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INDIANA UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 12, 2018
TOM ALLEN: Good afternoon. Just wanted to begin by saying really proud of our football team and the way that they finished on Saturday and bounced back from a tough stretch and stayed together and kept their focus on the process of trying to improve each week and take advantage of a bye week to get ourselves healthy.
Some teams come back from bye weeks and they're a little sluggish when they play, and that was obviously something we couldn't afford to do. Really worked hard to get our guys ready to play at a high level and they responded. So, really happy for them.
Enjoyed spending time with them this morning. It's our first -- we don't meet with them on Sundays, so come back on Monday morning and have a chance to be with them and be able to just enjoy that time again with them and just talk about the game.
I always start by having them just give me feedback. Whether things work out the way you want them to or not, we kind of handle it the same way, and have me listen to them and have them tell me what they think about what happened and why it happened. I thought they were really perceptive about some things and did some good stuff.
So just very important that we build off of Saturday's win and head into this week. So just as you go through and think about that win for us offensively, we had a group of guys I thought as a collective group did some great things and threw the football down the field, had seven explosive plays of 20 yards or more. That was very important, especially several in the pass game.
So the receiving corps of Luke Timian and Nick Westbrook, Ty Fryfogle, J-Shun Harris, and Peyton Ramsey, those guys are offensive players of the game, basically our receiving corps and quarterback. And I thought Peyton shared the ball with good deep ball accuracy. He had a great touchdown run that was big and just offensive line, was able to hold up. We gave up a few sacks, more than we wanted to, but at the same time did some good things. Just got to be more consistent across the board.
Then, defensively really had a specific plan to try and contain their speed. I was very concerned about their athleticism, and they hurt us with it the last two years and have added more speed to their team with some guys they have as freshmen, some red-shirt freshmen. So I was very impressed with them, watched them on film the week leading up to it, and knew it was going to be a challenge.
So thought we did a really good job in the red zone. Forced field goals, which ended up being the difference in the game. And that perspective, and then the bigger one was the takeaways. The four takeaways continues to be something that we emphasize, and our guys are buying into and really, everybody understands how I feel about those, and our guys are creating those and taking the ball away from them by pressure and the pass game. Then breaking up that football and getting it on the ground.
So we had a couple guys that we wanted to recognize. First of all, Kayton Samuels is our defensive player of the game, he got the sack called fumble at the end. Really proud of him. He is a graduate transfer from Syracuse and been a very solid player for us. Bought in, an unselfish guy I've been pleased to have, doing a great job in the classroom and doing a great job as a young man.
And also thought Cam Jones really played well. He's a guy that's young, true freshman. Just continues to flash, and I thought that he did some really good things.
I felt like as a collective group we did not tackle to our standard. I was disappointed in that. Did not think we fit the run several times properly, and it hurt us and some things that they were doing.
But bottom line, as a group, I thought we played extremely hard. Johnson had a huge effort play near the end. Actually I think it was the play before the sack cause fumble and the reception. He ran the guy down from playing hard, and that's what he does. That was big for us.
Special teams, Logan Justus and Drew Conrad were our specialists of the game, and rightly so. Drew's a tremendous job just being steady and just kind of running our special teams units and being the guy that handles that whole group and takes a ton of pride in it. Just so accurate in what he does. Such attention to detail young man.
Then Logan Justus continues to come through for us, and his first game winning field goal, and just really proud of him. Because of that, he was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week this week, and continues to kick at a high level. So really excited for him. Also as we mentioned before, Mike Hart has been nominated for the new Broyles Award. And Stevie continues to play well, and the running backs under Mike's leadership in that room has been huge. Overcoming all the adversity that they have, and just to see Stevie continue to play well, and had a big run.
As a matter of fact, I showed that whole sequence to our team this morning. You go through, and it started with after we gave up the touchdown at the end, the two-point play was a huge play of the game, so our guys bowed up, got the stop, and got the offense the ball back, and they drove right down and got in field goal range. Big run by Stevie Scott to set that up. Then we were able to get the kick.
Then after you go up by two, now you've got to go cover, so that was the most important kickoff of our season. As I told our guys on that sideline, we put our top guys in there, and Raheem Layne made the tackle inside the 20 and that was huge. Then the defense goes out and gets the takeaway, the fourth one of the day. So all three phases working together to finish, and all three phases finished.
So really proud of our guys for that. Really, you know, anxious for our guys to respond in the right way to be able to build off of this and take momentum into the biggest game of our season, which is our next game against the Michigan Wolverines, and it's the biggest one because it is the next one. Our guys understand that, and we'll introduce them tomorrow to our team and go through the process of taking on a very, very good football team in Ann Arbor, Michigan with the 4 o'clock kickoff.
So we know what they've accomplished this year. They're really playing at a high level, and coach Harbaugh's got them doing a lot of great things. So great opportunity, great challenge for the Hoosiers this weekend. Questions?
Q. I saw Whop posted a picture from a hospital bed, is he done for the year?
TOM ALLEN: Well, we don't know yet. He had some things done, and we'll see how that plays out. We're trying to get him back, but he's had a rough one. Just seems like he's had a hard time getting healthy, and when he gets back, he's been dinged and he's had to have some things cleaned up a little bit, so we'll see. But I feel for him, because he's worked his tail off and had a great off-season, ready to grow, and just had one thing after the next. So we're just trying to battle to get him back.
Q. You said it's one thing after the next. Is it all related, the same root cause, or different things that happened since that Michigan State game that kind of kept setting him back?
TOM ALLEN: The high ankle sprain was just the nagging. That happened in the Michigan State game. Then that's kind of been the long-term, you know. When you deal with those, most people will tell you, it's like six weeks usually. They always want to try to come back before then, and it usually doesn't work out so well.
But then he got another injury, not related to that, so we're trying to deal with that. So it's kind of been a couple things. So just the way it goes sometimes. That's why other guys had to step up and that's what they did on Saturday, so that will not change.
Q. What's it say about your receiving corps when you can lose someone like Whop but still keep hitting it without missing a beat like you guys have?
TOM ALLEN: It's really important. It's what we talk about in recruiting, player development. Coach Heard does a great job with that room. And we've got a couple young guys that we brought in as true freshmen that we think are going to be really good players too, they're just waiting their turn and being developed right now. So that group has become a deep group for us, and a lot of different types of body types in there, skill sets, and I just think it's a testament to what we're trying to build here.
We're a young football team, and to be able to get back in position here where we are, I know we have a couple games where especially two for sure that come to my mind, that you feel like you just let slip away, that's very frustrating. And I want us to be beyond the five-mark at this point of the season right now for sure. But that's where we are. We'll deal with that head on.
But to be able to do that with such a young team, you know, the coming back, and there are so many new faces on defense, and we've had injuries still. We've lost some very productive guys on offense that haven't played much at all or any this year. And other guys had to step up, whether it's the receiving corps, or in the running back room. It's just part of it. We're still, you know, we're probably a couple classes away from having the depth that we need to have.
We recruited well with this current freshmen class, and we've got to do it again. And we've got to do it again, to be able to create and have the depth from all four classes together to be able to withstand injuries and the ups and downs of the season, and playing against a very mature guys. You look at that offensive line from Maryland, and there were a bunch of fifth-year seniors. I've said it before and say it again, those are grown men. We've got some young guys playing on defense that are 18 years old, a bunch of them. That's a big difference. Those four years make a -- that's four years of a lot of things that change for you in this time of your life.
So no excuses there, just reality of where we are. So our kids are battling, and I'm excited for our receivers. I've been encouraged by the way some guys have stepped up. You hoped that they will, and they need to, but as a team, that's what we've got to have at all spots.
So we're just fighting and clawing and scratching every day to get this program where we want it to be. Obviously every win is a big win, and every conference win is huge.
So to be able to see that group step up when you've got guys go down, is what you preach and teach, and you want to have happen. Unfortunately sometimes it doesn't. But I think it's been more times than not with this group, and they're a very resilient football team.
Q. Talk about the freshman class again, with the four-game rule, now you have new faces you can use, James Miller, Madison Norris. Talk a little bit about the playing a little bit now and what you've seen from them?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, we've got James out there. He plays special teams, even got some reps on defense. That was his first time of really getting to play defense, and he got one rep in Minnesota on a kickoff cover and that was it. So very, very valuable experience, you know.
Getting Madison out there, running down, covering kicks, he was all fired up. He's going to be a really good player. He's already gained a bunch of weight since he's been here. He came in at 189 pounds. He just came off track season, and won the state championship in the hurdles. But a long frame, and now he's up to about 216. That's a significant change for him.
So just really guys like that, and I even think Miles Marshall hasn't played, but I see him growing and developing every day. Jacolby Hewitt, those are two young freshmen receivers that I have high expectations for and see those guys every day. And just trying to get those guys involved, and they may get some opportunities on special teams here. You have that flexibility to do that now, and you'll continue to keep James involved.
Just Jonathan King is another guy that we just try to continue to work and bring along, and try to get in position to get out there if they -- if the opportunity warrants that. So, that's where this new rule helps. I'm excited. It's a new group that's already been extremely active this season. With the guys that you know about. And there are several guys that haven't played at all that I think are quietly developing their bodies and doing little things right and going to class, and learning how to be a Big Ten football player. They're going to be a huge part of our program in the future.
Q. The past few years Michigan's had guys at quarterback that had some athleticism to move around. But Shea Patterson seems to bring a new dimension with his escapability. From watching him, does he look like anybody he's played before, and how tough is it to game plan for that?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think Shea Patterson's special. I was a part of the staff that recruited him when he was younger, and ended up going to that particular place, and now he's at Michigan. So now I know him extremely well. Watched him play a lot on film in high school, and a lot of respect for his talents. He's extremely gifted passer, but also has great escapability. And they'll use him in the run game at times, and it's effective when they do.
But what he really, really creates that makes it so hard is the extending plays. He just runs around back there with his eyes down field, and he's extremely -- he's one of those unique guys that he could be moving to his left, his right, it really doesn't matter. He can contort his body and make the throws he has to make, and he's accurate when he does that. That's what makes me so, you know, nervous as a DC, and to try to defend him because there's always separation that's created when a guy starts scrambling. It's almost impossible not to have that.
So being able to be -- some quarterbacks aren't just -- we want to get them on the move because they're not as accurate when they're running or maybe you want to get them to their left if they're right-handed, or get them to the right if they're left-handed. But doesn't matter for him, he's able to be very effective. It's almost like you don't want him flushed out too much.
But anyways, he's a very, very gifted player. I think it's kind of the miss thing that they've had, you know, in regards to that play making ability at that position. They've always had really talented receiving corps and tight ends and running backs and big old physical offensive lines. Those things haven't changed. But you insert this young man, and this seems to be a good fit for what they do.
As they've gotten rolling now, they've been pretty impressive the last -- the majority of the season, but offensively, their defense has been lights out since day one.
But their offense has really been performing at a high level the last several weeks. So they're a very good football team. I think that he makes them way more dangerous than they were before.
Q. You mentioned after the game that acknowledging the bowl game was something that you didn't necessarily do last year, but you felt it important this year. Is there anything else different about the way you're approaching the stretch run this year that is different from the way you handled it last year?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, very, very conscientious of our players and their health and rest, and really very -- we changed our schedule for the very purpose of being at our best weeks nine, ten, 11 and 12. We really felt like last year for multiple reasons, it wasn't just one thing, but for multiple reasons we kind of ran out of juice and did not have the same energy at the end, and we're just tired.
So the bye helped in some regards. But the way we changed our schedule, the way we've approached giving them Sunday off and lifting on Monday, instead of lifting on Sunday, we have reasons for that. Even though the length of our practices, we taper some of them back to make sure that we've got a gauge on our guys and Dave Ballou and Dr. Rhea are very in tune with that, and I follow their lead very closely. They've helped us modify our practice schedule.
That's been different than in the past. Just trying to, you know, learn the best way for our guys to be competing at a high level this time of the year. And how you talk to them, like you said, I mentioned that. I was kind of taking a completely different approach, and very up front with our guys about it, and that will continue tomorrow.
So I think that those things -- and you always try to figure out what does your team need, and also you grow and do things a little different based on your experiences and what works and doesn't work for you. So just trying to, you know hit all the right buttons and get everything going to where your guys are, when they take the field, they're playing the best. Based on the time of the kickoff, and time of the year and everything involved with that. So there have definitely been some changes for sure.
Q. The last couple years Michigan's really been able to keep your guys' running game not really being able to do much. Does the fact that the passing game, especially establishing the deep threat the last couple weeks, do you feel that's coming on at the right time to make sure Michigan can't pack the box like they might have in past years?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, that's definitely part of the process, and part of our objective was to throw the ball down the field, to be able to take pressure off the run game for us, and then to be able to not load it or overwhelm you or have that extra hat there that you can't block because of the structure that they had defensively.
So, yeah, there's no question. We know we needed to, and we've made it a priority to do that. Really was effective on Saturday. Needs to be again. I think that's just part of what we want to do.
I've said it publicly, and they obviously are very, very talented and they play a lot of types of coverages that we need to have answers for. They do a lot of different things. Coach Brown is as good as it gets. He does a phenomenal job and their players respond to him, and they play their tails off. They're so fast and physical, and he's got them rolling.
So as a defensive guy, you've got a lot of respect for that. Don't like to go against it, you know, but that's part of it. So I just think that they -- you've got to be able to take pressure off your offensive line and your run game by stretching the field, and that's part of what we want to be able to do.
We want to do it throughout the season, but just trying to get better at it, and that needs to continue.
Q. Reakwon didn't play Saturday, and I think Jerome Johnson got a little banged up and came out. Don't remember him coming back in. Just an update on those two and the overall health of your team?
TOM ALLEN: Reakwon is really day to day. We're hoping to get him back for Saturday, and we'll know more later in the week. But he's working hard to get to that point.
Jerome is going to be fine. Got a little bit dinged up, but he was back practicing today. And Jacob Robinson is back practicing today, and trying to continue to build him his rep base and his endurance and ability to make some more plays and take some more. So then Micha McFadden went out of the game, but he's going to be back, you know. Practiced as well. So we just need as many as we can get.
We got everybody as healthy as possible, and we'll get James Miller some reps in linebacker in practice this week to see if we have to have him more ready than he was maybe a week ago, to be able to have the scheme knowledge. We did some specific things that would have been hard for a guy to come in there that depth know what he was doing. So we lost Mike in the first half. It really kind of put a lot of stress on us at that spot.
So we had to take our Mikes and move them to stinger just understanding the weekly scheme that we were implementing. So depth is still always an issue. We're still not where we need to be, but we're getting closer. We still got a long ways to go, and that will be a continual process of developing depth through recruiting and player development.
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FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports