Is this a ‘breakthrough’? Allen thinks so.

LINCOLN, Neb. — Tom Allen knows not everyone has loved the term “breakthrough.”

In his first year, his one-word catchphrase didn’t quite come to fruition as the Hoosiers finished 5-7 and missed a bowl. In Year 2, it was more of the same.

“I catch some heat for our one words, but those are powerful things,” Allen said. “So I really don’t care what anybody thinks about our one words. They unite us, it gives us tremendous focus, it gives us purpose.”

After a win at Nebraska, pushing Allen’s team to bowl eligibility for the first time in three seasons, that word “breakthrough” was raised.

Was this a breakthrough moment for the Hoosiers?

“Breakthrough has a lot of different layers and a lot of different meanings, but this constitutes breakthrough,” Allen said. “There is no question.”

Now, it’s time for the Hoosiers to keep pushing forward.

Allen said he intended to get on the phone with recruits Saturday night, touting the accomplishments of the program.

“I’m going to tell them, ‘Did you watch the game? Did you see what we’re doing at Indiana? Everything I told you we were going to do, we’re doing,’” Allen said.

There are plenty of superlatives to showcase.

This is the Hoosiers’ first perfect October (3-0) since 1993. This is the first time IU has won back-to-back road games in Big Ten play since 2015. IU has now scored more than 30 points in seven of its eight games, a program record.

This wasn’t quite the Nebraska of old the Hoosiers topped. And it wasn’t the prettiest game, either. But for a program that’s toiled in disappointment for years, a 6-2 start is something to build on.

“Yeah, it is a process,” Allen said. “Anybody that doesn’t understand that doesn’t understand where we are coming from and what we are doing. And all you have to do is look at this football team and see how we play.”

As he closed his postgame remarks, Allen became emotional thinking about the character of his football team. He pounded his fist into the dais, urging Hoosier fans to get behind his program and show up for next week’s 7 p.m. kickoff with Northwestern.

“These kids have fought and fought and fought and I want our fans to come and support this football team,” Allen said. “I understand the frustration of the past, but I don’t care. I haven’t been here very long. All I know is what we’re doing right now. I want them to come support this football team and help these guys do something special.

“That’s all I can ask. These kids will play hard. They won’t play perfect, but they’ll play hard for 60 minutes and find a way to stinking win a football game.”

Stallings scoop and …

Senior Allen Stallings’ 68-yard return on a Jamar Johnson forced fumble is the Hoosiers’ longest runback since 2007 when cornerback Tracy Porter went 76 yards for a touchdown on Michigan State.

Stallings, a defensive end, wasn’t quite able to pull away for a scoop and score.

“Man, I was so gassed,” Stallings said. “I thought I forgot my lungs at the 50 or something.”

Stallings may have been able to cover the final eight yards and match Porter’s runback if Johnson didn’t somewhat lose focus at the end of the play.

The sophomore husky was out front of Stallings as he ran down the field, but Stallings’ escort neglected to make a final block to clear the way.

“I was tired, but I tried to finish it,” Stallings said. “I could have got a little block at the end, but I’m not going to get mad at Jamar.”

Whitehead’s big day

Not only did the offense and defense make plays when it mattered, but IU punter Haydon Whitehead came through in the clutch several times in Lincoln.

The fifth-year senior landed all three of his punts inside the 10 yard line (the 8, 7, and 3). He has now landed three inside the 5 this season, as well as 11 inside the 10.


  1. For IU it is great to see the punter consistency so much improved from past eras of IU football and demonstrating its importance.

  2. I’m not so sure as this is a breakthrough at this point as much as it is a possible perception change. At this stage of the game for IUFB, how the wins came are not as important as actually getting the wins. No, TA does not yet have a signature win against the upper echelon teams of the B1G, but they are beating the teams on the schedule they can. At IUFB’s current stage of development, beating the teams you can is as important as getting the signature win. The reason for this is there are a lot more teams on your schedule that you can beat, than there are games which would be a signature win.

    The way this year is shaping up, it appears that IUFB will have 9 games which they can win. If IUFB is able to beat NW & PU, then it will have won 8 out of those 9 games. Albeit these wins will mainly be due to a combination of improved IUFB and very good fortune, they are wins nonetheless. Without question, the perception of an 8 win team going to a bowl plays much better on the recruiting trail than a 6-6 team going to a bowl.

    TA has the recruiting going in the right direction with players being recruited in his first 3 classes (18, 19, 20) averaging around a 3*. If the perception game plays out correctly, TA may be able to leverage a possible 8 win season into moving the needle up a little maybe a 3.25 or more. Continued progress in this area would bode will for future W/L results. Remember the best recruiting class averages in the land right now, are around the 4* mark.

    Consistently improving recruiting can pave the way for consistently improving results on the field. Agree or not, perception among the recruits plays a great deal into the final result.

    1. It’s a breakthrough as there was no alternative schedule offered. Lots of teams every season deal successfully with the contests in front of them.

  3. In relative terms, IU getting its sixth win with four games remaining is a breakthrough. It’s significant in every way due to IU’s history, both short term and long term. Consecutive Big Ten wins on the road, offensive production that score points (not just accumulating gaudy yards), special teams play, winning with the back-up QB, I don’t care how you look at it, yesterday’s win was a breakthrough. And what encourages me, and should encourage every IU fan, is that this young team has yet to play their best game! They have so much room for improvement. If they just eliminate their stupid penalties they will make big strides. That’s why TA can’t let them feel satisfied with yesterday’s victory. Now they have to demonstrate that they can stay motivated and focused in spite of their success, which is often more difficult than staying focused after failure.

    I hope the Hoosier Nation responds with a big turn out at Memorial Stadium this Saturday. This young team deserves it. And if IU wins seven to nine games this season, Fred Glass and the BOT needs to give TA a new contract with major increase in salary, which will send the message to the college FB world that IU is committed to having a successful FB program.

    1. Po,
      I’m with 123 on this one. Yes, this is extremely important in overall progression of the program, but considering the level of competition in the 6 games won, not exactly stellar competition. I look at it as beating the teams you should beat at this stage of the program development. Should Hoosier Nation get out and support the program to the max? Absolutely, if you want the program to continue to improve. Failure to do so would be as it is said, “Deja vu all over again!”

  4. I don’t consider this a breakthrough season just yet. I think 8 wins or a victory over Michigan or Penn State would qualify. But it’s definitely an improved team that is able to win despite not playing it’s best which couldn’t be said for many previous teams. I think IU is also seeing what proven talent can do. Kalen DeBoer has been excellent. Yes, both IU quarterbacks have something to do with it, but DeBoer has been worth every penny of the $800k IU is paying him. I also hope the alumni show up for Northwestern. I wish the game was a noon or 3:30 kick. 7 PM means getting home around 1 AM to the northern suburbs of Indy- a little to late for us 50 somethings that value sleep.

  5. Suck it up 123! Go support the team and stay until the end. This team really deserves some fan support for the next two games.

    Hell, being 50 something and using getting home around 1 AM as an excuse won’t cut it. Now if you were 70 something, I might give you a little more slack (smile). I know if I lived anywhere in the state, I would be at this game.

    I wonder if Fred is going to try to do anything special this week to try to encourage people to come to the game, especially with the students and the local community. One would think students would be interested in going to a bowl game, especially a good one in a desirable location, and coming to this game and supporting the team could make a difference in where the team ends up.

    1. A warm weather respite for some of the fans would be something to look forward to.
      I remember thinking that going to New York City in December for the Pinstripe Bowl sounded like some form of punishment.

      1. Brother Chet, went to the Pinstripe Bowl w/my son and had a blast until the last second- everyone in Yankee Stadium thought that FG was good (except the person whose opinion actually counted). The IU fans were way more involved and noisy (and outnumbered) the Duke dorks.

    2. Ranger- I got plans to be at the Michigan game. And I’m pretty damn sure wherever you call home, you can still get a flight to Indy. My son takes a shuttle down to Bloomington for about $30. Open that tight wallet of yours! Go Hoosiers!

  6. I guess breakthroughs are in the eye of the beholder, but to me there is no doubt due to the reasons I touched on above. IU doesn’t have to beat either PSU or MI in order for this to be a very successful season, but having eight regular season wins would be huge for the future of IU Football. This team is very young, and if they are properly lead and continue to improve recruiting, they will be in position next season to get a signature win and build upon this breakthrough. Having said all that, in order to get the fan support they crave, IU has to beat NW next week at home.

  7. Breakthrough season is what can be accomplished this year, only. It will be one season. A breakthrough for a program towards a new successful tradition can be started 2019 and (2020 depending on bowl game) this season, but to sustain it a string of many winning seasons year after year would have to be accomplished…winning tradition.

  8. As reported in the, Fred Glass said this yesterday after the game. “To hit both of those things today at Nebraska was particularly gratifying, particularly knowing Nebraska’s staff had no respect for our program.” Does anyone know anything about what Glass was referring to yesterday? Anybody know the scoop about Nebraska’s staff not respecting IU FB?

    1. Po,
      If I’m understanding the quote correctly, Glass was speaking of a signature win and qualifying for a bowl. Not so sure I would call beating Nebraska this year a signature win. FG may feel like it is a signature win due to the Nebraska staff’s apparent lack of respect.

    2. PO- the rumor is that Frost was whining about how UN was being scheduled v. B1G East opponents: “From 2017-2021, Frost’s team will only play four of a possible 15 cross-divisional games against Indiana (1), Maryland (1), or Rutgers (2). The other 11 games will either come against Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, or Penn State. Nebraska’s annual interdivisional opponent through 2021 is Ohio State, then shifts to Michigan until 2025.” Word is that Frost specifically stated that he thought UN should be scheduled against “more teams like Indiana.” When does IUFB face off against these guys again?

  9. I believe the comments about IU’s football program not being respected comes from what Nebraska’s staff said at the summer get together in Chicago. I hope this season keeps getting better and good enough to flip a couple of recruits that had IU in the top two and went the other way. Now they can see what they can do to improve IUFB and move them further up in the B1G instead of being a losing program. Those that could look at the young talent should have seen the chance of being part of a better program instead of going to a program they will sit for a couple of years. If those players don’t flip, I trust these coaches to bring in talented players that can play better than rated.

    This team deserves more people coming to the games and giving them support. IU is starting to take football more seriously and I hope fans, admin, and everyone in the loop are on board.

  10. “Measurable progress” is much less catchy than “breakthrough,” but I like it a lot. UN is certainly in down cycle, so the Cornhuskers were beatable this year- but beating the beatables is what IUFB has failed to do for so long- but it is a marked, measurable improvement. I’ll take this measurable improvement over the once-a-decade “signature” upset any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

  11. Also, I agree that the wins over Mary and UN should have been by two TDs each, and I hope that attitude is front and center in the IUFB locker room.

  12. It is not a “Breakthrough” win until you beat somebody with a winning record (an maybe their original starting quarterback that actually starts the game). Beating Ball State (4-4), Eastern Illinois (0-6),Connecticut (2-6), Rutgers (2-6), Maryland (3-5) and Nebraska (4-4)…does not make or mean a breakthrough win but it could lead to a “Breakthrough” season. To me a breakthrough win is beating a truly ranked “AP”,”ESPN” or Coaches poll team. It is only natural for Tom Allen to consider this a breakthrough seasons, but remember there still remains 4 (four) games that have to be played. We the fan consider Northwestern and Purdue as very winnable games, but believe me both of those team will give Indiana University their best.

    1. I find it amusing how disparaging a few have been toward their ‘third string quarterback.’

      The guy is the younger brother of arguably the most athletically gifted back/receiver in the NFL and the son of a two time Super Bowl champ.

      If they rolled out a younger Manning brother would you mock him, as well?

  13. Out of curiosity, do you think Minnesota is having a breakthrough year? They are 8-0. Here is who they have beaten. Which one would you consider their ‘quality win’.

    South Dakota State
    Fresno State
    Georgia Southern

    Does it not count that they beat all the teams they should have? Isn’t that what good teams do?

    1. you have not heard PJ Fleck advise or say anything abut this being a “breakthrough” year for Minnesota. All I have heard him say is win the next game. An no I do not consider it a breakthrough season for Minnesota. They do not have any signature win this year are they would be higher in the polls (ranking), presently they are ranked as high as number 13 in the polls. They have Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin left on there schedule, all very beatable for this Minnesota team so that signature win is there. An yes it does count that they have beat all the teams (should have) on their schedule. An you are exactly right that is what a “GOOD” team does……All I am saying is Indiana is a good team they have beat the teams they “Should have” but that does not make it a breakthrough seasons “YET”….If Indiana beats Northwestern and Purdue or if they beat either Penn State or Michigan, then you can say it is a “Breakthrough Season”. They have a very good chance to do one or the other.

      1. Pretty sure they will decide if it is a breakthrough on their own terms just as you can choose for it not to be on yours.

        I’ve always said I look at things one week at a time.

        I never asked what PJ Fleck had to say about anything.

    2. Chet,
      I’m not sure I am prepared to call this year a breakthrough for either MN or IUFB. I mentioned earlier on another HSN thread that both schools have benefited mightily from very favorable scheduling. MN’s favorable scheduling was expected, IUFB’s was a bit of a surprise. You still have to play the schools on your schedule, and other than the non-conf schedule, schools don’t have much control over who they play. To both MN & IU’s great credit, they have made the best of the hands that have been dealt to them this year. What I would say is let’s not make too much of things – yet!

      There is a strong possibility that both schools may end up with identical records at season’s end. MN has yet to play a serious B1G contender and IU has 2 more to play. If either school were able to notch a signature win of such caliber this year, then it would certainly be considered a breakthrough year. If both schools win out the games they should, then this season would be program changing for both schools. The biggest question is, “Can this success be sustained and built upon?”

      If success can be maintained and built upon, then yes we can look back in hindsight and call this a possible breakthrough year. However, it can only be considered a breakthrough if the success continues and grows. Otherwise, we have to look at it as a “fluke” season. This is why ongoing Hoosier Nation support at this juncture is so crucial. It has been extremely difficult for IUFB to achieve even this modest amount of success. The only way to keep the ball rolling forward is massive support from Hoosier Nation. Miss this opportunity and it may be another 30 years or more before the chance comes again.

      1. Any of the regulars at the Scoop Yacht Club know how much thinkaboutit invested on a season hinging on the availability of Michael Penix.

        Any of his tempering of the debatable progress for the football program must be considered within such context.

        Breakthrough? It’s a breakthrough for sales pitches. The used car salesman looks legit because the clunker known as IU Football has actually not been in the shop for a few weeks. But any measurable change for IU Football is measured against OSU, Michigan and Penn State. The rest of the lot we’ve played have demonstrated little.
        MSU defeated us 40-31. Since their momentous victory against the 3rd place Hoosiers, they’ve done the following: OSU 34 MSU 10,
        Wisconsin 38 MSU 0, Penn State 28 MSU 7.

        You can’t legitimately call anything ‘breakthrough’ until you prove you can rock the casbah with the big boys from the conference. Any claims otherwise are merely silly attempts by a coach attempting to prove he and his team have done more than actual. If we would have encountered MSU’s schedule after the game in East Lansing, these discussions would not be happening. We’d be missing Michael Penix and Peyton Ramsey would be getting the conciliatory “he’s a great kid” stuff.

        Let’s keep it real. We’ve played the junk truck delivery route of the conference with a couple more heaps of lowly duds remaining in Northwestern and Purdue. The elite of the conference are making their separation per usual. We are only rubbing shoulders(as is Minnie Minny) because we’ve yet to engage the other major players outside of the Buckeyes.

        But congrats to Peyton Ramsey on his breakthrough. He broke through because of competition level, an injured starter…and Allen turning the kid recruited by Alabama and USC into a collectible Barbie Doll displayed in glass etagere.

        Rock the ‘Breakthrough’ Casbah !

  14. Breakthrough season = Yes
    Breakthrough tradition = No, but it could be a start.

    IU and Minnesota could have identical records at seasons end. In fact I think that would be a good one to take bets on.

  15. Jeebus, this argument is meaningless and totally subjective. Take your positions and argue about nothing.

    Indiana is 6-2. They’re improving, but they are still showing some signs of things that could keep them from beating better teams. But they’re fixable.

    Tackling has gotten better, but they need to be more consistent. Look at what Michigan did to ND who couldn’t wrap up a sandwich. We tackled well for 80% of the Nebraska game. Ball State, we tackled well for 30% of that game.

    Penalties. Especially the dumb spazzy ones. Taunting? Indiana Football Players should be banned from taunting for the next 100 years our of principle. Whop Philyor was amazing on Sat. But he taunting penalty knocked Indiana out of FG range. Could have truly put the game away vs needing to get a 4th down stop on our own 35 yd line to finish the game.

    Also, there was some blame of the refs on those two late hit calls on the 3rd down play resulted in 30 yds of penalties. Sorry, they were legit penalties and that was a lack of discipline. Another moment where we could have put the game out of reach, but we let NU right back in it.

    We have probably one of the best receiving corps in the B1G. One great QB and one solid QB. We have a running back who can put tattoos on faces with his cleats not seen since Cody Zeller ran over Mitch McGary twice. Our defense is improving each week, but there’s still a lot of room to grow.

    At the end of the next 4 games we’ll see if they get lazy and are happy with 6 wins and the Metformin Bowl verses East Tennessee State. Or, we’ll see if they really challenge and get 2 wins that they should get. If they have the heart, humility and work ethic to keep building, 9 is not out of the question. No more lowered expectations. Time to expect exactly what this program is starting to give us.

    1. I had the same thought when Stevie crushed that cornerback on the way into the end zone…’that looks just like Cody tattooing Bowling Shoes Mitch.’

      1. DD, on the call where the runner stepped out of bounds before reestablishing himself in bounds and no whistle was blown, ALL the announcers and the ‘official in the box’s agreed it was a blown call.

    2. Cody Zeller did a ton of running over people in the NCAA tournament….Man, he took that tournament by storm. That Final Four run of his will remain one of my top Hoosier memories of the last two decades. Hindenburg Times.
      Not to mention he’s losing his hair faster than the screws backing out of the “everything hinges” door of his Hoosier lore at the Assembly Hall playroom named in his illustrious honor.

      But you’re on target with the rest of your Hoosier Football rant…Breakthrough claims are utter malarkey considering who we’ve played. Crean and his Hoosier ‘upside’ saviors with little care of banners had a lot of “breakthroughs” until they had to win in the tournament against truly hungry teams with elite goals and elite coaching.

  16. You guys epitomize the loser mentality…..One tattoo is more highly valued than championships, Final Fours…or actually beating elite teams on elite stages.

    To call anything “breakthrough” that doesn’t involve elite stages and the defeating of elite teams is where Indiana is at in their ‘Age of Apology’ post Bobby Knight removal.

    Get to a Final Four and claim breakthrough. Get to a title BigTen conference football game …or a Rose Bowl and claim breakthrough.

    All the rest is merely slathering of charlatans and allowing grotesque salaries to legitimize success more than actual achievements.

    McGary may be bowling…but at least he played with some heavy balls when it mattered. Compare that to the gutter balls thrown by the “We’re Back!” hyped Hoosiers under Crean at the NCAA tournament.
    Tattoos? Tom Crean left with a very nice expensive tattoo. Lucky us. Maybe Zeller stays two more seasons had he known his efforts were not going to be stymied by the ineptitude of his Sunday sermon faith brother he came to play for(having nothing to do with being a ‘Hoosier’).

  17. Interesting stat…There are 20 running backs in the BigTen averaging over 4.7 yds. per carry this season(26 averaging over 4.0 yds/carry).
    Makes one wonder why anyone throws the ball….?

    Are most BigTen run defenses that bad …or are the running backs that good?

  18. Good post, DD. As for stupid penalties like taunting, I think that originates from a few guys on the roster who arrived in Bloomington feeling under-appreciated/under-recruited. They still have chips on their shoulders and feel the need to act out, on the basis of pride, in what becomes counter-productive ways. I believe that as those players’ self-confidence grows, as a result of their achievements, the recognition they receive, and the continued tough-love discipline they get from TA, we will see fewer stupid penalties like that taunting call.

    Playing at Nebraska also made the refs feel more comfortable calling those penalties against IU.

    When you referenced 9 wins, I assume you were counting on one of those being a bowl-game victory. I don’t see IU beating MI or PSU this season. I had hope we could beat MI this year, but after their demolition of ND on Saturday, that looks a lot less likely.

    1. Again, I think you have to keep in mind these are kids, not professional athletes. They are going through amplified versions of what we all went through in college.

      They are just learning many of those lessons in front of television cameras.

  19. Dear Tommy Allen-

    Defeat OSU in an early season stunner…or take down a heating up Michigan in a few weeks ….or defeat the Happy ‘Sandusky’ Valley group from PSU..
    Just get one of the aforementioned results and you can wear your Superman pajamas to bed. Hell, you can carry your ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ as the new Hoosier mascot and still be called legit.

  20. Millionaires…for coaching at IU? What’s to lose sleep over? He’s set as is the last genius who “broke through” over at McCracken.

    I lost a lot of sleep while you couldn’t get enough of that “breakthrough” guru.

    My talk is free on a blog…It’s a lot cheaper when it’s at an IU podium and you’re making a few million to get a team to .500 (or barely above) and one of those forty plus joke bowls via taking down the low-feeding teams of the conference …Proceed to act as if it’s monumental achievement. I won’t lose any sleep in knowing it’s the same movie in rerun.

    To start claiming any of this is breakthrough when it’s still probable/likely to go 0-4 against OSU, MSU, Michigan and Penn State? Silly stuff of a pajama party.

  21. H4H you are thinking from a team that has been there before; this team has is full of young players and if they want to see this as breakthrough I don’t have a problem with it. Yes a agree a will break through will be beating UM or PSU. Coach Allen is thinking about the players and ways to excite even better recruits to come to IU so I have no problem with them saying it is a breakthrough.

    This team has a chance to have a real breakthrough before this season is over and I think they can do that but we will have to wait and see.

  22. You da man, V13. I just think Allen is moving the bar.

    I think the real way you excite better recruits is to appear competitive against the top tier teams(and to do so with some manner of consistency). Hopefully, they’ll shock a doubter like me and take down Michigan or PSU…or BOTH.
    For now, I’ll happily defer to your expertise…and to your civility.

    It’s hard to argue with 3rd place in the conference….no matter how soft most of our conference opponents. Win three of four remaining and it’s certainly a 2019 breakthrough. Lose three or four of remaining and it’s an old movie in rerun.

  23. “If success can be maintained and built upon, then yes we can look back in hindsight and call this a possible breakthrough year. However, it can only be considered a breakthrough if the success continues and grows.” Took the words right out of my mouth, Harv. Even scientific breakthroughs aren’t recognized as such at the time, often at first they’re weird anomalies that are explored and then exploited and then later called breakthroughs when the whole story is written. I’m sticking with measurable progress.

    Double Down- yeah, maybe this is a pointless and subjective discussion about breakthrough or not. But you’ve got to admit that it’s a lot more fun than the usual pointless and subjective discussions usually found on this board in late October!

    1. davis- Was this a test? If not, pay attention more because I’m having a focus breakthrough. You, on the other hand, are quoting thinkaboutit.
      You’ve insulted thinkaboutit by putting credits for his words with my name. These guys get very touchy…They lose sleep. They breakthrough their pollyanna pajamas in cold sweat.

  24. Whoever is left look back from 2030 and then one can determine if 2019 was a breakthrough for the last decade.

  25. If you’re talking Hoosier Football breakthrough, your safe bet is to consult Zager and Evans.

    O.k…No lie here. I just had PRTD as my CAPTCHA character input…PEYTON RAMSEY TOUCH DOWN! This must be a sign…Rose Bowl, bitches.

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