

But you just feel like, you know, I was excited about going into last year, for sure, but there are a lot of unknowns. A lot of things that cause you to be really anxious, because you don't know, you haven't done it or been in that role before at this level. So going into year two, I feel a lot better.

Q. How much of a challenge is it to get those three guys in the quarterback room the reps they're needing?
TOM ALLEN: It will be. I think we've gone through and structured practice accordingly. They've gone and expanded certain drills to include maybe even two separate groups going at the same time, so you can get more guys reps, so you get them on film.

There is no question. I mean, that's going to be the priority is for us to be able to create practice opportunities where those three guys will be given equal opportunity to prove what they can do. Whether you when you go through and two a two-minute type drill at the end of practice or wherever you choose to do it within the practice, and I could see us setting up three of those. You know, instead of just doing two, like we've usually done in the past, we're going to do three, just to have a chance for all three guys to be able to take their shot and move the football.

You know, so I just think everything that we do, we plan as we go through these next several practices, it's going to be a big priority to get those guys lots of reps.

Q. Is there a point where you will whittle down that competition?
TOM ALLEN: You do, and I don't want to put a timeframe on it. I don't want it to be I'll wait until the final day before we would play. So I'd think you'd like to be able to feel good about it. We'll just have to let things play out as they do throughout practice, throughout fall camp and we'll see.

But, yeah, as soon as you feel good about it, I think you'd like to be able to make a decision and move forward, and we'll make that knowing it when it comes. The biggest thing we can do with our players too is be open and honest with them like we have from the very beginning and let those guys compete. I think we have three guys that are all really talented players. Have different skill sets, but they also get along really well, which has been neat to see.

You've got a guy coming in brand-new to the program last January in Mike Penix. And then you have Brandon Dawkins who comes in this summer and meshing with our team. Just being just good teammates and working well together. And that's what you want to see.

Obviously, they're competing. They all want to play, so it's a sensitive balance, I think. But at the same time you have some maturity there, and Coach Sheridan will do a great job managing that, and I'll do the same as a head coach.

Q. Just human nature you'd expect they want to play (Inaudible)?
TOM ALLEN: From the very beginning he was told that obviously you bring a guy in with his kind of experience and his age that he's coming here to compete to play. He's coming here to be the starting quarterback. That is his mindset. But we told him he's going to have to come in here and earn it.

He's going to have to win the trust of his teammates. He's going to have to compete on the field to make plays and prove that he's the guy. He knew exactly what our depth chart looked like. The guys we had on our roster, and we went over that with him.

I was careful to make sure we got to know him as a person and make phone calls and find people that have spent a lot more time with him than we have, because he's been there for many years and has had opportunities to show his leadership and show how he handles being the starter. How does he handle the positives when you win, and how does he handle the setbacks and things that have happened in his career. I think those are critical parts that we looked at.

I think more than anything it's being open and honest with him about expectations for that position and coming in here and competing and helping us become a better football team. That to me from the beginning was we were looking for a guy that has the attitude, yeah, I want you to expect to be the guy. You have to have that mindset. I want all three of those guys to have that mindset.

But also, this is about helping this football team win football games, and that's really what he's brought here. He's got a great personality about him, and he's fun to be around. He's got natural leadership qualities, for sure, and I just think that that's -- we're just looking for that guy that was a good fit for our current situation, and he seemed to be the one.

When recruited him, obviously, we felt that way, and he joined us, so we're excited he's here.

Q. (Inaudible) what do you see on this team that gives you optimism?
TOM ALLEN: Well, step number one in that thought process was our offensive line. We knew we needed to get them stronger. We needed to get some guys healthy from the off-season. We needed to grow our depth. You know, I know it's an area that last year was hit hard with injuries from the very beginning, even before we started fall camp. We got hit with some. So that hurt us last year, but the ability for all the reps that those guys got in game is going to help us now. So seeing their growth and listening to our shrink staff tell me week after week that this is the best group. This is the strength of our team right here in terms of leadership and work ethic and mindset, and just the way that they come to the weight room every single day to train. So that was encouraging.

So to me step one was getting that offensive line at a point where you knew they needed to be in terms of setting the tone for our offense. Then number two, we've got all three running backs back that led us last year in rushing, and Mike Majette is healthy, you know. I'm going to keep him that way. Just to be able to with the success that Morgan had as a freshman, to be able to challenge him to take it to another level and to step up and continue to grow and improve, and Cole and his development. You know, he got dinged up last year, but showed signs of doing great things.

Also, the fact that we've got three quarterbacks that have the skill set to be able to run the football. So those things there, what really, in my mind gives me a lot of encouragement, and they've got to go out and execute and talking to them and evaluating everything last season, that's an area that really sets you back when you don't run the ball well. It creates a lot of third and longs for you, which are hard. I don't care who you play against. We played a lot of the top defenses in the country. So it's very, very difficult to convert those. It puts you behind the chains in a lot of different ways, and it just creates a different feel. You get short yardage, you get in the goal line, you get in the red zone. When you can't run the football effectively, it really limits you.

So I just think that those, our red zone efficiency is affected by it, and that's a big area of focus for us this off-season as well as running the ball and just being a more explosive offense.

So those are the things that we looked at, and now we've got to go do it. Obviously, the next several weeks here is going to be big as our offensive line gels, and we figure out who the starters are going to be. Having a good strong two-deep, which we have the makings for that right now on paper, and we've got to bring that to fruition throughout practice. And I know Coach Hiller's going to do a tremendous job jelling those guys.

We've got great leadership in that room with Wes and Brandon as two guys that have played a lot of football here for us. You bring in Nick Linder that's a new guy and a graduate transfer that has leadership and just stability to us. Just some continuity, Littlejohn has worked extremely hard and played a bunch of snaps last year, and Coy has played a lot of snaps. On and on and on, guys that have done a good job.

Delroy can play inside, outside, has played a lot of different spots. So just a group that I believe in and I think have tremendous character to them, and looking forward to them having a great season.

Q. Off-season as you can now look back at the winter over the summer, (Inaudible) just how big of an impact it's been on the team?
TOM ALLEN: I'm very optimistic. The numbers are what they are. You can go through and look at them on paper. That is one thing about the weight room. It's pretty objective in a lot of ways. You're getting stronger, and you can see the numbers grow. We've gotten a lot stronger since last time we played. That's very encouraging, and I knew we needed to. It's not so much just the raw strength. It's the explosive power, the way we train. The way that we developed it.

It's not just sitting there doing one rep maxes and feeling like, hey, we're stronger. It's just a very, very functional program that really challenged our guys with single-leg movements, and change of direction, and explosive things. It's just a whole myriad of philosophy change that allowed our guys to really -- and they'll be the first ones to tell you. I know you've talked to them here a little bit before, and I had some of our players talk.

When I spoke up in Chicago with one of our, you know events for our boosters and fans. So it was just neat to hear the guys talk about how they feel and how they've trained.

Then the other part is every workout we had a finisher. And I sat down with Coach Ballou ahead of time. I said I want something different every single day that's going to stress our guys and cause them to be able to have to dig deep, and he's done a bunch of great, great things. I'm sure our guys didn't think they were great, great things, but I did.

You just wanted to be able to put our guys in position late in the workout when they're already fatigued, to be able to dig deeper and finish. It's just something's going to continue throughout fall camp. So they gave us that foundation as a strength staff.

I just think anytime you physically -- those that have been around this game know the physical piece gives you confidence. You know, there is just a confidence about our guys right now because they know they're bigger, faster, stronger, more explosive, and they feel that way. It affects your mindset. So I think that's been another big benefit of Coach Ballou and Dr. Ray and the work they've done, and all the strength coaches and the rest of the staff. The guys that were already here and bought in and worked extremely hard. Because of our numbers and wanting to get individualized work with our players, which we felt was so critical, we added more lift groups, which caused our coaching staff to have to work harder, longer, and work with less guys at one time, so know guy could ever hide, every rep was accountable. You know, whether it's because of technology or because of physical eyes on that guy.

We've really focused on our defensive line and our offensive line, and just knew that we had to grow in our strength in both of those areas to be able to be the kind of defense we wanted to be, and the kind of offense we wanted to be. Because it all starts up front.

So just really dove into that, and Dr. Rhea really was the one that dove into our speed and took our guys and worked with them individually. Just worked their tails off. The way they personalized the workouts is it takes time to do that. That's where they're just different than anybody I've ever been around. Just really encouraged by the growth. Obviously, we're going to keep building.

That's one thing I think we've changed our schedule this year to where our Sunday is going to be our off day. A big reason for that is due to the -- from a scientific perspective of rest and recovery, and maximizations of workouts, and the whole -- you go through, and Dr. Rhea calls it priming.

We sat down together and got the whole schedule mapped out. It will change the way we do things throughout the season, so we can be at our very best in November in order to finish.

So it's just everything has been kind of, I think, changed because of their influence, and I'm really excited about them being here. They're two men that love Indiana. Obviously, Dave playing here and loving his university and wants to be here and has a lot of pride in wanting us to play at a high level.

So just having that is personal to him. I think that's a big deal. Really excited about the work they've done.

Obviously, now you've got to go play football. You've got skills that have to be developed and those things, but it starts in that weight room. In my experience in being a long-time high school coach, I was always in the weight room as a high school coach. That was kind of my area of -- not necessarily expertise, but I had a strong interest there. Spent a lot of time there, lot of time studying it. And kind of knew what I wanted to do there. And I think that's where you build your team. Individuals are developed or they're made in the off-season. Teams are made in the season, and so those individuals had to change their bodies. And we have a lot of evidence that they have. And now they've got to go out with that same confidence and play fast.

Kind of in a nutshell, I know I kind of took a long time on that, but I think there are a lot of layers to it. It was a major change in our program to bring those guys here and you ask our players, and they've been a game changer for us.

Q. From the perspective and given Tegray (Inaudible) in the off-season. How has your perspective changed on that?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, it was, as a defensive guy and linebackers guy, seeing a guy like Tegray and Chris graduate and move on was awesome. You love them and they're game changers for us and our program for sure. Tegray was one of the major catalysts for our turnaround defensively, but they're gone. It's bittersweet, you know. They're just awesome young men, and I love being around them.

But, you know, their time has come here, and they're now playing for two NFL teams, which is great. But that means someone's got to rise up. So I really was very encouraged by Reakwon's response. He's a guy that sometimes when you sit in the shadows, some guys sit back there and have a different response to it. He's had a lot of injuries along the way, and he's really never -- I don't think he's ever been full bore since I've been here.

It's always been kind of something. Didn't get a lot of snaps because Tegray was so effective. But it hurt us that we didn't have -- he played too many snaps, you know, and it took its toll throughout the season. But to see Reakwon do what he did this off-season just absolutely take ownership of his body, and obviously the benefit of the strength staff and what they brought to the table, he would be the first one to tell you he's benefited in a huge way and feels really good right now. He needed to do that.

You lose a guy like Tegray and his production, you've got to have somebody else step up. You've got Damian who is a guy that's played the most football of any of our linebackers, you know. Played valuable time for us the two years I've been here. Started in the bowl game my first year here. So a guy that I'm really, really excited to have back with us, and I think that was huge for that room for sure and his leadership.

And he's got to now go, and he's not going to start out first team. He wasn't here with us in the spring. Mike McGinnis was the starter in spring, and those guys are going to compete to be Mike linebacker. But we'll see how that plays out. Having his experience is big. He made plays and he started, we use a lot of our base defense against Michigan this past year, and he was in there for all of those and making plays. So that's encouraging. Having T.D. being ruled eligible with his transfer was a great, great thing, huge boost to our defense.

We watched him all spring long. Had he not been here you may not know quite as much. But seeing him every single day, you know, and how quick he is and how explosive he is. He's gained a good several pounds of good weight since he got here, and has really -- ever since he thought this may happen, he's always been working hard, but I think it just energized him more because he has a chance to play.

So just really excited. I think he gives us tremendous depth, and once again he's got to compete with the other guys that are already there. Mo Burnam has been here, and he wants an opportunity. Competition -- we've not had this kind of depth since I've been here. You ask our players, it's completely different than the first couple years I was here. So that's at all positions. Especially, you know, linebacker, safety, DB, you know, we've got more defensive linemen in the mix. So on that side of the ball, our depth, offensively, same way.

So we're systematically slowly getting more depth and getting the roster the way we think it needs to be. But competition makes all of us better. We all need to have somebody that if I'm not doing little things right, then I'm going to lose my job, and that effects the way you practice, that effects the way you watch film, that effects the way you eat, the way you sleep, take care of your body, the choices you make off the field.

Because if I'm not top of my game, that guy behind me is going to take my job. There is no better motivator than that. John Wooden figured it out a long, long time ago, that is the power of the bench. Everybody wants to play. When you don't have that, it makes it really hard sometimes. So we've tried to motivate through all that the last couple seasons. So we've just got to now find a way to get all those guys in position to compete and ready to play at a high level.

So I think that room is highly competitive right now. Bunch of guys that want to play. Got some freshmen that came in here that I think have the expectation of playing and they should. When we recruited those guys, like James Miller I told him I'm not going to promise you a starting job, I have never done that one time. But I promised him the opportunity to compete to play early. So now it's on him and how he's worked his tail off and we'll see. And Cam Jones came here and wants to play and we'll see what he does.

Mike McFadden, Aaron Casey, and all those guys in that room, so it's a talented group of guys, and new faces for sure. It's their time now, so they've got to take the ball and run with it.

Q. You replaced eight players on defense. How important is it having someone for leadership as well?
TOM ALLEN: I think it's huge, and sometimes it gets lost in the numbers when you talk about how many guys left. And there is no question we lost some really good players that are going to be hard to replace. He only played in three games last year, so he's not listed as a guy that's one of those returning starters.

But obviously he's played a lot of football for us and was a great player before he was injured, and we expect the same coming back. So he's more mature, stronger, and I think he's got a good perspective sometimes when you lose when you think is always going to be there. It effects the way you do the little things. I think it was taken from him, and that injury. So never was able to come back.

Just having him back is a big, big deal to us now because he plays a position that's a big part of our scheme. When we lost him last year, I was really, really concerned. Just for what Tony Fields did and our defense, we actually played better on paper after he was gone, which I never would have thought that. So Tony, we had to make some adjustments on some things, but it's a Tribute to Tony and the kind of player that he was.

We've got to get depth there. We've got to get to where if something happens with a guy, I don't care who it is, but if the next guy's going to be in there there is a major drop off, and that's not an been an issue in the past, and we have to throw that depth. That is a huge part of our objective this fall camp, that we have to grow the depth at all positions, especially on positions, that we've got new guys and the ones behind him are going to be new as well. And I want to see us play more guys. I think that's going to be big. We've got to do that. But you have to get ready so you have confidence to put him in there and let him go.

Q. (Inaudible)?
TOM ALLEN: It does, and that's another variable that is oftentimes missed. That's when I think, when you go through, and this is the whole off-season for me was a big evaluation time, and you go look at what you do and there is another team in our conference that's led the Big Ten.

It's not a team you would probably even think has, but has led the Big Ten in number of snaps per game, and production, and the big key variable when you go through study their success has been the number of times they run the football, and completions. To me, that makes a ton of sense.

They run the football, and even though they've led the league, they've led the league the last eight years in number of plays per game which means they're going fast, and they can play with tempo, which is what I believe in. I do. We're going to continue to do that. We want to control that tempo and speed up or slow down when we need it. When you run the football, you've got more control, I believe, over those variables. You can be able to stay on the field longer, which keeps your defense off the field.

But to me it's about first downs. It's not so much about, hey, you just want to slow it down, control the football, keep it away. That's not who we are. You know? But when you run the football well, yes, you take pressure off the defense. You know, by staying out there, more snaps each game, and I think that -- but it's about first downs.

That's where when you run the ball better, those third downs become more manageable and your numbers go up. It's just math. So if you've got 3rd and 7 plus a bunch, or 3rd and 4 to 5 a bunch. You'd much rather have the 3rd and 4 to 5 if you're on offense. It's just harder to stop them if those numbers get smaller. 3rd and 7 plus defense, you're licking your chops.

It should be really hard for the offense to convert. But that's where the running game, yes, comes in. The clock, and being able to take some pressure off the D.

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