January 2, 2021
Tampa, Florida, USA
Raymond James Stadium
Ole Miss 26, Indiana 20
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening statement.
TOM ALLEN: Just want to start by congratulating Ole Miss and Coach Kiffin, all his team, the way they played, made enough plays to come out with a win.
Just really disappointed for our players. They've been through so much. Golly, just been an amazing season for so many different reasons. They've been through so much, given so much, worked so hard, sacrificed so much to come to a bowl game. Just heartbroken for them they weren't able to finish with a win.
Very proud of our guys, but this one is going to hurt for a while.
Q. What do you possibly tell your players after a game like this? Such a great season, then to end this way for a second year in a row. How do you try to lift their spirits? What message do you give them?
TOM ALLEN: Well, I mean, right when you get done playing a game like this, I don't know if it's really about lifting their spirits. I love them regardless of the outcome of the game. They have to check in their own heart how they prepared. Only they really know that.
I thought they did a lot of good things for sure in this preparation process, even though it's been an unusual last few weeks and challenging, to get them physically ready with all the things we're going through.
At the same time you got to take it like a man when you fall short. Didn't make enough plays. Talked to them about the turnovers that we had, the two that we had on offense, none that we got on defense, minus two. That's how you win football games, creating those takeaways, being plus in that category.
At the same time you don't dwell on the fact that it's going to hurt and it should hurt if you're invested a whole lot like these guys have, sacrificed a whole bunch to be in this position.
It's a tough one, for sure. Like everything else, everything you go through helps create the person that you are, the positives and the negatives, the opportunities that you have that you don't take advantage of.
At the end of the day I'm the head coach, this loss falls on me. That's the way it works. I accept that. That's what makes it sting so much because I wanted it for these kids so bad.
Q. The last drive you started moving the ball again, then you had the sack. Was that the killer do you think?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, really put us in a bad spot. Tough to overcome that. Got to try, do what you can. Had been running the ball well, being able to create those plays. That to me is where it kind of got off schedule, the first snap of the last series, then the sack. Not going the right direction.
Fourth and 18 is tough. They're playing two man with that, tough windows to throw in, a long ways to go for a quarterback run or a checkdown throw.
Makes it challenging, but we got way behind the chains in that last drive and that's what killed us.
Q. You feasted all year on the blitzing, the turnover creation. They were going with the quick, short passing game the whole time. Was it difficult to try to adjust around that, force them into anything different?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I think that and the tempo. To me the tempo is really the hardest part. We rely so much on disguising things. It's hard to do that because you're just trying to get lined up to play a snap. You have to give them different looks, different things to be able to match up with them.
Yeah, I just thought they were finding holes, going fast, and they do. Takeaways... They were trying to keep us from having chances to do that. There wasn't a lot of those. We had more opportunities in the first half I thought to get some of those. Some RPOs early on, hard to play the way we play.
But in some ways I know we still -- that last drive is kind of the one. Gosh, can't give that long pass play up. Just had a mistake there from one of our better players. At the same time I thought the guys competed. There was no question. Tempo with the heat, a tough combination. You got to play a lot of guys, got to fight through it.
But we just needed one more takeaway, needed a takeaway. Not having any, it's just not how we've been successful. Whether it's a bowl game or regular season game, you got a formula for success. When you don't stick with that formula, oftentimes you don't get what you want.
Q. This isn't the first time this season where the offense has started slow. There were some dropped passes, a few penalties. How much do you think the rust played into it, hadn't played for a month?
TOM ALLEN: Yeah, I mean, you're worried about that. I was worried about that. We haven't played for four weeks. It's hard. That's long. Sometimes you see in bowl games of the normal system where you would sometimes have that much time off. It really truly was a window of time there where we did not practice at all, didn't do anything with our guys when it first occurred.
Yeah, I think it always seems to hurt the timing of the offense. Still, no excuses. You got to catch balls. You got to execute.
Yeah, I think it kind of showed up more early, then got into a rhythm, did some better things. Chuck did a great job kicking big field goals, but we want touchdowns. You just need one more.
Q. On the final drive, you were moving the ball, running the ball. You got away from that on the first down play. Was there a reason to move away from the run? Did you feel like the pass might be there?
TOM ALLEN: It's a read. So the quarterback has that read. Actually, after the play I was like, Why didn't he hand it off? You've agreed to give a read. You don't criticize and second-guess. He thought it was there. To me, that's what we probably should have done. Should have done that.
That's what the read is there on that. He thought he had the leverage to get the ball out on the perimeter to try to get four yards or five yards.
But, yeah, I actually agree with that, should have.
Q. Specifically about Jack, his performance, how much do you think the shoulder bothered him? How much did that take him and Nick away from what they wanted the game plan to be?
TOM ALLEN: It definitely affected him. I thought he was a warrior today. He played through some serious pain. Since it's the end of the season, want to be honest about that, he had a shoulder separation in his throwing shoulder. Did an x-ray on it. Thought he might have broken the collarbone at first. That was not the case. So basically he just had to kind of suck it up. It was very painful.
But it was his throwing shoulder, so I think it affected some of our throws, some of the things we thought he could do with that situation. Even though when he had it, he's still running, diving. He competed his tail off. But there's no question, he was dinged up pretty good, just trying to fight through it. He's a tough, tough kid.
Q. Do you have any regrets about the way the whole uniform situation was perceived as a slight against the Big Ten?
TOM ALLEN: I wrote a statement about that. That's pretty much it. The statement is what I wanted to say. That's how I'm going to end it.
Q. Bigger picture here, what are you going to say to your seniors as you watch them leave? What do you want the rest of the locker room to take away from this entire season?
TOM ALLEN: Well, I mean, this has been a season for the ages. I mean, all we've been through, it's been so hard. Everybody has been through this. All the teams that decided not to play in bowl games because they knew their guys had been through so much already. Our guys chose to play, wanted to play.
But that was the process we had to work through because there were just some tough things there with all that. They had been here for a long, long time, hadn't been with their families, knew they weren't going to be able to go home for Christmas, all those things. Been a challenging year.
Even though we've done some amazing things, got chances to win a lot of great games that this group will always be remembered for. They are a special group. To lay a tremendous foundation for next year, I'm excited about next year.
A lot of those seniors are going to make a decision, give them an opportunity to come back. Some will, some won't. We'll know for sure here in the next couple weeks. Either way we're going to love and support them, whatever they feel is best for them and their future, we'll talk that through with them.
Bottom line, a special group of guys. Love each and every one of them, respect them, love what they've given to the program. Unfortunate, they didn't get to have a Senior Day. Nothing has felt normal at all. First time we had fans other than parents at a game. Great to hear the crowd cheering. They missed all that. All these big wins we've gotten at home or on the road, to have nobody there for a lot of those, it's tough.
But this is a special group. I'm proud of these guys. Just want them to know that. The guys that choose to move on, we'll wish them nothing but great things in the future.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Tom.
TOM ALLEN: Have a great day.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports