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December 13, 2019

Tom Allen

Bloomington, Indiana

TOM ALLEN: We were able to go down to Jacksonville on Wednesday, which was a great trip. To go down recruiting in Florida during the day and then went up to Jacksonville in the evening and had a chance to meet many of the individuals involved with the Gator Bowl. I was really very impressed with just the way they handled it. You could tell it's a lot of pride in the city of Jacksonville and for this bowl game and so much work goes into it and just really first class setup. Just really impressed with the people and enjoyed that experience there and had the press conference and different activities.

So really looking forward to the opportunity to be in that venue. Went to the stadium. And really excited about the number of tickets that's been pre-sold already and they're expecting a big old crowd. So really exciting for our team. Just talking with them, even this morning as we had our practice and team meetings, just about the opportunity that this creates for our program and just really congratulating the seniors and their leadership in leading this season and allowing us to be awarded with an opportunity to go and play in a bowl game of this stature and this location. And also the fact that they will be playing as a prime time game with the whole country watching, which is a really, really important part of being able to show what we're building here at Indiana and how we play. And that's really something that I'm looking forward to having that opportunity to do with our team.

So started our first practice today and thought we got a lot of good work in. We'll have a couple more here the next two days, and then give them a couple days off for finals. And then come back and hit three more days and really start getting into the Tennessee prep at that point, and then give them a day off after those three days, and then come back for our final three. We'll go, Christmas Eve morning will be our final practice on campus and then give our players a chance to go home for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and a couple days afterwards, and we'll meet in Jacksonville. Many guys will come here with us and we'll travel together. And those that are further away will just go ahead and report down to the bowl site.

So that's kind of our schedule for the next couple weeks and looking forward to it. I think our guys are very excited about this opportunity and want to see our team take full advantage of it. Questions?

Q. This isn't your first time coaching into a bowl, so as an assistant are there any coaches you learned from about the structure of this? Are there any coaches that you call?
TOM ALLEN: Well, I would say that the thing for me being in a couple different bowls recently, and it was in, the most recent one for me is the -- my first game was the bowl game when we went out to California. So that was an absolute whirlwind and a lot of things being thrown at you really, really fast. So but just talked to some teams that have been in this exact bowl, looked at their schedule and got some ideas from that.

But you also kind of learn about, the biggest thing is a bowl that is this late, is how to you manage the time. And so these last two weeks have been huge for us to be able to kind of learn from some things the way I liked it done in the past, the guys I worked with at other places, and things maybe I didn't like as well. But to me, the biggest thing is making sure that your players stay sharp, physically, from a conditioning perspective. And so we did a lot with our guys last two weeks and didn't really do a lot of football necessarily things, but only a couple days of that. But with our strength staff, we had five individual workouts with those guys and just allowing them to be able to stay on top of their game physically, as well as getting a chance to kind of get mentally and physically refreshed from all of the normal demands of a season, watching film and having practice every day, most days. And so I feel like it's been a nice break for them in that regard.

So yeah, you learn and you talk to other coaches and you, especially ones that have been in this exact bowl or a bowl later, like, in the early January. So it's been good to be able to resource those guys.

Q. You've had a little bit of time to look at Tennessee film now. What about them stands out when you watch the film?
TOM ALLEN: Well, I've only watched a little. We were up until wee hours of the morning last night, got in very late from out West recruiting and been recruiting really, really hard. So, but at the same time, very athletic, is what I see. Offensive line, I think is very talented. They're a young team, but a very talented team. Their receiver corps is the strength of their offense in terms of just raw talent. Very, very impressed with them. And then the good solid running backs, and they got numerous running backs that are able to be effective. And then their D-line, I think is very aggressive and physical and athletic, and they got some good size at backer and they all run well. So it's a typical SEC team. Very impressed with them physically, a lot of athleticism. The thing about them, you kind of look and they're really playing their best football. They won their last five games, have kind of stopped turning the ball over, which we all know how big that is. And once they started doing that, it really allowed them to be successful. So Coach Pruitt's done a really good job with this team. And I know they ended the season with a lot of high expectations and maybe had a couple early on that didn't go the way they wanted to, but they learned from those and they're playing really well right now, so it's a really good football team we're about to play.

Q. How do you balance the physicality of the practices in regards to the season and how do you balance that?
TOM ALLEN: Well, I would say at this point, to me, the goal of the first three practices are to designed to have a lot of technique and fundamental work, kind of approach them the way we would approach a bye week in both structure and in both physicality. So more physical with our younger guys and really trying to get them a lot of good reps, added some extra periods today for a lot of our freshmen and sophomores to be able to, that don't get a lot of the reps with the ones and twos, to allow them to be able to go. Not a lot of full live goes, but we call it thud tempo. So still physical on the line of scrimmage, thudding them up in the box and having good technique on the perimeter.

So a lot of tackling drills for our guys, a lot of good physical blocking from a drill work perspective. So yeah, you're trying to be physical, but you're right, it's a long process you go through, and then that's where you, like, you don't like to start too soon on your opponent. It gets a little stale if you do. So we're going to be focusing at this point trying to just get better, just get better as a football team and the things that we know we have to get better at from a fundamental technique perspective moving forward.

Q. Do you have a practice facility in Jacksonville or is that to be determined?
TOM ALLEN: We think we'll know pretty soon here. I think there's a local high school that we're going to be at that has a nice, a really nice surface. Our guys went down and checked a couple of them out while we were there. I did not physically go myself, but it will be trying to get a nice surface. I looked, I walked through the Jaguars' field and it's in really good shape. They will have only one more game, which is against the Colts between now and when we play, so barring a rain game, it should be in really good shape.

So we're trying to get, we usually play on field turf up here, most of our games are on turf. So to be able to get on natural grass, we did play a couple games this year on that, so we would like to be able to get on that as much as we can.

Q. On his approach to bowl practices...
TOM ALLEN: There's no question. That's, even today, and we talked to our team in the team meeting about our kind of our goals here for what we're trying to accomplish, and early on. And basically, want these young guys to get lots of reps. We did the walkthroughs today, we're geared around our young guys, all the guys involved in those walkthroughs were our younger players so they can learn the system on both sides of the football. So I just think you have to do that. That's one of the big benefits of being in a bowl game is those extra practices. Older guys will benefit as well. But we are a very young football team, so we got a lot of young guys that are in the ones and twos, but then we're really young when you start getting to the guys that go with our threes and fours. So yes, we want to get a lot of work in, get those guys a ton of reps and treat it like you, basically, have two spring balls now, which is kind of a double benefit.

Q. You talked about it not being kind of not to scale with your preparations. Just sprinkling in work or more backing off in preparing for Tennessee.
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, we were holding off. We're not going to do any Tennessee work here early on. And like I said, it's just, even our special teams, it's all special teams drills. We do some things full group with punt, but we didn't do anything else. It was all drill work, and that's kind of the focus. And then all the team sessions and offense versus defense. We're not going against scout teams right now. So at this point we're not really doing anything specific to Tennessee yet.

Q. I saw you stop by the intramural field. Can you talk about the game you saw there?
TOM ALLEN: I did. That was fun. I just appreciate all those guys and girls that were out there and cheering them on and they were pretty rambunctious, that's for sure. So we had a good time together. But I mean, those are our student body, you know, and I just want to support them, they support us, they come watch us play and cheer us on. There's some good plays being made out there. Got a couple guys we might need to make some offers to.

Q. On bowl practice...
TOM ALLEN: It's hard to get too much. I know there's a lot of variables that have to go, that have to be in place in order for those, if they're -- you're talking about the midyear enrollees that would come? Yeah, so we have had a couple in the past that have been able to do that. You basically have to have it where you're completely finished at your school and graduated and everything is cleared there, and then you're enrolled here. And so, and any -- and you can't do it off-site, but all the bowl practices we have on campus, those guys can be a part of. And in the past, you don't even probably get them in full pads. It's just more just being around, getting the flow, starting to learn the terminology, and just getting familiar with what we do. So we'll try and get a couple of those if we can, but it's not really a huge priority.

Q. On players going home for the holiday...
TOM ALLEN: Well, I think first of all the reason why I think it's important is because, if you look at our schedule and you look at the calendar and how long these guys have been going, it can get very, very difficult mentally and physically. And so I think just the chance to be home for Christmas is a big deal and our guys were, they were pretty fired up that we got the chance to go home. So I just think that it's important, family's important to me and I want our guys to be with theirs for Christmas. So we set the schedule up, we play late enough and we got plenty of time to get our work in. And my whole philosophy is, when we are here we get our work in and we got to be locked in and let's be effective at that and maximize our time. But when we're away let's make sure we get refreshed. But, yeah, you mentioned about being concerned. Any time they're not with me -- spring break is a, it's hard to enjoy spring break for me, because I'm always concerned about what might happen. So same thing here the guys go home. But, you know, I love our team and I trust our guys. But we talk about it, even just the travel, talk about not texting when you're driving when you're going home, just being careful, wearing your seat belts and all the things that you try to do as a parent would do, you know, it's no different. But when they're home they represent us, everything that they do. And we got a great opportunity ahead of us, so they got to continue to eat right, get proper sleep, take care of their bodies when they're away for a few days that we're going to give them off to meet before we come back to the bowl site. So I mean it's being a pro, we talk about it all the time. And there's a lot of things involved in that phrase, but these guys are a pretty driven group, they're very focused, they have set out their goals for this year and this is one of them was to go win our bowl game. So I can see, I can tell by the look in our eyes today it's a very focused group.

Q. Have you seen any impact from the kids that you're recruiting from this and will you be going to the Colts game?
TOM ALLEN: We actually are going to go to the Colts game and that will be a neat experience for us and to support those guys. We got a chance to meet several of their coaches and a couple of their players, different coaches have coached those players over the years different places. And got to know Chris Ballard, a lot of respect for him and the job he does there and kind of the man that he is. So want to support those guys, yes, and I just think that -- there's no question it helps in recruiting. A lot of our guys were pretty locked in as we have recruited them over the summer. A lot of those guys came for spring visits and that was when their officials were for the springtime and a few more came this past weekend and we got a very few, a small number this weekend. But there's no doubt, I've been out the last two weeks and just the momentum from the Bucket win and the season and all that we have been able to accomplish this year is huge. And really you got guys you were trying to really reel in at the end and try to convince them to come here and you got a really strong set of evidence of what we're doing. Instead of saying, this is what we're wanting to do or hoping to do in the future, this is what we just did. And it's a powerful thing and they see it. And the chance about talking about going and playing in the Gator Bowl and being in a January bowl and being in Florida and just that what that does for us in recruiting. So, yeah, those are all things that are, we're trying to take full advantage of all that and the families that you talk to it's pretty -- it's fun to sit in homes and go to schools and talk about what we're doing, because they see it and they watched us and it's been very, very positively received.

Q. The ability, maybe the temptation to maybe get innovative offensively and defensively, doing things you maybe haven't done, is that a temptation and if so is it almost a fun thing, like let's come up with interesting things to do offensively?
TOM ALLEN: Well time creates that and sometimes you got to be careful, but I think that that's -- you need to did a little bit of that. I think it also helps with your guys for them to be able to do some new things. But at the same time we're such a young team overall that we still, I want to, I want us to be very, very simple in our regards to the fact that we're going to play really fast and be, play very physical, play with a lot of confidence and still, just looking back at our last game, we still made too many mistakes on defense and gave up too many big plays. So, but yeah, you kind of, when coaches get some more times on their hands to be innovative and creative sometimes we, you know, do too much of that, you know, so it's about being fundamentally sound and playing well, but, yeah, you need some wrinkles, you don't want them to be able to sit on the stuff from the last several weeks and feel like they have a good feel for you, you like to be able to give them something they maybe haven't seen.

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