Tom Allen doesn’t know whether next month’s season opener against Penn State will fall on a Friday night or a Saturday afternoon. But the Indiana coach does have an idea of how the next three and a half weeks leading up to that context will look.
For the Hoosiers, the head-to-head preparation begins this week.
“We will put on the shoulder pads and be shoulder pads and helmets only on Wednesday and Thursday of this week,” Allen said. “We will have a walk-through on Friday and a preseason game on Saturday; a modified version of a scrimmage where we will get some live reps with full pads. We are excited about that.”
The scrimmages will look a little different this year, at least initially. Typically, Allen has used the first live scrimmage of camp to get the first- and second-team offense and defense approximately 50 snaps. This year, the number of snaps will be reduced and the team will spend more time on situational drills.
Allen says the location of the scrimmage could change, as well. Instead of holding it inside Memorial Stadium, Saturday’s dry-run may take place on one of IU’s three practice fields.
In other words, it’s the first step in a slow build to the end of October.
“I see it being a situation where we work on moving the football down the field starting out, then we will create red zone situations and maybe even some third down scripted situations where we get a chance to work on third-and-medium and third-and-long situations, third-and-short,” Allen said. “We will throw in some special teams work where we get some live pressures on our punt team and some live pressures on our PAT/field goal unit. So that would be the emphasis in Week 1 (of camp).”
The second of IU’s three scrimmages is penciled in for Oct. 10, and Allen sees it as a chance to go hard two weeks before the games begin to count.
“That will be a pretty full scrimmage for us,” Allen said. “Probably our one really big scrimmage we will have for the whole time, doing it more like we have in the past and trying to get 40 to 50 snaps for each of the groups. (We want to do) as much as we can. Then, we’ll be able to work on some of the areas we feel like we need to get to — two-minute situations with the officials here and working through all of those (other) situations as well.”
Depending on whether IU’s opener falls on a Friday or Saturday, Allen says the final scrimmage will be scheduled seven days beforehand — either Oct. 16 or 17. Everything from the pregame walkthrough routine to the action on the field will be modeled to resemble the conditions in place for game day.
“We’ll script the entire thing,” Allen said. “We just basically try to simulate a game — an entire game — from start to finish. We do warmups, taking the field, going to the locker room, all of those things with our players. We try to create that very similar feel for our guys and get them in the (game) mode.”