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September 2, 2019

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

TOM ALLEN: Good afternoon. Just want to start by saying, really happy for our guys. They worked really hard. Didn't play a perfect game. Made a lot of mistakes but did a lot of good things, as well. A lot of buildup leading up to the game,.

I know even on just special teams we played 12 guys that never played in a college game before. Had I think eight guys for their first starts combined on offense and defense. Just opportunity to have two new coordinators, new quarterback and some new things. To be able to be in a new setting on the road and being able to do some positive things.

I think that come away with a win, I said it to our team after the game and again this morning, you know, you look across the country and it's tough to win. You know, you'd better show up every single week when you play at this level and everybody works really hard.

Coach Neu and their team at Ball State, a ton of respect for him and the job he's done. I knew they would be prepared. I knew they would play extremely hard. They were physical, well-coached and well prepared and Joe Lynch, offensive coordinator, I met him afterwards and told him he called a great game and I thought they had their guys ready. Hats off to them. I wish them nothing but the best the rest of the way.

Just feel like that we -- both sides of the football did some good things. Tackling, after watching the film, was just as bad on film as it was live. So disappointed in that, but that will be fixed. We had 25 missed tackles. We were very aggressive on identifying those, for 181 yards, we felt like they lost -- they were after contact that we gave up when we should have got a guy on the ground. That's significant and something that I take personally.

But at the same time, the run fits were actually really good for the most part. A year ago at this time, I was really concerned about those run fits, and that was not the case in the game. I thought we played really hard. We just can't wrap up and we didn't run our feet. Fundamental things we've got to improve on and we will and that's something we are definitely going to address.

Then didn't run the ball overall as much as we wanted to, or as well as we wanted to. 160 yards, but that's with everybody. Michael ran the ball well. Just thought in the box -- now they did, they loaded us up a lot and they had an extra guy most of the time and we have to do a better job adjusting to that. That's part of the process, too. We'll get better at that in terms of just taking what they give us.

But at the same time, I think Mike's first start, did a lot of good things. Learn to grow through those mistakes and you see the upside that he has and the potential to create plays and just the poise that he has and just sitting in the meetings today and listening to him talk through his reads and keys and all the different things and correcting those, the mistakes.

So just the first pick was really on him. He forced it in there. The second one was really a poorly run route and then he stumbled to make it worse, so that was really kind of not as much on him. So we've just got to -- that's part of it. That's part of being in that position. As I told him when he took the job or gave him the job. He'll get more of the credit than he deserves sometimes and he'll get more of the blame than he deserves sometimes; that's part of being the quarterback of a football team. That's part of the responsibility.

We also go through and identify players of the game that it a great job. Offensively Ronnie Walker and Peyton Hendershot were offensive players of the game. Thought Peyton just had four big catches. Boy, that one across the middle took a big lick, and just did some really good things and run blocking, as well, and just running his routes and two-point play and all that.

Then Ronnie is just solid, special teams, picking up his protections and couple of runs, but more than anything, just being a well-rounded, solid player. So those two guys stuck out to me and got recognized as such.

Reakwon Jones, defensive player of the game, 11 tackles, a tackle for loss. And just I thought his energy, leadership, communication, really encouraged me. This kid's worked so hard, man. I'm just so happy for him and proud of him and, it means a lot to him, it really does. And he's been here a long time and he understands what we're trying to do and the way we're trying to get it done.

Special teams. Logan Justus, pretty obvious decision there. Four field goals tied the school record, 48, 49, 50, all career best. Great job by the whole unit. We call them the "Trust Team" for a reason.

Sean Wracher, true freshman, in his first college start, first college game. As I mentioned at the press conference, we didn't talk about him which is a good thing. Really proud of him and the job he did.

Because of that, Logan was actually named the Big Ten special teams Player of the Week, as well, and Michael Penix was named the freshman of the week for Big Ten. So two national awards from the conference. Proud of those guys, but those are team awards, because everybody around them put them in a position to be able to get those and I know those guys would say the same thing.

From a scout perspective and our preparation, Will Johnson is offensive scout of the week. He's a quarterback. Did a good job preparing us. Very good athlete, live arm, a guy that just joined us this year and excited about the look he can give us each week.

Defensive scout. Jeremy Passmore (ph) was listed, as well as Sam Slesher (ph), so those two guys were our defensive scouts of the week. And then scout teams, specialists, we recognize those guys, as well. Give us a great look. Do a lot of running and give us a lot of looks. Jordan Josevic (ph) and Christian Harris. Guys just working hard every day and helping this team get better.

Also mentioned Sean Wracher as a freshman. We also started David Ellis, played in his first game as a freshman. Sampson James, Tiawan Mullen and D.K. Bonhomme, true freshmen played and had other guys on stand by ready to go. We'll see how that plays out.

But just overall, solid performance. Important to get the win. Much to get cleaned up. Much to improve off of and really want to really do a great job as a staff today with our guys and really do a great job of being very, you know, good critiques of what we're doing and understand that you build off the positive, you correct the negatives and you get better and there's a lot of improvement from week one to week two, and we always hear that and it is true and always needs to happen.

That, to me, is the focus for this coming week, which brings me to Eastern Illinois. We'll have our home opener which is exciting for me. I love playing at home and I know our players do, too, and we'll have the Holiday Bowl Reunion, 40 years with that crew, and being such a special group for Coach and what he accomplished and being able to be our first Bowl win here at Indiana. A lot of guys got to meet him and a ton of respect for the traditions and what they started and take so much pride in coming back to be together.

Looking forward to having those guys and seeing them again and want to see our alumni back on campus. Get them down on the field and give them passes for that and just try to get the guys involved and make them know and understand that we are a big family here and we want them to be here. They are welcome here, come to practice and be a part of this and help us build this thing, day-by-day, step-by-step.

So ready to move on to Eastern Illinois. Questions.

Q. Sorry this might be asking in sort of a loaded way. Through at least one week, do you feel like justification is probably not the right word but that kind of explosiveness from Michael, both through the air and on the ground, is kind of indicative of what you meant when you said you think that's what he can be and what he can bring?
TOM ALLEN: There's no question. To me, I think the country got to see what I saw in practice and what I talked about when I said it wasn't so much about what Peyton didn't do but it was about what I thought Mike could become. I think that was on display.

Still, he's got more room to keep growing and learning, but I think he has that ability with his legs to extend plays and make you account for him, in both the run game, as well as in the pass game and how you pressure him and how many you drop into coverage.

And so I think that's a big deal. I think we have been defended a certain way with what we want to do, and a guy that can do both makes it difficult to be able to account for that.

Yeah, there's no question. And also, I just think the poise that he displays. Even though you don't want the picks, you just know -- you know they are going to eventually come and it was just great to see him respond the right way and flush it and have that kind of approach. That's part of being in that role. He throws a big 75-yard touchdown and then turns around and throws that first pick. I just think that's part of the growth process that he'll go through and I'm looking forward to going through it with him.

Q. First game for Kalen and Kane. Can you talk about how you felt about their game planning for the week and how their game day execution went?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, it's a great question, you go through and you look at the whole property penetration process. It's not just game day. It's everything leading up to it. I'm very involved in all those meetings and really feel very comfortable with what I knew we were planning to do.

I thought Kalen did a really, really good job of utilizing the clock right before halftime and manufacturing that drive to get us in field goal range to get points, which were huge in that point in the game.

And just the things that we worked on in walk throughs and the things that we drilled to manage that clock and to teach a new quarterback how to do that, exactly the things we did the day before even happened and came through and happened during the game.

Then the end of the game, as well. That last field goal was huge. It changes everything. I was just watching games, even Saturday night, and some similar things happened, and games can flip in a hurry in the last five minutes or six minutes of a game, and you get that second score that allows you to go up by two scores, make it a so a point game and then they get the ball back with two minutes to go and now it changes everything. Now they got to score twice and it changes their play calls and then we get interception and the game is over.

So I just thought his management of that was good, and just to be able to take advantage. They did some things different than we expected to do, which is what you think will happen. You just don't know what those are going to be.

And the communication on headsets, and I go from both, back and forth, whoever is on field, and working with those guys and just listening to their -- just very calm. They are both just very calm. They have a plan. They believe in it. Things don't always go the way you want it to and don't get frustrated.

We have a systematic way of communicating, going for fourth downs and just different things you want to do with special teams and having Coach Inge involved. He did a great job with his area of responsibility and the way they performed. Outside of the two kickoffs that were out of bounds, I thought our special teams play was excellent.

But with Kalen and Kane, I just think that they did a good job in-game adjusting. When we go through and there's no doubt, you know, people always say, you don't of want to -- you never want to coach the position that the head coach needs to coach, and it's always tough to be the coordinator for the side of the ball that the head coach is most familiar with.

So I'm probably going to be harder on Kane, you know, but he and I know each other well and so if I don't like something, then might get an earful from me. That's just kind of part of it. We sometimes laugh about it after the fact.

But at the same time, he's got to be who he is, but I thought they both did a good job. You know, had a good plan and like you said, we didn't execute it as times as well on either side perfectly, but I think we knew what we wanted to do. I thought the adjustments at halftime were what they needed to be and I sat in on both of those. Then they go back and meet with their guys and go and finish.

That's one thing, we finish the half and we finish the game and that's very, very important. Very important part of growing as a team and playing winning football, and that at end of the day is what the objective is.

So thought those guys will learn, and we talked through some things about everything that communication wasn't always perfect. So we jot notes down and talk about it as a staff afterwards, and even have some of those conversations today. I felt like both guys had a good debut. We just have to keep getting better.

Q. First game for your at Indiana only acting as the head coach, were you able to divide up your time in a better way?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I felt definitely more comfortable. The bottom line is that the issue in the past has always been when the defense is off the field. S.

O being able to go over there and so that was -- it was better last year because cane was here and he handled a lot of those things. It was really challenging my first year because I would literally leave the sideline to go back there, and I did that a little bit some last year, too. But so just not having all that, I think it was a different feel.

I think just where I stand and position myself, I'm just working through that because you have to position yourself for time-outs because the head coach is the one that really calls those. But I also like to stand a certain place so I can see schematically certain things, so just working through that. I just felt way more comfortable for sure.

And even just understanding and being more aware of offensively what we're doing and having a pulse of that, it just feels a lot different because I've been in all the meetings, you know. So that really helps me a lot and helps me communicate better with Kalen.

I try not to -- I'm one of those that I know how important it is to concentrate, and to be able to think and make good decisions, so I don't want to be talking a lot to Kalen during the drive. You know, I give him -- the biggest thing I need to be able to let him know is if we're in four-down territory or not so he can call accordingly, and usually around second down, that's when you want to be able to get that information to him.

But other than that, I don't want to -- I don't like messing with him because I know -- I understand it as a coordinator, you've got your thoughts and I've seen that be negative in other situations where I've been a part of.

And then with Kane, kind of the same thing. I'm not trying to, hey, do this or I don't say that. I think that's not -- I don't think it's smart and I think it disrupts them, but in between, yes, we'll talk about things we need to do.

I just think that it was a good start and I felt like that we didn't have, you know, we didn't have a lot of -- other than the two ball penalties we addressed and I've addressed publically and we're addressing with him. Not a lot of penalties. I thought it was a pretty cleanly played game from time management and clock management and execution.

So I've seen a lot of these early games where there's a lot of that stuff, so I get it and substitutions we didn't have any of those issues. Special teams we worked really hard on that. That can be challenging when you start and still having guys get nicked up and they are out and the way we communicate with our training staff, so a lot of things there I thought seemed pretty smooth. I think it helps me being where I'm not just zeroed in on defense. It helps.

Q. Sorry, kind of a longer question, but talking about missed tackling, you mentioned during fall camp times when you wanted to roll back full hitting to lessen the physical load and maybe keep guys a little bit healthier. Felt like it was discussed around college football, some teams that had done that and the question of whether you almost had to -- a little bit of a trade-off the first couple weeks that tackling would not always be fully sharp. Is that something, I don't want to say you planned for but sort of in your mind you feel is a trade-off to say, we may not be as sharp as we need to be in tackling in week one or two, but the payoff is that we will be a lot healthier?
TOM ALLEN: Well, I think first of all, to answer your question, the payoff, yes, to stay healthy truly has to be worth it. Losing a guy, he can't make any plays for you if he's not out there. So the true challenge is how do you keep them healthy and also tackle enough to get ready to play the game and I do. I think it's a very difficult task. I think that's why the common theme across the country and maybe if it's worth keeping a guy healthy for the whole season, then yeah, it probably is worth it.

But we're going to keep finding creative ways to work on it, you know, and I actually thought, that's why -- and I said it after the game. I was -- I was disappointed because I -- you're always going to have some. But I thought we had too many, you know, and -- way too much. So that was the disappointing thing for me because you all know it's going to happen a little bit and because of all those variables you just mentioned. Once again, very fixable and I think that once you've got three hours of live tackling, you know, that you never get that the entire process.

So we'll keep doing what we're doing and we're going to stay the course with it I believe and the fundamentals in what we use and what we teach, that hasn't changed. And we actually did some things I thought to maybe it even better and that's why I thought they tackled better, and so we have to go back and make those adjustments.

But still, I think keeping guys healthy, once again, I mentioned it before, Coach Neu and I had that same conversation before the game and he's had the same discussions. We talk to NFL coaches and coaches we know, and even Dave Womack and I, very close, he was the game and even before -- worried about that tackle the first couple games. He was right.

But his experience had taught him that, as well. It's just something that you've just got to keep working on, keep addressing and I expect it to get better.

Q. 69 yards for Peyton at tight end. That's a lot more than we've seen from the tight end position. Do you think that might be the norm this year?
TOM ALLEN: I do, I really do. I think you watch Kalen's offense a year ago, that was consistent with that, and you know, even in recruiting, you know, guys that we're recruiting right now, we talk about that, and I think that -- you know, I've always been a big believer in the tight ends, and I just think they create so many issues for defenses and we've got so many weapons in both the running game and on the perimeter that both those guys can be very, very valuable at the heart of the defense, and the guys that have to play the run and the pass, especially.

Yes, I think that is the norm, and I know every game can be a little different, but I want to see us really do a great job at that position and want guys to come here knowing they are going to be able to get a chance to watch the football.

Q. What challenges does Eastern Illinois present, and how do you keep your team focused on this game without looking forward to Ohio State the next week?
TOM ALLEN: We just got done with our team out on the field and as I told them, as we finished, that the Eastern Illinois game is the most important game of the season. I said, "Why is that?"

And they responded in unison, "Because it's the next one."

That's been my constant theme with these guys, and that's what they have to understand. We have to get better no matter who we are playing next week.

Here is the thing. A team like this that has a ton of tradition -- being a Midwest guy, I know all the great quarterbacks they have had, and a lot of really great players and coaches have come through there and they have a next head coach coming from Northwestern, a program that does things the right way, physical, well-coached and well prepared.

They will come here and give us everything they got, and I fully understand the dynamics of it all and you just say, hey, we step out there and we play Indiana Football and that's our focus.

And so to me, there's no discussion whatsoever about anything else than this week, us getting better and us playing better on Saturday against Eastern Illinois than we did last week against Ball State.

Q. Scott got the majority of the carries in week one, the only true running back to get multiple carries. How do you plan on utilizing the running backs as you get into weeks two, three and four?
TOM ALLEN: That, to me, is a discussion we had as a staff and definitely would like to get more involved, and that's the plan moving forward.

Part of it, too, is just the comfort level with protections and that's a big part of playing running back. And what you're playing a team that's -- that you don't have a lot of information about, which is the case because you never know what they are going to do new when you don't have any games to go off of for this year, and they did do some new things and then this team that we are going to play is a team we haven't played before.

Got new coordinators and a whole new staff. Brand next head coach. Hasn't been a head coach before. New defensive system, not quite sure exactly. Got one game film, that's it, to go off. So those running backs got to learn how to protect their quarterback and do a good job being a complete back.

To me, step No. 1 is finding guys that can be complete running backs, and step No. 2 is doing a great job as a coaching staff and having a good flow with that position.

Q. Coming out of the Ball State game, any injuries or players you're watching throughout the week?
TOM ALLEN: We should -- we expect to get Reese Taylor back. He was out there today which was great. He was one that could have gone but we just want to make sure he's 100 percent healthy and so we expect to have him back.

Then Cam Jones had a lower leg injury that we are still evaluating. I don't know for sure what his status will be, but he'll be a guy that we'll have to decide later in the week. Other than that, came out pretty healthy.

Q. Haydon Whitehead had two punts -- you touched on Justus, but the value of having two guys that are experienced that you can count on in the kicking game?
TOM ALLEN: I think I might have said it before, but I really felt like that Haydon was going to have a really good season after the way, how hard he's worked. He's always been a tremendous worker, but everything just seemed to intensify this whole off-season, and he's punted the ball extremely well during the spring, summer and then fall camp. The pocket punts is what -- we're a move-the-pocket team. So we just try to change that launch point for the opposing teams, not know where it's going to come from.

But his comfort level in the pocket, he's very natural on the move, as many Australian punters are, but in the pocket, that's where he really -- that one -- such a great punt and the hang time and the distance and it just flipped the whole field.

I just think it's a tremendous weapon. I'm a big special teams guy. We spend a lot of times on special teams in practice, and probably as much as anybody in the country working on that because I know how important it is.

But the key to having great special teams, it all starts with great specialists. So having good kickers and punters and long snapper and all those things. Got to have that be a great special teams unit and that's a big part of our team.

Q. You've talked about the struggles with the run game, a lot of it, because Ball State was loading the box and offense taking what was available last week. What happens, even if teams keep loading the box, to try to get the running game going a little bit more?
TOM ALLEN: They will. To me it's about, from a schematic perspective and our guys will be able to do a great job of that, make them pay for doing that. That's a bottom line. As a defensive coach, when you do that, and you do put yourself in that position to say, hey, we're going to stop this part of the game then you're going to make yourself susceptible to something else.

To me, the key is making them pay for doing that. That's part of the quarterback's job, part of our coach's jobs and that's where we have to do a great job as a staff and as a team to be able to have good answers to that because that to me is going to be -- I kind of challenged him about this.

A year ago, you know, we go to these first couple games and I never heard his name mentioned by one opposing coach. And then going into this game, all the head coach talked about when he was talking about their defense, was talking about stopping Stevie Scott.

That's what happens when you have a good season and you're considered a guy that they have to take away. And so now he has to understand in that's the world he lives in now, and so we've got to do a great job of when he gets those opportunities, he's got to be patient and sometimes you're trying to create big plays all the time and he's going to stay up in there and take what they give us, run hard and protect the football and he did.

He did a lot of those good things, but so we've just got to -- it's not a simple answer for that. There's multiple things that have to happen but that's part of us taking the next step as an offense and being very multiple.

Q. What was your evaluation of the defensive line and where are you pleased or displeased with the pressure they were able to put on the quarterback?
TOM ALLEN: You know, we got -- they had four hurries. We had three sacks, seven tackles for loss and most of those, the front was involved with all those. We had two sacks I thought we left out that we had them within our grasp and to his credit, he got away.

Felt like that as a collective group, did a lot of good things. I thought we held our gaps in a good way against an experienced offensive line. I would say it's very similar; last year we played against FIU's offense that had all these guys back and all these starts and it was the same way with ball start, all this experience and all the starters back.

So I thought as a collective group, they did a good, solid job. There's no question we're continuing to increase more pressure. You know, Allen Stallings is a guy that he's been -- he didn't practice at all this spring because of trying to get him healthy, and during fall camp he had other things to get squared away with his body and so he really had not practiced a lot.

To, me he's going to continue -- you've got to get him in full swing here as we get him ready for conference play. I see that group continuing to play better and better. I think we did some things that from a fundamental perspective of how we -- you know, don't want to give away too many things of what we did do. But just to get more pressure, we didn't always execute the technique in the right way in that game.

But I thought it was solid. I didn't like our goal line front. I didn't think we were as physical and confident in our fits that we need to be in the starts up front, so I want to see that get better. But they were two and a half yards a carry, which is what you want, and so that's a positive thing.

And so I just feel like to me, the yards, really, were the missed tackles. It wasn't the point-of-attack fits. That's where, when I sat down, I literally, I came home, got off the bus. Walked right up to my office and sat there for three hours and watched the game and taking notes and all that.

The one thing that stuck out to me was, man, run fits are pretty good. I remember a year ago, watching the FIU game on plane coming back, I was sick to my stomach because I thought the run fits were bad and I was concerned about our defensive line, I really was and our backer fits. I came out of a totally different feel because the fits were good, the effort was good and it was just finishing those tackles.

It's always a concern with our D-Line because we just have to have -- that's where the game is established, up front defensively, is on the defensive line and got a lot of guys I believe in, young guys that need to keep coming along, keep rotating them in there, keep it fresh.

Some guys didn't play as much as you think they are going to play and they have to be ready when called upon and play well.

Overall I think a guy like Demarcus Elliot, brought in new, his first Big Ten game and he's a sophomore and he just did some good stuff. Juan Harris really good a really good job. Jerome Johnson did a really good job inside.

And then I just thought that Mike Ziemba flashed at times and he's got some really good speed and length. And James Head did some really good things. And like I said, Allen is going to be -- we're bringing him along to full-game speed mode. I just feel like it's a group that can be effective and do a great job for us and we just have to keep getting better.

Coach Hagen is a phenomenal technician and relentless coach and the details, and they will improve. And as we get a more -- as the weeks go and the game plan grows and we get more film of this year, I think we always do a better and better job of pressuring the quarterback because we can know more the protections and the things, and that's kind of our deal.

We're an attack team on defense, and we're going to pressure you. That's our primary focus on third downs, and then we'll mix up coverages. But as the season progresses, like we get more and more film and more basis to know what we're going to see, I'd love for us to be even more prepared for that.

Q. In watching the film from Saturday's game with Michael for the first time, can you tell me about what it was like, his communication and interaction and everything, while watching himself in the game?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think that for being the first time, like I said, he played enough last year where he had a good glimpse of what he can do. I just think just being able to come off the field, have a very -- like I say, it didn't matter.

Threw a touchdown pass or if he threw a pick or good or bad or whatever happened, he had the same demeanor and great poise about him. And I just think the communication with he and Kalen and the sideline staff and all the things that you do and his communication with his teammates and he's naturally pretty quiet, but did a good job of encouraging guys and just being leader of the offense.

Just being able to have that poise about him and that calmness and whether we were trying to go seal the game with the field goal and trying to finish out the half or bounce back from a mistake or come out after a big play and just kind of seems to just, right there and that, to me, that's a good sign because that's instinctive things that he naturally has and for that position, that's what you have to have, those type of qualities. That's encouraging to me. Just got to keep working. Keep getting better.

Awesome. Have a great day.

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