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October 12, 2019

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 35, Rutgers - 0

TOM ALLEN: Just proud of our team. A Big Ten win. Much needed. Took care of business, and just thought that -- I thought it was very important for us to start fast, and we obviously did, first play of the game with a sack-caused fumble scoop-and-score for the defense, which was awesome, and I thought our defense was excellent from start to finish. Just looking at the numbers, it's pretty staggering that they could give up one yard passing in a Big Ten game, and 75 total yards is hard to do.

Just thought the execution -- we've worked so hard these last -- during the bye week and this last week to get some things in my mind fixed, both on the coach's part and the players, and just really pleased with the way they executed. Just never gave them a chance to get anything going. So really excited about that because that's what we have to do. We've got to keep getting better, keep working hard to fix things and tackle well. I thought No. 1 was an excellent running back. I know he is, and never let him get going, and that's big time.

And then run the football for 260 yards. Gave the game ball to our offensive line. Just Hunter went down, I think he's going to be fine, but just even there, guys stepping up in his place and just keep running the football. Sets up everything else that we do.

I thought that we had a good plan to try and take advantage of what they would give us, and just thought it was just a very consistent performance. I say that and I still thought we had a little bit of a lull in the second quarter offensively in our execution. But at the same time, other than a couple penalties on special teams that we still need to make sure we keep focused on in cleaning up, pretty solid performance overall.

Q. Kind of a two-part thing on Mike, number one, was he playing through a little bit of pain today? And number two, before you can watch film, how do you evaluate the way he comes off Michigan State and the day he puts together today?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I thought today was a good growth day for Michael Penix. Wasn't as clean as the last performance. I think he's young, you know, and that's going to be part of the process. He played solid. He wasn't as sharp as he was last time. But I don't think there's any pain. Just was kind of a little bit late on some throws and he underthrew to one to Whop, which should have been a touchdown, right before half.

But overall I think it's one of those performances where it's growth. You know, you're not going to always be at the top of your game, and he is going to be learning from it, and I think you just -- sometimes it's just how you handle, as well, the growth process of being patted on the back after a great performance and getting ready to go do it again and then you go do it again and go do it again, so that to me is a big part of him, and I thought he was solid but not as crisp and sharp as I know he can be. So we'll look at the film and he'll improve and be even better next week.

Q. You mentioned the lull. Some of that was kind of so easy so fast. Is that just a young team not being able to handle prosperity as well as you would like?
TOM ALLEN: I think so. I mean, it was 21-0 before you could blink. And I think you've got to teach them how to keep playing. You can say it all you want, but you're definitely trying to -- that's why I'm so stinking hoarse because I was yelling the whole time to stay focused and to finish. We've got a lot of young guys. I thought there was some good silent energy, even when there was a lull after we got ahead. But to keep the pedal down is hard to do. It's just the reality.

But at the same time, I thought that overall I was really pleased with Kenny. I didn't like how we finished the half. We obviously went for it on 4th down just because it was short yardage, and we like the call we had, didn't feel like we needed to take a time-out, and I asked if we wanted one. We didn't want one, so I'm good, and we went with it and they stopped us. So that's disappointing, but then you get the ball right out of halftime and drive right down the field and score. That's huge.

And then the 98-yard drive that took up over seven minutes, I mean, 13, 14 plays, those are demoralizing drives for the opposing team. Just really -- and we've done that done, we did that against Michigan State, now we've done that against Rutgers, and I just think that that's the way we utilize the clock, the time management of that, it's important. It's how you play winning football. It's working both sides together, and to me it's about doing those things that we can execute, and obviously you would like to have a shorter field to work with, but our guys did a tremendous job in that.

Just, yeah, I think there were some lulls, and we just tried to fight through them, teaching our young guys to fight and finish.

Q. What do you think of the career days from Whop Philyor and Stevie Scott?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, Whop has continued to -- and I'm not really ever surprised with Whop. Last year it was just hard because he got injured, and I knew he was a special player. He just brings so much energy, and he doesn't need a lot of space, and he can make some -- he makes those contested catches, he creates a little separation and then he puts his foot in the ground and gets vertical, and Mike has such good velocity on the football that he was able to get it to him right as he breaks.

And then Stevie, just to me, needs to continue to run the football. He had that one run, and they have some really good players on defense, and he just ran right over one of them, and it was just a grown-man run that I thought was awesome, just a confident run and just a strong run and just an attitude run. I just think that -- he's growing in his confidence, and the guys in front of him and what we're doing schematically. So I just think they both know it's a team effort to get those individual performances, but those are two really good football players.

Q. The youth on this defensive line seems to be going away quickly. They started with a great defensive play and then they ended up with 12 tackles for loss. Talk about those.
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, to me that's how this defense is built. I know we've got a lot of new faces on the D-line and it's taken some time, but these guys play hard. D-Max is the one that caused the sack, DeMarcus Elliott, the first play of the game, just the penetration we're getting, and we do move quite a bit and try and create that. But that's creating negative plays, the tackles for loss, the sacks, which creates takeaways eventually, more of those. That's how you play great defense, and then when you get into 3rd down we execute the call.

As a matter of fact, our guys came off the sideline, we had a certain play where we made a certain check, it's been something that we've had trouble with even against Michigan State, and we nailed it and ended up getting a sack because of it, and my whole point to them when they came off the field was, guys, when you execute -- it could have been a big play for the offense if you don't execute it, and it ends up being a sack because the guy that they're trying to get the ball to is covered with a check. It's a three-man concept that we're trying to do. It takes a little work, but to me that's how you become a great defense is you execute. I said, guys, when we execute -- when we played the Michigan State game, I took like four clips and said, guys, when we execute we could be an elite defense. When we don't, it's frustrating. We didn't finish in that game.

To me the growth we saw today, I understand that they obviously struggled, but at the same time, the execution is so critical, and the D-line sets the tone, and then you get into 3rd down, you get pressure and you execute the call on the back end and you eliminate any chance of them converting, and I think they were 0 for 11 on 3rd downs, and it's also hard to get to that point. A lot of really good things to build off of for the future.

Q. You had an opportunity to rush the ball really the best you've done all year this year. And then offensive line really two games in a row after you lost Coy, they really played well. Can you talk specifically and as a group how they've all come together since they've lost Coy and played as well as they have?
TOM ALLEN: Well, I'm telling you, when you lose a guy like Coy, it's going to do one of two things. A group can be devastated by it and never recover, never be the same, or you can band together and realize that each guy to a man has got to elevate his preparation and elevate his performance, and I think that's what's happened.

We lost one of our -- if not our best offensive lineman, and the group has just kind of just come together and solidified their work ethic, their resolve to say that we're not going to be -- we're going to be better because we're relying on each other, we're working, we're spending extra time, and Coy spent hours and hours trying to help Matt get ready and all the different things it takes to get -- he's part of it, too. That's why we've committed he's going to travel to every one of our games. He's going to be here, whether he's on crutches or on his little scooter, whatever we've got to do to get him where he needs to be. But he's an important part of this whole team. So I think he's been a part of that, too.

But they've rallied around him being gone, and that's awesome to see. So that's a tribute to Coach Schiller and the group, and I think Simon has really stepped up, taken ownership of that. I know Hunter, those are two seniors that have really stepped it up and challenged the other guys they've got to elevate their game.

I'm just really proud of our guys, man. You want to just keep getting better as the season progresses, and we're seeing signs of that.

Q. It was around a year ago at this time that the community kind of rallied around Reakwon. How satisfying is it to see him having the senior year he's having?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I don't think anybody is more proud of him than I am. He won the Helio award this morning that we give to the player that just -- it best exemplifies what Helio stands for, and our team loves him because he's persevered. He persevered as a player. He exemplifies grit. He came here, he had to sit behind T-Gray the first several years and redshirt, and then this last year, his senior year, he's playing his best football. He had the hurricane last year devastated his family. They're still recovering from it, and the perseverance through that has been impressive, and the guides rallied around him for that.

So there's just a lot of respect for him and the kind of man that he's become and the kind of person that he is. So I just really appreciate how -- and he just cares so much. He works so hard in the preparation of getting our team ready. When you've got a guy like that that's leading that side of the ball, it makes a big difference. You know, so I'm just really happy for him that he's playing so well because he deserves it.

Q. We talked about the D-line. One guy that's been noticeably absent the last couple weeks is Juan Harris. Can we get update on his status?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, we talked about him earlier. Unique situation: He's chosen to no longer play football. Informed us of that, and wasn't what I expected, but wish him nothing but the best. But really proud of the other guys that have stepped up. It's a decision he came to on his own, and so we wish him well.

Q. You guys held them to one yard passing. It seemed like even on the screens you guys were there very quickly. What do you attribute you guys' success stopping the pass to?
TOM ALLEN: Well, I think you try to work so hard. We played a combination of man and zone, so the disguise I think is critical. We did some things this week that we've added to our arsenal to be able to be a combination of pressure and then also some good screen beaters. And that was by design because we felt like that was something they did really well, and that's a way for a team as you start to get pressure on them, that's kind of what they resort to is throwing screens and running draws to try and take advantage of your aggressiveness. So in order to maximize that, we've made some changes, and that was kind of part of this bye week adjustments, and they'll pay dividends for us in the future.

Q. Maybe a bigger picture question, but halfway point of the season, young team, starting a freshman quarterback, redshirt freshman, do you like where you're at right now in terms of the progress you've made in terms of where you see this team getting at the end of the year?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, after six games we're 4-2 and got a big stretch coming up that's very critical. You know, to answer the question, I'd say, you know, I'm encouraged by the last two weeks. Wanted to win the last one. That would have been -- I would have been very pleased if we'd be 5-1 going into six games, but we learned some things from that, and I think we got better because of it. To be where we're at right now because of so much youth on our team, there's no question I feel good about where we are and where we're headed. We've got to keep getting better.

If our guys embrace the next week like they did this past week and we continue to grow as a team and keep getting better and learn how to prepare at a high level and execute at a high level, then we've only got to play them one at a time, so we just focus on Maryland at this point, but yeah, I'm encouraged by where we're at right now, and I feel that our young guys are getting better. And that to me is the key. As long as you're seeing that improvement, I think that's all you can ask for. The kids just keep getting better every time they take the field, and that's what I want this team to be.

We've still got things to clean up for sure. We're not where we want to be, but we're making progress.

Q. You've talked about the defensive line but more broadly the blitz game today. I think one of the few things Rutgers had really done well statistically, they'd only given up seven sacks coming in. You sack Langan I think his name is six times. What was working not just from a D-line perspective but from a front six perspective in your mind?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, we worked really hard, and I've said this before, but I think just -- we attack protections. That's our defensive philosophy. So the more film we get, the more we get into the season, I think it helps us, and I think that we're able to take advantage of what teams do, and then you get in the game, they make adjustments and you adjust off of that.

I thought our defensive staff did a great job of having a good plan to pressure the quarterback because you're right, they had not given up a bunch of sacks, but I felt like that there's things that we could do, and we had to execute them, but we did. Part of that goes back to, even like I said with one of them, just by the back end doing their job and eliminating that first read when he's covered and then, bam, the pressure was right there. So that's to me where if you break down in the coverage and the quarterback is able to throw that first read, that wouldn't have been a sack. It would have been a big play for the offense had he caught it.

So there's several examples of that, so I think it was a team effort for everybody to get to that point, but I think the scheme is a big part of it because I believe in that. I love what we do, and the guys are just going to keep getting better the more confidence we have, but as our guys grow, get older each week and get better. Excited for our future. Just got to keep working harder.

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