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September 23, 2019

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

TOM ALLEN: Good afternoon. Just want to begin by congratulating our team on the important win number three, being able to take care of business in our non-conference schedule. And I thought our guys bounced back from a tough one a week ago, and put in a good week of work and got refocused and got a chance to get some things re-established on both sides of the football and special teams. So proud of that effort. That's a key thing to be able to do and really encourage by our leadership of our team to be able to get us in that position. And then move forward from there. So just really felt like offensively got in a rhythm like we wanted to be in and Whop Philyor was our offensive player of the game. Very productive, continues to be, makes explosive plays for us and brings a lot of energy, has matured as a leader and really there's several guys that did a lot of good things and just felt like that he ran the football effectively, need to continue to work in that area, but I thought we did a lot of good things up front.

And I thought that Peyton was extremely accurate and which is his, one of his traits and just did a great job commanding the offense. And ball security to me is the focus, so we fumbled that one and threw a pick, kid made a great play, but still got to protect that football, that's very important.

Defensively, I thought we tackled well, run fits were better. Did a good job on third downs on both sides of the football. Got to create that pressure. Had some negative plays that -- we created negative plays for them, big hits and just aggressive, confident play. Cam Jones was our defensive player of the game had a pick six and a tackle for loss and had a pass breakup in addition to several tackles. So just kind of continues to come into his own playing football. And just several guys on that side of the ball I thought played hard, I thought our whole team played hard and like we expect every time we take the field.

Then on special teams Tiawan Mullen, just a really complete player, really played well defensively, good tight man coverage when called upon to do that. Just covers kicks and punts and he's a controller on our kickoff or punt return unit, we call the score team. Just effort and technique, so really excited for his development as he continues to keep getting better each and every week.

Then scout offensive player of the week Connor Thomas just one of our leaders, a guy that we awarded a scholarship to in fall camp, just an all around team player. He does a great job leading that group and keeping those guys focused and practicing with high energy.

Then on defense two freshmen DK Bonhomme and CJ Person just really stuck out to me. I spent a lot of time down there during practice, watch all the practice reps of our offense and man those guys just continue to play hard, play well, getting better. They're going to be really good players for us in the future.

Scout team specialist of the week, McCall Ray, a guy came in here, local guy from Bedford-North Lawrence High School, really good athlete, works hard, does everything we ask him to do, gives tons of effort. So I am really encouraged by those guys and they continue to help our team get better.

And just injury update, Coy Cronk, unfortunately, as many of you saw, during the game experienced a lower leg injury that was serious, so he'll be having surgery this week and he'll be out for the season. And not career ending so he'll be, he'll be, he'll bounce back, but just tough break for him and love that guy just everything he brings to our program and has brought to our program and one of our captains, one of our leaders.

So as you saw the guys rallied around him and you can just tell by the way the team responded in an impromptu way to him on the field, but I thought it was pretty awesome, so I get out there and he grabs me and he's like, he says -- I'm just checking on him -- he's like, coach, it's way too far from my heart to kill me, first thing he said. And second thing he said, he's like coach, it's a big one, we got to win this game, make sure these guys finish -- it happened like early in the game -- but all he cared about is his teammates and us getting a win and he knows what's at stake each and every week. So great passion from him for our program and just a lot of respect for Coy and all he's given to Indiana. So just prayers for him and his family as he goes through getting this thing squared away and adversity makes all of us better. So he'll benefit from this in the long-term. We'll be with him.

At quarterback, there will be a game-time decision for that position. Really pleased with Peyton's play and the way he's led and continues to do great job and so Michael's been rehabbing and that's continued to go well and we'll find out more here throughout the week and then make a decision for that position on game day.

So that pretty much wraps up the weekend and now we focus our attention on a really good football team, Michigan State Spartans, and Coach Dantonio is one of the guys I have a tremendous amount of respect for in this profession and the way he runs his program and how hard his kids play and how well they play. So really good football team that we have got, very familiar with them, a lot of the same guys we've played the last few years. I watched the 2017 game and a lot of their same players were playing then and the quarterback is one of them and just really talented player, big-time arm and big offensive linemen and talented receivers and defensively they're really impressive and so their linebacker is just one of the best in the country and just plays so hard, fundamental, D-line's impressive, whole unit's really impressive as a group.

So I know Coach Dantonio takes a lot of pride in their defense and they have been playing well and they have -- they obviously had that one game where they probably should have won but didn't. But other than that, going up to East Lansing, a tough environment to be able to do what we know we need to do, which is go and play well on the road and play well in conference games and to continue to build our program.

So excited about the opportunity this week, the Brass Spittoon is what we're playing for, it's our first trophy game, and we'll do a good job in the morning explaining what that is to our new guys that are just here and understand that this game means a lot to our program. So got to get our guys ready. Questions.

Q. Two questions, one is just how housekeeping with Coy. Any discussion about the four game, is he going to have the red shirt and come back or is that something you want to leave for down the line. The other is as you think about where you're going, at left tackle, you move Caleb over there, you obviously know DaVondre, you've had Matthew in the program since January, just how comfortable do you feel like you are in terms of maybe assessing who you want to be starting at that spot come Saturday?
TOM ALLEN: First of all, really no discussion whatsoever regarding Coy's future. Obviously a lot of different things out there as possibilities. But right now the number one focus is getting him, get surgery, get through that, support him a hundred percent, and we'll make, we'll have those discussions with him and his family when it's appropriate and make the best decision possible for him.

So then regarding the position, as you saw, we can move Caleb to left tackle, which we did in the game right away, and then DaVondre Love is in the mix there to play. Matthew Bedford, played him there in the fourth quarter and he'll be in the mix to play. Haydon Rafferty is a guy that's got to step up. So those three guys are really the three tackles that will be in position to prepare to do that. And we'll -- to me, Caleb's going to have to be able to do both. We got to keep him ready to play both sides. A guy like Matt Bedford we will just focus him on left tackle because he's so young. And same with Aidan, but just trying to get those guys ready to roll, so -- but that's what you have to do. That's why you recruit and that's why you develop your guys and I just think it's a great opportunity for somebody to step up and take advantage of it. But that's how we're going to approach it right now and so we'll approach this week, obviously we had the bye the following week so it gives us some more chance to continue to get important reps. But all the focus right now is getting those guys ready to play against Michigan State.

Q. I don't know if he came back, but Reakwon went down in the game, how is he, and you, obviously got Cam there and he played well. Who would be the next guy? Would it be Micah or Aaron Casey or what would be the depth chart --
TOM ALLEN: Right now, good question. If something -- Reakwon's going to be fine, so nothing, nothing that we're concerned about with him for this week, but if that, something did happen to that position, obviously Cam is back now and played really well. And then moving Micah to stinger would be the next step, yes, and having James and Thomas as the MIKE's, so we kind of have three right now that we rotate and Micah does some stinger work in practice as well. Between those, all those guys, we feel like we got a good group there to be able to mix and match as needed.

Q. On Monday are you optimistic that Michael can practice this week and throw the ball during preparations?
TOM ALLEN: Yes, I do expect that, yes. So we'll see how that goes. That's the expectation, he'll be practicing this week and getting himself ready and we'll see how his body responds to that. So that will be the case tomorrow and on Wednesday and then Thursday we should have a pretty good idea where we're at and then announce it at kickoff.

Q. Whoever ends up as the starting left tackle will be their first start at the position. Do you have any concerns about that facing a Michigan State defense that's well known for its defensive line?
TOM ALLEN: Well that's a tall task against that type of an opponent. But that's the position you find yourself in. So you can look at it one of two ways, you can say does that concern you or does that excite you. And to me it excites me about the opportunity that it's going to present for somebody to step up and grow because you really find out a lot about somebody during these opportunities and I've coached a long, long time and so seen so many guys take advantage of things like this when somebody goes down and can no longer play that somebody else gets an opportunity to step up and create that for themselves and for our team.

So that's the approach I have. So I, as much as I hurt for Coy, we're just -- and he's the same way -- he understands, he gets it, somebody else has to rise up and take his place. So we'll see.

But whoever does will have a great opportunity to be able to be tested against a tough environment, against a very really high level defense. So got to go.

Q. Knowing that the question is legitimate on who is going to be quarterback this week, does it give you a rare opportunity to have kind of a leg up with the Michigan State not knowing who they're going to prepare for because they're very different quarterbacks.
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I guess in some ways that would be because I've been on that side of it as well when you're not sure who it's going to be and we truly, I truly stand right here in front of you and tell you I don't know who it's going to be. So they don't either so I guess that may give us a little bit of an advantage. They will have to prepare for both, so, but, yeah, and I think you just have to schematically be able to cover your bases and be prepared for whatever options may occur and so, yeah, I think that that's one way it look at it for sure.

Q. Circling back to Matt Bedford you're always thinking about guys who earned it, who are in the best position on the field, but this weekend in particular and with the bye coming up what's the balance you want to strike with a young guy like that where maybe you feel like he's ready to assume a big responsibility at left tackle, but you also think, is this the right place for him to kind of make an, I don't want to say his debut, obviously he's played, but to really kind of play big, meaningful snaps, as opposed to maybe protecting him a little bit, giving him the bye week and getting him ready for the rest of the season?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think the wise approach is regardless of how it plays out I think that multiple guys are going to have to play. I don't know that a guy like that for a true freshman to come in there, or even a red shirt freshman, to play the entire game in that setting against that type of opponent for that many snaps. So I would fully expect us to be able to get multiple guys ready and be able to have multiple options at that spot. So that to me is really the probably the approach you want to take and so you can, yeah, you don't have the luxury of easing him into it like maybe you thought you could before this happened, but at the same time I do see us -- those guys are going to play, DaVondre is going to play a bunch and Matt should play a bunch and we'll just kind of mix and match the combinations and then Aidan is obviously the next guy after that. So that to me is kind of where we're at but now, no, it definitely has fast forwarded the sequence for sure.

Q. You discussed the communication concerns on the offensive line last week. How does this situation make it even more difficult and how much do you emphasize it this week in practice, getting everyone on the same page?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think that, you talk about as you grow as a unit and they learn and I just sat in this morning on a big chunk of their meeting and watching film together with our guys, I mean that's part of it. So, yeah, when you, now we're going to increase the number of guys that are new, that definitely creates more challenges for that process of communicating and working together side by side, hip to hip in some ways and communicating how you work on combination blocks and picking up pressures and all the different things that those guys have to deal with. So, yeah, I mean it's definitely it creates the challenge that you have, it increases probably the level of difficulty of that challenge, but that's, we're not the only ones in the country dealing with stuff like this. It happens at every place and different positions and different situations and you have to work really hard to get guys ready. And sometimes plans change in a quick second and as we tell our guys, you never know how things unfold and you better be ready, be ready when called upon. You don't know when it's going to be your last play on a given season and so you got to have a sense of urgency about you. So even this is a great reminder for everybody about that. So, but, yeah, we got to get those guys ready, got to get reps and they got to continue to work together to maximize the walk through reps, the physical reps, the practice reps, the meeting reps, all those things that go together to get you prepared to play on game day.

Q. Michael Ziemba is a guy you recruited, even though he was a tight end, linebacker in high school, broke his foot, missed most of his senior year. Were you surprised that he was able to come and play as a true freshman even though he never played the spot and what do you like about him as a player? What about him kind of stands out?
TOM ALLEN: Well first of all he's playing really well right now and his confidence has grown with each passing season that he's been here. As you mentioned he did not play the position in high school, so it was a learning curve that he had to go through to get that confidence level. But the thing that's never ever been not the case is he's always played hard and he plays hard right now and just, he's a joy to put the film on and just watch him fly around and chase down people and just play with fanatical effort. And as we tell our team all the time, it's the one variable you completely control. So that a choice he makes, every time he takes the field he's going to play that way. He's had to learn how to play and just taking on big old tight end, and tackles at times and using your hands and defeating blocks and reading blocks on the run, that has taken some time to get him to that point. And so -- but you saw he can be to disruptive because of his speed and athleticism. And you can't ever have enough big guys that can run and he's one of those body types for us. So really happy for him and how well he's playing and how hard he plays is his choice that he brings every day and he's that way in practice all the time. And so really a lot of respect for that, for him and appreciate all he gives our program. So, yeah, we just, he probably has surprised us he played as early as he did, but you just got to keep getting better and better and he has.

Q. Cam Jones mentioned in talking about some of the young guys that when you recruited those two classes, one of your big things was fast and physical. Cam Jones is playing well, Tiawan Mullen special teams player of the week. Why are you starting to see some of these young guys be productive and is fast and physical part of what you're seeing out there?
TOM ALLEN: Well that's how they're playing and it doesn't always show up when they're young, if they're thinking too much, and I think that takes a little time -- and each position's a little different in terms of how long it takes to get that confidence level to know what you're doing collegiately compared to high school ball. But I think, yeah, we're, by design recruiting a bunch of guys that in their high school film and when we went and watched them practice or play that we saw guys that can run and they play with a high level of physicality. Because they don't usually change. If you want guys fast, recruit them fast. If you want guys that are physical, recruit them when they're physical and they're playing high school. Because that doesn't, you don't usually just become a different guy.

There's no doubt they're going to get bigger, faster, stronger and more confident when they come to you for sure and, but there's certain qualities that you look for in these guys and there's also a level of confidence. Tiawan Mullen has got a lot of confidence. He doesn't back down to anybody. Doesn't say a whole lot, he's not a big trash talker in a lot of ways, he'll talk a little bit like most of them do, but that's kind of, he's just a very confident individual. From where he's from and the ball that he's played and who he goes against and even in the seven-on-seven teams that he was a part of he goes against the best in the country. He'll step up and line up against a receiver and stare them down and take them man on man, without any thought. So, but that's, you recruit a guy like that. That showed up in high school. You get to know the personality. And he has belief about what he came here to do. You're seeing more and more of that. There's a lot of these young guys out there making plays. And so our freshmen, sophomores, those two classes are a big part of our future and half those guys haven't even played yet in that freshman class, so but just trying to continue to build them, develop them. And it's exciting for me to when they get these opportunities. And just like a guy like Matt Bedford, this an opportunity for him to see what he does with it and see how he responds with when he and DaVondre as they battle to give us that depth at that position that we need. So, but the O-line's a little different than playing corner and even linebacker in some ways, so from a physical perspective and what you have to do and then the mental side of it is as intense as well on the line of scrimmage. But so these guys, the fast and physical mantra to me is something I say a lot and I want it to be manifested when they get here but you want to recruit guys who have those qualities.

Q. Cam talked a lot about too in referring to that class, how all of those guys together kind of matter. And he, what surprised me is that he mentioned that there are already a lot of leaders emerging in that sophomore class, for guys who are sophomores stepping up and helping lead the way too. Do you see that yourself from that class?
TOM ALLEN: Absolutely. We said it's hard on your team when you start talking about captains and guys that are voted into leadership or selected into those things that it's hard to, as a sophomore, to kind of be -- you are probably a year away from some of those things -- but we just have said as a staff there's just so many guys in that sophomore group that we know are going to be leaders. They're already leading in their own way right now and so it's going to go to go from where we kind of had to really kind of create several of them I felt like the last couple years and really guys have responded really well this year, but I feel like that those younger groups, especially that sophomore class, and the freshman class is supposed to be ranked higher in terms of whatever that means, but in regards to those there's a lot of sophomores that they work tremendously hard, they're very confident, they respond to what we have challenged them with. Many of those guys are on the leadership council which was basically was selected by the team, we went through and voted a year ago for that group, and a lot of those guys are on that. There's some red shirt sophomores in that group as well that are now in that class and so, yeah, it's a very good group and to me, from a leadership perspective as well as a talent perspective -- especially when you look at our defense, there's a lot of those guys that are in that group, in that age group. So, yeah, it's exciting for me to have those guys here and see them buy in, but then there's a lot of these freshmen too that I think -- there's a different mindset that they brought when they got here. That's -- half of them haven't even got on the field yet -- so that's just part of the foundation that we're laying, what we're building, got to keep building on that, got to keep recruiting to that extent. Had really good conversations over the weekend with recruits on campus after the game, even on Sunday, and before the game with families, and just continuing to build and sell what we're building here and the way we're building it, the kind of young men we want here and how critical it is to get the right fit because it's not just about being one component, it's all variables involved to get the right fit for Indiana University and for our football program and for the guys that are going to help us be a part of our exciting future. So that's, I just, I love the guys we have recruited and believe in them and I love the guys that are here, the older guys, that are trying to leave a legacy of what they have been able to be a part of as they built this program here when they're during their time at IU.

Q. I know you don't want to get into too many specifics but back to the Mike Penix situation, you said you guys weren't a hundred percent sure, but, and he's rehabbing, but has anything new been learned about that injury or is he progressing well?
TOM ALLEN: All I know is he's getting better. So I can say that with confidence that he is progressing and I'm trusting in our medical staff for their analysis and evaluation. They do a tremendous job, so I believe in them and trust them. So, yeah, we're making progress, so we just got to keep doing what we're doing and we'll see how, see when he'll be ready to come back. But definitely making progress.

Q. As far as Michael, I mean having the bye week after, is there any temptation to give him more rest so that he would be completely ready or is it --
TOM ALLEN: Only if he's not ready. To me, I'm not going to put him out there if he's not ready. And so because of having the bye afterwards there's no doubt that would give you an extended period of time. But my approach will be if he's ready to go then he's going to go.

If he's not, then I would feel really confident that he would be ready after the bye week. But those are things that I don't know for sure, so I don't want to speculate, but -- and we got two really good quarterbacks that play at a high level and I believe in both of them so that excites me too.

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