Indiana football head coach Tom Allen addressed the media Monday following the Hoosiers’ win over Illinois and ahead of their matchup with the Idaho Vandals.
Here’s a breakdown of what he had to say:
- Indiana will honor its 1968 Rose Bowl team during the Idaho game, marking the 55th anniversary of that squad’s historic season.
- Scout team Players of the Week: DL Race Stewart, DL Cooper Jones, WR Kam Perry, DB Drew Pearce
- Offensive Players of the Game: WR D.J. Matthews, QB Connor Bazelak
- Defensive Players of the Game: LB Cam Jones, BULL Lance Bryant
- Special Teams Players of the Game: K Charles Campbell, DB Noah Pierre
- Tackle Matthew Bedford will miss the remainder of the 2022 season with a torn ACL, a huge blow to Indiana’s offensive line. Allen said transfer Parker Hanna will take Bedford’s spot on the line.
- James Head will be day-to-day, Allen said Head’s injury will not be long-term and hopes for a return soon.
- Cam Jones had a minor injury against Illinois, but returned to the field and is now fine, Allen said.
Praise for the offense
Allen makes sure to use his time with the media to shine a spotlight on players he feels deserve recognition, win or lose. There was more of the same on Monday, with Allen lauding the play of transfer quarterback Connor Bazelak and wide receiver Cam Camper.
“Cam Camper, the first player here who had 156 yards receiving, which is the most ever in a debut for a wide receiver,” Allen said. “And Connor Bazelak threw for 330 yards, and that was the most since Randall El at the quarterback position, those yards. So just really high level performance. And I talked about Cam Camper a lot throughout the spring and end of fall camp. And he didn’t disappoint.”
Room for improvement
Indiana may have won the day against Illinois, but Allen was quick to point out both after the game and on Monday that the team has plenty of room for improvement. This includes the run game, Indiana’s play up front and tackling.
“Didn’t run the football very good at all,” Allen said. “Got to improve that. They loaded the box and were determined not to allow us to. There’s no question, the film shows that quite a bit. We’ve got to improve up front in that area without question. Didn’t tackle very good. Missed 23 tackles. That accounted for a lot of their yards. So that was really disappointing. Tackled really well at times. I think Number 2 is in the lead running back. He’s really special. And I think Number 1 is an elite runner with a ball in his hand. And he had 99 yards after he first touched it. So we’ve got to work on that.”
Allen pointed out that Indiana had bright spots on defense when it came to pressuring Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito and generating takeaways.
Indiana’s defensive identity
Zach Osterman of the Indianapolis Star asked Allen about the team’s performance on defense against Illinois, particularly in regard to key stops and takeaways. Allen, who reassumed control of defensive play calling this season, agreed and elaborated on what the Hoosiers’ defense did to win the game.
“It’s really hard to limit yards in today’s game,” Allen said. “But it’s the takeaway piece. It’s key stops at critical times. It’s the sacks. It’s the pressures. Now we did give up 3 quarterback scrambles. It really still ticks me off. We can’t let that happen, and we’ll get that fixed. But just being able to get off the field on third downs, the goal line stand, the score zone, which that’s in between the 12 and the goal line basically. That’s where we’ve got to be great. And if you’re great there and you force field goals or you force them stops when they’re critical for us, so that’s what I want to get back to and I want those things to continue, the takeaways, the pressures, the stop in the run game to me.”
Allen emphasized that mistakes occurred in tackling, but that he saw the defense’s play as a good starting point in returning to form.
Beau Robbins’ key play in the fourth quarter
Defensive lineman Beau Robbins sacked DeVito during Illinois’ last-ditch effort drive, keeping the Illini from advancing downfield and into field goal range.
“I mentioned him specifically in our team meeting this morning,” Allen said. “So proud of Beau. What an amazing young person. Just a hard, hard worker. Smart, tough, dependable. He’s gained a lot of on really good weight this off season. He, man, came up huge for us. Wasn’t just that play. It was rock solid in the run game doing his job.”
Connor Bazelak and the QB competition
Allen noted his silence on quarterbacks in the leadup to Indiana’s first game, saying it was by design.
“It was a very, very highly contested competition for this whole time. But I think the things that showed up on Friday night, to me, those things were probably big factors. The poise that he shows in that moment when you have to just kind of have ice in your veins and just go make plays, you know. And things are happening. They’re throwing stuff. You don’t even know what they’re going to run all the time. And you’re trying to adjust and anticipate. It’s early in the season, so you don’t have a whole database of what they’re going to give you schematically other than based off of one game from this year and last year’s work. So he has to make quick decisions and his accuracy and getting the ball to the receivers, throwing the ball down the field with that accuracy is another thing. And just has a really good command of what we’re doing. And, to me, even though it was a tough decision and we’ve got two really good quarterbacks that — that was a decision we decided to go. And, obviously, he came up big for us, you know, and I wasn’t surprised.”