Hoosier football excited for chance to play in 2020

By the time the Hoosiers hit the field for practice Wednesday, they already knew.

In an age of social media, coaches like Indiana’s Tom Allen are rarely the ones to break news. But given the last few months, this was finally a piece of news, leaking bit by bit on Twitter, that IU’s football players could embrace.

Big Ten football is going to be played in October.

Soon, the Hoosiers will be back.

“They cheered. They were excited,” Allen said. “There was definitely a different juice out there today. We’ve had these practices before. You could tell, there was a different bounce in their step.”

In recent days, the Hoosiers were able to get on the field for seven-on-seven drills, working on fundamentals. But it was hard not having a definitive date on when they might play. With other college football teams playing on television in recent weeks, Allen admitted it was somewhat depressing.

But now the Hoosiers finally have a future to look forward to. The conversation can finally turn back to the hope and optimism that followed an eight-win campaign in 2019, only to be overshadowed by the canceling of spring ball and the short-circuiting of fall camp.

“It’s hard to be training for something and you are not sure what that is as far as the date,” Allen said. “Was it going to be November? Was it going to be as late as January? Was it even going to happen at all? The October piece kind of just came into play here these last few weeks.

“So I just think they’re relieved.”

That start date, the weekend of Oct. 24, adds a bit of certainty, though there are still plenty of unknowns. How will teams fare as they try to survive, healthy, through a condensed season? What will it be like to travel to and play in empty stadiums?

In the grand scheme, though, some questions are easier to live with. In a world where people are still battling the virus, and some aren’t making it, the opportunity to live a healthy life and play football is a blessing. In contrast with not playing, playing in an empty stadium isn’t that big of a deal.

“We don’t really care,” Allen said. “There’s no question, you’d love to have a stadium full of people … but we knew that wasn’t going to happen.”

Whatever is necessary to have a season, that’s what they are going to accept.

Allen said he’s called coaches who have played this season, and they relayed that fan-less venues have a Saturday scrimmage kind of feel.

Allen also found New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s recent comment about empty NFL stadiums humorous. When asked to compare it to something, Belichick just said “Practice.”

“At the same time, he’s right,” Allen said. “But then they’re gonna pump in crowd noise. I don’t know how loud that will really be. I’ve heard some people say that’s not that loud. But anyway … it’s not gonna be the same. So that’s just part of it. We don’t care. That’s kind of one piece we have no control over.”

What the Hoosiers will hopefully have more control over is the spread of the virus. If daily antigen tests are as reliable as advertised, Allen’s players will know if they have COVID-19 before stepping on the field every morning. If they are positive, they won’t practice.

Daily antigen testing will start for IU’s football program on Thursday, because the university already has its own supply, Allen said.

That does allow IU to possibly have more contact drills in practice as they ramp up. At the same time, as the Hoosiers prepare for a season following an offseason of stops and starts, the question of how much they push the envelope and when will have to be thought through.

“How much is too much to where you beat yourself up and lose guys for games because of that? And then if you don’t hit enough, then you’re not ready to play a Big Ten football game,” Allen said. “That’s one thing we’re going right into. I don’t know who our first one is going to be, but we know it’s going to be a Big Ten opponent.”

But that, in itself, is progress. If all goes according to plan, the Hoosiers will be playing Big Ten football in October.

There is even a hope that the Hoosiers will have bowl opportunities to look forward to.

“Because we’re playing here in October, we’re going to be eligible for bowl games, and that’s big for our conference,” Allen said. “So I know our players are excited about that. Looking forward to just taking this one week at a time.”

2 comments

  1. It feels good to be talking about B1G football again. starting the season is the first step. The next is to see what the schedule looks like. I am sure there will bumps in the road this season but it is fun to think what this Hoosier team could do this year.

    There is a lot of experience coming back with very talented players and how much they have improved from last year will determine how this season will go for the team. There are questions to be answered – can Penix play all season, how the OL will perform, will the defense be improved from last year with another of year of experience, and can the talented young receivers make an impact this season to go along with Whop and Hendershot. Add in the new coaches to see how they can improve the team or if it will lead to a bit of a decline.

    The 2020 fall season is now here and the team will be practicing for the first game whoever that will be. I will be anticipating the first game and how IU will do against B1G competition.

  2. I can’t get over how much the above photo of Allen mirrors Crean after the UK win (Watford shot). Scary similar….Do the HT guys do this on purpose?
    The iconic Crean pose with mouth open as wide as one of those carnival clown face games where you try to throw the beanbag through the huge mouth.
    And much like the shots of Crean when screaming in jubilation, those in the background are not nearly as animated.
    I’ll work on putting the photos side-by-side for later. Maybe I’ll post it after this ‘breakthrough’ all-conference competition season concludes….at 8-0.

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