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September 8, 2018

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 20

Virginia - 16

TOM ALLEN: Obviously at the end they made the huge stop to win the game and even on the interference call I said, hey, nobody complained, let's get fresh guys in there, use our last timeout and said this is what we got to do, we got to finish. We always tell them, you're going to have to play 60 minutes and beyond. We'll played to midnight, one, two in the morning, we don't care. So huge win for our program, great opportunity for us to continue to grow all these young guys we've got on the team and just really, really proud of this -- all, every single one ever them. So questions.

Q. I thought Stevie was a little hesitant running the ball last week. What was different tonight? He seemed to be hitting the holes a lot harder?
TOM ALLEN: Well, we obviously worked on that. It's just confidence. It's the second game now and I know you hear this all the time, but it's really true, you're going to have a lot of growth from week one to week two, for most teams. And then when you have 17 guys that play in their first college game, that's 17 guys that are now playing in their second game. And I just thought the whole week of preparation was different. I thought our week walkthroughs today were different, I thought our meetings today were different. We do a thing defensively where we call it Red Break Swarm and watch film. And just the way they make checks and they had a different air about them and they're just more confident. And I think Stevie the same thing, he just ran with confidence. And he's a big boy now and he's just naturally very strong, he has really good patience and vision. I noticed that right away in fall camp. I knew this kid was going to be special. Just didn't know when he was going to get his shot and obviously due to injuries and the situations we have right now, he got it early and he's taken advantage of it. So I think he's going to be a pretty special one.

Q. I know you weren't happy with the defensive performance last week, felt good about a number of things on offense. I imagine no second-half points this week will probably bother you a little bit, but the defensive performance, do you think this team is synced up in a good way right now, offense to defense and special teams too?
TOM ALLEN: I do. You mentioned some things that we have to address and I'm not happy about not scoring any points in the second half. We had a chance to put them away I thought with a couple of those tries, but we didn't. But they've got a good football team too. And then special teams, we got a couple blocks there on the field goals which were disappointing. And the conditions were, they were variable, I get that, but still it's no excuse. So, but then the defense responded. I just so -- I'm so proud of defense, I tell you. I take a lot of pride in that, there's no question. And I was really not happy with last week at all, and I know I said that, but I really was really upset, because I just felt like we were better than we showed. And so -- and I think we are, but doesn't matter what I think it matters what we do on the field and how we play. So they responded, their coaches responded and I really, I got after them pretty good because I just feel like that you've got to play great defense if you want to win games. And so today was a prime example of that. I tell you what, that quarterback he's special now in terms of athletically, and he is hard to tackle and he's a big man and he's got a different gear. So I was, I stayed up a lot of late nights worrying about that guy. So just really -- and even No. 1, I thought he ran the ball so hard last week and I was concerned about us tackling him as young as we are and he's 225 pounds and he's really strong and a senior and we've got guys that are true freshmen out there trying to tackle him. Four years, five years difference in age. So just really feel like that those guys responded and they got a chance to become a complete football team. When both sides of the ball put it all together on the same night and special teams does their deal and we just play a lot of guys and that's, I've said that all along, it's going to be our key to success and just keep our guys fresh and just keep bringing them.

Q. You mentioned the special teams. Anything in the moment that you can kind of diagnose what went wrong on those two plays there?
TOM ALLEN: Well, the first one we had a mistake up front with one of our guys. He didn't step down like he was supposed to. And the second one, the timing was too slow and the kick was low. So I felt like it was the snap because of the wet ball and getting it down. So it just too long in our timing of it, our processing we call it, and then the kick was low. But obviously we got, that changes everything. We get a seven-point lead instead of a four-point lead. And when you get the block -- we lost three points in the exchange when we got the block and they returned it for two points. And so we really loss six total points there between those two blocks. So, obviously, not happy with that, but we will as we did last week, it's a lot more enjoyable to correct those mistakes after a win.

Q. When you signed him, what did you know about him and what have you learned in the last two weeks?
TOM ALLEN: This is interesting. The last two running backs that we have signed I wasn't sure about either one of them. When we signed Morgan, I told both guys that they're both linebackers and running backs, and I said if it doesn't work out at running back, we'll move you to linebacker. And I told them both the same thing because I just knew they were two big, strong guys. You get a six-one, six-two guy that weighs 230 plus pounds out of high school, I figured we could find a place to play them. And they can run. Same thing with Stevie, we're like, hey, we're going to stop him on offense and we may move him to linebacker, but, so I saw some similar things, actually both guys had injuries in high school that ended their senior years, didn't have a lot of reps, and so we really didn't know. But I thought we had, I did, I thought he had something different about him. And then when he got to camp and we started watching him run I'm like, yeah, this guy is, he's going to be all right. So you just kind of get a body type that you're looking for with all these Big-Ten looking running backs and he almost weighs 240, so that's a big man, so and he's really naturally strong, he's going to get stronger with our staff. So he's got a bright future if he just keeps his head on straight and stays humble and keeps working hard.

Q. The first drive they kind of gassed you a little bit, but then after that, I'm sure it wasn't perfect, but really didn't have a lot of big plays and you guys really did a pretty good job. Did something you changed schematically or just the guys just changed the way they played.
TOM ALLEN: I will say this, I felt like I called a very conservative game from the perspective of I just wanted to let our guys get comfortable playing base defense. So I made a couple, I called a couple movements and some pressures early and I quit doing that, just because I felt like, let our guys get their feet set and play football. And then I got confidence to know, once we started stopping, that, hey, we can play that way. And we obviously brought some pressure at times, but I just wanted our guys, like you said, it's the youth and things are happening fast and the gaps, if you're moving, the gaps are changing and so I just wanted them to get their feet set, get grounded and play with confidence. Because I felt like, if we could do that and still stop the run that way, then that kind of, that's really the ideal when you're not taking as many chances.

Q. You said you liked the way your offensive line responded. Kind of what specifically did they do better that you liked tonight?
TOM ALLEN: We ran the ball really good against a good defense. I wouldn't say that the drives that we didn't finish were -- a couple of times we were bringing zero pressure, and then obviously you can't throw it as well as you like to because of the weather conditions, you don't want to turn it over, so you're in that little conundrum to decide what to do, but I just felt like the push off the ball, the finishing of blocks, against a team that basically just schematically are lined up to make the run game tough, and we still ran the ball. And I was concerned about our ability to run the ball against them, I really was just because I felt like they're a really good front seven defense and we thought that, going in, we thought that our best way to exploit them was through the passing game. And then it rains all day. I thought Noah was out there in the ark a couple times. But I just so, really, honestly, I was more concerned because of the weather -- and I didn't tell our team that -- but I personally was because of the matchup issues that that was going to create. We thought that we could throw the ball down the field and we still did. A couple of them were ugly throws, the ball was kind of wobbling, but I tell you what, just like we take -- and I told our team before this, this is going to come down to who wants to win the game. And there's a key third down for field position and you throw the ball up and Luke just absolutely wanted that football. And so we were able to throw the ball down the field at times enough and for a half that was huge, total score, obviously ended up being a winning score. So just things like that, just really just trying to establish the run game first, knock them off the football and then make some big plays.

Q. Can you talk about Haydon and what he was able to do in terms of the field position and some of those short field punts.
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, those were big. I was disappointed in the one, I think he caught it on the 12 or 13. I want it inside the 10 every time, try to get inside the five. I took the delay the one time because sometimes you get almost too close. And so you feel like I just wanted to maximize the clock and that way it keeps our timeouts for late in the game, which is, I'm glad we had that last one to use. And just things like that. So I was able to take a delay, give him a chance to, move us back a little bit and the ball was like on the 37 and so we could get, we call them goal punts for us because where they're at on the field. And so his value to this team, he had the one to pin them down inside the five on the three yard line there and it was tough conditions and he never muffed a snap. He just worked so hard on that. And our snapper, you know, just, you know, Dan Godsil is just awesome, he's so steady and just, Drew Conrad he won award for the game, just because he's so unselfish and he just does his job and most people don't even know who he is. But he's a tremendously valuable part of our team and he lives that every day because he cares more about this team than he does himself.

Q. Obviously the weather conditions dictating a more running attack tonight and knowing that and knowing that Stevie was probably going to be carrying the load there, any trepidation knowing you're putting the ball in his hands 31 times tonight as a freshman?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, yeah. You got to believe in him and you got to let him go. And bottom line is you grow up really fast when you're forced to. And he's our biggest, strongest back. And I tell you what though, he's got huge hands and he's really strong and I think that that helps ball security. He just kind of swallows the ball up. And I just think that, yeah I think it was a little bit un-nerving for me because he is a true freshman and he is green, but I think we saw a guy grow up tonight in front of all of us and really proud of him. And the O line made it all happen.

Q. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but it felt like Reakwon spent a lot of time kind of shadowing Perkins. I don't know if that was design or by just call, but how big was he tonight? I know he's a guy that had a really good spring and hasn't played a ton through his career, but he's a guy you talked about leaning on defensively.
TOM ALLEN: Really proud of that young man because he stepped up. I got on him a year ago, I felt like Tegray had to play so many snaps because he didn't rise up and he didn't put himself in position for me to trust him to play. And so his spring was huge. He won MVP of our spring in a couple different areas. And just so proud of the way he played. You're right, that was an accurate assessment. And we had several calls where we spied him on the quarterback and he came up big. I tell you what, none bigger was Bryant's tackle there on that last drive on the quarterback and just, once again, he's not the biggest, the fastest or any of that, but his heart and his will is huge and he cares so much about this team and his teammates and he prepares and he is smart and he just does what he's asked to do. So a lot of guys like that have stepped up. And really proud of Reakwon and he just needs to keep climbing. We need him to rise up. And you're right, he has not played a whole lot, but that's changing and TD behind him played a bunch and Micah McFadden, he tackled him and he's a player. And all those linebackers -- I thought Dameon stepped you know and made some big plays and Thomas stepped up and made some big plays and, man, they're growing up right in front of us, so it was pretty cool to see.

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