Indiana defensive coordinator Tom Allen returns home to change culture of Indiana defense

After spending a year in Tampa, Fla., new Indiana defensive coordinator Tom Allen returned to his native Hoosier state. Read on to find out how he plans to change the culture of Indiana's defense.

An opportunity to return home was just too good to pass up for new Indiana defensive coordinator Tom Allen. 

"Had some great opportunities in the South in some great programs," Allen said at his introductory press conference last Saturday. "But who doesn't like coming home? I'm very excited to be with (head) coach (Kevin) Wilson and his staff, and excited for what he's building here. I'm anxious to be able to get started." 

Allen hasn't been in town for very long, but has been hard at work on the recruiting trail. With the current team, he has had not had the chance to watch the players on the roster but was able to watch the New Era Pinstripe Bowl as a fan. 

In that bowl game, Indiana gave up 44 points in a 44-41 loss to Duke.

Wilson talked about changing the culture of the defense when he met with the media to discuss his contract extension, and Allen echoed the exact same words last Saturday. 

"I want to change the culture," Allen said. "I want to change the mentality. I want to be able to play with an edge, play with confidence." 

Allen has experience in that department. He's had coaching experience across the high school and collegiate level that spans a collective 24 years. Among his most impressive feats in that time was turning Ole Miss into the top-ranked defense in the SEC during his time as a linebackers coach/special teams coordinator from 2012-14. 

Prior to his arrival in Oxford, the Rebels ranked last in total defense. In his final year at Ole Miss, it led the nation in scoring defense and allowed the fewest touchdowns in the country. 

Allen primarily used a 4-2-5 base scheme for his defense at Ole Miss and South Florida, a scheme which he plans to implement at Indiana. It's a departure from the 4-3/3-4 hyrbrid Indiana used under former defensive coordinator Brian Knorr. 

"We're going to adapt," Allen said. "We're going to be able to take the guys we have here and play to their strengths." 

To get players adjusted to the new scheme and change the culture, Allen said it starts with changing the way they prepare. He said he's not basing it off anything other than that, besides the fact that it's how he's always approached it at each of his coaching stops. 

Allen said he wasn't saying the Hoosiers don't know how to prepare, but he said he assumed that's what he'll try to establish first with his new players. It will start with the following progression. 

"From my standards and my expectations, the way we're going to prepare is going to create a confidence," Allen said. "And once that confidence is created, it's going to create an expectation. Once that expectation is created, it's going to create a different performance." 

The beginnings of that progress and culture change will start with Allen doing what has always been a part of him personally and profesionally: connecting with his players on a personal level and investing in their lives. 

"When they know that you truly care about them as a person, way more than you care about them as a player, it changes the way they perform," Allen said. "To me, that's the foundational base of my coaching philosophy.

"I believe in coaching from the heart to the heart, and that's a powerful part of what I believe in. And that's not going to be any different here." 


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