IU coordinators DeBoer and Wommack at media day

Media members met with IU’s players and coaches for media day Thursday. Here are transcripts of offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer and defensive coordinator Kane Wommack’s statements.

Kalen DeBoer

Q. What is the biggest challenge you would say with the offense?
KALEN DeBOER: Oh, I think every move — I’ve probably become more efficient in adjusting, and really you kind of prioritize what you think fits the personnel that are here. You know, and then I think there’s a great balance in Coach Allen kind of alluded to it, there’s a great balance of still doing some of the things that they did well before you got here. There’s some great schemes and great things that we executed well the last few years, and so, you know, balancing that along with bringing in your style, I just think over the past few years you become more efficient in that.

My hats off to the staff that I get the chance to work with every day. They’re experts. I consider myself a lifelong learner, and so I just enjoy sitting in the room and kind of hearing the way they do things, have done things throughout their careers, and I just think that, like Coach said, I know what I like, but it doesn’t always mean it’s the perfect way that fits who we are right now and the personnel that we have.

Q. You got to see obviously (indiscernible) in the spring. How excited are you to see Michael now and see how he kind of adjusts?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, that’s the case for a few guys, not just Michael. You know, Whop at receiver and Cole Gest at running back, none of those guys really took many team reps, and Michael in particular didn’t take any. And so just having him have a chance to go through the summer, through their team activities, just I’m expecting that he’s taking another step or two, and now he can be full-fledged in the offense along with the other quarterbacks.

I’m excited to get on the field tomorrow and just see where we’re at, and what the guys, not just the quarterbacks but the rest of the offense has accomplished and how much more comfortable they are from the 15th practice we had in the spring.

The guys have been working extremely hard. I know that they’re buying into it, and you know, in the end, we need to create the attitude. We need to create the attitude as an offense. You don’t install that, you create it. It isn’t a play that installs — that you install that gets the attitude, it’s the mindset of the guys and what they do with the offense that we installed that creates the attitude. So I’m excited about what Mike is going to do here this fall.

Q. The last couple years the offense has been very close but it seems like it was just short. Are you confident that all the pieces are in place for this offense to be as successful as it can be?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, I think there’s just a lot of variables that happen throughout the years, and you’ve got some experienced offensive linemen you kind of hang your hat on, you’ve got some skill guys that are coming back and got the — you can put five guys out there that have played some football around the quarterback.

I think every year you kind of have your own adjustments and spin, even if I was here this year and next year, you might tweak a few things just to fit who you are and what you do well.

And so the pieces are here. I watched the guys this spring, and just continued to — went back after the spring and this summer, watched last year’s games again, and you just have a good feeling that another year of experience underneath all these guys’ belt, and a few tweaks here and there, and we could be off and rolling.

Q. Kind of along those lines, as you studied what Indiana did last season offensively and where some different guys fit, are there some areas that you can kind of go in and say, I think in my scheme or as guys get older, get a little more out of the run game, tight end usage, things like that?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, I think hopefully our tight ends, and they’re all still young, but they’re all now a year older, too. So I think they’re capable of doing the things that I like to do, and the tight ends have been a heavy involvement in the offense. It isn’t always in receiving yards, but a lot of times it is. It’s just having guys that understand the blocking schemes, the protections, the routes. There’s a lot that goes into that position, much like the quarterback. And the tight end I think is a position that needs to continue to grow.

And then, you know, Stevie really ended up carrying the load last year kind of more out of necessity. Hopefully we can get multiple backs out there at a time because we do have a strong running back position that all is a year older. Again, that position, no seniors in that group.

Just the reps that those guys have taken in their careers, hopefully the experiences that they have will help them all be better this year, and I think it will because I know their heart and minds are all in the right spot. You just go right down the line. Every position group is kind of that way. The receiving corps, two of the top three receivers from last year returning, and I think probably just more than anything is having that continuity to where you can have a go-to guy at the critical moments or go-to guys, so a coverage can roll to a specific person in the critical moments when you need to move the chains, when you’re in the red zone or when the game is on the line.

You know, and then there’s other receivers I know that are looking forward to their opportunity that have had their moments here or about to have their moments.

Q. Two-part question. How do you assess the type of tempo you want to use, and how big of a part will the running backs be in the receiving game?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, I think the second part, the running backs I hope are very involved in the receiving game. You’ve always got to protect first, but if they’re a threat to have the ball in their hands in more than just a way of handing it to them, I just think that those are some of your best athletes that you have on the football team, not just here but in a lot of programs. And so they’re explosive kids, and I think they’ve really seen that they’re going to get their touches if they run their routes right and can gel with the quarterback and understand their assignments and the timing.

And then the tempo part, this spring we were completely focused on execution, executing the plays, because in the end they’re still going to come down to 3rd downs where there is no tempo, to where you have to execute, the defense got lined up, you made a substitution, and so the official is holding the ball. So you just have to execute that play.

So as we’re installing the offense, we focused on the execution. Now, varying — you used the word varying. I think that’s a great word. Having the ability to vary the tempos I think is critical so a defense just can’t get into a pattern or a routine or a rhythm, and to me that’s what offense is all about, it’s about the rhythm, and then having the ability to speed it up and throw something on them when the right time occurs. Maybe they’re on their heels or you just — there’s a great flow, and a lot of times those play calls are by the situation, the scenario that’s happening.

But I think having the ability, and we will have that ability to play faster. And I know that the guys are very comfortable with that. I just think as the spring went along, you saw that the base concepts that we were running, they were executing them faster and getting lined up in the formations quicker and making the little adjustments and stuff. They were much more efficient in doing it.

I’m excited to take that to the next level. We were very simple, I think, this spring, showed those guys in the spring, and then we had some opportunities to meet with them a little bit in the summer, you know, what is still out there that we will do. So there will be some installs around four and five where there’s some things that they haven’t done yet.

And so that’s something that they’ve seen and kind of understand, but they haven’t executed. So the first three practices I would expect to be pretty smooth and things that they’re very comfortable with.

Q. The ability to make big throws downfield, how much of a premium will that be placed on?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, I think that’s important. I mean, it’s important to — I think less than five percent of drives last year that were touchdowns didn’t have an explosive play. So you need to have explosive plays, and a lot of times — what explosive plays to me are is a matter of timing and accuracy. I think all our quarterbacks have the ability to throw the ball down the field far enough as long as they’re throwing on time, and I think that’s the thing, as they go through the progressions, just make sure we’re hitting that progression to the deep ball at the right time, and I think those guys kind of understand some of our core concepts and have been working on it this summer, and we were successful at times this spring doing it, as well. We’ll continue to polish those up and expand on the offense and the opportunities that we can have to throw the ball down the field. But I do think, yeah, it’s very important. You can’t just throw it out there, and yeah, you want it to go. You want it to be a touchdown. You want it to be a big play, no doubt.

Q. You mentioned that you like to kind of match what you’re doing to the personnel you’re doing it with. As you go in now with three quarterbacks with a variety of strengths and different strengths and weaknesses, how does that handle what you want to try to do?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, that’s probably the hardest thing. When you can pretty much lock arms with a quarterback and you know who that person is going in and you can develop everything you do around him and talk through every scenario, you can do it with all the quarterbacks as a whole, but until that person is in that situation, it’s really hard to simulate and hard for them to kind of grasp really what’s going to happen and how it’s going to go down.

You know, it’s one of the tougher things that we’ll have to handle during fall camp. But it’s just — it’s what it is, and we’re going to make the most of it, and we’ve got some — I think all three quarterbacks are very — they’re very intelligent guys, and they pick things up quickly. It comes natural to them. They’re instinctive.

So it’s just a matter of them hearing from me when those situations come up how I want them to handle it.

Q. When you have this competition, what’s your tactic for locking arms with that guy and focusing on a game plan?
KALEN DeBOER: Yeah, I hope it presents itself to where you know. But I don’t feel like you can really put a timetable on it. I’ve had times where it’s gone into the season three, four weeks and you hit the conference, and then you’ve got to make your decision. But you hope it doesn’t happen that way, but probably three of the last four years I’ve been around, I’ve had this type of situation, and every scenario is a little different.

I know it’s going to be competitive. I know that the guys, the one thing that so much is really cool about being around this group is they all respect each other so much. In fact, sometimes they get concerned about as they’re competitive and trying to win over the team and things like that, they don’t want to step on the other guy’s toes. We’ve had those conversations in the position room and just understand that, hey, everyone wants this to be their team, and everyone has got to do their part, and Coach Allen has talked about being vocal. I’ve really emphasized that, getting out of their comfort zone, to try to show that, hey, I see you guys — I see myself in the starting quarterback role as they go through their practices and their workouts.

But they all respect each other so much. You can tell. I’m not sure — I don’t think they really hang out together necessarily every day away from the facilities, but they’re all in it together, and they want our team, I think, in the end to be successful, and that’s what they care about the most.

Q. You talked about being in that process a lot over your career. Do you feel like it’s more common, whether it’s young guys coming in more prepared to college being able to challenge older guys but maybe it’s more common that they can get more of that competition and it’s a little bit less of a regimented kind of by seniority thing at quarterback than it used to be?
KALEN DeBOER: Seems like it. I don’t really have a great answer for you to be honest because I was just thinking through the scenarios as you were talking, and every scenario happened in a different way. A guy transfers in, a younger player, his progression through his career is becoming greater and he’s developing. It isn’t like there has been some guys just it was their time.

I can’t really give you a great answer on that. Every scenario I think has been different from what I’ve seen, I’ve experienced over the years.

Kane Wommack

KANE WOMMACK: First I want to say how this job is really fun when you get to spend time with guys like Tom Allen and Kalen DeBoer. Kalen and I spent a bunch of time this summer hanging out at his pool. I don’t have a pool, he’s got one, so I spent most of my time this summer with him and my boys and enjoyed that time together with our families. Same deal with Tom Allen, just the relationship that we’ve built over the years in different capacities in different ways. He’s one of my best friends in the world. I trust him, and just to be able to do that with those guys is really fun.

Swarm D is ready to go, our Swarm D culture and what we believe in here. I think we’re in a really good place. We believe that the responsibility of stopping the offense, whether it be run or pass is placed on all 11 shoulders of the defense, and I think right now anybody that walks out on that field and represents the Swarm D believes that purpose when they walk out there, and I think that’s really important.

I love our coaches and players, the guys that I get to work with in the meeting room in Mark Hagen, Brandon Shelby and Kasey Teegardin do a phenomenal job. We’ve built trust with one another. That trust is earned. It’s not just something that happens when you walk in the door. But really excited about just the group that we have and the confidence we have in one another.

As coaches, our responsibility are to capture the thoughts and inspire the actions of our players, and I think we’ve done that to this point.

Our players, their responsibility to this defense, this swarm defense is we want to create an environment where unique individuals care more about the success of others than they do themselves, and I think when you do that, we all accomplish our goals both individually and collectively. I think we’re well on our way to doing those things.

If you review from spring and summer, I think we’re ahead of where we are. Very youthful experience. We do have experience, but it is a youthful group. I think that’s a good thing because we’re going to have those guys for the next few years. That’s a very exciting piece, as Tom has built this place for the long haul. I think it puts us ahead for where we want to go in terms of our fall camp installation. We’ll get about 90 percent of our installation done in the first five days of practice just because of what our guys have been able to accomplish from the spring and into the summertime, which is pretty exciting for us to be able to get that in, and that way we just rep and rep and rep the things that we’re going to do all season long, and those won’t change.

In terms of the culture of our defense, we believe in confidence, and we believe in swagger, all right, and we believe in leaning into one another because that’s how you handle the adversities that this conference brings week in and week out, and I think we’re prepared to do that.

Our fall emphasis, the three things that we always talk about in our defense, we will emphasize takeaways, tackling and effort, along with the fourth one this fall will be communication. We’ve got to be great communicators out there on that field. I hope when you guys come out to practice you see us, you will be able to hear, it will be loud on the defensive side of the football every single snap, and if not, then that’s something you need to ask me about because I’m not holding them accountable for what I said I was going to do, okay.

Tom Allen has made no bones about it that this place, when he took over here three years ago as the defensive coordinator and then head coach that we wanted to be a top-25 defense. We’ve accomplished a lot of those goals over the last three years. I think we were right outside in total defense, inside the top 25 in 3rd down defense, 1st down defense, tackles for loss and takeaways. Pretty amazing accomplishment, considering what he’s been able to do in three years.

But there’s still things left out there. We want to be a top-25 scoring defense, and that’s what our goal and our ability is. Rushing defense and red zone defense, those are things that have not been accomplished in a number of years here, and that is the goal for us.

And then the last thing defensively, I think overall, we want to change the outcome of close games, and that’s what we want to be responsible for. We want to put that on our shoulders. That’s a team effort, but we have to do a good job in that regard.

Excited to get going for this year. Questions?

Q. Tom talked about working together at Ole Miss (indiscernible) how much did that kind of prepare you going forward, going from being a position coach to now you’re leading an entire defense?
KANE WOMMACK: Yeah, it was a good question because at 26 years old I felt like I had about all the answers and I was ready to go. I think as I reflect back on that, I was ready to a point to be a defensive coordinator at that point. Part of that was just spending time in this system. When you grow up in this system, it doesn’t change. You don’t go from one defensive system to another. The terminology, all those things are just built into who you become, know what I mean, so that learning curve of always being around this system under my dad, and then you’re around good coaches.

I thought the best thing that my father did to graduate assistants is he always treated us like full-time coaches. So my last year at Ole Miss I got to coach a position, I was a full-time guy, I got to game plan. I was heard, know what I mean? And that’s what I try to do with our graduate assistants because they are an extension of us in terms of on-field coaches, and they themselves can do the same thing.

Q. In terms of your approach, how aggressive do you want to play defense, including how much do you want to blitz?
KANE WOMMACK: Well, I work for Tom Allen, so I’ll play pretty aggressively defensively, or I won’t have my job. We’ve made no bones about it, we are an aggressive, attacking defense. I think you have to be so intentional about creating negative plays for the offense, I’m blanking here on the stat where I got this from, but there was a team that did a study this off-season, it was like, if you create one negative play in a drive, you have a 75 percent chance of holding them to a field goal or less, or getting off the field. You talk about creating one negative play in an entire drive, those odds, we’ve got to be able to do those things.

At the same time we have to be very intentional about limiting the opponent’s big plays. Notice I didn’t say eliminating, right, because they’re going to hit a 15-yard comeback every now and then when you’re an attacking defense because your corners are playing over the top, right. We can’t get frustrated with that as players, coaches, fan base. We’ve got to understand what we’re trying to do that every now and then they’re going to hit a play. We just can’t give up the big plays for touchdowns and create enough negative plays of our own.

Q. How much do you talk to your dad, if at all? You talked about growing up in that system, always kind of carrying it with you to different places you’ve been, now you’re a defensive coordinator in the Big Ten. Is it something where you bounce ideas off him fairly often? Is it something where maybe you want to kind of see things through your own lens?
KANE WOMMACK: Yeah, I talk to my dad a whole lot right now, but mainly it’s about fishing, his grandsons and taking care of my house, because those are the things that he cares about right now.

That being said, he will come in fall camp. He’ll spend about three or four days with us. He’ll give me a full analysis of where he thinks we are from a personnel standpoint and just where we are schematically, which will be really exciting. We’ll wait probably a week into camp and then bring him in for about three or four practices there.

During the season, I feel like it’s kind of like mother bird that you go and flap your wings and you do your thing. When Tom and I both left to be defensive coordinators, him and I talked a ton in the off-season. We would talk on Thursday and Friday nights, but it’s kind of one of those deals that once you get into the grind, you’re bunkered down with the people that you’re here with, and I feel like we have enough pieces in place here that I just communicate with our guys for the most part during the season.

Q. With better depth at all three levels now, how much does that play into allowing you to be more aggressive with fresher guys and taking that approach that you’re going to play a lot of guys to keep everybody fresh?
KANE WOMMACK: Yeah, so that’s a — you’ve got to be careful in how you manage that, right, because when you play more players, that means that you have to disseminate the reps among those players to get them ready for a season, right. In doing that, you’ve got to make sure that we’re not doing too much so that each player gets the reps that they’re actually going to transfer over to game day. So that being said, we want to be multiple and aggressive, but I think we have spent countless hours this off-season making sure that we are simple enough that our players can go execute and yet multiple in the way that we should ourselves to an offense and the way we present ourselves to an offense.

There’s a fine line there, but I do think we can take advantage of that in being aggressive, but at the same time you’ve got to make sure all those reps are being disseminated properly.

Q. Tom talked about not sitting in some of those meetings during the spring. How does that help you take a leadership role?
KANE WOMMACK: Well, I think Tom being a defensive coordinator himself, he knows how important it is to build that camaraderie in a staff, especially when he was the defensive coordinator previously, right, those guys. He’s a defensive coordinator and their head coach. So it was important that we felt — that was something that we talked about, and I totally value what he was able to do is we were able to build that camaraderie and that chemistry in the room without him, okay, because like it or not, when the head coach walks in the door, you just get a little bit tighter, know what I mean. So for us to kind of say, this is what we want to do, and then for me to be able to go to him and say, listen, this is what we’re thinking, I want to keep you updated and this and that. It’s all about communication at the end of the day. And I thought him and I had great communication, but he also allowed me to build that chemistry with the defensive staff, and that is probably paying off as big as anything going into this season.

6 comments

  1. Listening to both coordinators I have to say I am impressed with both of them especially coach DeBoer. I can see players really buying into what both coordinators are trying to get done. I really love the name Wommack uses “swarm defense” and I hope the players play each play like a swarm of angry hornets.

    1. Really glad to hear that Dave Wommack will be coming in to give input. Can’t image a better analyst for the defense. His perspective will be invaluable.

  2. Sorry, V13, most of this (and Allen’s remarks in the preceding article) were platitudes and coach-speak-non-answers with a dash of gibberish. At least Wilson would have (unintentionally) given us a few laughs.

    1. D,
      I agree, most of it was, but was anything more than this expected? I suspect V13 is reading between the lines to draw out a few relevant points based on his own experience. Don’t have V13’s experience, but the reason I jumped on Kane’s comments about his father coming in to analyze the progress later in camp is based on the elder Wommack’s defenses in the SEC.

  3. Gotta agree there was a lot of text to read but the overwhelming theme I felt is both these Coordinators have been given the power and resources to run their units. I didn’t expect to hear we’re going to blitz every 3rd passing down or a jet sweep will be called on each possession. What I did want to hear is there is an authority at the top, there is organized plans and expectations and a well defined direction. I’m satisfied and now want to see escalating improvements all through camp. Much like the results brought about during the off season in S&C.

  4. The one thing I didn’t like from TA, Wommack and DeBoer was TA talking about who will be the starting QB and what traits he needs to see out of the 3 QB’s to be the starter. TA is a defensive coach. He hired DeBoer for a reason. I wish he’d support his coach more and say that those questions should be directed to Coach DeBoer and that the decision to name a starting quarterback to run Coach DeBoer’s offense is DeBoer’s to make.

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