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September 21, 2019

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 38, UConn - 3

TOM ALLEN: Just good to bounce back from last week's performance and thought our guys responded the way I hoped they would and the way I saw them practice all week and how we executed. So just really, really proud of our team. It's a thing that we -- taking care of business, our non-conference schedule, and now getting ready to play the rest of our season in-conference play.

It was very important for us to run the football better today, continue to improve our defense, and got a pick six, which those are hard to get and fun to get, so really we're excited for Cam for that, but the pressure caused that and really defense the only points they gave up were off our first initial fumble and we held them to a field goal. So really they were 3 of 14 on 3rd downs and we were 8 for 10.

Just did a good job of establishing some things that we needed to do and executing properly and getting a very important win for us. They're all important, but taking care of business with a team that we needed to, and that's what you do, and now you get ready to move forward into conference play.


Q. Have you gotten any update on Coy Cronk?
TOM ALLEN: We'll know for sure -- it doesn't look good. We'll find out once we get all the information back, but yeah, it could be a tough one.

Q. Just to follow up on that, did he have to go to the hospital or anything or was he still here?
TOM ALLEN: No, they did the -- they looked at him here and they're going to do some more evaluation. He's on one of those little scooter things, but obviously you saw it was his ankle. It could be tough. We'll know more here in a couple hours.

Man, I love that kid. Man, he's just so tough and he's given so much to this place, so I hope it's not the end of the season. Bottom line is that we got a chance to play a couple other guys, and Matt Bedford got to play there in the fourth quarter, and you know, guys gotta step up. That's part of it.

Q. As a two-part question, when Cronk went out you saw the whole team go over to him. What does Cronk mean to this team, and what is it going to be like not having a guy that you've had for so long as your reliable starting left tackle going into Big Ten play?
TOM ALLEN: Well, first of all, to answer the first question, what does he mean, you saw by the way the team responded. It's rare that that happens like that. Just he's started ever since he's been here, and he came in when I got here, so he was in that initial class when I was hired as the AC, so we started together. Just got a special relationship, and I think even just this last several months just with situations with his grandpa and all that, we got even closer.

He means a lot to our program, and he always will no matter what the situation is. Bottom line is he's one of our captains, he's one of our leaders, and yeah, it's definitely going to hurt losing him if that's the case, but if that is, then other guys gotta rise up. That's part of recruiting, it's part of depth, it's part of what you've got to do. This team loves him, he loves this team, and he'll always be a special part of Indiana.

Q. What kind of lift has Peyton Hendershot given you so far through four games?
TOM ALLEN: You know, other than fumbling the ball, he's really done well. The thing about it is that -- I will continue to say this and I want us to continue to do a great job of recruiting tight ends here because it's the one position that you need him to run the football and you need him to really enhance your pass game. They just put so much pressure on the defense.

A big long guy like that that can do both, that's athletic enough in space and then physical enough to block -- I thought his blocking has been excellent the last few weeks, and even going through at watching reps that I watched, that's one thing that stuck out to me this week was his blocking. I know Kalen loves using those tight ends, and that's one thing that talked about when he interviewed with me about, it was his system and I watched, he had a tight end last year that caught like 52 balls from where he came from.

Just really feel like that position puts a lot of stress because it's their run game conflict that those safeties and linebackers get put in that you're usually going to match up on a guy in that position. So yeah, it's a position that we have a lot of value in and need to keep recruiting guys that can run and catch and block. He's definitely a special player.

Q. Offensively you have to be very happy with the consistency. You've got a five scoring drives where you averaged 10 plays and 75 yards a drive, the only caveat being no really big plays coming out of that.
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I agree with that, but the starting position was tough. A couple of those were set up by some unfortunate penalties on our special teams, but the offense responded. They were very systematic, and Peyton was extremely accurate, and that's what he does really, really well, so you've got to play to his strengths. You want to create those big plays that makes it easier for sure to score in chunks, and we want to continue to try to create those. But at the same time you've got to do what your team does well, and so -- but this whole thing here, this whole process, we'll continue to evaluate Michael and his situation and obviously Peyton is extremely talented and is a great leader and led us to another win, so he's done that many, many times.

We've got two guys that I really strongly believe in that have played at a high level. I just think that the execution was very impressive, but I'm telling you it's exactly how he looked on Wednesday and Thursday this week in practice. You play like you practice.

Q. You went with DaVondre Love because of Coy and then Matthew Bedford. What are your options there, and do you like their play?
TOM ALLEN: Well, first of all, you've noticed we've not played Matt -- that was his first time going, and so you always kind of go through -- you think about it this way: He's a true freshman, and Coy is a rarity. For a guy to come and play on the offensive line as a freshman, it's not so much the physical part, that's one component that's really hard, but it's the mental part.

Like I was talking, I met with Matt actually yesterday, just going through things, because it can be a lot of things, because you have one play you have called and you have no idea what the defense is going to do really. They could line up and play what they line up in, they could shift, they could stem, they could move after the snap, and they could do something that was totally unplanned for. They've got to be ready for all that stuff. So that's been hard.

So we were trying to bring him along slowly. I thought he had a great practice on Tuesday, talking about Bedford, and then he struggled on Wednesday, and then we said, hey, we're going to try and put him in in the fourth quarter once we got to halftime. So he played, and so now he's obviously going to have to play. To me there's no -- the redshirt is gone, okay, because basically if Coy can't come back, the redshirt has got to be gone. To me that's the mindset I would have. I'm not bashful to say that because we've got to have our guys ready to go, and we've got to have depth there and guys got to play and all that kind of thing. So if that's case, that's what we've got to do.

Bottom line is we've got some guys that need to step up, but if this is what it's going to be, then other guys around the offensive side of the football gotta elevate their level of play, and that's the case anytime somebody goes down that you've relied on for so long. Once we know that and figure that out, then we'll go ahead and plan moving forward.

But it's -- like I said, I hate injuries. They're tough. But at the same time, other guys gotta step up and fill the void.

Q. First touchdown drive I think was six runs, three passes; the ability to kind of stick with it and establish it, just how important was that?
TOM ALLEN: It was, and it was something we talked about even last week. If you run the ball and then you throw it on 2nd down and you don't get what you want there, then you're looking at 3rd and long, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12. We've found ourselves in those situations way too many times as far as if you run the ball on 1st and 2nd down and you get two yards, two yards, now you're looking at 3rd and 6. That's way better odds of converting than 3rd and 10. So to me, it was just more of a commitment to make sure we're going to keep running that football. It doesn't mean you're averaging five yards a carry all the time, you might get two and three yards. But two and three yards, those things add up to get 3rd and mediums, which are way more easy to convert than the 3rd and longs. So just the commitment to doing that for sure.

But we're going to have to -- shoot, Michigan State's defense is -- their run defense is really, really good, and that's just kind of life in the Big Ten. So we've got to be able to balance that out and be able to keep people off balance. But that's what we planned to do today. We were able to do it today, and that was encouraging to see.

Q. Kind of off that, I know the offensive line has been kind of a point of emphasis. 180 yards today, four and a half yards a carry without your anchor for most of the game in Coy. How pleased with them are you today?
TOM ALLEN: Well, very. I thought -- it's hard to compare sometimes but I thought this team was better than Ball State when I watched them on film, and that's just me saying that, so I knew we were going to -- we had to play well against these guys, and I thought their quarterback could do some good things if he could handle our pressure, and that was tough on him, and he's a freshman.

But you look as a team and you go through these different things, and I looked at how they played against Illinois, a Big Ten opponent, and we have some kind of commonalities with all that, so I just felt like that with all that being said and even without Coy for most of the game, we did some good things that we needed to do, and it was very important for this to be this way. And like I said, I didn't rant and rave all week, we just challenged our guys and stuck to the process of what we believe in, and we've recruited well, and we've just got to keep getting better.

All we've got to do is put all our energy into that one game each week. That's all we do; focus on one team, one week, everything we can do to win that game, and that's all we focus on, and that's the way it's going to be the rest of the season. Just take it one at a time, and I thought our guys -- just really proud of the way they responded, and they got rewarded with a good performance, which is great.

Q. You talked about run fits on defense. You really emphasized those this week during practice. You guys allowed 51 rushing yards today. Was there anything one thing that you felt clicked with the defense during practice this week or was it --
TOM ALLEN: Well, if I had to pinpoint one thing, I think that we purposefully made some adjustments schematically, did some things that I just said, this is what we're going to do. Sometimes you forget how young we are on defense sometimes. I mean, sometimes I forget, and the guys that we have in there. You've got to make sure they're executing everything, and then when you throw in some tempo things at times, last weekend it kind of made it even worse I thought. So just kind of back to basics, back to just absolutely just investing so much time in run fits and tackling. I mean, that's all we worked on, and simplified some things, made some changes in some things, and just said, they are not running -- I think they had less than three yards a play but obviously only 50 yards rushing. That's what you want to be able to do. I just feel like that we knew we had to do that, and we've got to keep working on some things up front and with our backers.

But they're a young group, but they're, I think, a very hungry group and they were upset, too. They were disappointed and very frustrated by how they performed last week. Challenged them with that and really I went to both groups individually, the offensive side of the football separately, defensive side of the football separately, and just challenged them about how we're going to play this game, and they responded.

That to me is encouraging. But like I said, I expected them to, and when I was asked last week about how I thought our team would respond, I said, well, I can't wait to see. I'm excited about their response because I believed it was going to be the right way. So now we've got to take that momentum and carry it into a tough road game up in East Lansing. But we'll just enjoy this one here today and then get to work tomorrow on the Spartans.

Q. You talked about the energy Cam Jones put into rehab. Did you see him transfer that onto the field?
TOM ALLEN: No question, because when you work that hard to get back, it's infectious. I mean, even today, the energy out of the field, what he plays with is so athletic. He should have had another pick. I thought he was going to get another one. But he's probably most athletic guy in that part of the field for sure, definitely at linebacker. But he could play safety; he's that athletic. So really versatile guy, and you remember this, when he first committed to us he was committed to us as a wide receiver so that's the position we thought he was going to play when he first got here, so that to me tells you. He played defensive end, wildcat quarterback, wide receiver, safety. He never played linebacker in high school, so he's still young at the position, but yeah, his passion for wanting to -- he was so passionate about getting back on that field and wanted to play against Ohio State last week, and that just -- yeah, it carries over into his preparation because you don't just turn it on, turn it off. That's who he is. Whatever he's doing, that's how he's going to attack it. That's how he was raised. That's the kind of young man we brought here. He's the same way about academics. He's just an awesome young man that does everything we ask him to do, and he's also very gifted, so it's a great combination.

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