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INDIANA UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 1, 2019
TOM ALLEN: Once we get those guys on campus to really do a tremendous job of getting them strong, and that's been a huge focus, a challenge. I specifically singled those guys out to both our staff, our strength staff and to the team itself, offensive and defensive line to really have a great summer, to be able to put on good weight, to get stronger. We had goals for every one of those guys over the summer, and to keep them on track from a technical perspective, things they're going to work on fundamentally. Those carry into fall camp.
It's going to continue to be a focal point in terms of getting proper reps. One thing we're doing a little bit, modifying our schedule itself in regards to practice time and reps to create more depth. Going to have some more rep opportunities for our threes, and even sometimes fours, and so just trying to get guys on the field, as much technical -- we expanded our individual periods, which I think will help us get more technique work together to get these young guys brought along faster, and then just got to go play football.
So to me, extending our team periods probably five minutes each to get more reps with those younger guys. Just have a plan in place because we know how critical that is on both sides of the ball, and it's going to be a big key for our success.
Q. In Chicago you mentioned Da'Shaun Brown and Antoine Whitner (indiscernible)?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, Da'Shaun Brown is here and is fully cleared and he's ready to roll, and still in the final few days here hopefully we'll work with Antoine Whitner, so he should be here shortly. Very promising on both ends, but yeah, Da'Shaun is already totally cleared.
Q. Quarterback-wise, you talked about defensive line reps, how do you expand that to the quarterbacks?
TOM ALLEN: Well, we'll go -- like you said, so you kind of look at your whole -- your depth at each position, and that was a big part of our discussions as we met as a staff during the last few weeks to get those reps set up, and every period is going to be a little bit different. But yeah, you're going to have at least ones, twos and threes going, and you'll have different guys taking reps with the different groups, and we'll just inter-mix those guys and give them a chance to be a little -- obviously it's a little different when you're working with those different groups. But I think that all three will be rotated within those groups, as well. Initially for sure, and then as every day passes and weeks pass, you'll get more and more zeroed in on kind of how you see it playing itself out.
But it's very important. We do special situations to be able to get those guys in those opportunities where it's two-minute periods or full team or whether we're doing live goes -- the quarterbacks will never be full-bore live in regards to being tackled during fall camp, but there will be different tempos we'll use for our teams, and it's important, and even blitz periods, being able to get to feel the pressure, be able to make the checks and adjustments, whether it's a physical verbal adjustment or it's a sight adjustment with the routes. Those are all important parts of the process of getting our quarterbacks ready.
Q. Similar question about the secondary, just a lot of bodies there. How do you make sure that everybody gets the work they need to so you're sharp?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, there's no question. It's a great problem to have. Like I say, we're even going to talk about it tonight in our team meeting about how our practices are going to be set up to get more guys looks. The secondary is another example of that, linebackers another example of that, even having to talk about having the fourth group at times come in and get some work. So there's a definite plan in place to be able to see those guys, but the key is when they get their shot, they've got to make the most of it, and then those scrimmages are going to be big, which those will be down the road here. But just being able to, from a practice structure perspective, we have got to get those guys reps.
And it's -- we're not going to be doing scout teams yet. That's still weeks away. So to be able to get those guys against each other, you really have to do a great job of being very organized as a staff and every rep is going to matter, and those guys know that, and I just think that it's just a result of having quality guys and quality depth, and that's part of it. So that's a good problem to have, but we definitely have to have made some adjustments.
Q. Coach, you mentioned that the quarterback competition that Peyton was the guy that the other two had to beat out.
TOM ALLEN: Well, first of all, yeah, he's a returning starter, and I think there's a lot of merit in that, and he's earned it. And I think there's a level of -- when you put yourself in that position like he has in the past and he earned a chance to be a starter two years ago and did it last year, as well. So to me, reward him for that.
But at the same time, like I said, I've mentioned it with other positions and I've told Stevie Scott the same thing, and the same thing with our linebackers and safeties and corners and receivers and offensive line. It's not just quarterback. That's the one that usually gets talked about, but those other guys have the opportunity, and we'll have the opportunity to compete for the position and beat him out.
Like when you just say who's going to go in with the ones the first time, it's going to be Peyton because he's the returning starter at that position, and I think he's earned the right to have that spot.
Q. You talked about making that determination of who starts at quarterback. The guy who could lead this team, what does that specifically look like to you?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, that's a great question, and it gets asked a lot, and it's worthy of that, and I think that you just go through as a coach and some of it's just your gut feel in terms of how you believe that that guy can take your team down the field, and there's an execution piece to that, to be able to distribute the football in both the run game and the pass game effectively. It's ability to move those chains.
But I think at the end of the day, what it really comes down to, and we're going to go through and we'll have stats and we'll have percentages on completion and 1st down effectiveness, 3rd down effectiveness, all those things that go into creating an effective offense. But at the end of the day, it has to be, when it's a minute 20 to go in the game and we've got the ball, who do our guys believe is going to take us down the field and go score and go win the game, to where we have the mindset as coaches and our team feels that as long as there's time on that clock, if that guy is in the huddle leading our offense that we've got a chance to win.
To me that's called winning your team. Winning your teammates, who they believe in. It's not just liking the guy, it's not a popularity contest, because they're all three awesome guys, and it's who do they believe and who do we believe and who believes in themselves enough to take this team down the field and go win the game.
At the end of the day you're judged on the scoreboard as a coach and as a player. That's how we get judged professionally, and it's how we get judged in performance. That's a big part of it.
To me that's what that position -- I think, and we would all agree, that teams usually go as far as the talent of their quarterback and the play of their quarterback, and that's protecting the football. That's part of it, too. That's about being able to do a really, really good job of understanding the offense and understanding the various things that can happen and make adjustments, whether it's verbal adjustments and things you do with the receivers and there's run game reads and being able to do a great job of commanding that room and having that leadership piece and just exuding that confidence in the guys around you. And that position to me, as I say about linebackers, it demands production. It demands leadership. And those two key components don't change.
You know, so it's just another opportunity this year. We had a conversation a year ago about this position coming in, and here we are again with an opportunity to do that, and I think competition makes everybody better. And it's human nature for that to be the case.
I love the opportunity we have. I love the number of guys in that room that worked extremely hard, and you can say that for a lot of positions. So we're going to have a very, very competitive fall camp that's going to -- as we always say, iron sharpens iron, so we're going to sharpen each other each and every day and make each other better and get the product we want.
Q. I guess along that line, too, how much if at all do you maybe lean on guys like -- more experienced guys in the offense in terms of getting feedback from them on just what they feel like works at that quarterback position?
TOM ALLEN: There's no question. I don't think it's a sit there and have a direct, hey, who do you think our quarterback should be, but you can tell. As you talk to them, I think, yeah, that's part of winning the team component, and those guys believing. Even last night in the initial team meeting, you kind of get the initial things you want some thoughts going on in their head, and I challenged them about your mindset, that drive, your expectations and your beliefs. To me, okay, what's the mindset of that quarterback and his -- the way he plays, the way he practices, the way he exudes that confidence to the guys around. Does he make the people around him better. And those guys will know that. They'll feel that as players on the team and players on offense, and in talking to the defense, say, hey, who do you -- what do you think about those different guys and how they throw the football and how they look things off and just -- it's a whole big picture product, and I obviously have a perspective from a defensive angle sometimes, and that's how I look at it, so we just try to go through, and I think, yeah, it's a very holistic approach to try and find -- I think it's going to be highly, highly competitive, I really do. I think there's a lot of good things there, and I'm anxious to see how it all plays out.
Q. In Chicago you said one of the things you need this year is the quarterback to elevate the team. Do you have to have that conversation with Peyton, if you're going to keep this job...
TOM ALLEN: I think it's a matter of meeting with all three guys individually and just talking them through, and that's one thing I want to do a good job of as the head coach is to really work them through this process and to help them know what we need to see, and it's probably going to be more of a, hey, this is what I expect from this position. Obviously there's different applications each guy will receive that with in terms of how he -- the things he knows he wants to do, and he's obviously been here long enough and I know him well enough to have those open and honest conversations. But yeah, the bottom line is that's what I want and expect from that position is to elevate the level of play. In order for us to take the next step we want to take as a program and as an offense, and that's a big part of what we have, and that's really to me -- we're talking about it here almost the whole time, and if you go to everybody's fall camp and the NFL and every level, that person that plays that position is really the key element to your team. So that's why it's such a big deal.
Q. You oftentimes have heard the football adage, when you have two or three quarterbacks you don't have any, but it seems like you have confidence in all three of those guys to be able to play well.
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think sometimes that often is said when you have guys that you're trying to play them all in a game, and I think that's where it gets a little bit difficult when people try to -- and I think that's probably the case in terms of reps to a certain degree. So that definitely has to be something that we focus in on here as we move into fall camp.
But to me, I've clearly stated that we're going to have one quarterback that's going to be leading our team, and that's where you say, the process to get to that one guy, I think that's what we're going through right now, and that's where we're evaluating.
But that's why I say that we've got several guys at every position that are competing to play. That doesn't mean we don't have good players there that are going to have an issue because you've got multiple guys. I mean, I'm excited for having multiple guys, and so I've definitely been here enough times in situations where we didn't have a lot of guys, and I was very concerned at this point in the season.
So I just think that that's why you recruit, and that's why you scour the country to find guys to come here and help us be a better football team.
So to me, it's a matter of going through this process right now, and we'll take these next couple weeks and figure it out, and then once we make that decision, that guy will be the person. But I will say, we've all seen things happen, seasons are long, a lot of things go through this, so guys got to be ready to go. No matter how it plays out for week one, you know you've got to be able to be ready when called upon.
Q. Coach, it seemed like you guys kind of got your O-line set, the starting five. How much are you watching to see that depth develop and who kind of steps up behind those five?
TOM ALLEN: There's no question. As we mentioned, it's one of my key concerns slash areas of emphasis. So yeah, you really want seven or eight guys you feel are really good. Perfect scenario is you've got 10, you've got a number two behind everyone that's the next guy in. It doesn't always work like that. We always say we're going to play our best five. So you kind of shuffle the deck sometimes when that happens.
So that's the process of going through and creating depth at center, depth at guard. We kind of look at it as the inside guys, outside guys and tackle bodies and guys that can play in the interior from more of a mass perspective. That to me is going to be a big part of it, and you'll see different combinations of groups in there, not necessarily because of injuries but just because we're trying to get more guys ready, because we know that a guy like Matt Bedford, even though he's a true freshman, was here in the spring, so he has a different level of rep base and experience than a guy like Tim Weaver who just got here doesn't have.
But at the same time we've got to get these guys ready, and we've got some redshirt freshmen that have had a whole off-season to really develop and a full spring under their belt now, and so those guys need to rise up. Really going to emphasize getting those guys lots of reps during fall camp here. We kind of know what Coy can do, we know what Simon can do and Hunter Littlejohn, as well. I just think those three guys have really kind of established themselves as guys that are anchors there on that O-line, which is exciting and a good thing, but got to bring those other guys along.
Q. You talked about the physical conditioning; do they look different?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, we go through and Dave is going to do a little presentation tonight to our whole team and just show where we came from, and it's been really neat to see. I don't want to get too specific, but to be able to see us as a group -- especially we had so many young guys last year that played and just to kind of -- if you kind of have a visual, I just kind of see a group of guys on there and you have their weight and then you have their strength numbers and everything just kind of shifted up. Everybody kind of -- we have a whole group of guys now, we had a lot of guys -- we haven't really changed, there's not as many high-end guys. That's similar to what we've had. But the whole middle group here has just all shifted up. They're all stronger, they're more explosive, and I feel great about their condition right now.
I know our strength staff does an excellent job, and I actually was -- I think other than maybe being at the Big Ten media days, we gave our guys the 4th of July day and that weekend off. Other than that, they were here all June and July, and I was at every workout. And so like I said, except for the couple of days we were at Big Ten media days.
I've watched them. I've been in there. That was by design. I wanted to be around our team as much as possible, and I love being around them and just watching them work, seeing them move and seeing these young guys get developed and watching our guys train together.
Definitely a more powerful, more explosive team with better speed and more confidence, which that's an outgrowth of -- I think that's where you get your confidence, I really do. I think that's one of the biggest benefits of having a great strength staff that the players believe in, and they really believe that those guys are going to make them more explosive players, and that's a key term for us, that power. We've really gone away from the one-rep max mentality, we've gone away from thinking about 40 times. It's miles per hour and speed and different ways, whether it's 10 yards, 20 yards, 30 yards, different segments of that, and then their power numbers, which to me that's football. And then we can always talk about how does it transfer from the weight room to the field.
And that's what I think our guys do as good as anybody in the country. And that's created a different -- a lot of emphasis on single-leg things, to create the change of direction, the explosive power in the game of football, finishing tackles, finishing blocks and finishing runs and all those things.
So that to me is what I see, and so yeah, just a bigger, stronger -- we're physically -- we're heavier. We went through all positions, O-line, D-line was really big emphasis for that. We've got more mass to us than we had a year ago on both sides of the ball, and that's important. And it's still a process. We've got a lot of young players. You go through and you look at our two -- our junior and senior class are not very big, so you have a big chunk of our guys that are in the freshman and sophomore, whether it's redshirt sophomore, sophomore, redshirt freshman and freshman is a majority of our team. But that's just the way it is, and that's the two classes we've recruited as a staff here since I've been the head coach.
Been excited about the mixture of the upperclassmen and the younger guys in the weight room.
Q. How excited are you for Kane to have this opportunity and what did you see in his growth to kind of take over as defensive coordinator?
TOM ALLEN: You know, it's kind of been a long time in the making. We worked together at Ole Miss, and worked with his dad and really developed a strong friendship and a trust with each other on and off the field, and the way that he lives his life and the kind of focus he has and the things that matter to him and the things that are important to him, and his family, and known his wife for many, many years. And so the opportunity to get him here last year I thought was really important that we spent time together before he started calling it. I just think that I have my own personality on things that we do defensively that was different from the way we might have done it when we worked together at Ole Miss. And so he went off and became a coordinator at Eastern Illinois. He literally left us as a GA and went straight to become a coordinator, which does not happen very often, and then he was the youngest Division I coordinator in the country at South Alabama playing in the Sun Belt, which is the conference that I coached in at Arkansas State before we went to Ole Miss. There's a lot of really good players in that league and good coaches in that league, and it's really good football.
To be able to move to that position and as we've talked about in the past, his ability to change that culture there in both places, Eastern Illinois and South Alabama defensively and create a standard on that side of the ball, and we just talked so much. Like I said, he was the person that I would bounce ideas off of and it was back and forth both ways and ways that we were doing things. We were kind of aligned, but still, you haven't worked together with me calling it and him as an assistant, so last year I thought was a great year to work together and to really kind of create -- for him to get a feel for how I wanted things done.
There's some things that we do that he really liked that we had changed and adjusted and adapted over the last few years before I got here. And he brought some things that are a little bit unique and different that we hadn't been doing. And I gave him the authority to be able to make some of those adjustments. And I intentionally -- when we got into spring football, I did not sit in on any of the defensive staff meetings, okay, as they were planning and organizing. I felt there was a couple -- two reasons for that. Number one, I wanted to be with the offense and be with Kalen and our offensive staff and just to listen in and hear everything to help me get a good feel for his teaching style and coaching style and the way we'd be doing things on that side of the ball, and then I wanted the defensive coaches to look to Kane, not look to me if there was a question because when you go through and you get ready for spring ball, you're always hashing through things, and we're going to make this adjustment that adjustment, and sometimes you've got to work through it, and I didn't want them to look to me. They needed to look to him and let him answer their questions and let him solve the technique discussions and all the things that happen behind closed doors, and sometimes you go through, hey, I like doing it this way and this way and this is why, and sometimes you have good healthy exchanges, but I didn't want to be a part of those.
And then what I would do is I would debrief with him and he would keep me up to speed on what we were doing, and once I kind of felt like he had established himself as the new leader of the defense, then I'd come back in there and sit in, and I've sat in quite a bit since that time.
But I just feel like that that was necessary in the process of helping him, because it's always -- when you come in brand new it's one thing, but when you come in -- I've done both where you're an assistant you get elevated or you become a guy that's coming in brand new, and I just think when you're an assistant that gets elevated there's a transition time for them to look to you in a new role being the leader of the defense, and even with the players and all the things, so I just kind of let him take it and put his stamp on it.
That to me is why -- it's created confidence for a lot of different areas, and I trust him, and I believe in him, and I think that he's going to do a great job.
Q. Nick is a guy you brought to Big Ten media day and he's not always had the career he probably wanted, but (indiscernible) average football players, but how do you think that's contributed to making him the person he is today, and how important is he in that offense as a leader as a fifth-year player?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, first of all, I think that -- and we've done a big study on the word "grit." That's our one word for 2019, and the timing of it is probably perfect, where we are as a program and everything, what we've been fighting to do. One big component of grit is you have to overcome adversity. You have to learn to fight through tough times. And so we look for that in recruits; what's that look like. Whether it's a home situation or an injury or whatever happens, and if you don't have those, it's hard to learn the same lessons in life, and we all have experienced it, that tough times cause us to really dig deep, reflect, decide what really matters to us, and we've got to really push through.
When you tear your ACL, the process of recovery from an ACL injury is a long, difficult process. I've often seen guys get broken by it or they come back better than they ever were before. So I just think that as a fifth-year guy, he's been around here a long time. He's seen a lot of things. He's been some highs, been some disappointments, been some frustrations. You work your tail off all year long and then the opening play of the first game of the season you get hurt, and then you're out for a whole year. And I think those are hard things.
But to see how he responded to that, it's a powerful thing. It is. And that's how -- and I believe that grit can be developed. Yeah, there's certain qualities that people have that are more inclined to be that way, but I think that's what he's experienced, and the perseverance, and just having the -- just noticing him as a senior, and we have several seniors that are this same way, that they've been here enough, they've been so close, they've been right there on that verge that they're like, I'm going to make sure it changes on my watch, that this is my last chance to be a part of this program, and I'm going to make sure that it's right. Am I going to sit back -- and I made a really strong push this spring with our leadership guys, and I was definitely targeting Nick in this because he's an awesome individual but he's a little quiet, and we've had some really good players here recently that are great young men and they're good players, but they were too quiet. We need -- and I made this statement, that leading by example is not leadership. It does not get the job done.
I said, how would you guys feel if I never spoke and I tried to lead this football team? How would that work? Well, it wouldn't; it's obvious. You have to speak to lead.
Okay, now, I told them, leading by example is just doing your job. And when I made that statement, several of those guys are like, Coach, I never thought of it like that before, and I even used some examples of previous players, man, I loved these guys and they did all these great things, but they never talked and they didn't want to confront, they didn't want to say anything to their teammates. So -- when things weren't the way they needed to be. And then you have regrets about, I get to the end of the year and we were right there again.
So I just feel like he's one of those guys that he's like, Coach -- that resonated with him. He kind of got it.
So he's been way more verbal, and he's -- I don't think -- he'd probably rather not be. I think he would rather just be a little more quiet, do my thing and be great over here, and he works his tail off and he's poised and positioned to have a great season and that's what we expect, but I think he's been challenged to bring guys with him, and that's a big part, not just take care of me but also lead, not just by example. That's great, that's awesome, but that's just doing your job. If you're going to truly be a leader on this football team, you have got to step up. You've got to confront your teammates, you've got to encourage your teammates, you've got to be in such great shape that when we're busting our tail, I've got to be able to communicate when I am fatigued and tired, which is what happens in a football game.
So that's easy to say until you're out there busting your tail and you can't even hardly breathe. How are you supposed to talk? So that's about being in phenomenal shape when you get to that point, then you can communicate when you're fatigued because you're in great shape so you're not just taking care of yourself, you're also encouraging, challenging, bringing guys along with you, and whatever they might need, they might need a butt chewing, they might need encouragement, they might need a hug, they might need a kick in the tail. Whatever they need, we need seniors to own that, and that to me kind of defines what he's become and it's got to continue. I want to see it through fall camp, and I want him to be able to keep growing because I think he's a guy that has the physical talent to be a special, special player. He's long, he can run, and I want to see him just go attack that football and attack the leadership piece in the locker room, on the field, after practice, before practice, all the little things we're going to do.
So that to me is what I see from Nick, and that's how I've challenged him and that's how we talked behind the scenes, and he's responded. That's where I just feel like I've seen that more and more out of this group than I have any groups we've had since, and I think there's a lot of reasons for it. But I just think that I'm really excited about the next step for him as he takes on a leadership role.
Q. You've been a head coach for a few years; have you gotten to more of a comfort level with regards to when to defer to coordinators and when to step in? Is that role more comfortable for you now?
TOM ALLEN: It is, there's no question. And I think, once again, it kind of goes back to what I said earlier. When you come in new, it feels a certain way. When you're promoted within the staff, it feels a little different. And so I think it takes -- it's taken time, especially as I transitioned even this past off-season from being the coordinator to being just a head coach and not calling the defense. So that also has created more of a comfort level, to be able to move in and out of areas and be able to just truly be in that role and not try to be over here doing this with the defense.
So I just think that this is year three going into being the head coach, year four being here, knowing the program and the people here, so definitely a comfort level. Going to Big Ten media day felt different this year, felt better. I was so nervous the first year. I don't think I ever had a chance to really enjoy it. But then year two was better and then this past year was the best one yet. I felt the most comfortable, and I just think that's what time does.
But I want to do a great job of leading this football team and being able to exert and just pray for wisdom to know when to say what, when to step in to a meeting, when do you have the wisdom to not, when you allow a coordinator to handle a situation or when should you step in and exert yourself, whether it's with a player or a coach or whatever. That's just experience and time, and I want to be doing a great job of that and be a great leader.
Q. You talked about Kalen and obviously his leadership style. Kalen, what about him as a leader, how would you describe --
TOM ALLEN: Well, first of all, I think there's a lot of confidence that he brings with him. It's kind of a quiet confidence that I kind of have observed. He understands exactly what he wants, and there's a phrase that I was given years ago by a coach I highly respect and worked with, and it says, "Conviction driven leadership is based off a vision of perfection." When you know when it's supposed to look like, you lead with confidence, and I feel like that's how I approach defensively, and that's the way I wanted to lead defensively, and when things weren't right -- just talking about a player with Nick, you've got the courage and confidence to step up and verbally say something. It's no different as a coach. So that's how -- I've sat in all the meetings, I watch them practice. There's just a tremendous confidence, and he understands all the positions, and I believe he could coach them all. He could coach the O-line, he could coach receivers, he could coach running backs, he could coach quarterbacks, which he does, tight ends. And there's -- that's what you need. Not every coordinator leads that way. Sometimes it's a little more of a everybody kind of does their thing. He doesn't tell them -- I don't think he micromanages in any way, but I'm just saying he has that confidence to know this is exactly what I'm looking for, and when you talk as coaches and there's different techniques and different ways of doing things, but I've seen him do a great job of meshing the things that we've done here because we've done some good things on offense in the past. We've just got to get better.
So to be able to address those areas you need to focus on, and I did, I specifically said, hey, come in here and put in your offense. I just wanted him to be able to teach everybody, and he came in here as I did and did not have any assistance. I told our -- sometimes when you hire coaches and you hire coordinators they like bringing in their guys, and I'm just like, you know what, these are my guys. These are our guys. So these are the coaches that coach here, and I believe in them, and I'm not replacing any of them because I believe in them.
So I just appreciate he came in here and he already knew a couple of them but not that well, a couple better than some others, but some guys he didn't know at all. But to come in here, that takes some humility. It also takes confidence to be able to do that, and I think that's what I see from him, and I think it exudes to our players, just a creative mind, a guy that knows he kind of can see what he wants to build and the whole big -- it's just got the big picture view of it but also has the confidence to teach the techniques and say, hey, is this the best way to do it, and then be able to have those conversations with coaches. And at the end of the day get it the way you want it, and that's what I always tell them. Hey, you get what you want; you tell me what you need and I'm going to support you in that way. So I like that about him.
And I think that we just want him to be himself, and he's a very cerebral guy and has a really good mind. He's very smart, and that's what you have to have. You've got to manage a lot of things. So I just think that -- but the thing that kind of sticks out to me is just that quiet confidence of this is what I want, this is what I see, this is how it's supposed to look, and we're not going to settle for anything less. So it's been a very comprehensive and very involved off-season. We've done more player practices, more install, more things we've done on that side of the ball since I've been here, and I think we'll reap the benefits of that here in fall camp.
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