The mock game was as much for Indiana’s players as it was for their new coach.
Six days out from his college head coaching debut against No. 19 Utah in the Foster Farms Bowl, Allen used Thursday’s simulated gameday experience to grow comfortable with the approach of juggling his defensive duties with his desire to be more in tune with the other facets of IU’s team.
Afterward, Allen said it was time well spent.
“For me, it was just the mechanics of calling the defense, as well as working with the offense and special teams,” he said. “And a lot of times, when you do things in practice, you have to structure it to where you’re not going No. 1s vs. No. 1s, or No. 1s vs. No. 2s. It has to be offense vs. scout team, defense vs. scout team. So we put the scouts on one side of the field and we were on the other as a whole team. We really, truly created a gameday atmosphere and situations to move the ball. I thought it was very good.”
So in that regard, it was beneficial for Allen’s personal preparation to jump into different scenarios and force himself to make calls on the fly.
He took notes as the game progressed, little reminders of ideas and situational reactions that he can lean on both next week in Santa Clara, Calif., and in the seasons to come.
“We simulated me being on the sideline, talking to the defense, making adjustments from that previous drive then, OK, three-and-out, we have to go back out again,” Allen said. “We have to go back out there on that third down and go be right there with the offense and make those decisions about what punt to use, if we’re going to go for it and all that stuff. Those were all different things I think we were able to iron out today.”
Actually taking time to watch the offense more regularly will be another change to Allen’s gameday routine.
Often during the regular season, while IU’s offense was on the field, Allen would be busy correcting mistakes or discussing plays with his defensive players and assistants.
That’ll change from here, too.
On Thursday, Allen got a feel for how it will work.
“We have the ability with the headsets to flip back and forth (between offense and defense),” Allen said. “So I’ll be able to talk to those guys. I’m not going to tell them what to call, but I do want to be in tune with what we’re doing, and also in tune with the situation, how we feel about going for things and what we want to do with the clock and all that stuff. … I’m definitely more involved with the flow of the game. I want to make sure I have my pulse on that.”