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November 19, 2018

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

TOM ALLEN: Good afternoon. Exciting week for the Hoosiers. Very much looking forward to a great opportunity this weekend. Proud of our football team and how hard they played and how they competed, and just responded against a very good football team on the road. It was a one-possession game in the fourth quarter, and just didn't make enough plays, get those final few opportunities that we have to in order to beat a team of that caliber at their place.

A lot of respect for Coach Harbaugh, and they're a very, very good football team, and wish them nothing but the best going forward.

Kind of wrap the game up by just talking about players we thought played at a high level. A lot of guys I thought did, did a lot of good things. Offensively, Peyton Ramsey was our Offensive Player of the Game, just played with a ton of grit and just fight and getting 1st downs and extending plays and making some good throws, and just battling and competing, leading our team.

Defensively Gavin Everett, Raheem Lane and Andre Brown were all three the Co-Defensive Players of the Game. I thought that the two corners, Raheem and Andre, had a big challenge guarding some very, very talented receivers with great length and speed and did some good things with them and really attacked the ball.

And Gavin had his best game of the season production-wise. Just been so solid, a guy that's so dependable and steady and plays hard and really plays bigger than he is physically and really proud of him and all that he brings to our program.

Special teams, Logan Justus continues to kick the ball effectively and well, and Mike Majette is just a steady guy that just gives us great decision making, protecting the football and making good choices there.

As far as our preparation, our scout guys continue to work extremely hard. It was a big week of preparation for us against a very multiple defense, and then their offense did enough things that it creates a lot of challenges for those guys, and Aaron Casey, Defensive Scout Team Player of the Week, freshman linebacker out of Georgia that's continuing to develop and grow.

Offensively, the scouts of the week, Aidan Rafferty and Connor Thomas continue to work extremely hard. A lot of times those O-linemen don't get a lot of rest on those scouts. Those guys go over and over and over again, and really appreciate their effort.

And then Special Teams Scout of the Week was Ryan Barnes, a young man from Noblesville High School here in Indiana just continues to work extremely hard and really valuable guy, can play offense, defense and a very versatile young man. Was that same way in high school.

So proud of our guys, and had a great time with them in the locker room afterwards and challenged them, encouraged them and got to focus right away on the task at hand, which is playing for the Old Oaken Bucket here on Saturday at noon against Purdue. Coach Brohm's team comes in a with a tremendously high-powered offense, and defense plays extremely hard. They've got some big wins this season. So going to be stressed as a team to be able to stop them offensively and be able to score points by our offense, and special teams, got some dynamic returners and good specialists, and going to be a great game.

Once again, just like last year, comes down to playing for the bucket and playing for an opportunity to go to a bowl game. A lot is on the line, and our players understand that, so we had a great start to the week, and very much looking forward to the schedule we have.

It's Thanksgiving week, so we don't have class, so being able to maximize that and get our guys fully prepared mentally, physically, emotionally for our biggest game of the season. Excited for that.


Q. You've been obviously open with your team about the bowl situation, and they seem to have taken that to heart and taken that as a challenge and as a positive.
TOM ALLEN: They did. We went to Michigan to win and to go get bowl eligible, and they've responded. We've got a really neat group of young men that I think have a good mix. I've said this all along, that we've got some good core leaders, a lot of older guys, and we have a lot of youth mixed into that. And so there's a hunger there.

But there's always a point in the season when it gets to be a tough road, and the schedule that we always play, and so I just think that the guys have bought in here at the end and have finished strong, and it's critical that we completely finish the season here with game No. 12 at home, and so, yeah, it's been very -- was up front with them again today. We know what's at stake, and we know that winner gets to go play in a bowl game and the loser gets to stay home, so that's what we're playing for.

Q. During the radio broadcast, Buckser (phonetic) said something interesting. He said you really don't appreciate a trophy until it gets taken from you. How does that sentiment resonate with you and how does it resonate with the players on the team?
TOM ALLEN: I think that's a very powerful statement. I didn't hear him say that, but it's very, very true. I think especially we won it four years in a row, and when I got here, that was the case, and I was a part of a No. 3 as a defensive coordinator, and then we were not able to finish out the job, to be able to maintain that and to keep it.

And I think that it's a -- you look at the history of the rivalry, it's a tremendous rivalry, it's a tremendous opportunity, and being raised in this state and seeing it played many, many times, and just knowing what it means to each university, and being a part of rival games at other places and the passion that's involved, but it's really, really a big deal here.

So I think when you have it and then you lose it, it changes your perspective, and I think our guys recognize that. I know that we've talked about some of those things today. We'll talk more about it every single day. It's a big emphasis, and making sure our young guys understand what it means. We've got guys from all across the country, some guys that were raised around it, some guys that were not, and so educating them and making sure they understand exactly the history and those that have gone before him and what it means to win this game and how important it is for our university and for everyone that's part of this program and part of our alumni.

So I think that anything in life, when you have it, you take it for granted. When you lose it, you realize how special it really was and really is. I think that can be true of a lot of things for sure, and I think it's definitely true in this rivalry.

Q. Another guy new to the rivalry is Rondale Moore. Not too many guys his size can squat 600 pounds. What do you see -- what makes him a different challenge maybe than some of the other ones you've faced?
TOM ALLEN: Well, first of all, he's really, really fast, so speed is a good thing when you have it. That's why everybody wants it. So that's the first challenge. And as you mentioned he's really strong. You can see it. Power cleans and squats are two lifts that really translate to football, and the fact that he's that strong, it shows up on film. He's hard to tackle. Breaks a lot of tackles. Just runs hard, and they get him the ball a lot, and they should. Just very difficult young man to scheme for, and they try and get him the ball all different creative ways, and special teams, as well. Yeah, he's a tremendously talented young man that will be a big challenge for our whole football team to defend.

Q. Will Reakwon be back this week, and if he is, what's that going to mean to the linebacking group?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, the plan is to have him. Yes, he practiced with us today, so we'll see how it feels. He's just coming back from that, and obviously did not play last week, but was closer. Was kind of one of those maybe emergency type situations. But I felt good about how he looked today. So he and TD will be the two main guys at that position, and then that allows us to be able to keep Micah, we've had him in a third-down role at Mike. He can play both positions, does a really good job at both, and also with Cam Jones's situation for halftime, and so that frees us up to have some -- TD to get some work out there at husky and to give Marcelino Ball a break if we need to. Just kind of try to shuffle the deck a little bit in that regard, and then Bryant Fitzgerald also has played that position, as well, so he'll be in the mix for getting some quality reps this week.

Just more depth. That's what you want. And getting Reakwon back will be huge, and that's the plan. So right now I hope that that continues to be the case because you don't know for sure until you get through your two full padded practices, but as of right now, it's looking like he'll be back.

Q. It looks like the bye week really refreshed this team because both of the last two weeks you've been much sharper as a football team. Would you agree?
TOM ALLEN: I agree, and I think nobody has the answers for everything of why things happen, but what I believe happened was we were -- as young as we are, I think that the nine game stretch took its toll physically, emotionally, mentally. You get wore down, especially when you're younger, and I think that break came at a great time for us and allowed us to get ourselves physically and all those things, rested, and to kind of get a chance to reset yourself a little bit, you know, and your mindset, and try to get our guys -- so it's a tribute to our coaching staff for doing a great job of getting their guys back, and just to take an example of a guy like Peyton Ramsey, he needed to just rest his arm and just to be able to have some time to not be on a normal routine of going back at it again after you play and then do it another day after day after day. So I think just that -- the time off is just a refresher, and I think we did a good job, it appears, of getting our guys to maximize that. A lot of it, too, is just getting good sleep and getting a chance, and sometimes guys don't take advantage of that. These guys are young and they play their video games until wee hours of the night, and we talk about that kind of stuff, and trying to get them to buy into that, and obviously they don't spend the night with us, so they're not going to be with us all the time, but getting them to understand how do you get yourself, even how you handle this week and having a little bit different schedule because of not having class.

But I do think that the time away gave us a chance to get our bodies back and get our guys ready to have a strong finish, and that's what the objective was, and so far they've responded, and it's really going to be critical that they finish the job.

Q. Coach, there's been a lot of noise about dirty hits and dirty plays and some criticism in the internet on some late hits, things like that. Do you care to comment on that, or is that -- are you just going to leave it be?
TOM ALLEN: Well, our kids play really, really hard, physical, and I know that Simon was called for a personal foul where he shoved the player in the back, and after watching it on film, he should have got the penalty. So we were penalized for that. It hurt us. It was a selfish penalty, and he and I talked about it, and we have an internal way of handling that, and he's dealing with that this week and holding him accountable. We're going to play hard to the whistle, and the whistle had blown and he made a mistake.

But our kids play really hard and really physical, and we don't apologize for that. Within the rules, that's how we're going to do it.

Q. Coach, obviously everything that's on the line has been talked about, but for what you're trying to do and the program you're trying to build, how important is it to get this win, to get to that bowl game, and to do it by beating Purdue along the way?
TOM ALLEN: It's big. You know, and I think that's pretty obvious. You get extended practice time with your time, you know, for a bowl game, and that's huge for a young team, especially, and you go through and see -- we've stated pretty clearly the youth that we have and how many guys are freshmen and sophomores that are on our team right now, and so that gives you an extra -- almost a whole extra spring in some ways of technique work and development. So that's huge. And then just in recruiting it's a big deal, you know, beating your rival.

So you get it all wrapped up into one. So it makes for a pretty exciting opportunity and atmosphere and a chance to be able to accomplish things that you want to accomplish as we build this program. We want to be in a position where we're climbing and growing every single year, and then that's the objective is we build and keep recruiting and putting class upon class upon class, it's going to be critical. To me and our staff understands this, it's always the No. 1 focus as a staff is about recruiting because we're all a lot better coaches when we have better players. That's the truth. You know, the schemes work a lot different when you've got different kind of guys around it. So it's about getting the right kind of guys here that fit what we're looking for, that want to be excellent young men in the classroom, want to do the right things on and off the field, and love to work and love football.

I think as we have our staff here and intact here for going on our second full season, just trying to continue to build off of that, and really love the group of guys that we have here now, and got to continue to build that. That's this kind of a game and what's at stake creates more opportunities for that to help us, and that's what we're trying to do.

To me, it's a big game regardless, if you take any of that staff out of the mix, but it becomes intensified and even more important when you look at the ramifications for being a bowl.

Q. Was it obvious to you that Jacob Robinson, one of the main reasons for him coming back this year was this bucket game, and what difference have you seen with the team with him actually being able to play and not just a presence on the sideline?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think that he's an in-state young man. This game means the world to him, you know, and especially when he's one of those guys you talk about that had a chance to win his first two years here and then lose it last year, and being a young man that played at Westfield High School, and just cares about our university. It's his home state and there's a lot of pride, and yeah, he's one of our guys, and having him out there on the field and not just being a cheerleader, now he's playing and getting him back was huge, and he wanted to fight to come back. He's worked extremely hard to come back, and he's invested a lot in this program, and he's one of our leaders, you know, and one of the guys that I rely on to talk to and get a pulse of our team, and his care factor is really, really high. He's an awesome young man. He's going to be very, very successful in his life. It means a lot to him, as it does to me, and the older guys on our team and our younger guys obviously learning and understand it, as well.

You need guys like that to be able to allow you to prepare at the right level to play in this kind of a game.

Q. Obviously got a lot of young guys from out of state. Probably the first Thanksgiving they won't be at home because of the distance, they can't go home. What do you do to make sure they're not -- it's probably tough on them not being able to see their family. What do you have planned for Thanksgiving to keep the family-type atmosphere?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, we really work hard at that, and so the plan that we have is we have every single position coach works with his guys, and so we have every single player is in somebody's home. And so whether it's at a coach's home, whether it's at our home, whether it's one of their teammate's homes, and all the guys that are outside by a two-and-a-half-hour radius, they're going to be with someone else's family, and we make sure of that.

We started working on this a week and a half ago to where we had it finalized a week ago, to where we knew exactly where every single player is going to be, that they all have a home-cooked meal to be there and to get that family feel that we want.

I've been places where you bring the whole group together and have a meal with the whole group on Thanksgiving Day, but I think it's more personal when you get them in homes, and I want our players to be able to -- and some families come here, and they do, they have a meal with them here in Bloomington and then stay for the game since it's here at home.

We just want to make sure we do a great job of that, and our coaches have -- we did it last year this way, and we're going to do it again this year, and it works really well.

Q. Offensively what challenges does Purdue present to your defense with David Blough, Rondale Moore and DJ Knox in the running game?
TOM ALLEN: Well, their offense, their skill is really impressive. You know, the speed at receiver and the play-making ability of those guys, and they have a really good scheme and the quarterback David Blough is just a really good player. He's played at a high level this season, and he's a guy I respect. He handles himself in a first-class way, and he's a strong man of faith, and just a guy that I just think is a player that has been there and you respect him. He's overcome an injury, and he's allowed them and kind of caused them -- quarterbacks are just such a huge part of everybody's offense, and his play has elevated them. Two talented running backs that run hard and are tough to tackle; big, strong, physical offensive line; two big ol' tight ends, too, that I think are really talented. So complete offense, and they've scored points against about everybody and have done a great job.

I just think just like any team you play you have to take away the things they do really well, and that's tough to do because they have so many weapons. They can stress you a lot of different ways. But we have to play our very best, and takeaways are going to be huge.

I just think you talk about possessions, stealing those possessions and being able to -- only got one last week. It was a big one, but we got one, and we need to get more to be able to continue to play great red zone defense and force teams to kick field goals, but just to be able to tackle really, really well and fly to the football, just live out our core values of our defense, which is takeaways, tackling and effort, and that's going to be a big, big deal for us to emphasize, once again, against the Boilermakers.

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