Allen keeping ‘edge’ about him leading into PSU game

In preparation for Penn State, the Hoosiers have been about as focused as Tom Allen could want. They have been crisp.

But two days away from kickoff, Allen was frank.

“You feel good about where you are, but nobody’s played,” Allen said Thursday. “Sometimes you have to be real and honest. You have no idea what’s going to happen on game day.”

The runup to the 2020 season has been anything but conventional. The last time the Hoosiers played in a football game was on the second day of the year, and 2021 is only two-plus months away.

IU is further removed from its historic eight-win season because of the pandemic. Even if it’s true that the Hoosiers bring a whole lot back from that team, that alone doesn’t guarantee a win over Penn State or any other program.

So yeah, Allen isn’t totally at ease.

“Just because we are a year older, it doesn’t mean we are going to be better, unless we prepare at a certain level,” Allen said. “I think there are some things we’ve done that’s at a higher level than we’ve prepared in the past, but that has to show up on game day. That’s where, yeah, I’m not one that’s just like ‘Oh, man, I just feel great about everything.’ There’s things I’m looking at and everything, makes me on edge about stuff, and that’s OK. That’s part of it. That’s what creates who I am.

“I want to keep that edge about me. But also having a core, quiet confidence that I believe in this football team.”

Game day will be different. Allen talked Wednesday on his radio show about abandoning the Hoosiers’ usual “walk” into Memorial Stadium. Instead, they are going to be entering through some backdoor, accessing some stairwell he’s never used.

When they run through the tunnel, it will be “bring your own juice,” as Allen has put it, because there won’t be a crowd of tens of thousands there to greet them. There will be no band. There will be crowd noise pumped in, but it isn’t quite as loud as the real thing.

The unusual circumstances are an opportunity for the Hoosiers to prove how mentally tough they really are, Allen said. At the same time, his players have been proving it for months with how they have handled the stops and starts of the offseason. Allen likes how they’ve managed, but there remains work to be done for PSU.

“The way the guys are locked in and focused is a good sign. That goes a long way towards me feeling good about how we are going to perform on game day,” Allen said. “But at the end of the day, it’s going to be a very physical, tough, 60-minute-or-beyond battle that I believe our team is prepared for.”

The question is whether they are prepared to win. In 22 of the Hoosiers’ 23 meetings with PSU all-time, the Nittany Lions have come out on top. IU also has long losing streaks to Ohio State and Michigan, which span through the 1990s.

Can IU establish itself versus the perennial powers of the Big Ten? Saturday will be their first chance to flip the script.

“We have to prove to this country that Indiana is a team that’s positioning themselves to change the trajectory of this program. That’s what our goal is right now,” Allen said. “We just have to go prove it on the field.”

9 comments

  1. Coaches are always on edge going into the game as you have only competed against yourself and have no idea how you will play against different players than your own. I feel good about this Hoosier team but can really say how good they will be until a few games are played. Look no further than MSU and LSU in the SEC, MSU wins the game and people think coach has turned them around after all they defeated the defending National Champions. Now MSU hasn’t won another game and LSU has only won one game.

    This first game is an unknown but it will be fun to see how both teams perform.

  2. We have a relatively inexperienced head coach with several young Coordinators and new position coaches. We’re going to find out how good a job T.A. did in leading his new/young coaches to prepare their players. If we lose because of a lot of sloppy play, missed tackles, missed blocks, stupid penalties and mental mistakes, it will tell us a lot about this coaching staff. If we win the game, or if we lose simply because PSU’s talent was superior, then it will be a sign that the coaching staff is solid but IU’s level of talent and/or depth still needs to improve. Nothing’s more frustrating than watching a team with great talent get beat because their coaches failed to prepare their players. I’m hoping the experience and the level of competition we faced in January’s bowl game is a source of confidence to the entire team.

  3. Before a team actually competes, everything is conjecture. On paper (according to Urban Meyer) PSU is the 2nd most talented roster in the BIG. They are well coached and I really like QB Clifford. That said, IU is more talented and deeper on paper than I recall. It should be very competitive, with IU having a legitimate shot.

    1. All true, but IU’s talent level still isn’t in the upper half of the conference, and there are more than two teams with decidedly better talent.

  4. Hate to predict it, but PSU rolls up about 45 tomorrow. Lots of talent back on that offense. And cant’ figure out why the IUD has been so lousy considering Allen’s pedigree.

    1. PSU has lots of offensive talent but with a 1st string RB out for the season and a new OC in their 1st game together. Clunkers are frequent under those circumstances. 45 could be quite a stretch.

  5. Just watched the first three quarters of the OSU/NE game. A few thoughts:
    – OSU is a machine loaded with talent from all over the country. They are loaded with elite talent.
    – “Targeting” penalties have become ridiculous, and they need to be changed. Either that or just convert the sport to flag football.
    – If anyone believes IU can defeat OSU this season, they’re in for a huge disappointment. OSU will run the table
    – Frost is an overrated head coach and the rebuild at NE is a much greater challenge than a lot of people expected it to be.

  6. Now comes the biggest half of IU Football in half a century. Ready to STW….SHOCK THE WORLD?!
    Is Vesuvius building massive pressure and nearing full eruption? LAVA EACH OTHER …Big Red molten V13 is heatin’ up!

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