Antonio Allen ready to get back on the field

Antonio Allen’s freshman season began with high expectations and ended in disappointment.

Allen, a free safety from Indianapolis, is looking forward to a return to the field on Saturday against Indiana State. It’ll be his first action since Oct. 19 at Michigan, when he suffered a season-ending ACL tear in IU’s 67-43 loss to the Wolverines.

Allen was well on his way to fulfilling those high expectations a season ago, when he made 35 tackles, including 24 solo stops and 1.5 tackles for a loss in his introductory campaign. He was also named to BTN.com’s All-Freshman Honorable Mention team.

Over seven games, he averaged five tackles per contest — a figure he wants to build on as a sophomore.

“I’m very excited,” Allen said. “I want to run around and play fast. I’m trying to get at least five tackles a game. That’s how I set my goals.”

Allen made his college debut against the Sycamores in last year’s opener, making three tackles and recovering a fumble.

“It’s not gonna be an easy game,” Allen said. “They’re coming here to play. We gotta just go out there and play like they’re Michigan State or something. We can’t just let up on them. We gotta go out there and fight hard.”

Defensive coordinator Brian Knorr likes what he’s seen so far from Allen, who was limited in the spring. Knorr knew coming into the job that Allen was a heavy-hitter, and now the coach is ready to see what he can do at game speed.

“He’s just a very physical, impact player,” Knorr said. “I think he’s shown us that in the few scrimmages we’ve had. He’s flying around making plays and (we’re) just being able to get him to understand the defense. Him and (Mark Murphy) are the two safeties. Safety is an important part of this defense. They came in and, I think, have done a great job this fall.”

18 comments

  1. I’ve been excited about Allen since I learned of his recruitment and signing. And I was disappointed when he got hurt last year. I love his passion and that IU has a hard hitting safety. But Allen has to learn to tackle as effectively has he hits. I watched a few times last year when he delivered a big hit only to see the ball carrier bounce off and get extra yard. Keep you head up and wrap up, Mr. Allen. It will serve you better if you make it to the NFL.

  2. I think with a new defensive coaching staff in place, we’ll see improvement in fundamentals including finishing tackles. Antonio is certainly not the only Hoosier who had not been coached how to tackle. It has been an issue for IU for years but I’m looking forward to better technique.

  3. If it were simply being stellar at fundamentalist, a Valparaiso basketball team would be in the Final Four every season. Jordan Hulls was about as fundamentally sound as you could find a basketball player. I’m sure football is no different…Speed, athleticism, quickness, explosiveness, size, and strength all play into matching up with any opponent. Solid fundamentals can certainly help equalize an otherwise weaker athlete/talent level, but let’s not kid ourselves that Hoosier football players are going to rule the Big 10 world overnight based on improved form in tackling drills.

    I think it’s unfair to blame a lack of teaching fundamental tackling techniques on ex-coaches considering the enormous mountain IU must climb to attract the same talent that will attend a Penn State, Michigan, ND, OSU, etc…IU is often just over-matched in terms of speed, size, readiness(in terms of competition faced in high school), and natural ability.

    I would like to see much more emphasis in teaching players on an undersized and overwhelmed defense methods in stripping and punching a ball loose…Getting the ball back isn’t necessarily about making a sound tackle deep in the secondary. IU’s defense needs to take chances and teach a bit of nasty craftiness to make up for deficiencies(size, speed, depth) where improvements in “basic fundamentals” can’t overcome alone.

  4. Harvard – we missed a bowl, missed beating Michigan AND beating Ohio State because of multiple missed tackles. I don’t disagree that sometimes we need to make the bigger team cough it up, but you aren’t going to win games when a safety misses a WR after he already got hit by a tackle. Making tackles matters and the goal of “ruling the BIG” is not realistic for 2014. I think the goal is to go north of .500 and make a bowl game. With our schedule this year, that will be an awesome step forward – bordering on a giant leap.

  5. I don’t disagree that they missed tackles…It’s the “why” they missed tackles and the “why” they can’t always finish a tackle that could be debated beyond blaming any coach for not stressing/teaching fundamental techniques.

  6. Riding by IU yesterday. Down Dunn St and up the sidewalk on 46 came a bunch of really big guys, running – kind of. Was 91 degrees and these guys were hurting. From the location and their size, the football team? Guy standing on the corner yelling at them to ‘pick it up’ while drinking water. Next light, here came what must be the IU women’s cross country team. They looked like they could run for ever. Fast. The parking lot expansion answered why all the heavy equipment was sitting near the baseball field. And good job on Sunday’s paper guys.

  7. Failing to shed blocks and missing tackles is huge. It’s often the difference between holding the offense to 3 and out or allowing your defense to get worn down over the course of the game and giving up touchdowns instead of field goals. As for the reasons, I think there are many, and some are certainly not the fault of the college coaching staff. Less time for practice, less time spent on hitting and tackling drills, fear of injuries, fundamentals not emphasized at the younger ages, young or undersized players (until recently). But whether the Defensive coaches are to blame or not, they are responsible. They get paid the big bucks to recruit the right young men and then coach them to be effective on the field. You recruit a great athlete that has bad technique, you teach him proper technique. You convert a offense guy that has never played defense to defense, you teach him the fundamentals of being a defender.

    Hopefully, those days are behind IU football and we will see much improved play on defense this year and in the years ahead. Not expect eight shut-outs this year, but I’d like to see the average points per game scored against IU drop down to 32 this year.

  8. I just hope we don’t get stuck in a pattern of blaming specialty coaches for successive years of poor results. Ultimately(potent offense or no potent offense), the head coach is responsible for the overall product. What a lovely convenience to keep passing the buck, blaming defensive coaches, while the head guy retains his “big bucks” and job security.

    It seems head coaches are building buffer systems into their job evaluation….I’m already hearing apologies for such a difficult schedule this year. Is there going to be any year that a Big 10 schedule is not a huge challenge for an IU football team? Let’s keep in mind that the previous defensive coordinator wasn’t blessed with anything easier. Wilson has had success in selling a team that has, at least, the offensive potential to create some new buzz for the program. That interest has taken some time to “filter” into recruiting momentum. The new defensive coordinator gets to reap some of the rewards of those stronger candidates now arriving because of that momentum.
    I don’t think it will do anyone favors to pass the buck or whine about scheduling. It was sold as “Win Today.” It was sold by the head man in charge that should build a strong product on both sides of the field.

  9. WIN TODAY is a mindset and mental frame of mind. I don’t think anyone with a right mind believed Wilson was going to walk in with Lynch’s players and go to a Bowl game.

    As for tackling, guys who aren’t good players often make for bad tacklers too.

  10. Nor should they think Mallory(unaided by a head coach lacking in defensive expertise for the game)be expected to “walk in with Lynch’s players” and “sell” Kevin Wilson style football to top defensive game prospects…

    Mallory had to sell optimism to higher level defensive players based on Lynch’s/IU’s past and sell it to them with the full potential defensive player knowing full well he’s coming to play for a head coach that gets his kicks from putting more points on board….Hardly an ideal for any defensive coach coming into a program that has been long suffering for top talent. And is defensive talent as easy to come by as offensive talent?

  11. I guess here’s where I’m going…

    Can a head coach that seems to put a lot of multiple levels and dynamics into a very “sexy” and explosively fast-paced emphasis on offensive football, expect subordinate level employees/coaches to sell a defensive recruit to believe they are going to receive the same expert teachings and emphasis communicating a value for their “unsexy” side of the game in the trenches and the less glorified positions on the field?

    Are we’re selling a defense just barely good enough for a Wilson offense to attract the top defensive coaches and recruits…?

  12. You’re right Harv, it’s not the post-mortum analysis that we ‘missed tackles’, but the ‘why’ we missed tackles. Simply stated, too many defensive players who rely on extending their arms and try to bring down a running back or receiver coming at them at full speed, or running on an angle away from them. We call it ‘arm-tackle’…all tackling involves the arms (to an extent), but it also involves having the strength of the trunk neutralize the runner’s momentum by getting it ‘into the tackle’ and the legs to counter that momentum.

    I got tired of watching IU defensive backs (Hunter is one specific back who relies on his arms and ends up watching the runner leave), outside line backers and even linesmen depending on their ‘arms’ to tackle. Even in spring scrimmage and drill videos I saw, I watched this too frequently. Specifically, if the coach Knorr can improve technique in this one issue by 50%, it would cut ‘missed’ tackles by half, result in 10-15 stops per game,…go from there, it is falling dominoes.

    Issues such as these; indeed, they are coaching responsibility and the expectation that players do it ‘the right way’ is set by the coach’s intolerance for the ‘wrong way’. The same is true of the ‘little things’ that make one a loser and the mental attitude it takes to overcome it.

    The difference in ‘how we approach it’ will make a difference of 2–4 games this year. CKW has clear expectations for offense (in regards to exact route, eye movement for the qb, pad level for linemen. While he won’t teach the technique himself to defensive players, his expectations and his demands from the defensive coaches who do will set the tone for success…and/or failure. (Personally, I believe that this is what this guy- CKW- is about; still, the grass always has the truth, doesn’t it?)

  13. There once was a linebacker named Spackle
    It’s said that he never met a runner he couldn’t tackle
    When they burst through the crack of an opening line
    It was never much a blemish in our wall to fret or whine
    We had a human putty knife, so wide we’d never need worry
    It was Spackle in the hole to fill it in a hurry.

  14. These players all learned how to tackle as kids long before they got to IU. The problem is the good 1’s experienced the torpedo hit successes in HS and liked it. As Po suggested getting off blocks, late & poor positioning, college game speed, higher caliber competition, an over abundance of youth and a 4-4 D which needed DT’s at least as good as Black and Replogle had been the year before left last years D in dire straights. Of all the deficiencies I’ve listed above the ones that doomed last years D were youth, shedding blocks for positioning and no Black and Replogle.

  15. There once was an ESPN sportswriter from Nantucket
    To study law like father, he told his dad “Go _____ it”
    Lunchtime MacBook keys glisten from the oil a 6-piece McNugget
    His column filled with predictions, falling short as a Buckeye stopping Plunkett
    “IU is going bowling after winning Old Oaken Bucket!”

  16. This isn’t your father’s or grandfather’s football game anymore. The fundamentals of playing defense aren’t what they used to be. What was once considered a solid, bone-crushing hit, could not only get you a personal foul penalty, but a suspension. BTW, on a human level, I’m grateful for these changes. But these changes have impacted the game tremendously.

    Spread offenses were one thing, but these rule changes really kicked the high octane offenses into gear. Forget Harvard’s thought about why anyone would want to play defense for Kevin Wilson–who runs a sexy-time ferrari offense. But why would anyone want to play defense at all. They’re just glorified speedbumps now.

    Defense overall is still measured relative to your peers. Indiana was at the bottom ten in all of college football for two years in a row. Kevin Wilson took personal responsibility for it and did it publicly. He didn’t dump Doug Mallory right when the calls for his head were loudest. He waited a while, made his assessment (which we’ll never know the details of) and decided his chances to win were much better with another coach.

    He then hired a great defensive coach who’s taken programs with a similar pedigree and made them perform much, much better. Solid move and handled well.

    If only Harvard’s manager at Denny’s had the same skills.

  17. My parents had always told lots of stories of funny things I did as a child….One of my mom’s favorite involved a time when I was very young(we may have been on vacation)and the family was going out for breakfast. I guess your Denny’s reference made me think of it.

    I was trying to act all grown up and this was going to be the big occasion that I was going to look over the breakfast menu and do my own ordering. “What would you like for breakfast,” the waitress kindly asked while understanding that mom and dad had put the ball in my court. I had studied the menu and was ready to deliver. I looked straight into the waitress’s eyes and found the deepest tone of confidence my kindergarten voice could likely muster. I was ready for the moment…My big round eyes peering over the top of the menu..
    “I’ll have the two eggs any style.” Momentary silence and then a eruption of laughter exploded from the table. Why were they all laughing at me?

    My mom loved telling the story of her cute little boy ordering his two eggs any style.

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