Allen open to adjustments in 2nd season

Tom Allen very much wants his second season as Indiana coach to be remembered more fondly than his first.

If 2017 was a learning experience for Allen, then the 2018 season has been his chance to put those lessons to the test. So far, with the Hoosiers at 5-5 with two games remaining, that pursuit has been a mixed bag.

Through it all, Allen has tried to remain flexible. He’s trying new approaches with this group, weighing the pulse of his team with his own inclinations as he strives to return Indiana to the postseason.

“You always try to figure out what does your team need, and also you grow and do things a little different based on your experiences and what works and doesn’t work for you,” Allen said. “So just trying to hit all the right buttons and get everything going to where your guys are, when they take the field, playing their best.”

Last week, Allen did what he seldom does. He looked ahead.

Leading into Saturday’s 34-32 win over Maryland, Allen laid it on the line. He didn’t talk merely about the need to win one game, but the requirement of winning two.

If the Hoosiers were to accomplish one of their primary goals of playing in a bowl game, they’d need to not only beat the Terrapins, but play well enough in remaining opportunities against Michigan and Purdue to clinch that all-important sixth win.

Allen, like most — if not all — college coaches, seldom strays from the old “one-game-at-a-time” approach. This year, however, he felt a need to do something different.

“I was kind of taking a completely different approach, and very upfront with our guys about it,” Allen said. “That will continue.”

Really, it was only the latest instance of Allen trying something new.

Prior to the season, Allen altered the team’s in-house schedule with these final few weeks in mind. Instead of lifting on Sundays throughout the fall, he’s given players time off the day after games and moved the team lifts to Mondays.

With input from his new strength and conditioning staff, Allen also altered the practice schedule. As the season winds down, he and his staff are tapering practices differently, too.

“Very, very conscientious of our players and their health and rest,” Allen said. “We changed our schedule for the very purpose of being at our best Weeks 9, 10, 11 and 12. We really felt like last year, for multiple reasons — it wasn’t just one thing — we kind of ran out of juice and did not have the same energy at the end, and were just tired.”

With all that and more in mind, Allen has been open to change.

Whether that’s the way he talks to his team, the way he works them, or even the way he views the big picture, Allen is open to anything that will change the results and lead Indiana to where it wants to go.

“Just trying to learn the best way for our guys to be competing at a high level this time of the year,” Allen said. “… There have definitely been some changes, for sure.”

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