Photo by Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

IU football: Notes from Tom Allen’s Monday Michigan State press conference

Indiana head coach Tom Allen met with the media on Monday afternoon along with coordinators Nick Sheridan and Kane Wommack.

Below are some of the more noteworthy news items and notes from the session.

No. 10 Indiana (3-0) will travel to East Lansing this weekend for a noon ET kickoff against Michigan State.  The game will be televised on ABC.

Offensive line acknowledged by Penix, making strides

Quarterback Michael Penix, Jr.’s smart decision making extends beyond the football field.

Penix was understandably named the offensive player of the week after his 30-of-50 performance throwing the football against Michigan for 342 yards and 3 touchdowns.

But the Tampa, Fla. product gave up the honor to his starting offensive line of Matthew Bedford, Dylan Wallace, Harry Crider, Mackenzie Nworah and Caleb Jones.

The group didn’t allow a sack against the Wolverines and helped the Hoosier running backs carry the ball 32 times for 122 yards.

Offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan spoke about the line on Monday.

“They are coached extremely well and hard,” Sheridan said.  “Certainly we felt like they played their best game.  They played a lot of snaps.”

The pandemic may have also played a role in the slow start for group.

“We were trying to teach run blocking schemes while keeping our guards and tackles six feet apart,” Sheridan said.  “It just has taken some time.”

Starting guard Mike Katic missed the game on Saturday but Allen said he is progressing and could play this Saturday.

Devon Matthews was named the defensive player of the game, while Haydon Whitehead and Reese Taylor earned the honor on special teams.

Allen doesn’t need stitches, hasn’t completely learned lesson

When Allen appeared on the post-game Zoom conference on Saturday afternoon, he did so with an injury from his celebratory embrace with Matthews.

On Monday Allen reported that he did not require stitches from the cut on his cheek, referring to the injury as “just a mere flesh wound.”

But it wasn’t the first time that Allen’s enthusiasm has left him with battle scars.

“I got a message (after the game) from one of my former players at Ben Davis (High School),” Allen said.  “I got a black eye after I jumped on him after a huge interception and actually ended up coaching him in the state championship game with a black eye because I caught his helmet right in my eye socket.”

But wait, there’s more.

“I dove on a pile in college and lost my two front teeth at Ole Miss,” Allen continued.

He acknowledged the lack of sound judgment at least in the latter example.

“That was a pretty poor decision,” Allen said, describing the months of dental procedures that followed.

Allen says the lessons learned allowed him to at least suffer the blow on Saturday to his cheek bone rather than his mouth or eyes.

“That’s why I did strategically turn my hide to the side,” Allen said.  “History taught me if I catch my teeth with the helmet, my teeth are going to lose.”

Honors roll in for Penix

Penix might have given up his offensive player of the week honor, but his trophy case won’t go empty this week.

The redshirt sophomore quarterback was named a Manning Award star of the week, and part of the Davey O’Brien national quarterback award great eight.

Fans can vote for the Manning Award on Facebook here. When voting closes on Thursday at noon ET, the top vote-getter will be announced as the Manning Award Quarterback of the Week.

The Brass Spittoon matters | expecting a fight from Michigan State

Michigan State has been one of the more difficult to comprehend teams in the Big Ten thus far in 2020.

Widely expected to take a step back after losing head coach Mark Dantonio and the majority of their starters, The Spartans are off to a 1-2 start and are currently a 7.5 point home underdog to IU.

Thus far new head coach Mel Tucker has lost to Rutgers, defeated rival Michigan and then saw his Spartans get trounced 49-7 in Iowa City last weekend.

“Mel Tucker is an excellent football coach,” Allen said. “Just like myself, a defensive guy.

“You saw how they played against Michigan.  That’s all you need to see.”

Indiana and Michigan State will play for the Old Brass Spittoon.  The Hoosiers last possessed the traveling trophy in 2016.  Allen wants to bring it back on the plane on Saturday.

“It’s a trophy game for us,” Allen said.  “We have not beaten them since I’ve been the head coach.  This is one where we want to be very locked in and ready.”

Physical cornerbacks continue to shine | Still too many big plays given up

The biggest story on the defense through three games has been splash plays by Indiana’s secondary.

The Hoosiers have produced 7 interceptions on the season, including three by cornerback Jaylin Williams.

Defensive coordinator Kane Wommack said Williams’ play goes beyond just the easily recognizable stats.

“He’s playing at such a high level in just the fundamentals of what we ask him to do from a coverage perspective,” Wommack said of Williams.

Wommack has been impressed with the physicality of all three of his cornerbacks (Tiawan Mullen, Reese Taylor, and Williams)

“They are no monster-sized guys out there. But, boy, they are physical,” Wommack said.

While Indiana had a strong day on the defensive side of the ball overall on Saturday, Wommack was disappointed with the big plays that his unit gave up to Michigan in the second half that allowed the Wolverines to pull to within 31-21.

“To me, when you give up nine explosive plays for 243 yards, that was unacceptable,” Wommack said.  “We’ve got to do a better job as a two-minute defense consistently.”


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