Allen pumps up the noise, Penix practices

In anticipation of the 90,000 fans that regularly fill Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium, Indiana coach Tom Allen didn’t just want noise machines on the practice field.

He brought those machines into the team’s very first meeting of the week, lining them in front of the room’s whiteboards.

“I know the guys are thinking, ‘What is coach doing?’ Then I said ‘OK, guys, hit it, and it was like CHUHHHHHHH,” Allen said, mimicking the machines’ blast of white noise.

The third-year head coach smiled as he stepped within inches of a reporter’s ear, just to demonstrate how effective those noise machines are — especially indoors.

“I could have gotten right here, and (you) probably wouldn’t even still hear me,” Allen said. “I wanted to send the message. You can’t simulate that. We try to get it as loud as we can outside, but it’s not the same. I wanted them to feel it, experience it.”

IU has performed admirably in opposing territory, hanging in with Michigan State until the final moments and pulling out a six-point win at Maryland last week.

But the volume in Lincoln, Neb., will be beyond what the Hoosiers have experienced up to this point. So their noise prep had to reach another level.

“I let it rip,” Allen said of that initial meeting.

A win on the road at Nebraska would be historic. The Hoosiers (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) haven’t beaten the Cornhuskers since 1959, though there have only been five meetings since that victory. IU’s home contest with Nebraska in 2016 was the programs’ first meeting since 1978.

The Cornhuskers (4-3, 2-2) aren’t exactly the program of old, either. They are coming off of a 4-8 campaign, and Scott Frost, in his second year as coach, hasn’t quite gotten his alma mater rolling yet. Frost’s squad is averaging 9 points per game in its last three, while the defense is allowing 267 rushing yards per Big Ten contest.

Nevertheless, the fanbase continues to support Nebraska football. Memorial Stadium in Lincoln has averaged 89,560 fans per game in 2019.

“We have a ton of respect for their program and what they accomplished in the past,” Allen said. “In truth, as a kid, watching them play, I get it. But at the same time, we are lining up and playing the 2019 Nebraska Cornhuskers.

“That’s the reality, that’s the truth, that’s what it is. We have to line up against these guys and play and be focused on one snap at a time.”

Earlier in the week, redshirt junior husky Marcelino Ball said the Hoosiers enjoy being “unwelcome guests” on the road.

While they are a young team, Allen believes a small core of veterans has done a good job prepping their teammates for life on the road.

“Young teams usually struggle in that environment, but this will probably be as hostile as we’ve played in, in terms of the crowd noise, is my expectation,” Allen said. “It will be a great test for our guys.”

Penix update

Allen delivered some positive news Thursday about starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

He said the redshirt freshman, who missed nearly three quarters of the Maryland game with an undisclosed injury, has been able to practice this week.

“So we’ll see, game-time decision. We’ll know at kickoff,” Allen said, adding that Penix has been able to participate in “most” of this week’s practices.

This is the fourth week of eight this season where Penix has been a game-time decision. He had the same designation heading into Ohio State and UConn, two games he missed. On the other hand, he was a game-time call at Michigan State and played.

Allen said after the Maryland game that Penix’s current issue was different from the one that held him out previously. All indications are Penix’s previous injury related to his shoulder.

Allen was asked Thursday if he’s evaluated how Penix takes contact during games because of his recurring run-ins with injury. Penix’s true freshman season ended after three games because of a torn ACL.

“Oh, no, I think there’s been different variables involved,” Allen said. “He does a good job, like all quarterbacks have to do when you get in space, you have to slide, avoid as many of those as you can. But it’s still contact football.”

The 6-foot-3, 202-pound lefty appeared hobbled following a 2-yard scramble at the end of the first quarter versus Maryland, but he finished off that drive after the quarter break. Redshirt junior Peyton Ramsey entered the game on the Hoosiers’ next series.

If Penix isn’t able to play, the reins of the offense will return to Ramsey, who started the OSU and UConn contests and helped the Hoosiers to the finish line during a 34-28 road win over the Terrapins.

On the season, Penix has completed 100-of-145 passing for 1,232 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ramsey, in his appearances, has completed 79-of-107 for 843 yards and six TDs. As a team, IU ranks second in the conference in passing offense (2,151 yards).

The Hoosiers have certainly been reminded of the value of a capable backup quarterback, but it’s something coaches across the country always have in mind.

“And that will not change. That’s why you go out and you have to sign a quarterback in every class,” Allen said. “That’s the goal to do that, developing those guys, and buying into what you are doing, and staying with you, and being a part of your team, and helping you win games. It’s such an important position.”

9 comments

  1. A “noise machine” is a fine metaphor for Allen….and for Hoosier football.

    Guess we’re all gonna be kept awake until someone finds the damn switch to turn on the quiet ‘results button’ of the noise machine.

  2. TA’s inexperience is showing. He’ setting the players’ attitude for “Oh, brother, we’re in for it now” instead of “Big Red Noise? No big deal. Just take care of business.” Should have emphasized that IUFB is 7-5 all time in Lincoln and that it’s the Hoosiers who have a tradition to uphold on Sat.

    1. D,
      “TA’s inexperience is showing??? It is more like TA’s experience is showing. Having coached in some of the most daunting venues in the country, TA is very aware of how disruptive the noise of certain crowds can be to a visiting team’s efforts. Preparing the team to function under such conditions is an absolute must. Making sure everyone is on the same page for hand signals and the timing of actions being clean is essential. Especially the younger players, have not encountered environments where you can’t even hear your teammate speak, as in TA’s example with the reporter, within inches of your ear.

      What some might call a stunt by TA is actually very prudent. TA should know, as an assistant coach in the SEC, his last trip to Baton Rouge was for a night game. There is no venue in the country like a “Death Valley” night game. The noise of 100k plus very rabid fans is unbelievable and extremely intimidating. Lincoln won’t be that bad, but it will be loud enough.

      1. Lighten up, Hoosier fans….I think it’s fair to say, many are tired of the noise and simply think these sorts of repetitive themes/stories(the “experienced” guy…the “visionary”…the “dawn of a new day”…the “win today, Mr. Cross All T’s and Dot All I’s) fill time and newspaper/blog space.

        What we want is a headline! e.g. Indiana 48 Nebraska 10. Just a simple headline with a score put as the header in very matter-of-fact manner. No surprise. No hoopla…No Academy Award for doing the preparation. No needless noise to sell a coach …and make him bigger than the job at hand. Act like the school and the institution we all believe in.
        Yippee, we bought some high tech sound machines. We bought a new flag pole…We have a giant scoreboard. We have fancy chrome helmets to mimic candy stripes(blasphemy!)
        Speakers? Great. Buy Fred Astaire shoes without knowing how to dance. Marketing expertise is fine and dandy. Wonderful. Results in expertise is a bit more satisfying.

  3. I see nothing wrong with a good HC preparing his team for a hostile away game. I’d be damned disappointed if actions like this weren’t being used. Very similar prep exhibited by PR and same for an OL being fluid and adaptive for maximum affect. I’m impressed. Positive indicators for IUFB now and beyond 2k19.

  4. The noise is something a well prepared team has to use during practice all week. It shows an experienced coach that pays attention to the details.

    This game sets up well for IU and coming away with a win would set them up for a very good season. I hope IU has a very good game against the ‘Huskers and reward our fans with a win at Lincoln. It would really set up the NW game in Bloomington.

  5. Not saying that Allen shouldn’t prepare for noise, just saying that it should be a regular part of taking care of business. Maybe I misread the tone of the article, but it seemed as if the sub-text was “Ooh, it’s big, bad Nebraska.” Can’t imagine that Lincoln is much louder than full houses at E. Lansing, Middle -of-Nowhere, Pa., Ann Arbor, or other places where IUFB plays year in and year out.

    Some of us feel that TA overdoes it with his spastic reactions to minor on-field accomplishments, and think that IUFB would be better served if TA would act as if these minor achievements were the norm- to be expected from a team that’s prepared, on the field, and playing to win. Same with going to a hostile environment. “Lincoln, Nebraska? Big freakin’ deal. We’re a B1G team and we know it, now let’s go out and prove it.”

  6. davis- Exactly. Last paragraph is spot on. If you want to major in Marketing enroll in Kelley. Football coaches at IU should shuddup and just win some football games we’re not accustomed to winning.
    Save the preliminary cartwheels for the cheerleaders and gymnastic team workouts.

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