- “Need to go back and watch the film to be able to evaluate the execution piece”
- “Just not being able to execute”
- “That situation there is executing the call properly and staying outside and leveraging the quarterback.”
- “So that’s the part that really disappoints me was just the lack of execution and just doing things the right way.”
The sentences above are answers given by Indiana football head coach Tom Allen when asked about the Hoosiers’ performance immediately following a loss.
The first two are from 2023. The third is from 2022. The fourth is from 2021.
In that time Indiana has
- Started seven different quarterbacks
- Had about six different running backs earn significant carries
- Had two different offensive play callers
- Had three different defensive play callers
- Gone 8-21 overall
- Won two Big Ten games
Since the changes to the NCAA transfer portal and eligibility, Indiana has had a rotating cast of characters in each season with the most turnover coming on offense. Different offensive schemes, quarterbacks running those schemes and levels of experience at every position.
Most of the guys Indiana is bringing in are relatively experienced, they have a few years on them at other levels and came to Bloomington for snaps against Big Ten competition. Guys who understand football and how it works, in theory.
This season, the defense contains countless new faces. The core group from the 2019 and 2020 seasons are gone, replaced mostly through moves in the transfer portal. When you’re seeking that, you look for experience.
Despite having pretty different teams year in and year out things always, somehow, come down to “execution” in the postgame press conference. Receivers that were open. Blown coverages on defense.
The calls are good, the players just aren’t doing what’s required. The teams are different but the reasons for losses remain the same, somehow.
There’s certain unspoken rules that come with addressing the media in all sport at any level. Anything can be taken out of context, especially now with quotes immediately flying into the ether over Twitter.
Words are chosen carefully. Coaches and athletes are praised for falling on the sword even when it isn’t their fault. The typical approach from a leader is: take no credit for the win, all the blame for a loss.
Tayven Jackson, time and again, has done that this season.
When Indiana has lost he’ll vocally call his number, claiming it’s because he didn’t perform. When things go well he will list off the reasons why (his receivers, the offensive line, etc.) and leave himself off that list.
To be fair to Allen, he has taken credit on behalf of the staff before. He’s praised his players for hard work and character.
But the constant of “execution” has gained additional attention this season as Indiana’s losses have begun to pile up. The fanbase has taken increased notice.
There’s no outward reflection or admittance of fault in that phrasing, instead assigning blame elsewhere. Walt Bell himself said as much, that the word shifts responsibility to the players on the field, during his media availability last Monday. Everyone sees it.
There’s no sugarcoating: it’s a terrible look.
The players are different every year. The play calling has been different on at least one side of the ball every single year. Yet it’s always “execution”.
Public introspection is well overdue, if it isn’t entirely too late already.