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November 25, 2019

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

TOM ALLEN: Good afternoon.

Just want to say a couple things about Saturday. Chance to go back and watch film. Once again, congratulations to Michigan and Coach Harbaugh and their staff. Playing really good football right now. They did a good job of executing. They're playing the best I've seen them play throughout the season, late in the season. That's what you want to do. That's what we want to do.

We did spend a lot of time on the game, wanted to correct mistakes, address those issues, move on to the most important task at hand, which is getting ready for Purdue Boilermakers, our bucket game.

Wrap up with some guys that did a great job during the week. Our scouts that give so much to us, work so hard.

Defensive scouts of the week, Mad Norris, Robert Tolbert, two guys that work every single day. Did a great job last week.

Offensive scout the week, Zack Merrill. Played quarterback, gave us a great look, energy, focus, keeping those guys on a good tempo.

Special teams scout of the week, Davion Ervin-Poindexter.

Four guys there that gave of themselves to our team to help us get better each week. We appreciate their efforts for that.

Got a great opportunity this week. Obviously a chance for win number eight, more importantly the bucket. That is a huge priority here in our program. Our guys understand that. All of our new guys are growing to understand that as they're here now with us. Want to do a great job of preparing.

Very, very good football team that we're going to get their very best shot. Coach Brohm has done a great job there. They've had some injuries throughout the year, like most of us have.

Bottom line is that they're going to play extremely hard, play extremely well, have a good plan. We'll have to play our very, very best on the road to get this very important win for our program.


Q. In terms of health, Whop, Matt, Stevie, Peyton, anybody else out of last weekend?
TOM ALLEN: Whop should be good. Fully expect him to play, which is great to have him back.

With Stevie and Matt, obviously they both went down during the game. Still unsure of them. We'll know later in the week. Lower leg injuries for both of those guys. Nothing longer term for them guys. Seeing if we could get them back. That would be the hope.

With regards to Peyton, just a little sore. He worked out today. He's fine. Will be good to go.

Other than that, made it out of it okay. Just some bumps and bruises this late in the season. Week 12 you're going to have guys that need to maximize the training room since we don't have classes this week.

Q. You've been here long enough to understand the importance of Indiana-Purdue. Coming up short the first two, when you make your list of goals that you keep to yourselves, this always starts at the top?
TOM ALLEN: Absolutely. We're not shy about that. There's signs around our building to that end.

It's personal. It's a rivalry game that epitomizes the state. Was raised in this state. I understand it. Watched many of them over the years. Know how important it is to our university. Our fan base, our former players, everybody that is part of IU, means a lot to them.

Absolutely something that has really bothered me these last two years. Obviously there were a lot of things that happened when we lost that game, lost the opportunity to go to a bowl game the last two years. It was a very, very difficult off-season to have to sit there and kind of have that over your head, in your heart.

But that's just being real. That's the truth. It's been something that we obviously have been setting aside. When the time is right, now is the time. Our entire focus is on the Purdue Boilermakers.

Q. Any more answers from the film on the pass defensive issues on Saturday?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I mean, just verified they got some really good receivers, watching it again. Knew that going in. Saw it live.

We changed some things up with a couple of those calls, tried to give those guys some help. We do play a lot of man coverage, no secret there. We knew, I said it ahead of time, we're going to have to win some of those one-on-ones. Some of that is technique, too.

First two touchdowns, great position, got a chance to rip that ball out. Those are balls that we've gotten ripped out at times, strong, handy catches. Once again, two guys going after the ball, head-to-head, they come up with those first two, made great plays.

We got to get those stops there. But just some technique we got to keep working on. We do it a lot. We got to work on it, get better. Find ways to give them some help, change it up. It goes back to rushing the passer, play some more zone, take pressure off those guys. There's no doubt about that. That's absolutely true.

But it's just still a matter of winning one-on-ones. Competitive game that we play. That's kind of how the game is. That's how we choose to play it. That's what you got to do.

We didn't win enough of those on Saturday. That really was disappointing, for sure. But we just got to be able to work on our technique. That's where these bowl practices are going to be huge for us. Got a lot of young players on defense. As a matter of fact, you go through freeze that frame, it's freshmen, sophomores, pretty much the entire group. That's good and bad. But we're late in the season, so we just got to keep getting better.

Q. Jeff Brohm at Purdue is very creative, does a lot of trick stuff. Last week at Wisconsin they ran one. Two years ago they faked a punt. You can't spend a ton of time, but how much does that factor into your preparation?
TOM ALLEN: We fully understand that. It is. He does a great job. Makes for a lot of sleepless nights when you try to get ready for the variety of things he may do. I know that's why they do it. I'm sure they have a love fun doing that and try to make our lives defensively miserable. It's the unknown.

You have to work on it. You can't obsess about it. It's disciplined eyes and technique. I think disciplined eyes are the technique. Oftentimes what they do, you lose your guy or if you're playing zone you lose leverage, get caught up thinking it's a run, this or that, variety of things they may choose to do. Definitely keeps you on your toes, makes you have to work on them. We will.

But you also just got to react. You don't want to be, you know, obsessing with things that might happen. You have to react to what you see, trust your eyes, be disciplined, play fast, physical, play with confidence.

Q. There's a lot of reasons that makes this game big. After having lost two straight, after the season you've had, how important is it to get that win, knowing you're going into a bowl game, to be going into that game object a winning note?
TOM ALLEN: It's huge. We talked to our team about that today. Momentum is big. You go through, you had really two very, very tough teams that we've individually beaten each of those teams once in the past 50 years. Tough opponents. We knew that. We prepared the to the best of our ability, fell short this last weekend.

Not going to be discouraged because of that. We see the big picture. We know the way we're building here. I want our guys to understand that.

Finishing with a victory to get the bucket back, get momentum going into our bowl game, it's huge for our program, for our future, and for what we're building here.

But I told our team today, it's the biggest game of the season because it's the next one. They understand that.

Q. They were down to a walk-on quarterback this past weekend. How different are they with this quarterback? How much credit do you give to their coaching staff for being able to maintain the number two passing offense in the Big Ten?
TOM ALLEN: It's actually been very impressive. They've done a great job amidst the adversity at that position. Continued to be productive there, throwing the ball well.

They have a great system in place that they believe in and do a great job with. Kind of next man up, steps in there. Just finding the guy that wasn't highly recruited, but kind of fits the profile of guys that play the position for them. A lot like the Sindelar kid, in my mind, as far as his length, his arm. He's very accurate, throws a good ball. Just stands in there and runs the offense. It's impressive what they've been able to do in the midst of that.

To me you talk about what they do. They're always going to -- you're going to adapt to the strengths of your personnel. They've done that. But he can throw it really, really well. That gives them a tremendous weapon at that spot. You just got to try and attack accordingly and take care of the things you feel like you can take advantage of on film.

We just want to have a great defensive plan, play our best football on Saturday.

Q. The defense, are they where you thought they might be at this point?
TOM ALLEN: Every year is a little different. I feel like I still don't -- we don't create enough takeaways. That to me has been something. Two seasons ago we didn't either. Last year we did, got a bunch.

The emphasis hasn't changed. But that part is where I kind of feel like I just know how big those are, how they change games. They really create a lot of momentum during the game, really create opportunities to win games. That hasn't been the level that I expect.

But I feel like with the youth of our guys, we've gotten better throughout the season, which really has been encouraging. Still don't feel like we've played our best game yet defensively, start-to-finish game against an elite team, take things away.

At the same time the youth up front shows. We need a whole 'nother year. These bowl practices are going to be huge for our young football team. Really with the technique work we're going to get, will help us, another off-season in the weight room. To be able to continue to grow that, knowing how many guys are returning in that unit.

I love how hard we play. I love that our guys are physical. We've tackled well throughout the season. At the beginning we didn't tackle as well as we needed to. We got that corrected.

Need to tackle well on Saturday. That he got a couple bigger backs. Need to do a great job with that, running our feet, being fundamentally sound. Just still made some mistakes that we got to eliminate, even on Saturday. Cut a guy loose on the wheel route that hurt us early. The receiver on the deep pass that hurt us in the third, kind of was probably the final dagger, tough to overcome. You got to continue.

Once again, if you create takeaways in that situation, that's where it changes. I always come back to that, it's such a huge part. Also up front it's an issue. It's affecting the quarterback, getting in his face, making him make decisions quicker than he wants to, not being able to follow through, get his feet set. That affects his throws, creates the opportunity. The violence that you play with, when you tackle, creates the fumbles, all those kind of things.

Kind of a long answer. But to answer your question, I feel like we definitely made progress, not where we want to be. It's sometimes hard not to be as involved in some ways, but at the same time I know to be what I know I want to be holistically as a head coach, the whole program, definitely been a step in the right direction.

Q. You fair caught kickoffs I think for the first time all year. Was that a product of the conditions? Was it a product of Michigan's coverage team? Preliminary forecast, wet weather on Saturday. Is that something you're going to utilize again?
TOM ALLEN: It was more to do with the hang time of the kicks. That's the issue. The hang time of the kick is, it's not (indiscernible) so much. If it's a shorter kick, you'll bring them out. If it's inside the five yard line with a certain amount of hang time, we designate ahead of time, that makes it hard with the speed they have on a team. You don't want to get pinned inside the 20.

The weather to some degree, but not near as much. It was more their skill level at that position and how they were able to kick them high and deep. You just don't want to take that chance to get started inside the 20 or worse yet you get a penalty, you're inside the 10. Against that defense, that's a long, long row to hoe.

That was the rationale, if we have to, take it at the 25 and go to work.

Q. You mentioned next man up earlier. If Stevie can't go, confidence level in Ronnie Walker and Sampson James carrying the load?
TOM ALLEN: Very high confidence in those guys. It would be a great opportunity. Obviously Stevie getting ready, want to see him out there. I think those guys are primed and ready to take off.

Q. We've asked a lot about Peyton this season. In a game like this, in particular, do you see anything different in him? Technically his second bucket game because he wasn't healthy for his first one. Anything different you put on him, anything different you see in him this week?
TOM ALLEN: Just experience, just him knowing the magnitude of the game, what it means to our program, all the work that's been put in. You feel very confident with a guy like that behind center there running your offense, leading your team. He cares so much. You know he's going to do everything to prepare, to be at his very, very best.

He played last year, not his first year because of an injury. I just think experience matters. He's been there, been in that environment. Just got to go there and play with a ton of confidence, play our best football. I expect for him to do that. I think that's where being in his position, being here for quite a while, he's in the spot to do that.

Q. The Michigan game, you had touchdowns on two of those first three drives, impressive. Then there was nothing after that. Did that surprise you, that you couldn't keep that going? What causes, if any, did you see on film?
TOM ALLEN: I think obviously it was a good start. That's what you want to be able to do. Had some really good drives, did the things we wanted to do. We started losing some early downs, got us behind the chains, which I thought was tough to overcome. We got a little bit out of rhythm on that.

I think they were doing some things in their front, being more disruptive. Our guys had a harder time handling them. That really kind of made it difficult. You start getting third-and-longs, that gets difficult.

One thing, we converted a first down, we had the holding call. That was big. That was big. Ended up having to punt, they ended up scoring. To me, might have been the appearance, I didn't feel like we had lost control of the game in the second quarter. I felt like it was that middle of the third there, that sequence, that's when you're like you could feel it was going to be tough after that.

But once again, true freshman, left tackle, made a mistake. They brought a bunch of inside pressure to try to get him cut off. Ended up grabbing him. Always those moments in the game when the momentum switches. Sometimes you don't get it back.

Other than, that we were counterpunching with them. That could have been a good drive, work some time off the clock. We have to get first downs, keep the chains moving. From there, it was really challenging.

I think a lot of it had to do with how their front seven played, how active they were. They were hard to block. Ended up giving up three sacks. Haven't done that in the past. I think it was a combination of things that kind of threw us off schedule and it just kind of snowballed from there.

Q. Khalil Bryant, three 10-tackle games. Why has he been able to be so productive?
TOM ALLEN: Actually I said before, we give an LEO award before each game. He won that one going into the Michigan game. Talked about that. I talked about his production. I said to our team, if we ran a 40 yard, he's not going to win it, not going to have the highest vertical.

He's a student of the game. He's a senior. He's been here. He's really transformed himself as a player. He's always been a good tackler. That was one of the qualities. He was actually already committed to Indiana when I was hired. He was already coming here. He signed in that first class. He's been with me the whole four years.

Just have seen the whole progression. He cares a bunch. Film preparation, I don't think I can emphasize that enough as part of his effectiveness. He anticipates well. He's a good, savvy football player that understands the game, can see things happening.

Goes back to film preparation. He works really, really hard at it. He's maximized every ounce of talent that God has given him, in the weight room, how hard he works. Takes good angles. He finishes tackles well. He's strong. That helps him get guys on the ground.

Chase Dutra was one of those guys that made plays. Lined up, other DBs faster than he was, but similar to that. He understood angles, understands football, is able to be very efficient in how he plays. Doesn't waste a lot of movements. I think that's big. That allows him to be able to be a guy that doesn't have a ton of length and speed, but he's effective.

We put him in a spot where he can thrive with those qualities. Just proud of his preparation that he provides each week, the leadership that he gives. He's pretty quiet, but does a great job of being ready. Therefore he's been rewarded with making a lot of plays. Good for us. Very happy for him.

Q. How has Reece progressed? Stuttered start to his career. Seen a little bit more of him over the last few weeks. How much more comfortable are you leaving him one-on-one?
TOM ALLEN: Sure, I think he's a young man that continues each and every week. As a staff we talked yesterday, he's going to start this week. I think he's a guy that continues to get better and better. Hasn't had consecutive, long length of time where he's gotten all the reps because of the injuries and things that set him back a little bit. Hadn't played a lot of defense in his past.

I feel like his best football is ahead of him, our side of the football. That's a testament once again to he's working extremely hard. We put him back there as the punt returner, replacing Whop. That's someplace I see him growing as we move forward. Giving him a chance to touch the ball in that regard.

As a corner, being comfortable with the position, the technique, all the different things we do because man and zone, all the different coverages, concepts he has to have between run fits and the way it all fits together with what we do as a scheme.

I think he just keeps getting better and better. Tough kid. Makes tackles on kickoff coverage, which has been huge for us as well. Learning to be a defensive player. It's just different, all the things you have to do to play defense.

I just think he's becoming what I thought he would be. I think he's going to keep getting better and better. His best football at that position is ahead of him.

Have a great day. LEO.

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