Highlights from Tom Allen’s weekly radio show

Tom Allen returned to the Bloomington Holiday Inn for his final radio show of the season on Monday night.

Highlights from his appearance follow:

— Allen saw Rutgers’ ability to bottle up the running game as the strength of the Scarlet Knights’ defense, which is why he was so pleased with the success of IU’s backfield on Saturday: “Our guys had an edge about them. Once you got that going, there was a point in the game where we ran the ball, ran the ball and ran the ball and they couldn’t stop us. That’s a great feeling to have on one side of the ball and a really bad feeling on the other side. It just became, physically, we were whipping them.”

— On IU’s ability to play through heavy rain and wind without many mistakes: “We had the game early in the year (against Charleston Southern) where we got drenched most of the game and had a couple practices this year where we stayed outside for this very reason.”

— Indiana ran a good amount of plays from the pistol formation, which seemed to benefit the running game — particularly Cole Gest: “It’s different angles that your running back has for plays we were running. That was the better fit there. I just think we were taking advantage of what they were giving us. You find something in a game that was working and, if they can’t stop it, keep doing it.”

— On the defensive performance: “It starts up front. We knew they ran the ball extremely well this year. Our goal was to come out and make it hard for them to run the ball. We were able to do that.”

— Since joining IU’s staff prior to spring practice in 2016, Allen has lauded the buy-in from this current crop of seniors. Saturday was a fitting send-off for that group: “There’s so many of those guys that were catalysts for the change on defense a year ago. When I first got here, I needed them to buy in. You can’t make them do that. They have to choose to want to do that. The good lord gave me favor with them, so they responded. Really, from the very beginning, they wanted change. They wanted to be the reason why we were doing positive things on defense rather than being the reason why we were losing close games.”

— Allen is pleased that the stakes are high with bowl eligibility on the line in this year’s Old Oaken Bucket Game: “Awesome game to play in, coach in, so I’m excited. Just being around it my whole life and knowing how big it is to the state — I’ve got family members that are on both sides of it, that went to Purdue. It’s neat that this year has so much at stake. That’s how you want it to be. You want both teams to be in the hunt for something.”

— On the differences between Purdue this year as opposed to last season: “Defensive improvement. That’s the glaring thing you see. … You noticed it a lot from the very beginning. They’ve done a great job there with their scheme. They have a lot of upperclassmen on defense. They’re very mature defensively. Then, their offense is very creative. They have a bunch of trick plays that they do that keep you off balance. They’re just a much better football team.”

— On IU’s approach to accounting for trick plays this weekend: “Eye discipline. We (liken) it to things you have with option teams. You have to read your keys. If they do something unorthodox, everyone (often) just collapses on where they think the ball is then, all of a sudden, it’s reversed or flipped to someone else. … That’s where it gets tough. They do so many, you can’t practice them all. It’s about using walkthroughs and video to teach concepts. It’s challenging, for sure. That’s part of what (Purdue coach Jeff Brohm) does and always has.”

— A fan asked Allen what he’s most looking forward to in this year’s Bucket Game: “Winning.”

— Allen was so pleased with the offensive line’s body of work against Rutgers,
he named the entire unit as this week’s offensive players of the game: “We obviously ran the ball extremely well, had zero sacks and threw the ball well. Their development has been a systematic process. There’s no seniors. We’ve had injuries and weren’t at full strength Saturday. Those guys pulled together.”

— Allen believes Saturday was the first time in his coaching career that he’s coached a team that finished with only one penalty: “Usually you have something. Even that one (an unsportsmanlike conduct flag on safety Jonathan Crawford), I wasn’t sure what happened. But I think it just speaks to the focus of our guys. You often have an offensive procedure (penalty) that happens with the nature of offense, or something on defense that you do if you’re just playing the game. It’s unusual to have only one, but I think it’s a reflection of how locked in our guys were. They had a job to do and executed it very, very well.”

— Allen’s son, Thomas, a freshman linebacker, has been on campus since January. On Thomas Allen’s acclimation process: “You gotta learn how to handle the whole coach part. … He asked, ‘What do I call you?’ I said, ‘Call me Coach Allen on the field and Dad everywhere else.'”

— On how the high stakes of Saturday’s game might impact college football in the state of Indiana: “You want to play in meaningful games. The Bucket Game, in and of itself, is a very meaningful game. But when you add on to it the ramifications for both teams, having bowl (eligibility on the line) in that battle, it’s nothing but a positive for sure.”

— A fan asked Allen how Indiana will continue its defensive development next fall after losing eight starters from this year’s team: “We’ll have to have younger guys step up. That’s why it’s gonna be a critical spring for us. We’re losing core guys — two starting linebackers, key guys on the defensive line and three really good DBs. You have all three levels that guys are going to be moving on from. To me, it’s about recruiting and developing depth. That’s the next step.”