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September 3, 2018

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

TOM ALLEN: Welcome today. Feels great to get our first win of the season and on the road, so very happy for our players and how hard they worked and all that they put into that first game, and coaches included. So with typical first game, you had positives and negatives and things you want to build off of and things you want to correct and improve on this week. So we'll be starting that process today.

Just want to begin just by talking about our players. We had 16 young men that played in their very first college football game on Saturday night. 17 if you count Peyton Hendershot, even though he red shirted last year after getting some time. But we had 17 total red shirt freshmen and nine true freshmen that played. So a large number of guys to get involved in a game at one time, but that's what we expected and have known that for awhile, that we would have a lot of new faces and those guys got a chance to experience college football for the first time and it was good. So just got to keep growing and keep learning.

Also have to announce that Cole Gest has torn his ACL and will be out for the season. So hate it for him, I know how hard he's worked and played extremely well when he was in there and great, great person, works unbelievably hard and, obviously, has a setback now he has to handle and we'll be with him side by side through this whole process and he'll come back stronger than ever and he'll be with us again in the future. So thoughts and prayers with him through this time.

Also want to acknowledge our NFL guys, got 11 players currently on rosters now and really excited for them. And I won't go through all their names, but I know there's many that just got opportunities and several that are continuing to play and representing Indiana University each and every weekend on the NFL level, and doing a great job. So proud of those guys and what they're accomplishing after leaving our program.

Just want to go through, you talk about our week two opponent, the Virginia Cavaliers and Coach Mendenhall does a great job. Very disciplined team, very -- as you expect from his kind of teams, they're very good on defense, they have added a new dimension offensively with a junior college quarterback that is a very gifted athlete that can beat you with his legs and his arm, and that was obvious in week one. And his name's Bryce Perkins and so he's got our attention very quickly. And so very impressed with their offense and so now you mix an explosive offense with a very stingy defense, and they're always consistent and very effective on special teams. So coach and his staff there do a tremendous job and they were impressive in their week one opener against Richmond, a very good 1-AA program or FCS, as we call it now, and they did some very good things. So we'll have to improve from week one in order to play an ACC opponent here at home. Excited about our home opener and the opportunity for our fans to see the south end zone and all the hard work that's gone into that and just really excited about being able to be at home.

I enjoy road games, I enjoy the time with our team and what that builds with your team, but there's nothing like playing at home. And this place is special, and our players recognize that and we're expecting a big crowd on Saturday night and really looking forward to being able to get this season started at home and continuing to improve and progress towards our goals. Any questions?

Q. Number one, just forgive the standard Morgan question, if there's any update there, and then also, who do you look at, specifically, maybe from last weekend, if Morgan also is if there's no update to maybe fill that number one role at running back?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, there's no additional information for me to add with Morgan's situation. In regards to that position, obviously, Stevie Scott got a lot of work on Saturday night and showed some good promise as we saw in fall camp, and but needs to continue to develop and grow. Mike Majette, obviously, has to expand his role. And really want to see Ronnie Walker step up and other guys and really feel like that we have a group in that room of young men that will be called upon now. And bottom line is that seasons always give you things you don't expect and, obviously, this is one of those for us, and you have to adapt and move on and we'll be able to utilize our whole personnel that we have on the offensive side of the football. And Ricky Brookins is a guy that works his tail off and really excited about the other guys in that room to have a chance to rise up now and get opportunities, and we'll see who comes out and is able to make plays and be the guy.

Q. Talk about the defense overall and how important it was getting the turnovers and especially scoring off the turnovers.
TOM ALLEN: I thought that, first of all, I did not think we played well defensively. After watching the film, I obviously saw it live and didn't feel great about it. Really disappointed in our fits. I know we got a lot of new faces and I get that, that's part of the growth. But I expected to have some of those issues, but I felt like there were too many and just didn't feel like that we were able to get off the field. Now I will say this, they were 5-12 on third downs and three of those five conversions were off of penalties. So they really converted two on their own. And two of those three penalties I would highly contest to say that those were tough calls to take in terms of against us, but we're going to play a certain style of defense and there's going to be some of those, I get that. But so third downs wasn't bad, we just didn't get our third down goal because of the penalties that gave them a couple that I didn't think they should have been given. Did not feel like that we did a good enough job on first downs. That, to me, was probably the biggest issue, getting them in manageable situations and created too many third and mediums and third and shorts that are hard. Did not feel like that in the red zone we played to the level I know we have to play at. But I will say that it was a very deliberate process, we didn't give up a ton of big plays, they kind of just dinked us a little bit, and we made them earn it. And especially that last one, it was like, that one drive was 18-play drive, and you want to get off the field for sure, but with the lead that we had, you want to make sure that you're maximizing burning up the clock as well in terms of you don't want to just give up a cheapie. So our guys were keeping things in front of them and tackling pretty well, but just overall, feel like that we just got to get a lot better. I expect we will. That's what we -- I was tough on them today in our meetings and challenged them about the standard we have set on defense. But it's, you're kind of rebuilding all this with so many new faces and guys out there for the first time and had some rookie mistakes, several times, and that's unfortunately to be expected, but they have to be, they have to decrease each and every week. So, to me, that's the key for us is how well we, as coaches, can get our guys prepared to be able to play at a high level defensively and to be able to create opportunities. And I challenged our offense early on and to be able to be the ones that carry our football team early as we bring this young defense along. And so I did the opposite last year with our defense towards the offense knowing that we had a lot of guys coming back on defense last year and expected them to carry our football team until the offense came along. But then you throw in the take aways and to me that's why I knew they were going to be huge this season. And so when you have a young defense, it kind of puts it back to when I first got here we had to, that was how we were able to create things and change field position and create momentum for our offense and for our team, is the takeaways and it was definitely true on Saturday night, getting the two fumbles and the interception. And then when you get a pick 6 and you end up scoring on defense, that's when it really magnifies itself, and you really, really are thrilled about what you're doing on that side of the ball.

So created the momentum that we needed at that time in the game to go up by a score and be able to get our offense in great position and get that momentum and that sideline into it. So I was encouraged by that, I just feel like that that's what we got to keep doing, we're just raking at the football. That first one was a caused fumble by Jonathan Crawford as he raked at the football on the sideline there. And then Monster there was the one that was able to recover it, Devon Matthews. And so really cannot emphasize enough how we got to keep getting takeaways, got to, got to, got to, that's a big part of what's going help us be successful this year.

Q. They seem to have a pretty legit front seven the other night. How do you grade the offensive line? Did you see enough, did you want to see more, what was your reaction?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, you know, their D-line was, I think, the strength of their, in terms of just talent, it was the most talented group by far. So and then after watching the film, and a couple of those guys were new, we didn't know, I knew they were talented players, hadn't seen them play in person and they were impressive. But I told our offensive line and told our coaches I was disappointed in our offensive line, even though they did okay. I did not feel like they finished the way I wanted them to finish blocks, finish the drives, just it was not to what I want to see. I felt like that they did a lot of good things, they rushed over 200 yards, but still third and one, I want those third and ones. Those, we have to get those third and ones and that's what I expect and that's what we're going to be, we have to be able to do. And it was, lost a one-on-one battle up front, which was the cause of that one. On a critical situation and we want to be able to stay on the field and get those key first downs. So I would say it was a solid performance, but it wasn't what I expected out of that group, who I've said from the beginning is the strength of our team and I want them to own that and I want them to take it personal and I want them to elevate their levels of play and rise to another level of being able to dominate on game day for sixty minutes. And I know we had some long drives and it was very hot. And you can prepare for that heat all you want, but we don't live in the south. And I know that and I've lived down there long enough, it's just different. And, fortunately, it was a night game which helped, but night in the south is different than the night here. And so the humidity is completely different. So there was a, the fatigue did start taking its toll a little bit, but that's part of it. We knew that and that's why we played a lot of guys and, fortunately, we were able to come out on top. But I think our O-line got a little fatigued and that's something we've got to just continue. And we've talked about, too, just playing their self into -- you don't ever have 12-,13-,14-play drives in practice. You really don't. Sometimes you might go some longer, but unless you do a scrimmage, which you only do two really full ones in the fall camp, you don't get that opportunity. So playing those guys into playing shape as far as those long of a drive for the offensive line, I think, is critical. Defensively you kind of you usually sub those guys all out, so it's a little bit different on that side of the ball. But offensively you often do not up front. And so just want to make sure that those guys are just continuing to get better. I want them to have an edge about them and play at certain standard that we have. And I just feel like that we played good, but not great. And I want to be great.

Q. Forgive another one that you're probably tired of getting questions about, but I don't know if we quite asked this after Brandon left. You talked about really kind of possibly targeting Michael for the four-game red shirt rule. He's already played one game now. Do you envision maybe him being a guy that you turn to for more than four games this season, maybe it's just a regular part of the game plan, or would you still like maybe at least for now like to try and keep him protected?
TOM ALLEN: It's still early to see what's going to unfold. But I do think there's a little different dynamic when you have -- looking at Michael as the number two quarterback, and so he needs to be ready to play and that was by design. So he played two series in this game and I think it's 20 some snaps and Peyton played 62 snaps. So I felt like that we needed to get him in and be able to play from those, in that kind of environment in game day situations, so, but, yeah, we haven't made the final decision on that as far as the whole red shirt component but he is the number two quarterback right now and so those guys are often the ones that have to be ready to go on a moment's notice. So we'll see how the future unfolds on that but he obviously got in there, did some great things, and proved that he's a capable quarterback at this level and showed a lot of poise and good execution and we try to keep things in a way that he could just slowly build and develop and grow and I think he passed his first test.

Q. On Bryce Perkins you mentioned what he's capable. I think it was 108 yards rushing, 185 passing. Is there one of the two that worries you more than the other and just what's really stood out to you beyond the numbers as far as how he got some of the plays that he got?
TOM ALLEN: Well the thing that sticks out to me is he's six foot three, 215, 220 pounds and he can run. And he took that football and just split the defense right down the middle on 50 yards and he is fast. So great athlete, throws the ball good enough to you have to honor that. He's a good, really good quarterback and he's big and strong. So really impressed with his physical attributes and the way he -- he's got weapons around him and really impressed with their receivers and running backs, runs extremely hard. So he will create a definite challenge for sure. It's a totally different football team than we played last year offensively. The quarterback last year was ball control, was not a runner, very accurate and really just a completely different philosophy that they approached their team with now with a different type of player at the quarterback position. So they're going to be much a lot of respect for us for Bryce Perkins.

Q. At the end of the first half you had an opportunity maybe to kick a 47, 48 yarder, was that the distance, was it too long maybe?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, here this actually and we talked about that as a staff and I had really -- unless it was going to be, unless we got the ball inside -- we had a head wind at the time, they had gotten a lot of push in the interior and if you recall we had not kicked a field goal up to that point and so I did not want it to be his first field goal would be in that kind of environment and that situation. So unless we got the ball well inside the 25 we basically were just going to -- we did not want them to get the ball another snap. We knew we were going to get it in the third quarter, in some ways it was a little bit of a conservative type approach to the way we ended it. Actually, the way I did it was I told the official I was going to call timeout with 20 seconds to go. And I called timeout and then I look up and there's 15 seconds on the clock. And so talked to the officials about it and they're just like, well, there was no real answer for that, so they did not choose to put those five seconds back on the clock. So, but bottom line was unless we were going to get the ball inside the 20 area I was not going to kick a long field goal for that being -- what I didn't want, I didn't want to get a blocked field goal and give them any momentum going into halftime. I felt like we had a chance, we had some bigger receivers, try to take a shot at the end zone -- I wanted to get two shots in the end zone was kind of my initial plan to try and get -- and I thought that the one we did throw at the end to Nick, I wanted him to go up and get that ball. So, but they didn't and so that was kind of how I played that out. I was really, it's kind of was a multiple reasons, the head wind was number one and then they were getting a real good push and so long field goals are low, typically, and I didn't want to create any momentum for them going into halftime.

Q. After the game you gave the game ball to Matt Stauder. Can you talk about what that moment was like in the locker room?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I tell you, pretty special moment. He's been through so much and it was the one year anniversary of the passing of his dad and then obviously we all know what he's dealing with now with his cancer battle and so just a really special young man that loves, absolutely loves this university, our program. And even though he's he doesn't feel great, after treatments he comes to practice, doesn't miss, was the same way a year ago when he lost his dad. And he just said, he wrote me a note afterwards and just said that that would have been the happiest moment of his dad's life would be able to be there for that to see that transpire. So just a special time. I just respect him so much and I know our players do too and we're just pulling for him and praying for him. And he's got a tough road ahead and we're right there with him. And it's helped to raise support and money to be able to help his family because all those things don't pay the bills. So we're just trying to do what we can to help him and Ricky Brookins has led the way as you all know with that. So just a special time. He was caught off guard, I don't think he expected that, so I really am glad we were able to do that for him and that was pretty neat.

Q. You mentioned disappointment defensively. You had 12 different players play on the defensive line, how much was it the defensive line's issues that caused that disappointment?
TOM ALLEN: Well I didn't think they played their best, nor did the linebackers. I think that those, especially I was really disappointed with linebackers. That's an area that I focus on and put my eyes on and Coach Wommack and I spend a lot of time the last couple days looking at everything and challenged them this morning in our meeting and challenged the defensive line and I think it was a combination of those two groups that to me didn't play to the standard that we want here to be able to secure the gaps and play with discipline. And there's no question, they did some things that you don't prepare for and you have to adjust and when you got that many new faces and you have a lot of new guys rotating on the D-line, a lot of new linebackers playing and it does, you're going to have some -- I just felt like it was too many. I expected some, I expected some of that, for sure, but I just felt like we didn't play with the discipline of our fundamental fits that you have to do. So that's going to be the focus this entire week fundamental fits.

Q. You opened up talking about a lot of the new guys or guys that played for the first time, played meaningful snaps for the first time. When you went back through the film were there a small handful that maybe surprised you guys that maybe played a had little bit above of what you thought they were capable of or anything like that?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think overall I feel like that a guy that stuck out to me. Peyton Hendershot is one that I know he has played, but red shirted last year, and just the challenges I've given to him in the last several months about elevating his game, really was encouraged to see his progress and the way that he performed confirmed why we named him a starter. And I think Matt Bjorson is another one that really sticks out to me and has kind of impressed me, maybe surprised me in some ways, didn't know if he would be able to contribute this much, this often or this early in his career, but really does a good job. I think Stevie continues to be a guy that we really didn't know if he would take any snaps at all this year. He was injured his senior year of high school, didn't play a lot that year, played both offense and defense, so wasn't like a seasoned guy and so been encouraged by him. And I think Ty Fryfogle was another one that's continued to elevate and keep getting better and did have a good fall camp and excited for him. And I feel like that those are key guys. And Jaylin Williams, is another one that jumps out to me making plays and I just fool like that he really will be a very, very special player. Devon Matthews we call Monster, is another one that really sticks out to me to be able to continue to develop and make plays and grow. And I thought Reese did some good things. We expect him to make plays and want to see that continue to grow there and develop. And so, but to me those were a lot of the key guys. I think that it's going to take all of our guys. To me when you talk about first-time performers, Logan Justus to me was a guy that had never kicked in a game, he's 5-5 on PAT's, he kicked a 35-yard field goal and just really encouraged by his poise and consistency there, which is what that position demands. So those are the kind of the guys that stick out to me. I thought Michael Penix was very poised for his first opportunity to play and I think those guys were good. Now I didn't, this is my fault but I didn't go through and give the players of the game, and I want to make sure I do that before we get out of here. But Donavan Hale was our offensive player of the game and his two touchdowns were big and multiple catches and just playing in a manner that I know he needs to play at and I've challenged him to play at with his size and athletic ability. Jonathan Crawford defensively has the two takeaways and then just the overall consistent leadership in the back end was our defensive MVP. And special teams was Logan Justus as you would expect. And then scout guys who totally rely on and cannot get ready for game week without them Zenden Dellinger is offensive lineman from Fort Wayne Snider has really been developing well and working hard. Dave Felton and TJ Ivy also guys that have impressed us and done great job working hard and giving our defense a great look and then on the defensive side of the ball for scout player of the week was Sam Slusher. And he was also the special teams scout player of the week, he actually blocked multiple punts in practice, that's including from fall camp on. And really encouraged by how hard he's played. He's a young man out of Greensburg here in Indiana that's a walk-on here that is very athletic and has caught our coaches attention so really encouraged by these young guys and how hard they're working and how they will help us get better every day. Next question.

Q. Just two quick ones. Donavan Hale, is he able to practice every day now or still kind of watching him?
TOM ALLEN: We still have a pitch count on him to be smart with him and I think as long as we continue to do that I think that that will allow him to be able to be -- the whole objective is that he is full speed on game day. So it's a, it's really kind of us being able to work with our strength staff, our training staff, and Coach Heard as they communicate with Donavan and be able to know exactly how he feels each day and then based on that is how we discern how many reps we want to get. So we got to get him ready each week and that's what we have done all fall camp because it's kind of one of those things where it's just, it is what it is and you have to just kind of manage it and I think that's kind of how we approached it from this point on. And it's been working well and he played to a high level and that needs to continue.

Q. And Reese Taylor played both ways for you. Is that going to be a regular thing?
TOM ALLEN: Well, I will say this, he's going to be on the field for sure and obviously the situation with Cole, we have to be able to continue to grow offensively and distribute the football. So I would expect to see his role on offense to expand and be able to do that. So we'll see what he can handle each and every week. But I do know that he, the few times he touched the ball, he's got a chance to make things happen and I think he's a special player. So that will continue.

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