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November 11, 2019

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

TOM ALLEN: -- focal point of the bye week as we technically got better as a team, then finished up the with guys on Wednesday, then had a short workout on Thursday morning. Most of the staff went out Wednesday afternoon and we all recruited the rest of the weekend.

Very positive with recruiting coming off of our last four games in conference play, momentum going into the bye week with a 7-2 record. That was very positive.

Proud of our guys for being recognized in the top 25. Doesn't really mean anything in regards to on the field. You have to keep proving it. At the same time being recognized, all the hard work our guys have done.

Much more work ahead of us. Much more work to do. At the same time not oblivious to the fact it hasn't happened in 25 years. Something that our guys do take a lot of pride in, being recognized in that regard. Also know what comes with that, too: the expectation.

That's what we want our program to be. We want to be in the situation, want our guys to be competing, build off of it, move forward. That's what we plan to do.

Would like to recognize the veterans on Veterans Day. Such a special group of men and women that give so much for our country, all that we have, all that they sacrifice, give to us. We appreciate all that they do, recognize them, honor them, thank them for their service.

Great opportunity for the Hoosiers this week as we head to Penn State, take on a very, very good football team. Coach Franklin has done a tremendous job there building the roster, building the level of play that they are at right now, their level of expectation they have...

Fully aware of the series, where we're at with them, how challenging it has been to play Penn State over the years, especially at their place. We'll have a very big challenge/opportunity for our football team.

Got off to a good start this week. Fully aware of the talent they have on their roster. Done a tremendous job of recruiting. Every year we play them, they get better and better. No different this year.

Very, very athletic on both sides of the football. Really best line of scrimmage play I've seen out of them on both sides since I've been here, best speed as a group. Very, very talented football team that we're going to be facing this weekend.


Q. You talked about it a little bit there, you've not been shy about addressing realities for this team, whether it's bowl situations, whatever. How do you address the ranking? You don't want guys to ignore it, but maybe not get guys complacent.
TOM ALLEN: We talked about it. I congratulated them this morning in our team meeting because I understand what it means. You just know where your program is, what the steps are to get where you want to be. When you haven't been ranked in 25 years, it is a positive thing when it happens.

It doesn't do anything for you on game day other than have a little number by your school name when they put it out. At the same time to whom much is given much is required. You learn how to handle the expectations that go along with it. That's part of it.

That's why I don't shy away from it, talking about it. I talked about wanting a top 25 defense when I got here several years ago. We accomplished that. Talked about being a top 25 football program when I took over as head coach. That's where we're getting closer to.

Just because you get ranked one week, doesn't mean all of a sudden you've arrived. At the same time it's an acknowledgement of what you're doing, the foundation you're laying.

As I talk to our players about what that means, some people will choose to be satisfied with it, then it will go away if that's what you choose to do. If you handle it the right way, as I told our team before, said it publicly a few times, how do you handle the success. As we know, we've said before, the gold is tried by fire, silver the same way. Man can be tested by the praise he receives.

How do you handle that, be able to grow into that mindset to where people do say positive things about you, they recognize what you're doing? You get ranked in the country, how do you handle that? Do you let it cause you to intensify the hunger that you have or does it create a satisfaction and a letup?

Obviously our desire and passion is that we would build off the successes we've had this year and keep growing and getting better, realizing we have a lot of hard work ahead of us.

Not where we want to be. But also don't want to discount the journey and the process that you go through because sometimes you lose sight of the fact that you're with a special group of guys, special group of coaches that I have a lot of love and respect for, truly enjoy being with them.

Want to make sure we're enjoying our time together, as well. Challenge our guys about that moment, as well, as a senior class, as well as juniors, sophomore, freshmen. No one is guaranteed anything for the future. This group will never be together again. You have a special group for a certain year, the group will be different next year.

To be able to understand where we are, enjoy the moment, but also have zero level of satisfaction that we have accomplished anything yet.

So we got a lot of things ahead of us. Our goals that we have for our season are still out there. We got to work hard to accomplish those goals. That's part of handling where we are. Hopefully this team will continue to grow and mature and respond the right way.

I thought today was a good start. But I'll know more after Tuesday's and Wednesday's practice, how we handle Thursday, then how well we play on Saturday.

Q. You mentioned about foundations. You have at least four more games to play this year. With the seniors, these are guys that have been to a bowl before, have had a couple of years of frustration, get to go back this year. Your thoughts on the way they've been able to set a standard and continue to be leaders to raise that standard.
TOM ALLEN: Well, I think they have been here, as you said, long enough to experience some things, go to a bowl. They've not won a bowl game. That was the big driving force. In the beginning, one of our three goals was to win the bowl game, not just get to the bowl game. That still remains one of our goals. Those guys were very quick to want that to be one of them.

They've really set the tone for the sense of urgency that I think this team started developing over the off-season, the work ethic, the mindset that they brought every single day that we did what we do, whether it was in the weight room, practice field in the spring, whatever we did over the summertime with our guys, what they did in the player practices, all those things that we've had a lot of elevation of, intensity, just way better leadership since I've been here.

I think that's been reflective of the way we've played, how they've handled the situation, and continue to get better every single week, which is what you have to do at this level, any level.

I think those seniors have been a huge part of what we're doing. They will continue to be in the way that we finish. That's the constant challenge. I think you set your goals, you attack those goals, you don't relax until you reach them. We haven't reached any of them yet. That's why we're still excited about the progress we're making, but definitely hungry and starving to get what we want.

Q. I know you talked about not being satisfied. When the rankings came out, what was your initial reaction? How did you find out?
TOM ALLEN: Jeff Keag is always my guy that gives me the information. He let me know, like he always does (smiling).

To be honest with you, kind of after last week, what we did, where we were, in some ways we expected we had this opportunity. I told our team last week, I expect us to be ranked after the bye week. We did.

I just think the reaction was, Hey, you know what. I told our team in fall camp I thought they were a top 25 football team. I'm sure nobody else would even have said that. Said in the privacy of our meetings. I told them that. I believed it.

I just said, Guys, you're doing what I expected you to do. At the same time obviously we had to work, get better every single week, we had to do things after the first few games, improving this, improving that, change this, that. You always have to do that.

At the same time as I've been very clear from the beginning, if you don't believe, then I don't want you around us. That to me is a mindset that I have. As a coaching staff, as players, I want players that believe, just like this week. If you don't believe we can go to Penn State and win at Penn State for the first time in program history, then don't get on the bus. That's bottom line. If you don't believe, we got no chance.

That just doesn't happen to be for a certain game. That's for our program, too. If you don't believe we can do great things here, do special things in Bloomington with our football program, then I don't really care what we have or haven't done in the past. That's never been part of the equation, not how I think.

Our guys have been challenged in that way. When you do things that you expected to do or talked about doing, you congratulate them for doing it, say, Okay, let's go back to work because we got more goals to accomplish and more things that we want to do in this program.

I just think that's just the way I approach it. Our guys have responded to that. We got a lot more things we want to do, a lot more things for this football team to accomplish. Our head is down. We're working every single day.

Q. Obviously last time you faced a top-10 team was Ohio State. How much do you view that as a turning point?
TOM ALLEN: It was tough. We didn't perform to the level that I expected us to. Also walked away from that game, said to our staff that we just played a really good football team. I thought it was the best Ohio State team we've played since I've been here for a variety of reasons. I think they've proven that to be the case. They've done it consistently every single week, doesn't matter who they play.

We ran into quite the buzz saw in them. Credit to them, what they're doing, what Coach Day has accomplished in there each and every week.

You look at yourself in the mirror, evaluate what you're doing. Didn't like things on each side of the football. Made changes, adjustments, even some positional things you try to address, get guys in the right spots.

But, yeah, it was tough reality that we weren't where we want to be. But what do you do? You feel sorry for yourself or you go back to work. We chose to go back to work and get better. So now we have a chance to line up again against a team of that same caliber. We'll see where we are.

Q. Do you bring up what happened in the first quarter there two years ago? How much has that team changed under Clifford at quarterback?
TOM ALLEN: To your first question, no. I've tried to forget about that quarter. But at the same time you talk about starting fast. We did a lot of extra work today on special teams. That was a rough, rough start. Probably not going to bring that up to our guys, except if they watch this press conference right now.

Other than that, I feel like the Clifford kid is just a really, really tough competitor. That's where he's so much like McSorley who was such a tough kid, competitor, always found ways, can beat you with his legs, arm. He's a very, very talented guy.

A little different. Everybody has their own skill sets they have as players. He has a very, very talented cast around him in both the runningback room and tight ends, receivers.

I think the thing that stands out to me is their offensive line is just better than they've had. Every game getting better and better. That's a tribute to their coaching staff, how they coach them, recruit.

He's a really good football player. Probably didn't play his best game of his season last week, but those things happen. I'm sure he'll bounce back.

Any time a guy can run it like that, he's a tough kid that takes a lot of hits but never seems to get dinged up, which we all know in this day and age can be hard to keep your quarterback healthy if you're going to run him a little bit. Does a good job throwing the football on the perimeter, down the field. They do a lot of things to put you in a lot of conflicts schematically. They do a great job with that.

It's a talented offense, no question about it. They create a lot of issues for you. You better tackle well in space. You better be disciplined, better handle their size and mass in the core, which is a big improvement for them over the last few years. That's why they're playing really good football.

He stepped right in there and really hasn't missed a whole beat there, what they're trying to accomplish as an offense.

Q. You got a lot of young guys, Tiawan Mullen who has talked about coming here to make a difference. How important is getting ranked while they're here in their first season and the guys that will follow them?
TOM ALLEN: That's the part that makes it really important. As I message recruits, I say, Hey, we're doing everything we said we were going to do. Tiawan is doing everything he said he was going to do. Other guys were in that same situation that we recruited.

Say it is one thing. I didn't make some big public comments about it. We talked about it privately as a team, what I believed we could accomplish. I believe in setting out that vision, you got to have a vision, you got to see the big picture, what you think you can accomplish, then you go do it. When you do it, you take solace in the fact that we're doing what we said we're going to do, how we're going to build off of that and go do something more.

But I do feel it sends a strong message to the recruits, to what you're saying. Everybody talks about what we're building, this and that when recruiting. I said, Everything we said, we're living it out. That's what I think is critical, to be able to say that and show that.

Now it's up to us to build off of it, make it to where it's a foundational launching point rather than just a destination. I don't want it to be that.

That's where I just think that guys like Tiawan, the way he bought in, just came with that confidence. Some corners are really chirpy guys. Not a lot of that. He believes it in the core. He doesn't say a whole lot, but his play has been at a high level.

Coach, I told you we were going to do it. I just think that is contagious without question. It's just a really, really awesome thing to see a guy that is humble yet works his absolute tail off every single day, infecting guys around him in a positive way. It's pretty cool.

Q. When you look at where you are in 2020, where do you expect that class to fall in terms of numbers? What are you still looking for? Generally have you seen a reaction in recruiting after the bye week, people taking notice of the message?
TOM ALLEN: I think without question it's been extremely positive. It's always fun to go out and get in schools when you've got good, positive momentum, doing good things, playing to a certain level. It keeps coming back, everybody comments how hard we play, finish games out. They're noticing all those things.

I think it's not going to be a very big class. We don't have a lot of seniors. I think upper teens numerically is where you're looking at. O-line, D-line we're still working on some spots there. Skill guy or two here and there. Other than that, we won't have room. You can only replace within the 85 of what you lose.

We're a young football team. There's always natural attrition, things that happen and all. But I think the guys enjoy being here, the way we do things, they're able to develop as both a young man and as a student-athlete, as a football player. They're challenged in all three of those areas.

Everything we say we are in recruiting is who we are. When you have success on the field, you are doing the things you talked about doing in recruiting, definitely momentum is high right now. It's a very positive thing.

Q. You talked about Penn State's team speed. Wide receiver is a spot they have that at. What type of challenges do they provide for the secondary?
TOM ALLEN: Quite a few. Speed is what everybody wants. They game it played in so much space now. Both laterally they stretch you out, vertically, trying to create those one-on-ones, try to win those, make guys miss.

You're trying to get as many guys, hats to the ball as you can. When the quarterback is a runner, too, that makes it more difficult to defend. He is obviously.

Yeah, I mean, it's tough. It's a tough system that you have to defend. I mean, Hamler is as quick as you're going to see. He makes a lot of people look silly in space. You don't want to put one guy... You better have more guys there than just one or else it's going to be a long day.

But then you do too much on one guy, they got others around him to hurt you for that. A lot of challenges. We just got to do a great job of being very disciplined, trying to do some really good things schematically to give ourselves a chance to be successful with those talented receivers.

We've got some talented DBs as well, but they're going to be tested for sure, probably more so than they have been in a while. It's going to take a team effort, all three phases playing together, complementary football, winning football, being able to be at our very, very best. That's what it's going to take.

Q. Logan Justus hasn't missed a field goal all season.
TOM ALLEN: He missed one in practice (smiling).

Q. He doesn't talk a whole lot. As a character, person, why is he that person who is so clutch, doesn't miss?
TOM ALLEN: I think certain guys have that ability to be able to be really, really good when the pressure is on. Causes some guys to hesitate a little bit, second guess themselves.

He's shown the last two years here the ability to really lock in and focus and do a great job of hitting those clutch field goals. Really of all the positions, that's the one guy that better be your quality. You can be a great kicker. If you struggle to make the ones when it really matters, you're not going to be a very successful kicker. Other positions you can make mistakes and it gets hidden a little bit. Not that guy.

I just think there's a consistency in how he prepares. He trains really hard. He's improved so much since I've been here, in just his ability to -- when I first got here, the ball hooked quite a bit. Just really worked hard to get him to get more of a vertical launch as well as extension to stay through, be more accurate. I think these last couple years, he's obviously kicked his very, very best. It was just through a lot of hard work, training.

There's so much consistency you have to have in the swing. Like a golf swing, the same, holder, snapper. We got a new long snapper this year. He's done a great job. Sean Wracher. Just being able to get Heydon as the holder now, the consistency from that even from last year.

He's shown the ability to be adaptable. Some guys, if everything is not right, he freaks out. He's not one of those guys. That's a good thing. Those guys drive me nuts because it's very rarely perfect, whether it's the wind or whatever conditions, the turf or the surface, whatever, the snap. He just seems to be able to get good lift, which is important. He naturally has good lift. I think it's been a good thing to help him throughout the year.

Yeah, sometimes guys are clutch and some guys are not. He's been able to prove it. We're going to need him these last few games. I guarantee you he's going to have to come up and win a game for us.

Have a great day.

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