Indiana head coach Tom Allen returned Wednesday for his weekly “Inside IU Football” radio show, hosted by Don Fischer. Allen reflects on IU’s 45-24 loss at Cincinnati and prepares for another road test on Saturday night against Nebraska. As usual, all footnotes and quotes are by Allen unless otherwise noted.
On Indiana’s 45-24 loss to Cincinnati:
- “We responded, but it was frustrating to dig such a big hole in the first half”
- “Overall it was a very, very good performance from our defense in the second half, but those three big passes in the first half really hurt us”
- “It was the big plays that we gave up that hurt us”… “The biggest problem was that we needed more takeaways. We had to set up our offense and not have to make them drive
- Allen specifically points out that IU’s poor position on the pitch throughout the game really hurt the offense
- Re: Player reaction to loss — ‘It was tough. The guys were very disappointed and they were down’… Allen said the coaches met with the team on Sunday and were brutally honest, had watched a movie, etc….” The main thing is to look them in the eye and tell them the truth
- Fischer asks about IU’s slow start – Allen said he didn’t want to stress too much about not starting slow because it could have adverse psychological effects on the team… But at the same time, he wants to continue instilling urgency from the start…”For me, it’s about starting strong and finishing stronger”
- Fischer notes that Cincinnati WR Tyler Scott, who had 3 touchdowns against IU, was a big recruiting target for IU at one point.
- Allen said he told the team “it was a team loss”, not one player or one side of the ball.
- Allen said Cincinnati “looked surprisingly better than I thought” after watching this season’s film, as well as all the elite talent they lost in the offseason… “For me, it wasn’t not such a big drop (from last season’s Cincinnati team)…”They’re going to win a lot of football games, no doubt”…Allen said before the game, they viewed Cincinnati as a ” top tier Big Ten team”
On the Indiana offensive line:
- Fischer said that Connor Bazelak had no time in his pocket… Allen replies: “It’s a combination of things. Obviously it starts with the offensive line, but we have to help him schematically and the carriers of ball have to go. It’s a collective effort.” “
- Fischer asks what type of blocking patterns UI uses… Allen said UI uses gap patterns and zone patterns, which vary throughout games to help with angles and such
- Re: Injuries affecting IU’s offensive line — “It’s hard to replace guys like Matt (Bedford)…but we have to do it. Guys have to step up.” …”For me, it’s just a matter of guys getting up.”
On Indiana’s offensive performance:
- Re: Rush Attack – Allen said IU’s ground game wasn’t good enough; liked what they did against Cincinnati, but it wasn’t consistent enough from game to game
- Allen said on third down, the Cincinnati defense often tried to overload one side of the ball to overwhelm one side of IU’s offensive line, which made pass protection difficult.
- Re: Bazelak’s performance through four games — “I feel like he continues to understand what we’re doing more and more every week”… “I just feel like he grows, but it’s about protecting the football”… Allen said Bazelak’s early interception was “bad” and they talked about it during the movie… “He was solid, but he has to be better”
- Fischer questions depth of tight ends with injured James Bomba – ‘It hurt us because of his skills and the things he can do, especially in the blocking zone’
- Re: DJ Matthews injury — “Not sure when he’ll be back yet, but hopefully we can get him back this week. He’s getting closer for sure”
On Indiana’s defensive performance:
- Re: Great touchdown passes – ‘Tiawan is one of our best players and he turned around. He misread the route and got turned in the wrong direction’… Allen says that he was shocked, thinking maybe Mullen had fallen because he doesn’t usually make those mistakes
- “We play an aggressive style. We will rush you, we will put pressure”
- Allen said IU’s blitzes were consistent with the amount normally called, but the pressure just wasn’t reaching the QB as much as previous plays.
On the next game at Nebraska on Saturday night:
- Allen said he thinks Nebraska having the bye week last week creates unknowns for IU… New defensive coordinator and head coach could cause problems… ‘You deal with what you know’
- “After watching the film, it’s shocking that they are 1-3”
- “They have their backs against the wall and they are going to come out swinging. We are going to take their best shot”
- Fischer notes Nebraska’s sold-out streak will continue this Saturday… Allen said he has great respect for Nebraska’s fan base and lore, but he told IU that “you guys play on the ground today, not that of the past”
- Re: QB Casey Thompson – Allen says IU recruited Thompson in high school, played great this season… Allen credits Nebraska offense; “they are where they are NOT because of their offense”
- Allen compares Nebraska RB Anthony Grant to Illinois RB Chase Brown
- “It doesn’t matter what they’ve done so far, what matters what they do on Saturday”