Hoosiers feel as healthy as ever entering Big Ten play

By the end of last October, Tom Allen had grown incredulous.

It seemed that every week produced a new injury for his Indiana football team to overcome, sapping depth and forcing Allen to retool on the fly. Injuries, of course, are an inherent part of this violent game. But in a quarter century of coaching, Allen had never seen anything like it.

So when he revamped IU’s strength and conditioning staff in December, Allen did so with injury prevention in mind. Now, on the verge of entering Big Ten play in strong physical shape, it seems that plan is paying off.

“In the few years I’ve been here, this is the healthiest we’ve been going in,” Allen said.

Although losing backup running back Cole Gest to a season-ending ACL injury in the opener was a blow, Indiana navigated the non-conference portion of its schedule relatively injury free. The Hoosiers did enter the regular season without tight end Ryan Watercutter and backup guard Mackenzie Nworah, but it seems IU has been lucky through its first three games.

Allen reported that defensive end Gavin Everett, who didn’t play against Ball State, was a gametime decision on Saturday. He’s expected to return this weekend against Michigan State. Allen also hopes to get Nworah back soon.

“I think we’ve got more guys healthy past the first three games than I can remember in my first two years,” junior left tackle Coy Cronk said. “Unfortunately, we lost Cole, but the last couple years we lost Dan Feeney in the second game of the year my freshman year. (Nick) Westbrook in the first game (last year). Stuff like that. That’s part of football, but I think we’re more healthy heading into the fourth game of the Big Ten schedule than I can remember.”

That feeling seems to be a tribute to the approach laid out by new strength and conditioning coach David Ballou, who has designed workouts aimed toward preventing the kinds of soft-tissue injuries that can become problematic.

That behind-the-scenes work began in the off-season, and has carried over into the first month of action.

“That is something that has continued, just taking care of our bodies,” quarterback Peyton Ramsey said. “It’s something they’ve encouraged. After Thursday practices, we do a whole recovery-soft tissue circuit. I think that’s something (helpful). It’s been a point of emphasis, for sure. And it has definitely paid off.”

Allen agrees.

Things certainly feel — and look — different than they did last season, when key starters such as Ramsey, Westbrook, offensive linemen Brandon Knight and Simon Stepaniak, receiver J-Shun Harris and defensive backs Marcelino Ball and A’Shon Riggins missed time and put a dent into IU’s depth.

“I do think it’s a variable,” Allen said. “I know injuries are always that age-old question of how do you prevent them, nobody wants them. They’re always going to be there in some form or fashion. We definitely focused on doing things in our preparation that would limit soft-tissue injuries. Purchased different mechanisms for that. The guys have bought into it. Even part of their diet, as well. Their hydration. Those all go into that part of your body.

“Injuries can’t be prevented completely. But there’s no question that we are currently experiencing less than we had a year ago, and that’s a good thing. Hurt us last year.”

This year, IU hopes its injury prevention is part of what adds up to a winning equation late in the schedule.

“The objective is that we are at peak performance at kickoff each week, then also peak performance Week 8, Week 9, Week 10, 11, 12, the bowl game,” Allen said. “That’s the objective, that’s the goal, that’s what we’re trying to get to. So far we’ve seen definitely some positive results of that.”

16 comments

  1. t- injuries are not an excuse, they are physical facts. But IU now has a plan, based on science, to minimize them. Keep your fingers crossed, luck does play a role too.

  2. It looks like the new S&C program is doing what the coaches advertised about injury prevention. Some injuries can’t be helped in a collision sport but many injuries can be reduced through proper training. I hope the lack of injuries impacting the team continues and IU benefits from having starters being there game in and game out.

  3. Just hope they’re all staying clean…and clear from using any steroid supplements/drugs. The added boost/performance from PED’s is well documented. Drastic changes in size/speed may come with some scrutiny.
    It’s naive to think it’s not out there….(even at the h.s. and college levels).

  4. From what I’ve witnessed watching the games on T.V., T.A.’s liberal substitution policy through the first three games has also reduced injuries. Whatever the reasons, unlike some other programs in the Big Ten, injuries to starters hurt IU in the past a lot more than they do other Big Ten teams simply because of the difference in the depth of talent. It’s another reason why I feel IU has a chance to beat MSU tomorrow.

  5. Congrats Dusty!
    Harvard also wishes you to be “as healthy as ever entering Big Ten play.” Dating and scheduling soft to boost image/rankings is over..Time for a commitment and proving you belong to one who truly has the ‘objective eye’ you have historically claimed to own in your profession. Scary, ain’t it?

  6. Well here we go, folks. I feel better than I have in a long time about the Hoosiers going into Big 10 season; a better than average non conference schedule was handled well, if not spectacularly, and I this team has a good chance to get 4 more wins. The big question, as always, will be when the heck to they finally knock off one of the big boys. Has to happen sometime, doesn’t it?

  7. After the Bears pushed your Seahawks around, I can understand going back to ‘Steve in Ottawa.’
    Hope you’re doing well, old ‘Island’ friend. Verbal art in motion! Hut! hut!

  8. Kudos to the Bears, they are on the ups. Seahawks are on the downs. The Bears have a lot to like about them; a star IU running back, an absolute monster in Mack (yes, I intentionally avoided the way too overcliched “beast”), a QB who can run like a gazelle, a young hungry coach. Hoping for big things from them…maybe they can pay back the Packers on their home turf.

    Hope you are well as well, fine sir.

  9. My kid had a funny line regarding the new Bears coach: “Who’s the guy hiding behind a Chili’s menu?”

    I’m still not sold on Mitch Toorisky…Sometimes a gazelle. Sometimes a beady-eyed deer in headlights. We’ll see how he progresses through the season. Mack…Wow. Now that’s a true ‘Monster of the Midway’ who somehow dropped in our ’85 Bears lap. Game-changing talent.

    Time moves at a faster pace with each passing clump of years. Hard to imagine it’s been a decade since Pierre’s baguettes …and your tales of Annecy on Basketblog. Had chances to go to Italy and Germany …and, foolishly, passed it up.
    Stay around for football chat…I can’t really bite anymore. Jeremy has this short leash and a choker collar …I generally have to wait about 6 to 12 hours before an HT committee known as ‘Twelve Angry Journalists in American Eagle Plaid Shirts’….finally comes to a vote for approval or disapproval on a Harvard comment. Many times they’ll get approved but with a Scoop dress code. Was I really that awful on Basketblog?

  10. That’s a funny comment, your kid has a sense of humor.

    10 years, wow. It feels like even longer. I wonder if we should have an anniversary party…maybe head back over to the “Hoosier Hype” (is it still called that?) and cause a little trouble, just like old times? Some posts about Mark Spitz’s speedo on the Hoosier water polo chat thread?

    You sure were fun to wind up back in those days. You had fun returning the favor, too. I deserved it.

    1. You sort of trivialize those times on Basketblog…That’s a very human response expected from the human ego. And now you attempt to “wind” me up by dumbing it all down to speedo references (as if we were teenagers in the back of a classroom giggling over insults and Facebook gossip).
      You were captivated captive on the Island of Basketblog (as was I). You were a hostage at sea on the ship ‘Grandiloquence’ ….Your imagination was intoxicated. Your preconceived notions were destroyed. That silly simple Indiana peasant took mutiny upon your thoughts and steered you into letting down your guard. You unleashed your arsenal…and while doing so unleashed your heart. You will always wonder of your friend, your enemy, your brother. I know better of the journey.
      We float on raft at sea always looking for a connection…for someone to see us. Eye to eye can be a world away on that sea. And two lone survivors of loneliness such impersonal worlds and callous protection of egos found something beyond Facebook friend or follower.
      And never forget Remora as part of that small crew ….who feared nothing of spectacle or stage. Imagination now goes hungry and memories fight to abandon ship. Do not trivialize the dark sea. She begs for us again to paint the sunsets and the stars ..and to stir her waves once mighty in freedoms to dip our pens into her ink and create.

  11. I believe it’s now called ‘Hoosier Tripe’….Hard to stomach the place.

    Do recall how you loved that ‘Candle in the Speedo’ tune by Elton.

  12. I’ll be pretty shocked if the Bears finish high than anyone but Detroit in their division. They will be lucky to be slightly below average.

Comments are closed.