Well, we’re finally here.
The lull of the offseason and the radio silence that accompanies it will soon be replaced with quotes, soundbites and about 10 different beat writers tweeting slightly different versions of the same quotes as the Big Ten’s football coaches descend on Indianapolis.
Tom Allen will be making the drive up north with tight end A.J. Barner, linebacker Cam Jones and cornerback Tiawan Mullen.
If you’re curious at all about the selections, Cam Jones is the leader of the defense, Tiawan Mullen is Tiawan Mullen and A.J. Barner is Indiana’s top tight end and will look to be among the Hoosiers’ top receivers overall this fall.
Allen isn’t taking a quarterback with him for the very obvious reason that he hasn’t named a starter and likely won’t do so until the season opener.
Indiana has hosted media availabilities for Allen and a few players, but without a spring game/scrimmage there’s just a lot we do not know about this team at the moment. Allen and co. will have to answer those questions.
Here’s what we ~think~ will be asked and how we expect Indiana’s representatives will respond.
And, since I don’t want to put it under literally every one, I wouldn’t be surprised if every member of Indiana’s delegation is asked about the quarterbacks. That’s the No. 1 offseason question and they’ve all seen them in practice in some capacity.
Head coach Tom Allen
Q: What do you have to say about the quarterback battle?
Allen previously said that the quarterback battle came down to Jack Tuttle and Mizzou transfer Connor Bazelak during spring ball. The two separated themselves from the others and it’s looking like a two-man race.
Don’t expect Allen to go on about either in his answer. He’ll likely name traits he likes in each quarterback before saying he hasn’t named a starter just yet. We could get an insight and compare it to what he’s said about past quarterbacks, but don’t expect any stunning revelations.
Q: How are you handling coming back from the 2021 season?
One thing that’s gone largely unsaid outside of Bloomington is how decimated Indiana was by injuries over the course of the season. I mean, they started a walk-on backfield against Purdue.
Indiana football doesn’t really dominate the national conversation, so most probably saw Indiana’s record and just assumed things were bad. Mind you, they were, there’s a reason why there’s two new coordinators.
I’d expect Allen to mention the injury bug, but it’s also clear that he’s pushing Indiana’s culture more than ever this offseason. He regularly tweets about hosting players at his home, players out doing work in the community and more.
It seems as though Allen’s trying to counter what happened last year by doubling down on the locker room culture. He could be asked about this directly or it could come up organically, but expect it to be mentioned.
Q: What do you have to say about conference realignment?
Look, it’s no big secret that being in the Big Ten East has been Bad for Indiana. I mean, trying to find bowl eligibility when going up against four teams capable of a top-10 ranking every year isn’t exactly a piece of cake.
This’ll probably lead to a discussion about divisions being eliminated, which Allen will see as favorable for his program. He’ll likely say as much too.
Tight end A.J. Barner
Barner will likely be asked a bit about his own growth, but he’s also the only offensive representative on the panel. When he’s up, expect a lot of questions about the quarterbacks and new offensive coordinator Walt Bell.
Expect Barner to will describe each quarterback’s strengths in a similar way to Allen. He’ll probably praise Walt Bell’s energy too. If you’ve seen any of the practice highlights Indiana posts on Twitter, it almost looks like Bell was running drills with the players.
With the offensive line being the No. 2 concern behind quarterback, Barner may be asked about his/other tight ends’ abilities with blocking.
Finally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Barner is asked about the wide receivers. With such a new group and his work with them as a pass catcher, someone’s gonna ask him what the new guys bring to the table.
Linebacker Cam Jones
As a starting linebacker with all the experience you could ask for, Jones is the undisputed leader of the defense headed into the season. Allen will likely be asked about Jones’ role, and I’d expect him to praise Jones’ knowledge of the game and work with coaches.
Allen bringing Jones to Media Days made that obvious point clear.
Jones has spent the past few seasons as the second of a 1-2 punch with Micah McFadden. With the latter off to the NFL, it’s the Cam Jones show in Bloomington. One of the bigger adjustments for Jones will be developing chemistry with the new linebackers, a strength of the Hoosiers’ previous duo.
He’ll be asked about that, with the foremost question likely being about his role as a leader on and off the field.
Cornerback Tiawan Mullen
Mullen spent much of 2021 working through a foot injury, but elected to stay in Bloomington for the upcoming 2022 season. That’ll be the priority when it comes to questions.
Like Jones, Mullen will be asked about his role as a leader on the defense. Coaches and teammates commented on Mullen emerging as a leader last season, so don’t be surprised if that’s come to a head this year.
With his older brother, Trayvon, having gone to Clemson and currently in the NFL and his younger brother, Trevell, joining the Hoosiers this season, Mullen will likely be asked about both family and his potential future as a professional.