New locker room a well-timed boost

Two weeks in and about two weeks til game day — that’s a point in fall camp when players “hit a wall,” as the idiom goes.

“You have to push them through and help them see the light,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said, “because there isn’t a lot of light yet.”

Luckily, Allen had something shiny and new to give the Hoosiers a boost.

On Tuesday night, IU’s players were introduced to their new home under the west stands of Memorial Stadium, the Terry Tallen Indiana Football Complex. Allen was at the head of the pack, rushing through the door to see the locker room and lounge area, complete with flatscreen televisions, cushy couches and a pool table.

“The lighting, the brightness — just so sharp,” Allen said. “The way it was configured and the ceilings when you walk in, it’s just so big. It’s a wow. It really is.

“I’ve been in a lot of different ones over the years and the locker room part of it … it’s hard to find a better one.”

As the locker room was unveiled, it was not only a boost for the Hoosiers’ current players. Allen saw it as a chance to recruit.

Players whipped through the complex with their phones out, and so did coaches, who were FaceTiming with recruits. The locker room came as part of a $7 million renovation project, and $2 million came from Tallen, a former IU player and captain. This was a chance for Allen and his fellow coaches to show off the athletic department’s commitment to football.

“They are seeing it with us,” Allen said. “Then the very next day, got some pictures and sent it out to them and long texts just talking about the investment. We recruited at the highest level we’ve recruited at in the last couple of years, we are investing at the highest level I’ve seen since I’ve been alive into football at Indiana.

“This should show you, continue to prove to you, what we are building here.”

The locker room is a huge upgrade from where the team has been stationed: the visitor’s locker room. “The new one is a lot nicer,” Allen said. “I’ll leave it at that.”

And yes, keeping that locker room looking as fresh and clean as it does now was a topic of conversation between coach and players.

“End of practice, we talked about that,” Allen said. “New facility, looks awesome, but now you have to take care of it. It’s part of being a pro, taking care of what you have.”

Along with the new locker room, the team was given the day off Wednesday. They were given a day to go to Lake Monroe and hang out as a team, out of their dorms.

It was a nice break, especially with practices scheduled for Thursday and Friday and a scrimmage slated for Saturday.

“This is definitely the week where you hit a wall, especially the freshmen,” Allen said. “They are going through this for the first time and you can kind of see all of the install builds and gets a little bit confusing. Everybody is still barking at them and they are getting tired, physically and mentally.

“It’s a critical time. We cannot afford to miss a day to keep getting better, and that’s why every rep is critical. I just keep hounding our guys about that and preaching that to them, our coaches and players. And I thought they responded well today.”

QB decision

No, Allen does not have a decision made at quarterback. He noted that before he even took questions Thursday, which elicited some laughter from assembled media.

It’s a question that’s been asked a lot.

But Allen acknowledged that Saturday’s team scrimmage will be a major marker in the process of deciding who will be the guy, just because it’s the last opportunity of its kind.

“Preseason game No. 2,” as it’s called, is full contact, while No. 3 is not.

“This is the last time to really go live,” Allen said, adding there will be red-zone work during and at the end of the scrimmage, along with four- and two-minute situational periods.

Those will be moments for Peyton Ramsey, Mike Penix Jr., and Jack Tuttle to shine.

“It will be one of the final evaluation pieces, for sure,” Allen said. “It may not be the final one, but it’s going to be big, yes.”

Whitner added

IU has its complete 2019 freshman class in camp with defensive tackle Antoine Whitner Jr. now in the fold and eligible to participate.

Whitner, a 6-foot-5, 305-pounder from IMG Academy in Florida, was not suited up as of Tuesday’s practice. He has now reported.

“It was a long journey and process,” Allen said, “but really proud of him and his perseverance.”

5 comments

  1. Several bits of good news in this article but the biggest for this 2019 class was Whitner making to IU. IU can definitely use a 6′-5″ 305 lb DL man to work in at the end of the year. It was fun seeing the players come into the locker room for the first time. It should help in recruiting and the fact it is contained in the stadium should help too.

    I hope reporters make it to the scrimmage Saturday and give us a report on how the team looks. I have to think the QB decision will be made by Monday after watching film. The scrimmage also should give us a good look at the RBs and TEs heading into the season. We are another week closer to the start of the 2019 season.

  2. The quality of facilities matter…. a lot. It’s great that the new locker room is now complete. For the morale of the current players and for recruiting better talent in the future. It is tangible proof that IU is investing to build a competitive football program like never before. Credit to Glass for making this happen. I still don’t think he’s been an effective AD, but he deserves credit for effective fund-raising and for finally convincing IU’s administrators and trustees to invest heavily in making IU’s football facilities first class. Far too long overdue, but give Glass credit for getting it done.

    On a different subject, if the QB competition is still ongoing, it’s a sign that PR is not the obvious starter. If he was the clear number one, given his experience, TA would have made the announcement by now. That would have been the path of least resistance allowing the offense to start building that all important chemistry with their QB. Unless he messes up the scrimmage, my guess is that, and I admit this is my wishful thinking, Penix will be named the starter. If Penix is not named the week one starter, it will be PR, but only until the other two have the time to convince TA that they have mastered the offense. Arm talent matters, and I just don’t think PR’s experience, given this new offense, overcomes the superior arm talent that they other two guys possess.

    1. Maybe TA is evaluating Penix’s injury to see if he is healthy enough to start. The way I see it, both Penix and Ramsey are good enough to beat the 3 non-conference opponents, Rutgers and probably Maryland. But which of the 2 has the talent to lead a team and potentially upset some of the 7 other opponents? We know Ramsey’s arm and legs are good but not great. Why not invest the time into Penix? His upside is clearly higher than Ramsey. The one question is whether or not his knee is ready for the contact.

  3. Reports from people watching practices say Penix is really protecting the knee, even though he’s got the blue jersey on. If the knee is affecting Penix mentally, then PR will probably be the starter until Penix is 100%, both mentally and physically. I’ve also heard that Tuttle is a lot more mobile than most people thought and that the coaches are impressed with his legs.

    Should be interesting.

  4. Hope everybody gets to watch the video of when the players are allowed to enter the new locker room for the first time. Their reactions to their new space is heart warming. It must really be a major improvement, and it clearly boosts the team’s morale.

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