As Indiana football’s season has gone downhill, head coach Tom Allen is trying different approaches to keep his team together and focused.
The Hoosiers have lost three straight games to fall to 2-5 overall. They remain winless in Big Ten play, and really only have one win to feel good about this season. And things won’t get easier this week, as IU will face No. 10 Penn State at Beaver Stadium on Saturday.
With the Nittany Lions coming off their first loss of the season against Ohio State and looking to bounce back this week, Allen has emphasized a resilient mindset both on and off the field. He spoke at Monday’s press conference about his Sunday meeting with the players addressing the situation they’re in, and how to bounce back from these sorts of circumstances in life.
Allen, on Thursday’s Zoom availability, said he’s liked the way his team has responded to those discussions in practice this week.
“Just challenged our leadership guys, the guys who I feel have to run our offense, run our defense, run our special teams, and then run the team, different groups,” Allen said. “And just being able to challenge them to rise up, and also just to talk to them about life and how you battle through difficult times and being able to stay the course and stay together, what that means, what that looks like, and I like the way they responded. Obviously, we’ve got to prove it on game day. We’ve got to come together and play our best football. Another big challenge ahead of us here this Saturday. But it’s about locking arms, staying together, and just continuing to fight.”
A stronger mentality would go a long way for Indiana. The Hoosiers were shut out in the second half by Rutgers, and they lost that game in slow, painful fashion with the way the Scarlet Knights gashed them on the ground.
That was on the heels of a beatdown against Michigan in Ann Arbor — a result that can’t have been completely unexpected, but was deflating nonetheless. A similar outcome could be on the table against Penn State.
IU players have talked the last few weeks about staying together through this rough stretch and continuing to believe in each other. And aside from a couple scattered expressions of frustration in the moments, there’s little to suggest the locker room is fractured. But it’s not easy, with the way this season — and the last several — have gone.
Allen has made adjustments to the team’s practice schedule multiple times in the last several weeks, trying to get his team more ready for game days. He knows where IU stands at this point in the year, and is shuffling whatever he can to change things up.
“Just really, truly, everything possible, whether it’s mental, physical, structural and scheme, as well as scheduling things that we do with our guys and trying to get them some extra rest, and also trying to get them mentally ready in all we do,” Allen said. “Just everything possible, we’re trying to do, to be able to help our football team be successful on game day.”
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