DeBoer will call plays at Gator Bowl

Kalen DeBoer will call plays for the Hoosiers one last time.

Indiana coach Tom Allen confirmed Monday that DeBoer, the recently minted head coach at Fresno State, will be able to call plays at the Gator Bowl. It was never a question of desire for DeBoer or Allen but a matter of logistics, as the two universities had to work out the particulars of the arrangement.

As of Monday, those plans were settled.

“Something we’ve been working towards and were hoping to have done and both sides worked together to make that a possibility,” Allen said. “Really appreciate that, and he wants to finish well here and finish what we started.”

DeBoer’s stint at IU will be just one year, but it was a good one, helping lead an offense that tied a program record with nine games of 30-plus points.

Given the richest contract for an assistant in IU’s history, DeBoer came over from Fresno State and lived up to his billing as a developer of offenses. IU went from 39th nationally in third-down offense (42.4 %) to 11th (48.2), 85th in passing efficiency (128) to 21st (153.8), and 93rd in time of possession (28:48) to fifth (34:05).

That production, paired with his previous success as a national champion head coach at the NAIA level, made DeBoer an even more attractive name on the market, especially to his former school when Jeff Tedford resigned in December.

DeBoer was officially hired by Fresno State as head coach last week.

“Both ADs were supportive,” Allen said. “It’s obviously a great thing for him, a great opportunity for him, but, selfishly, you’d like to keep him for the remainder of our time. But I’ve been in those situations with other staffs. I’ve been in it with my own self, not as the head coach but going to another staff and we’re having to not coach in a bowl game in the past because of that, because of the demands of a new job, and you don’t want to take away from that, either.”

Luckily for the Hoosiers, their Jan. 2 postseason date with Tennessee has allowed DeBoer time to work on both his coordinating duties at IU as well as getting started with preparations for Fresno State. There is a recruiting dead period currently, which lessens the burden in that respect.

“There was give and take on both sides, allowing him to do things he needs to do there,” Allen said. “And the timing of the bowl is good. It helped both sides be able to make it work. Excited about that.”

DeBoer was with the Hoosiers on Monday as they practiced at John Mellencamp Pavilion, just before they break for Christmas and then regroup in Jacksonville.

IU quarterback Peyton Ramsey was excited to learn he will have his play-caller for one more game.

“Coach DeBoer has been monumental in my development as a player and as a person and to be able to have another game with him means the world. It’s awesome,” Ramsey said. “It says a lot about him, that he was willing to come back and wanted to be a part of this one.”

Thinking about Tennessee

Throughout bowl prep, Allen has split practices into three-day sets with off-days in between.

While the first two sets of three were all about technique work and team reps for younger players, the three practices leading into Christmas have  been devoted to the Volunteers.

“I loved the meeting room focus, the way we practiced yesterday morning and then piggyback on today’s practice,” Allen said. “Just judging that, you don’t know how you are going to play yet, but you feel like there was an excitement about this week, this last phase of practice before we head off to Christmas.”

Digging deeper into Tennessee film, the old truisms about Southeastern Conference football have come to life. From what the Hoosiers can tell, the Vols are plenty fast and athletic.

Tennessee (7-5) comes into the postseason winners of five straight.

“They are a good defense, I think they have gotten better since the year has gone on,” Ramsey said. “A good team, and we’ll have to play our best. Big, physical guys, well-coached, do a lot of different things. We’ll have to be locked in and we’ll have to continue to prepare and put a good plan in place.”

IU (8-4) will have a full week practicing at the bowl site at Fernandina Beach High School, 50 minutes north of downtown Jacksonville.

“It’s a little bit different view than we’re used to having,” Allen said. “I think all our players have oceanfront views, so that’s pretty cool.”

Stevie still rehabbing

There is still no official word on the availability of sophomore running back Stevie Scott, who missed the Hoosiers’ regular-season finale at Purdue with a lower-leg injury.

“Don’t have a decision yet,” Allen said. “But Stevie’s working hard with the training staff and making progress, for sure.”

Scott was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2019, racking up 845 yards (4.7 per carry) and 10 touchdowns in 11 games.

Freshman running back Sampson James produced 118 yards at Purdue before succumbing to an ankle injury of his own. James, the Avon product, should be available if Scott is not.

“He should be able to go,” Allen said. “If Stevie’s able to go, that would be awesome. But if not, next man up.”


  1. That’s a classy thing to do and I’m glad everyone cooperated to allow DeBoer and his offense to finish the season together.

    I wish DeBoer all the luck in the world at Fresno State. I know he’s a very good coach, but he’s going to need some luck to be successful at Fresno State. In reading a lot more about that part of the state of California since he took the job, I’ve learned that there is a lot of loyalty from people and HS players living in “the Valley.” Their are a lot of people in that area of the state who make their living in the agricultural business, and they love Fresno State football. It’s there pride and joy. So maybe he’ll be more successful recruiting players than I originally suspected. He seems to be a good guy and I hope he continues to have great success, starting next week against TN.

  2. Having DeBoer call plays is a big win for TA. He’s not letting him coach because he’s being magnanimous, he’s asking DeBoer to coach because TA wants to win the bowl game. DeBoer is one of the best offensive coordinators in the country. Without him, IU would be forced to have a coach with no play calling experience piecemeal together a game plan. IU’s chances for a victory probably at least double with DeBoer calling plays.

  3. Having coach DeBoer call the offense gives IU’s offense a big boost against TN. I am glad both groups worked together to make this happen.

  4. It was a must for IU to have DeBoer for the Bowl. There is an abundance of young, talented and aggressive OC’s out there I’m sure Coach Allen is culling to find the right fit.

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