Allen, Wommack adjusting to staff shakeup

This weekend felt different to Tom Allen.

When the Hoosiers took the field inside Mellencamp Pavilion on Saturday for their first practice of the spring, it marked the first time since Allen arrived on campus in 2016 that he wasn’t leading Indiana’s defense. That job now belongs to Kane Wommack, IU’s newly-promoted defensive coordinator.

Entering his fourth season at IU — and his third as head coach — Allen is trying something new. In December, Allen shed his responsibilities as coordinator, shifting the position to Wommack. Allen found that juggling dual roles as defensive coordinator and head coach ate up too much of his time, spread him thin and limited his involvement with the offensive and special teams phases of his team.

So in 2019, Allen is committed to becoming a more effective manager of IU’s program as a whole. With two practices down, the Hoosiers are adjusting to the staff shakeup and the next phase of Allen’s tenure as coach.

“(It) definitely feels quite a bit different than it has in the past,” Allen said.

Of course, Allen still has a voice in what IU will look like defensively. As long as he’s in Bloomington, he always will. But at the same time, he wants to use that voice to impact other areas inside of his team.

Like recruiting.

“We’ve had a lot of young men on our campus the last two days, some really important guys from the Midwest area, and I’ve been able to spend a lot more time with them than I have in the past,” Allen said. “Just because, when I’m out here (on the practice field), I’m not calling the things like I have. That’s a big difference, for sure.”

Another difference is found inside of Allen’s interactions with the offense. Since he’s not creating defensive charts or tailoring the framework of IU’s defense, Allen is able to work more collaboratively with the offensive staff.

As IU gets to know new offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, Allen is taking time to better familiarize himself with his latest hire.

“It’s been more time on offense,” Allen said. “I spent time in offensive meetings, which I really haven’t done much of in the past.”

Wommack, meanwhile, is settling into a familiar role. Before joining IU as linebackers coach last offseason, Wommack worked as defensive coordinator at South Alabama (2016-17) and Eastern Illinois (2014-15).

“We run the same (4-2-5) system that I’ve ran at two different places as defensive coordinator, but everybody has their own twists on things,” Wommack said.

Right now, Allen is content to watch Wommack add his twists to the defense, while both men adjust to new assignments.

“(He) does a really good job of very clear direction of what we want,” Allen said. “We made some minor adjustments, but the energy, I love that. That’s something obviously I brought here when I came here and want that. He understands that. Has kind of his own ways of doing some things a little bit differently in terms of how you motivate guys to get some takeaways and the effort that you play with. But the coaches, they play a huge role in that. I think he’s done a really good job.”

25 comments

  1. All I can say about young Wommack is if he has learned well from his father, TA obviously did, we should be in for some great defense. If so, enjoy him while IU has him, he will be in demand.

    1. Depends on where he is recruiting from Po. Family name is well known in the southern FB hotbeds which is where TA continues to recruit heavily. Time will tell if how competent a recruiter young Wommack is.

  2. Inge is still the special teams coach, apparently. I thought that he would have been gone by now.

  3. I don’t care what part of the country IU recruits from, as long as they continue to improve the level of talent they sign. Sure, it would be great to get the best players from within the state of IN, but given the success of our neighboring programs (MI, OSU, ND, MSU), that’s not as easy as signing players from areas of the country where a lot of good talent is overlooked. I’d like to see DeBoer recruit California in the years to come. They have a lot of good football players that don’t get a sniff from the PAC-12 schools located in California, and IU’s campus would be a dream destination compared to some of those glorified commuter schools spread across California.

    1. “I don’t care what part of the country IU recruits from, as long as they continue to improve the level of talent they sign.”

      Agreed

  4. I am looking forward to see how the changes in the program work out this season. Coach Allen isn’t staying pat because he wants the IUFB program to get better. I want to see how the S&C program does this year after having the players in the program for a year now. I want to see how the change in OC and DC with coach Allen focusing on the HC role plays out this year.

    It will be fun or frustrating? to see how the young players do this season after getting playing time last year. How does the QB position play out with our new OC. There are a number of things to look for in the 2019 and it is hard to predict how it will all work out. I hope the changes brings a boost to the program in 2019.

    1. V13,
      I couldn’t agree more. I think everyone should pay close attention to how this season develops. If TA can keep the momentum moving forward long enough it should pay dividends in W’s. Unless other areas regress, everything this year will be as it was last year, it will all rise and fall on QB play. Last year especially, IUFB was a QB away from a winning season.

  5. Only 170 days until Ball State.

    I think this is the most wonderful of signs for IU Football. With just less than 6 months until opening kickoff, six or seven seemingly very lonely men are pumped for August 31, 2019! Wheel in the sky, my Scoop bros…Wheel in the sky.

    Two decades since we fired one of the best basketball coaches in the history of the college game….and we still have our football rocket ship on the launch pad. I was still a relatively young man when we fired Bobby. And here I am still kickin’ tires….Lynch…and Davis…and Sampson and Dakich…and Wilson…and Crean….and Allen…and Archie….and it’s only 170 more days until I slip the 8-track back into my under-the-dash 8-track player…It’s August and I’m scared and wondering where life is taking me. First time I’m really away from home on my own…200 miles from home. I’m soon parking my car in the gravel lot next to Assembly Hall…entering Foster Quad for my freshman year. Who’s my roommate? A behemoth football player nobody else wants to room with because they are terrified of him? You’ve got to be kidding? Wheel in the sky….Do over.

      1. Had to park offsite….It was the gravel lots near the Fieldhouse/Assembly. Couldn’t park anywhere near Foster but I certainly remember having the pass and driving back home on some weekends and for breaks.

          1. Don’t know what you’re implying or saying…? I had a car on campus my freshman year. After completing my freshman year, I didn’t go back to Bloomington until almost my senior year. There is no confusion. I did not play polo.

  6. Well think, we have to admit that last year’s defense was not very good either. Yes, the big problem was with the offense (i.e., quarterback), but the young defense was not good enough either.

    1. I know Po,
      But everyone knew the defense would be a problem going in due to the graduation losses from the year before. The hope was the offense picking up enough of the slack to get at least 6 wins. It was there for the taking, even had a huge and very pleasant surprise with the running backs, still no 6 wins. Why? Because all the B1G defenses started playing 8,9, 10 men in the box with absolutely no fear of a QB who could throw behind them.

      I digress, there was one game in which this didn’t happen for most of the 1st half. Started out with the customary 8,9, 10 men in the box then all the sudden they immediately changed defenses and spread out on the defensive side of the field. Care to guess when and why? You guessed it, PSU game, Penix walked onto the field. Wasn’t too many plays later when Mr. Scott was off to the races on a long touchdown run made easy because he wasn’t having to fight through 8,9, 10 men in the box. It is no more complicated than this, funny how so many can’t see the obvious when it is right in front of them repeatedly throughout last season.

  7. H4H, great post on the memories of coming to IU as a young man back when we thought the
    8 track was the wave of the future in sound systems. About the time you entered IU, I entered the USMC and found a far different world from the one I left behind. I got a great education in the Marines including getting to know the secrets of gov’t around the world including our own.

    IUFB fans have had few high points over the history of the program but some have been very high points. We are at the same point [I think you described it being on the launching pad in another post] entering 2019 hoping to see the program make a move up in the B1G.

    I read a response from coach DeBoer talking about QBs and practice saying he was impressed with Tuttle’s arm strength. That will give him two strong armed QBs to go against Ramsey’s experience. He was also praising our two senior WR along with Marshall surprising him with his route running. The team hasn’t been in pads yet and we know how that can change how players look. I hope a lot of people go to the Spring Game this year to see the changes in the offense and a look at how Tuttle looks running the offense.

  8. V13- Government secrets? Maybe Memorial’s football field conceals a nuclear missile bunker? Damn, maybe that’s the real launch pad….? Maybe V13 is some sort of secret government agent and he holds the code to enter the bunker headquarters carved into the lead-lined walls of a limestone pit deep below the end zone seats. Maybe “end zone” is actually code for “LAUNCH!” How hard could it be to hide some missiles at a place as rarely visited ….as IU Football? Now you’ve got me really paranoid. Will we see a Big Ten Championship or a Rose Bowls. before the field opens up…and operation “North End Zone” ends all of mankind? Nightmares of warheads painted like those chrome candy striped helmets…..will visit me tonight! The bombs are where bombs are never thrown! It all makes sense now…

    1. H4H, I love this post and your imagination is very good. Today’s technology opens up everyone’s life if they are on the internet or in the old days cordless phones. The key is on how the gov’t uses the information because the amount of info is overwhelming especially picking up cell phone info around the world. It was strange going into the other spaces in the building watching the signals area copy Morse code from Russian ships. They would know the name of Russian doing the coding. The coolest thing was listening to the SR-71 pilots as they overflew Cuba with missiles flying and hearing how they responded cool and in control. Many more secrets in my head so that they wouldn’t let me travel out of the country for
      7 years after I got out of Marines. No missiles under Memorial Stadium unless it is much more secret than my clearance allowed but I hope more scoring bombs are launched this season.

  9. think, you nailed it. I remember the PSU game vividly, and you are exactly right as to the cause and affect. Penix was in the game, PSU’s defense backed out of the box and good things happened. There’s plenty of tape of PR to study and Big Ten defensive coaches are not stupid. The book on PR was “dink and dunk is all he’s got, so load the box and make him beat us deep.”

    As for the last year’s defense, ironically that PSU game exposed it. IU scored enough points to win that PSU game, but could not stop PSU. I look forward to the day when we won’t see such a dramatic drop-off in performance when a few good players graduate. Recruiting is about building the depth that gives a program the ability to “re-load” each season. And learning from the older, more experienced guys ahead of you on the depth chart, when you’re competing against them every day in practice is the best way to develop into a difference maker. And having a younger, equally talented guy pushing to take your job is the best way to keep experienced players performing on the knife’s edge.

    1. Po,
      Anyone who wants to look at last season in an unbiased manner will understand the significance of the 1st half of the PSU game. However, I’m not so sure the PSU game exposed the IU defense, as it was already well known that it was inexperienced and could be beaten. What was exposed, was that the IU offense did not have the ability with PR at QB to adequately compensate for the defensive weakness.

    2. To play devil’s advocate, the Penix moment of glory against Penn State was a snapshot. “It factor” can appear in snapshots…..but it’s a whole other world to sustain momentum. When you are being sent in to rescue a game, you are likely handed the ‘rescue playbook’ ironically withheld from the qb just pulled. You have the advantage of wider eyes in the huddle …and the advantage of the perceived…and often real change in momentum if you merely connect on one big play.
      Hero ball will never work at IU. These young quarterbacks need commitment and the opportunity to display consistency and game-changing capabilities from opening kickoff to final drive in 4th quarter. What may appear as “it factor” in a picnic basket may just be skipping through the woods for a few sets of downs before Little Red Riding Hoosier gets eaten by the Big Bad Wolverine.

  10. 1st 2020 commit, Carmel HS LB. Ty Wise, 6’2″ – 205. All State as a Junior. Has some good traits, instincts for capable D play.

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