INDIANA UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
April 12, 2019
COACH ALLEN: All right. I'll tell you what, it was a good spring game. You really go through and you never know how things kind of play themselves out. We didn't have any injuries tonight. And I think our guys were able to play hard. I was real pleased with the amount of live reps we got. It's about 65 snaps with live goes, which I think it's what our team needs right now.
I've got a lot of young guys out there that just need to keep hitting, keep blocking, keep tackling, keep running to the football and executing, both phases, offense and defense.
Did a little bit with special teams but just thought that part was what -- accomplished what we wanted to get done. Wanted to be crisp and sharp. Peyton had to take a whole bunch of reps himself. Tried to give him a break and give Mike some reps, same with Skelly (phonetic).
And you kind of go back. There was three takeaways by the defense which was very big. That's our goal for the game. Then obviously the other side of the ball gave it up, which isn't good. So gotta protect the football. Did a really good job the entire spring on offense.
But our defense is a takeaway-driven team. That's what we emphasized and we attacked that football and that's what our guys did tonight. So just gotta secure the ball on offense and keep taking the ball away on defense. And so some guys made some individual plays.
But overall really pleased with the 15, the opportunities that we were given. And I think our guys maximized every one of them. It was a good conclusion to a great spring.
Q. Asked a couple different ways through spring ball but in a setting with lights on, maybe a little bit of pressure on, did you see kind of defensively the blend of speed and execution that you're looking for from that unit?
COACH ALLEN: I think so. We'll go back and watch the film. We kept it pretty simple. Didn't bring a lot of pressures and a lot of movements up front, just let the guys get their eyes right, get their feet set and play football.
And the speed we have as a team, the depth we have to run -- a lot of times your 1s and 2s come in there on defense and not really any change at all in the level of execution and the speed of the football.
So those are the kind of things, that's what we have to have in recruiting, gotta continue to develop these guys. In the next three months, I challenged them after the scrimmage, how important these next three months are and how it's got to be really in the interests of speed development, the physicality, strength, gotta get stronger up front on both sides of the football -- we've got a lot of young guys need that weight room. Those three months are huge. So that will be a continual focus for us.
But I was pleased with just assignments, didn't have a lot of space to work in offensively because the defense was where they were supposed to be for the most part and tackled pretty well.
Q. Dominelle (phonetic) is a guy that struggled with injuries, especially lower leg injuries in his career. This spring seems as healthy and maybe as lean and in shape as he's ever been, moving really well, is that what you've seen and how excited are you for the season?
COACH ALLEN: Absolutely, a year ago at this time we had him on a play count and that carried into fall camp. That was the only way to get him -- I'll tell you what, what I see it as, it's a combination of -- our strength staff does a phenomenal job working with our medical staff. That's how I believe it's supposed to be and that's what we've gotten to.
They work so well together -- he's one example of many, where he's able to go from a guy that's been limited in the past to where it's really become a nonissue. And so, even tonight he's there in the fourth quarter out there making plays, and I told Coach Heard to get him out of there.
But he's leaner. He's strong. He looks really, really good. And he's able to -- he got his body right. Like I said, it took us some time to get to that point, but -- the plan that we put him on. But I really attribute it to the strength staff and Dr. Rhea heads that up, and that component of it, with Dave Ballou, our right-hand assistants, with our injured guys. And then with what Kyle Blackman, our head trainer, just really working well together and getting him -- because we need him. We need him to be out there and you can't get ready to play at a high level if you're not getting the high reps. That's been a big plus for us.
Q. By design (inaudible) on the offensive block. What did you see from those guys?
COACH ALLEN: The bottom line is that there was a few times where they lost some one-on-ones and gave up some pressure. But overall they were creating some creases in the run game, which is what you want to do, and giving our guys a chance. Obviously had just a couple young running backs rotating in there. A lot of guys didn't go tonight in the backfield that we'll have in the fall.
But I thought they made some growth. Once again, that group you can get on the board and talk about it, but you need to go do it. And then you've got film to grade off of it and to teach off of and coach off of that.
So those 60-some reps today were really big for that offensive line.
Q. 39-yard touchdown throw to Ty and -- what do you see there? And do you see this being a little bit more vertical offense?
COACH ALLEN: I think the bottom line is that we definitely want to do a great job in creating more explosive plays. And that is I do see us throwing the football down the field more. And that's by design. Obviously Westbrook is going to be a big part of that; he didn't participate today. But he's been doing a good job of that in practice because he has a lot of vertical speed and he has the length to go with it.
Ty can really run. He's gotten faster; he'll get faster in the next three months. And Donavan's gotten faster too. And Lobster (phonetic) didn't play today, and he's a guy that can stretch the field as well.
Miles is another guy you'll see that can stretch it. We've got to be able to -- it's just part of the game that I know we have to have. And the play-action will set that up. And running the football is a big part of it.
But I want that ball thrown down the field. We've got some big receivers that do a good job tracking the ball and bodying people up and going and getting it. And that will not change. We just need to continue to make it a focus which we have and that is not going to change.
I want us to have the best summer we ever had with our quarterbacks and receivers and their work and really challenge them and set up some new structures with that to help us with it, with the timing of it all. We have three quarterbacks that we feel have very strong attributes and we want to get ready.
But that's a big part of that. Part of it is timing, too. So I think the more they throw the ball together and work on the concepts that Coach DeBoer has brought to us it's going to continue to get better and better.
Q. Talking about Michael Penix, 7-on-7, did you see what you wanted to see from him, the continuous work?
COACH ALLEN: I just wanted him to get reps. To me, it's all about learning a new system. Everything that we do -- I have sat in every single quarterback meeting this spring and just letting him grow and learn. Once again, it's hard to learn a system when you're not in there as much. So I just felt it was important that he got more reps today, which we were able to do.
And the timing was with the receivers as well. His arm strength and his zip on the ball is obviously there.
But it's more than that. And that's where he needed that today. He'll need the whole summer to get himself ready to go and have a great fall camp. And as those three guys know, the competition is on. And that's part of the process of -- this was to me it was key tonight. I'm glad we structured it the way we did. There wasn't a ton of reps for him but a lot of good reps, and even the ones once again get in there, get in the film room and teach him off of it and help him continue to grow as a player.
Q. I know as the only quarterback that took reps tonight at least in that line, 11-on-11 that Peyton's talked about being more comfortable throwing vertically and just pushing the ball downfield a little more, I know it's a new system and a lot to install. But do you feel he's more comfortable with that as the returning starter being ready and just kind of being sort of, I guess, again comfortable airing the ball?
COACH ALLEN: There's no question. I think you saw that tonight, too. He's obviously a guy that has a lot of great qualities. And he's just such a tough, gritty guy that gets first downs. Even today with his legs extended, got some first key downs. He'll always do that. He's a little limited when you make it -- he's a guy just tagging off in non-live situation for a quarterback.
But the arm strength, his continual -- he's in there all the time working extra. And Dr. Ray has worked really hard with him to continue to find ways to strengthen his arm and then the confidence of throwing down the middle. We were on the perimeter more last year. But we need to throw the ball down the middle and set things up.
Once in a play action game, it's big for that and seam routes the way we read that. Like I said, he's got so many great things that he brings. And he's a guy that -- the guys believe in him. And he's a great leader and tremendous person. So he's going to be battling, like all three of them will be.
But all three of them have got to be able to throw that football down the field. That's going to be a big part of us being able to take those quality shots that are going to help us. And it's going to be creating other plays. It's things underneath. And it's about explosive plays, whether the ball is thrown down the field or whether it's across the middle and get the extra yards. Those are all part of it as well. And so that's where the scheme comes in, which I'm excited about, the things we're going to be able to do offensively.
So it was a good, really, really good month of practice. And like you said, these next three months are going to be critical.
Q. It was a tough day to kick the ball with the wind. Your kickers -- I don't know the total -- but they only missed one. Logan and Charles have been competing all spring. How comfortable are you with using both of them and just how good can they be?
COACH ALLEN: Yeah, you know, as you said we were 9-for-10 on the day. And I think Logan, going into the last fall camp, it was neck and neck. It was even -- I would have to honestly say even up until week before the first game, it could have been, depending on which day. So they -- I just decided to go with -- Logan was just a tad bit more accurate.
But Charles was right there. And Logan was older, more experienced and been here. So I just felt like -- he proved me right and had a great season. But he knows.
And I challenged him in Thursday's practice. I told Charles, "Beat him out." And, "Logan, don't you dare let him beat you out." That's the mindset I want the guys competing. And that keeps them sharp. You never know. Charles has been redshirting. That year's behind him. He can kick.
So we'll go with the best guy. Right now I think Logan's had a tremendous spring. He gets great lift on the ball. He hit one the other day, a 60-yarder. It was very comfortable.
And he's just really -- I think he's physically gotten stronger. And we worked with him and with our strength staff trying to create more explosive power for him. Having two really good kickers is a plus and it's about scoring points.
We've got to be, as we all know, we won a game last year on a field goal. We'll have to win more this year on field goals. Those are going to be vital weapons for us.
Q. Implementing a new offense is always difficult enough, but you've got some quarterback issues right now. But are you where you thought you'd be, want to be, ahead, behind?
COACH ALLEN: I'd say where we want to be. It's hard to totally anticipate how it's going to go until you get into it. Didn't anticipate not having Jack here last week for practice. That made it a little bit tougher.
But fortunately he got the majority of spring ball already under his belt, which is good. And Peyton kind of had to carry the load here at the end. But I think when you look at -- you go back, you set your goals -- of course, the first goal was for us to be able to get better fundamentally in our technique work.
And I think that was achieved this spring. And the goal of implementing a new offense and tweaking our defense and the things we did schematically, and then the install; and then getting a good feel for your depth chart and just having a better understanding of 1s and 2s and 3s and where they stack up and where we are depth-wise. You set your goals and you go back and look at it, say where are we at this point. And I'll watch the film, get a final analysis of that. But just by observation of this with today's scrimmage and then the last 14 practices I do feel like offensively the things that we had set to install we've got to. And now we just gotta -- we're going to do a summer install as well and get that reviewed, like everybody does this time of year. But we are going to try to intensify that a little bit for more than we've done in the past. And I've already explained that to our team and our coaching staff. So I just think that it's critical that by that opening game kickoff, that's when it matters. And we'll just build it from there.
Q. I think you might have just procedural, I think you might have talked about it a minute ago, but Stevie seemed to be a lot in 7-on-7 more so -- is that just giving him --
COACH ALLEN: I told Coach Hart that I'd seen enough. I know exactly what Stevie can do. So I did not want him to get tackled today.
We put him in on 7-on-7s when it's tag tempo, because it just takes one -- to me he's the guy -- I had to sit him down -- he's young still -- to understand how do you prepare yourself to be an elite player in this conference and still not take 30 snaps in a scrimmage and take all those hits. So to be able to still secure the football.
A lot goes out this spring. But once I feel good about that he had gotten enough attempts and carries and got hit enough and carried, protected the ball enough, and he's bigger. He's stronger. He's a step faster than he was last year. He's more confident. He runs with more decisiveness. And you see that growth. So, like I said, I had seen enough. So the plan was definitely not have him get hit today.
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