Allen challenging Indiana to “break through” as he heads Hoosiers program

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The Big Ten opened football media days on Monday and new Indiana head coach Tom Allen addressed the challenges he faces in his first season as head of the Hoosiers program.

“That brings me to a point in our program where we’ve been challenged as players and as coaches to break through. As we know, many times, we’ve been close.”

Allen served as the defensive coordinator last season under Kevin Wilson. Wilson resigned in December ahead of Indiana’s appearance in the Foster Farms Bowl, which they lost to Utah. Allen emphasized establishing a new culture within the program under his tenure.

“And I challenge our team with this concept, when I met with our players when I took over, I wrote these three numbers on the board 50, 26, 10 and asked them if they knew what those represent, and they didn’t. So, I proceeded to tell them, it’s been 50 years since we won the Big Ten, it’s been 26 years since we won a bowl game, it’s been 10 years since we had a winning season at Indiana. We’re going to accomplish all three of those, I told our team, and if you don’t believe that, you need to leave.”

Indiana will open the season on August 31 against Ohio State in Bloomington, in which Wilson will return to face his former team as the new offensive coordinator for the Buckeyes. Allen called that game the “biggest home opener in the history of Indiana University football.” However, he downplayed the coaching battle of facing his former boss, opting to focus on the significance of playing a conference rival to open the season, something IU hasn’t done in decades.

“As I mentioned previously, a lot of respect for Kevin. Appreciate what he did for me. This is about the Indiana Hoosiers versus the Ohio State Buckeyes. And we haven’t had a conference opening game since 1982. So that obviously makes it a very, very big game for us. And the media is going to make a big deal about him being there and myself being here, offense versus defense. But it’s really bigger than that. It’s not about me or coaches; it’s about players making plays.”

“So I’m excited about our team and how hard they’re working. It’s a tremendous motivation to have that kind of a game to start your season and creates a tremendous sense of urgency. And that’s what it’s done, and that’s what makes it such a great opportunity for our program.”

Under Allen last season, the defense showed drastic improvement. They’ll return nine defensive starters for 2017,and Allen had tasked them become a top 25 defense. Linebacker Tegray Scales and cornerback Rashard Fant served as the Hoosiers’ defensive representatives at the Media Day events.

The offense returns seven starters from the 2016 season, led by quarterback Richard Lagow who was among the players who joined Allen in Chicago for conference media day.

Big Ten Football Media Days continue Tuesday with new Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm among those scheduled to speak to reporters.

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