Tom Allen came to Bloomington to turn around the Indiana defense and he told the media recently that he can’t wait to get the 2016 season underway. The new Hoosiers’ defensive coordinator met with the media after an IU Invasion Camp last week to give his thoughts on what his expectations are for the Indiana defensive unit this fall.
The first thing Coach Allen and the defensive staff worked to do was to establish a new culture and a new standard for how things will be done defensively.
“Obviously it is a process and so every step has value,” Allen said. “We had a great spring I felt like and had a good foundation laid with that, and then the summer is step two and now fall camp is the next one. To me to change it you have to hold guys accountable. For whatever standard you establish, you’ve got to be strong enough and confident enough to make them play t that standard, prepare to that standard and behave to that standard all the time. That’s what we have to do and that’s the big goal that I have coming here.”
Coach Allen likes how the players bought in to the new way of doing things, but he said fall camp will be very important if they want to keep making progress on having a successful defense.
“I believe that we have definitely gotten off to a great start with that, but the season is always the next step,” Allen said. “To me that is where it gets solidified in their mind. When they start seeing these things that you’re preaching and teaching and it manifests itself and it shows up on Saturday. When it is critical moments and you have to have something happen positive, that’s when you draw from what you’re building off of. So to me we’re still building, and fall camp is a critical time for us to establish that culture and keep reinforcing it and keep teaching it. The points of emphasis have not changed. They have not changed since we got here. They were established in the spring, they’re reinforced in the summer, and they’re just going to be continued to be reinforced in fall camp.”
According to Coach Allen the key to getting the players to buy in is to show them they you care about them as people and not just as football players.
“I think that part takes time,” he said about connecting with the players. “It’s building that relationship and getting to know them and getting to know them as a person. We do things with them but we’re a little limited over the summer. I actually can’t wait to get into fall camp. I’ll be with them the whole time and without any school to go to so you can really dive into their lives. But at this point it has been connecting with them as a young man, their family life and what goes on when they leave here. And even just sitting down and counseling them with issues that they deal with. That’s how you get to know guys, and that’s how they learn to trust you, when you care about them for way more than just football. If it always just x’s and o’s, to me that’s what is expected from a coach and it can be a little bit self-serving…if you can help me then I’m going to give you time, and if you can’t then I won’t. I want it to be way more than that. To me that is how you build a tight team that loves one another and plays for one another. That to me is the foundational piece of my coaching philosophy.”
Coach Allen said that they will start to have an idea of what kind of progress they have made early in fall camp, but it could take three or four games to know exactly what kind of defense they will have this season.
“You don’t really know,” he said when asked if you can measure where the defense is right now. “I think it’s going to get exposed to adversity. We’re only allowed to be with them for certain times in the summer so it makes it harder, but in fall camp we’ll know in a few weeks how much progress we’ve made in some things we’ve emphasized culturally with them. And then obviously you’re going to know for sure in the fall. After the first quarter of the season you’ll know kind of what you’ve established and you’ll have some trends that are starting to show up on the field, good and bad. But it’s definitely going to have to take some more time.”
When it comes to the personnel he has to work with Coach Allen feels like he has enough of the right pieces to make his defense work.
“I feel like they’re here,” he said when asked if he has players who can succeed in his scheme. “There is no question we’re going to recruit guys that we feel like fit certain parts of it, but I didn’t come here and evaluate the team and feel like we were really lacking at this certain position. The one position to me that is probably the most unique is our Husky position, the hybrid linebacker-safety. We feel like we have two or three guys there that are good candidates, and we got a guy we recruited knowing he was recruited for that position so I think that is a positive thing for sure. And there are a couple guys already here that fit that mold. But it is really a 4-3 nickel is kind of how I would express it. Going from a three-down to a four-down and the way they played it last year there were some similarities for sure, but in the back end there is probably more differences in concept. I feel like it is our job to take the guys that we’ve got and adjust the system to them because that’s who we have. We’re going to make it work and make it fit and get them to play their tails off for 60 minutes.”
Coach Allen said his summer has mainly consisted of film study on all 12 teams the Hoosiers will face this fall.
“Most of what I have done this summer is watch our opponents,” the IU defensive coordinator said. “I have watched hours and hours and hours from opponent one through twelve and just getting a great feel for the conference and the schedule we’re going to play. We have a systematic way of evaluating what they’re going to do and charting it and everything. That’s been the major goal because you want to make sure schematically you’ve got the things put in place building blocks wise to get ready for that schedule, and obviously when you’re going to play those opponents.”