Ellison powering his way to sophomore season

Since the beginning of January, Morgan Ellison has dropped six percent of his body fat.

That’s a physical change the rising sophomore running back can feel — and one that the rest of Indiana’s football program can see.

After leading Indiana with 704 rushing yards and six touchdowns last fall, earning IU’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year award in the process, Ellison is pushing himself to be even better this year.

He’s off to a good start this spring.

“He’s changed his body,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “I had a guy that came (this weekend) and he hadn’t seen him the whole offseason. He was like, ‘Whoa!’ Right away, (Ellison) was the first guy he noticed. He’s bigger, stronger, faster and he understands what he’s doing. He runs behind his pads better than he did before.”

The Hoosiers are hoping that combination of attributes, in tandem with an older, healthier offensive line, help Ellison become the explosive back they believe he can be.

During his freshman year, Ellison certainly offered flashes. With a new training approach championed by first-year strength and conditioning coach David Ballou and athletic performance coach Dr. Matt Rhea, Ellison expects to get there.

After Saturday’s scrimmage, Rhea reported Ellison hit a personal-best 22.04 miles per hour on a touchdown run in the game.

“With Coach Ballou and Dr. Rhea, I’ve cut down body fat and gotten stronger,” Ellison said. “My numbers went up a lot. … You can just feel the explosiveness.”

His position coach, Mike Hart, sees it, too.

“That’s a great honor for Coach Ballou and Dr. Rhea,” Hart said. “Those guys have come in and done a tremendous job with Morgan and Cole (Gest). You can really see the movement. They’re moving a lot better. They’re a lot faster on the field. They have a lot better burst. Those are two guys that played a lot for us last year and you can see what 8-to-10 weeks have done for them.”

With the physical gains, Allen hopes Ellison continues to hone his mental approach.

There’s some intriguing talent in IU’s backfield, with Ellison, Gest and heralded incoming freshman Ronnie Walker, among others, pushing for carries this season.

Ellison had an edge to his approach as a newcomer last fall. For Allen, as important as it is for Ellison to chisel his body, it’s equally imperative that he keeps his focus sharp.

So far, so good.

“He’s a young running back and he’s got that unique situation in that he had success as a freshman,” Allen said. “(Now it’s), ‘How do I come back sophomore year with that same edge, that same hunger that took me to get where I am.’ He came in with a chip on his shoulder, with something to prove in the fall. He has to have that same mentality coming into his sophomore season.”


  1. Gang, if Tom Allen is to ever get IU FB out of the perpetual dumpster of the college football world. This is how he is going to do it. Recruit under the radar talent from the areas where you can get it, then use a cutting edge strength and conditioning program to boost their athletic skills along with very good coaching. If this should prove to be successful (a miracle in the case of IU), then everyone must realize the window to sustain success will close very quickly. Everyone in the football world will want to emulate what has been done at IU, because if it can happen at IU . . .

    The fastest way to copy success is to pirate away the staff associated with any success. The inability, due to lack of support, to replace pirated staff with suitable replacements undermined the Bill Mallory attempt to sustain success at IU; and it will repeat itself if the necessary support from Hoosier nation does not take the steps required should a success somehow occur. Hoosier nation has a history of not rising to the occasion with massive support at those very few times when there was a glimmer of hope for football success at IU. For IU, these opportunities seem to only come around rarely. If it should occur this time, best not miss it.

  2. Gest already had a strong burst but to develop a split second more means additional positive yards at the LOS and the open field. Can’t wait to see this bunch at the Cream & Crimson game. Will make for a good Bloomington weekend.

    1. Hoping to see some postings from you and others able to attend the C&C game. Would very much like that perspective. Not able to attend, but would really like to know what those going are seeing. Especially as you mentioned, items like Gest already have a strong burst. Has the S&C program change been able to produce quick results not only with Gest, but all other areas of the team? Really looking forward to seeing the postings.

      1. Will do. I’ll try to be complimentary as well as critical. But I do know blending the experienced evaluation of v13 into mine is a fair thought. Can’t hardly wait.

  3. thinkaboutit, good post, and I agree with you.

    All early indications are that Tom Allen is doing the very best he can, and everything he can, to elevate IU Football. Only time will tell if his efforts and skills will be enough to lead IU to a “breakthrough” and motivate the Hoosier Nation to rise from its collective lethargy. So perhaps it would be more appropriate to say, “if a coach like Tom Allen is to ever get IU FB out of the perpetual dumpster,……” As far as I’m concerned, the question is whether the low-cost, risk averse hiring strategy deployed by Fred Glass can ever be successful for a Big Ten Football program? Is it possible for an Offensive or Defensive Coordinator, with no previous head-coaching experience and no name recognition, to take over a Big Ten Football program and turn it into a winner within a few years? Is it possible for any man, without previous head-coaching experience (at the college level) to transform IU’s football program into a winner? In theory, the answer is yes, and we all know Fred Glass, like his counterparts at Rutgers and Maryland, hope their new head coaches will build winning programs. But in reality, can it be done at IU? Your point that questions the support IU football gets from the University Administration and the Hoosier Nation is right on target. If Allen is successful, attempts will be made by bigger, wealthier football schools to “pirate” him and/or his key assistants away from IU. If Allen is not successful, the cycle that IU Football has been stuck in for decades will start all over again. In a perfect world, Allen leads IU to a breakthrough season in 2018 or 2019 and Fred Glass significantly increases the football coaching compensation such that Allen and his key assistants are far “less vulnerable” to getting “pirated.” But for the sake of this discussion, let’s say that history repeats itself, and in spite of all his best efforts, Tom Allen fails to break through. Then what? Does Fred Glass go out and hire yet another Offensive or Defensive Coordinator and make him the lowest paid head coach in the Big Ten? Or does Fred Glass abandon his low-cost, low-risk hiring strategy and hire a man who has proven he can build a winning program (like Purdue did last year)? Will Fred Glass or IU’s administration ever be willing to pony up the money it takes to hire a football coach who has a proven track record and enough name recognition to instantly improve recruiting to a degree that transforms IU into a winner within two or three seasons? And by proven track record, I’m not talking about pipe-dream-candidates or a man who built a winner at a Power-five conference school, but someone who has built a winner at a mid-major program, like Fleck at MN, Brohm at Purdue, or Terry Hopper before IU hired him, etc. Boiling it all down, the question for IU Football is, which must come first, the money or the proven head coach?

    1. So let me digest this. Hiring Allen(with no HC experience)is ‘risk averse’. Swallowing that means hiring Urban Meyer is a risk. Now that deduction is illogical logic.

    2. Po,

      I think you are essentially correct in how Fred Glass and the IU administration are managing the Athletic Department in general and the football program specifically. This being said, I do not lay the blame necessarily at their feet. They are doing what they were hired to do. The specific blame goes to those doing the hiring, the IU Trustees, and those responsible for placing individuals with such mindsets upon the BOT.

      The Trustees do not get on the BOT by accident, therein lies the problem. It resides with who are placing these individuals on the Board. In other words Hoosier nation.

      Hoosier nation has been, is, and always will be the chief culprit in the lack of IU football success. They are the sole responsible party in this matter. Hoosier nation must come to the realization football-wise, in the words of the old saying, we have met the enemy and he is us! Until Hoosier nation realizes it is their own actions causing this, the chances of improving the football program remain slim.

      It is not about the collective lethargy in supporting the program, as much as it is the collective disconnect regarding the priorities of who are being selected to run the university itself. Until Hoosier nation demands a change in university philosophy by force of ballot action where able, and by force of donation purse strings if possible, the status quo will remain in perpetuity. It is as simple as that, the university makes priority what Hoosier nation considers priority. If Hoosier nation is figuratively storming the gates of the Administration and the Athletic Department about the woeful state of the football program. Does anyone not think there would be substantive change?

      I can guarantee you if the BB program were ran in a similar manner, Hoosier nation would be up in arms. IU BB is a priority, IU FB does not share that same status in the minds of Hoosier nation and therefore IU. If there were the same simmering Hoosier nation outrage about the football program as it has been over the last 15-20 years of BB malaise, do you not think there would be changes? H4H is still outraged about the TC BB tenure and the man has been gone a year!

      Where is this level of outrage in Hoosier nation about the FB program? Again, therein lies the answer.

      1. If there were the same simmering Hoosier nation outrage about the football program as it has been over the last 15-20 years of BB malaise, do you not think there would be changes? H4H is still outraged about the TC BB tenure and the man has been gone a year!

        So, let me get this straight…The answer to 15-20 years of outrage over “BB malaise” was giving us Tom Crean for a decade?
        Wrong. Price doesn’t allow me to express the true manner in how Tom Crean and Fred got their jobs. It has nothing to do with malaise or outrage. Try Prima Donna Syndrome…Defeatism….Narcissism….Bandwagon Banter for the Stale and Naive….Carnival Tent Masters.
        IU Basketball is in a bigger mess than IU Football. At least IU Football has a starting point to climb. Glass turned IU Basketball into a museum artifact….Crean turned her into the Virgin Mary. The image was so grossly contorted, manipulated, and put on a pedestal….that it would scare anyone with any humble heart away. It’s a facade. It’s been sold as our best days behind us by turning the place into ostentatious giant trophy case …It’s about as far away from the true meaning of Indiana basketball as one can get.
        It’s not malaise that brought it to this point. It’s inside privilege and protection of old men who had their day in the sun…and simply want to keep advertising it. But they had nothing to do with what is honored in the giant glass curio cabinet….Greatness is built on busting up curio cabinets…rather than the safety in memorializing, resting on laurels, …and endless reunions/monuments for old men to cling.
        Football has nothing to lean against…Nothing to memorialize…Nothing to build a witch hunt. It may be forever slow to get out of the gate….but at least there is still a race to run. It has no tired image to falsely turn into something godlike in a slogan….All you have to do is say “It’s Indiana” and the old v-neck sweaters in Assembly are getting their goosebumps and the world is right. Basketball is our Facebook page to serve as a “do nothing” narcissistic mirror locked in a time capsule of updates and image selling….and thus a perfect fit is the charades of man like Tom Crean.

        1. How I would fix IU Basketball?

          A. Tear the sky boxes for the privileged out.
          B. Tear out anything resembling a memorial to the past.
          C. Make the banners into entry way floor mats. Once they’re worn, chuck them.
          D. Lower the price of tickets to encourage more student attendance.
          E. Block off a large section of the lower level seats for students.
          F. Give Simon-Skjodt her money back and keep the name Assembly Hall.
          G. Sell beer.
          H. Anyone planning a reunion gets fired.

      2. H4H,
        You said a lot of things, but you said nothing which will actually change the things going wrong in the IU Athletic Department. How do you change the real problem which is the powers at the top pulling the strings? We can debate all day about the results of their decisions and I am not saying you are wrong in your positions in the matter. What I am saying is the BOT hires the Administration which presides over the problem aggravating all of us.

        How do you change that? Without that change, nothing changes.

        1. I believe the importance of winning has also diminished….IU football and basketball has just become something to do on an otherwise boring weekend in Indiana.
          Boards/administrators/inside powers don’t feel the same pressure because of cultural changes and less true heartfelt investment in sports teams. There are simply too many distractions to make sports a salient concern to the young viewer/student. Demographic changes at big institutions probably contributes to tempered fandom as well.
          And win or lose, much of the big dollars are guaranteed because of television and other forms of licensing that comes with the Big Ten network.
          Average achievement comes with far more job security than in times when many of these sports were some of the sole outlets for pastime and entertainment. Now it’s just a shotgun’s worth of options requiring little thought and little passion …for audiences more and more numbed by choices.
          The days of dynasties are over….The days of passionate fan bases evaporating are not far behind. All of the above creating blasé attitudes hitting over-saturated and over-stimulated eyes and ears makes for those in power to remain in power(whether truly mediocre and passionless themselves). Bottom Line: I don’t have the answers….and it’s probably why I enjoy very few games and very few stories arising out of the world of sports. Jobs forever protected..Dollars more important than passion….Individuals rising to fame far more important than teams.
          We treat sports how we treat food…We simply consume without any care of the quality. We just want more choices…and desire it on a plate faster. Final Four commercials during timeouts in games are nearly 10 minutes long…..It’s all dying a slow death of greed.

  4. Yes, for Fred Glass, hiring Tom Allen was a risk averse decision, given that his primary objective is to manage his department’s budget. Assuming Fred wants IU to have a winning football program (of course he does), he is a classic example of a person “who will avoid what he fears before he will pursue what he desires.” He’s been educated and trained to minimize legal and financial risk. Fred’s certainly not worried about getting fired if IU does not produce a winning football season any time soon. He could coast to retirement as IU’s A.D. without IU ever producing another winning football season. And that’s the problem; losing football seasons are acceptable at IU! From his perspective, Fred’s not responsible for IU producing a winning football program, but he is responsible for managing his department’s budget. Fred worries about his budget and about anything that could embarrass IU or place the University within the NCAA’s crosshairs. It seems as if Fred believes that it is not possible for IU to significantly increase football revenue, either through increased attendance at football games or through alumni donations, as if no form of stimulus will affect the program’s trajectory, so why risk spending a penny more than is necessary? Don’t take my word for it, just go back and read the many comments he’s made in various media interviews over the last decade. By his actions and his words, Fred’s priorities appear to be improving IU’s athletic facilities, keeping IU’s nose clean, and getting IU basketball back to elite status. Somewhere down the list is helping build IU Football into a winning program. But since I know my old business school classmate is a smart guy, maybe Fred will turn out to have made a great hire and Tom Allen will turn out to be the best football coach ever hired by IU. I know I join Fred and thousands of Hoosier fans in hoping that becomes true, but unfortunately “hope is not a strategy.”

  5. …blather on…I don’t know about multi-syllable(2 L’s by the way)as I use a Webster but I certainly know the definition of risk averse…

  6. Great news about Ellison and Gest as both showed flashes last year of being very good RBs. Improving power, strength, and speed will make them more dangerous in 2018 especially if the same improvements are being made by the OL. Many wonder why some of us are so optimistic about coach Allen leading IU but the improvement in recruiting, despite not reach a bowl, the hiring of coach Ballou and Dr Rhea are a few of the reason we expect improvement.

    The Spring game will be fun to watch and I will be interested in seeing how much the players have improved this off-season.

  7. Three “Ls” in syallable, but who’s counting? Managing budgets and keeping the organization out of regulatory hot water? No kidding. Same goes for Boards of Trustees. Until Hoosier Nation cares about football, competent management is all we can expect. Villagers with pitchforks/torches (us) and alums with fat checkbooks are the only possible agents of change, and only then if in sufficient numbers (none on the horizon). Blame indeed circles around to Hoosier Nation.

  8. HC, your comment is cryptic, but yes, really, if assigning blame is what it’s all about (which appears to be the case on this string at least). The difference of opinion between PO (IU/Glass too cheap) and me (IU/Glass too poor vis a vis other programs) has been well documented, so I’m not bothering to go into yet again. I wrote “competent management;” the breakthrough/dynamic/revolutionary (add other buzzword here) leadership so badly needed for IUFB will require the application of both carrot (checkbook-waving alums) and stick (torch/pitchfork-waving villagers) to the Trustees. We might want better than “competent management,” but expecting more is unrealistic until something about the Hoosier Nation changes- such as demanding more, not just expecting it. Did I address your comment accurately?

    1. No. My “really” was meant for the reply to my double (LL) correction. As far as AD Glass and IUFB I see nothing but steps in a positive direction.

      1. Got it, HC. And yeah, I too think Glass is doing better than any of his predecessors (at least in recent decades) in relation to IUFB. Granted, that that’s a pretty low measuring stick. But if any football booster here thinks that Glass should be replaced, they ought consider long and hard the IU Trustees’ record on filling that spot.

  9. Well done, davis! Great post. Too cheap (risk averse) or too poor? Or maybe a bit of both. Either way, the “strategy” Glass has deployed for football has not worked since he became IU’s A.D., and yet he suffers no consequence and is not at risk of losing his job because of IU Football’s continued losing seasons. How many FBS school A.D.s around the country could keep their jobs with such a record? And that is 100% the fault of the Hoosier Nation. We’ve been pounded into submission, and don’t even think about raising a fuss over the football program. And what wealthy Hoosier alumni is going to donate a large sum of money to the football program if he/she feels that the Management in place is unable to enact a strategy that builds a winning program? “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is ………………”

    1. PO- also consider that your “not-getting-fired-despite-years-of-losing-football-seasons” observation is only half of the risk/reward formula facing Glass. Why would ANY sane IUAD go out on a limb and bust the budget, or otherwise make any extraordinary moves, to produce winning football? Hoosier Nation wouldn’t care about IUFB winning nine or ten games a year any more than it has not cared (for decades) about IUFB losing nine or ten games a year. Sure, a few villagers like us would drop the pitchforks and be dancing in the streets, but we’re pretty much viewed as the village idiots. I’m also pretty sure that the checkbook-waving alums would still be earmarking their largesse for basketball, women’s hopscotch, or just about anything but IUFB.

  10. So painful.

    I’d rather rub ghost peppers in my eyes than read another baseless Podunker rant on risk aversion. Didn’t read it, but I bet I can tell you everything it said.

    At least it was followed up by another insightful rant about Crean in a football thread by Michigan for Hillbillies.

  11. DoubleDown-

    Gosh …I hate being so wrong about Mo Wagner. How long ago was I identifying him on Scoop as the next center to take the NCAA tournament by storm? I’d say it was at least a year and a half ago ..and only after I’d seen him in a game or two.
    Yet another rather unheralded center to lead a Michigan team to a Final Four…and Beilein does it without any of that “everything hinges” BS.

    But outside of my rather uncanny ability to know guys with the “it factor” to take college teams deep, I was merely responding to thinkaboutit’s rant presented in the last paragraph of a March 31, 2018 at 8:22 am post above.
    He was the one who introduced Crean and my name into this thread…I just assume people want more when they ask for more….So, as Steve Martin famously said, EXCUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSE ME!

    I wanted the Loyola Ramblers…
    Wagner’s personality annoys me. All the commentators claim he’s a great kid…but he sort of acts like an ass. I just knew he was going to be very good….at the college game. NBA? Probably more potential than Zeller because he’s much more of an outside/versatile threat.
    Michigan has no secret sauce…just a great formula for winning. Great X’s and O’s coach…Solid defense…..Value the ball…Low turnovers….Exceptionally skilled post players who have great vision(know how to face the basket) and immense spunk/energy…and perimeter SHOOTERS.

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