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November 18, 2019

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

TOM ALLEN: Good afternoon. Just wanted to just say one thing following up from the game, just really proud of our guys. Thought we had good meetings today, talking about what's next for us and our mindset and the way we approach things as a program and where we are and the way we continue to build here. But I thought this was an interesting unique thing for our guys. You know, it was fourth and one in that game and C.J. Person is in the game, on defense. He's probably played a handful of snaps. He's a guy we were, you know, that four-game red shirt, you know, he's on the sideline, not expecting to play. And what a great reminder, great teaching moment for our guys to say, you have got to be ready, whether you're third string, fourth string, fifth string, whatever. He's fourth and one, to get a stop, to give us a chance to, we're down by three, and he's a true freshman, and being locked in to our walkthroughs, taking care of your business in the weight room, being ready. You might play one snap, you might play no snaps, you might play 20 snaps, you just never know what's going to happen. I just thought it was a great reinforcement. And he did a good job. He made some plays and he was in there on some, for more after that and all the way to the goal line.

So just really thought that just, that just gives you a great glimpse of, number one, how you teach guys. Number two, we got a lot of young guys on this team and, that are getting some opportunities, and I just think that that continues to just emphasize the way we're building this thing and our guys buying in and how much they care and how hard we played and competed.

So, but had a goal to go there and win the game and didn't accomplish that goal. So we talked about that quite a bit this morning. Love our mindset, great work out today, great walkthrough. Great meetings. Ready to attack this week. Got a big opportunity with our seniors. 16 seniors we're going to recognize on game day Saturday. A special group of guys that are really special to me because of what they have, the change that they have created here. So many guys. I was looking through the list here before I came up here. And just catalysts for change in our leadership, catalysts for change in the way our kids have prepared in the off-season. And several of these guys came to me last year when the year was over and we talked heart-to-heart, man-to-man, one-on-one. And just really neat to see them respond, number one, and continue to believe, number two. And then just be rewarded for staying with us and staying with the fight and the grit and all those things that these guys show. It's not a big group but it's a very special group and we just want to do a great job of giving them a special day.

So that gives us a chance to talk about our opponent on that day, which is Michigan Wolverines. And really a lot of respect for them and their coaches and the talent that they have and how they have recruited and they are who they are historically. But they just, they're playing their best football, watching them on film the last couple days. And really impressive football team, physically and athletically and just doing a lot of great things in all three phases, they have got talented specialists. And excellent quarterback and stable of running backs. And, boy, really impressive receiver core. Big, physical, experienced offensive line.

Some new faces on defense. But very, very athletic. Very explosive. And Don Brown does a phenomenal job schematically and they play really hard. And Coach Harbaugh has got them playing really, really well. So I know they had a big game last week, an important game for them and they played really, really good football, so, in all three phases. So just really an opportunity for them to come here. We got a great chance to finish out a home slate for this season. That's important to us and it's always about how you finish. And that's a big emphasis for our guys and the way that they approach and just challenge our seniors and this team to be able to finish as a 2019 Indiana Hoosiers at home here for the last home game and how important that is.

So just really looking forward to this week of a lot of hard work, a lot of preparation that goes into this and excited to see our guys respond. Questions.

Q. We've asked about Peyton a lot this season, but as you break down the games he's putting together, are the things he's doing that surprise you, just in terms of the way he's throwing the ball, the numbers he's putting up, that he's surpassing even kind of the things that were strengths in the past, he's performing even better in those areas?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think that you always want to see a young man each year get better and elevate his level of play, his execution. And, boy, he has sure done that. He's always been accurate, he's always been tough, he's always had those things that, those qualities of just the grit and the savviness. That's always been his strength, for sure. His preparation, I just thought about, even this last week and everything, it was a tough game. There was a lot of things that he had on his plate in this last week's game plan to make decisions pre-snap and then even post-snap and just put a lot on him for that. So, but we trusted him, and just even Coach DeBoer and I talking throughout the week, it was just, man, he was just so impressed with Peyton's knowledge of the game plan even early on.

So those kind of things you always knew were going to be his strength. And then I just think he's continued to just grow in those areas and then he's thrown the ball maybe down the field better than maybe he has in the past and really accurate in those down field throws and very comfortable, it appears, in our system that Coach DeBoer has installed here and our guys have, it's now become our own. And so I just think that, yeah, to say surprised, probably not. I just think he's a really good player and that's why it was such a tough decision in the beginning that we had to make, but he's proven to me that he's an excellent football player and he's playing at a high level. So really proud of him. That continues to be the case and I expect that part of his game to continue to just keep growing. We got to just keep getting better. Every time we take that field we got to play a little better as a football team.

Q. Is there an update on Whop's condition, first, and then secondly, on the play that took him out, were you given an explanation of how or why targeting was not called? It appeared that there was possibly two instances in the same play?
TOM ALLEN: The first question, do not know yet. That's a process that we'll go through throughout the week. And we'll do a great job of being very diligent with that, in his best interests.

So but regards to, we have those conversations with the appropriate individuals like we do. And those conversations have taken place and we're still working through that. So but, you know, I saw what you saw and so did a lot of people. So but that's part of the decision making that has to take place. But we'll go through it the right way and handle it properly.

Q. In the Michigan State game and last week as well, you had quarterbacks who on scrambles and that, were, got converted a lot of third downs and such. As aggressive as you guys like to be all the time, has it just been a matter of them just sort of beating, their best beating your best, or is it just anything in particular you can point to that's led to that?
TOM ALLEN: You know, I think, first of all, both those quarterbacks going in you know that's kind of something that they do well. And felt like that this time in particular that they were a couple of the ones that hurt us in this last game were really the third downs and long when he ran it. I know the Michigan State game there was some quarterback-designed runs that hurt us that I thought were costly and there was some more -- and that's kind of, you know you kind of get caught in some calls that aren't necessarily great for some of those because you're maybe pressuring or whatever. So but, yeah, there's no doubt. You got to continue to mix it up. There's no -- we are not bashful about being an aggressive style of, that's who we are, that's how we get where we, you know, takeaways we want to get, the pressure we want to get, the coverage we want to play. And so I think sometimes that's just you got to be able to balance that too. But I also feel like that you have to learn how when you are, whether it's rushing the passer or blitzing the passer, you have to, and I think that's where the growth has to keep coming with our guys of not just always, you know, picking a side sometimes to be able to try and beat them with speed around the edge, and then you got to, if he steps up in the pocket then it creates a crease and then guys got to get separation. The offensive linemen kind of allow you to, they do their job for, without question. They're trying to block our guys. Our guys are trying to get off those blocks.

So just felt like a couple times for sure if we just do a better job of not creating creases in those rush lanes by some of the blitzers, just have to be able to do a better job. That's something we're going to definitely work on for sure because those were costly. At the end of the day, we just needed one more third down stop. And there was a really couple in that last drive that were just, gosh, it was gut wrenching when you go back and watch it. But credit to them, it's a game of scheme and making plays and their guy did. So but to be able to, yeah, you got to, you just go back and you go through and you don't get what you want and you're right there, you just have to go back, you learn from it and you adjust it and we are already making some adjustments in things that we do in some of those situations and to insure that we get the result we want because Shea Patterson is a very good athlete. He can run it as good as anybody that we played the whole year. So that won't change this week. So you got to go through and when you have a ton of talented receivers to defend, it's, that's where the stress comes. So we just got to keep working.

Q. Michigan seems like a different team than they were the first three games of the year. What have you seen on film that they're doing better or is it just a matter of learning what they, like you did with your Ohio State game?
TOM ALLEN: Sure. You go back and it is. You're exactly right. They look like a completely different team, especially on offense. So I think part of it is new system. And they did make changes and it is a new system, so I think that takes a little time for sure. I think that you go through your season and you kind of figure out what we really do well and within that new system, and then you start trying to maximize those and guys get more confident, they execute, and just like you see with our team. And so I just think that they're just playing with a high level of confidence and they're executing their scheme better and guys are getting open and getting the ball to open receivers and protecting the ball better. They had issues with that early on. Haven't really had issues with that lately. That's a big deal. You start turning the ball over, then a lot of bad things happen. So I think there's just a lot of, you can just see a comfort level in what they're doing and the system that they have installed. And so they're just, they got a lot of good athletes, a lot of really good players and it's kind of starting to, definitely looks a lot different, for sure, so it creates a lot of challenges for us.

Q. Special teams, obviously, you have two high level kickers but how do you view where you are as far as coverage units, returns, and kind of decision making, because I know that played kind of an outcome in that game?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think that that was really, I mentioned it this morning, I thought our Hammer Team, which is our kickoff unit, I was really concerned about their return guys and that's, if you look at the history of this game, over the last two years we played Penn State we had given up kickoff returns and that was an issue. And so worked hard on that. I thought the kicks were excellent. I thought the coverage was good. I thought our punt coverage was good. Obviously, the, just the ball there, we get just got to stay away from it, just don't put yourself in that position to even make it close to even being considered that. So already talked about the other thing that happened.

Bottom line is that it just our special teams are playing at a high level. Had two critical errors there that hurt us for sure. But I think that you just continue to, I think you see as a team with recruiting and player development and getting our guys, we're able to cover kicks better and we're going to, we better be great at it this week. Once again, you're kicking to some elite athletes as both punt returners and kickoff returners, again. So that's going to be at a high, high level of execution, it's going to have to take the, you know, a very, very key part of our preparation is that. So I think our special teams, our specialists have done a good job of kicking the football and just got to keep getting better.

Q. You talked about how the season, the way the byes fell, kind of split the season into three different segments. And playing the second top-25 team here in a row, how does the consistent competition that you faced in that middle segment help with moving on from a Penn State to a Michigan?
TOM ALLEN: Well, I just think that's where, as we talked this morning, and you talk about the maturity of your team and the mindset that you have and this is it. You go and you play a team that's one of the top in the country one week and then you got to go back and do it again. That's part of being in this conference, number one, but being in this division. Always playing these teams every year. So I just think that there was a that four-game stretch, I think gave us a lot of positives to build off of. And you are a product of the preparation that you've created, the habits that you've created. And I think those are kicking in for sure. You have a chance to really reinforce. That's why I talked about the thing from C.J. Person right at the beginning because that was such a huge real life, hey, this just happened. I say it all the times, these guys, you got to be ready, you know, one, some of those guys they don't really believe you because they never get in. And so yet it happened. And so, and I guarantee you his sense of urgency and everybody else's is elevated because of what we just had happen at a very critical point in the game.

So I think that just gives us more to teach off of and get ourselves ready and you got to come back and then this week and then you got to go back and do it again next week. That's just part of playing at this level. So I just think, yeah, those things help, we have to draw from that, have to be able to draw both experience and growth from that and be able to allow ourselves to play once again. We got to play our best football on Saturday.

Q. You talked about some of the 16 seniors you'll honor on Saturday. A lot of those guys are fifth year guys who you had no role in recruiting at all. How important was it to get them to buy into your program and what was the process to get those guys to believe?
TOM ALLEN: Well, it was very important. I think you always have to make sure when you become a head coach somewhere and you didn't recruit the guys that were already there that they don't feel like that you're just trying to, hey, we're just building for the future and they kind of get put on the shelf. And that was never the intent and I know they don't, never felt that way. But sometimes it happens at certain places. I just feel like that it was about relationships and they had to be built. They weren't established in recruiting because I didn't recruit them, I didn't sit in their living room with their parents. And we have had those, I even felt like that even some of these guys, I had a chance to learn, even as a head coach, maybe the first group of guys, and not that I didn't try and build a relationship with them, but I never really probably got to know their parents hardly at all because of that variable there and you don't really get a lot of interaction with them when you don't recruit them like that. So tried to really reach out to some of these senior guys and fifth year parents and just to try to help with that process. Because it is important. These are, it's family and so you got their son, one of their prized possessions is their son and how you handle them and build relationships with them. And they want to, they came here to do something, get their degree, play in the Big-10, do something special, create change, they all came here for those same reasons, even if I wasn't here back then. I just think it's been neat to see the guys buy in, it's been neat to get to know these guys and be able to invest in their lives and make an impact in them that's going to be way beyond what happens on game day. And that's a big reason why I do what I do and it's just a unique environment when you're not the one that brought them here. So, but it doesn't diminish anything in regards to the relationship piece and how powerful that is and how important that is. So to me it's just been trying to do the best I can to get to know them and help them reach the goals that they have for their lives and the things that I feel like that it is my responsibility to help them achieve and grow to when they leave here.

Q. Bigger picture question, I know you don't want your guys focusing on it, but is there anything that the program does as you get closer and closer to the bowl field sorting itself out to, I don't know if the word is market itself or anything like that or do you just kind of let that happen organically with the began?
TOM ALLEN: That's a good question. We, as a university, you know, we have a proactive approach to being able to help us in the proper way to be able to get information out there to show why we would be a good choice, for a variety of reasons. So you just go through that process and we do that behind the scenes and have had conversations and others here in leadership have had conversations and that will continue and have some conversations even this weekend, so, but, yeah, I think you're just trying to, you got to prove it on the field and you got to put yourself in a position, but they have a chance to pick who they want to have come and play in these bowls and based on certain criteria and so, yeah, I just think it's about building your resume, I guess that's probably one way of putting it, and then being able to market that resume and say, hey, this is a team, we're a team that you want to have come and we're going to bring fans and we're going to bring energy and excitement and a certain type of style of play. But I think fans is a pretty big variable for these bowls, they want seats full and they want people coming watching, which I totally understand. So I think that's part of it, I'm not consumed with that, for sure, but people in our organization are working on that behind the scenes.

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