IU head coach Tom Allen hasn’t been able to get much sleep since Saturday’s victory over Penn State.
During Monday’s press conference, Allen said his weekend has been crazy for all the good reasons. Even waking up this morning, he still was on a high after finally finishing a close game, something the Hoosiers haven’t experienced much of during Allen’s tenure.
But now it’s a new week and the Hoosiers are preparing for a new opponent. IU has to get ready to face Rutgers this Saturday, and it starts with fixing the mistakes from week one.
“We made a lot of mistakes in the first game,” Allen said. “But we played with tremendous effort, toughness, grit and belief.”
Allen said the offensive line did not play well, leading to excess pressure on sophomore quarterback Michael Penix Jr.
“I don’t think he could ever really get comfortable in the pocket,” Allen said.
Offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan said a lot of the lack of offensive execution falls on his shoulders. Sheridan said there were many plays he thought the team needed to execute better on, but there were also plenty of plays that he thought he should’ve called better.
“Our execution was not at the level that we had seen in camp, and certainly not at the level we expect our guys to do,” Sheridan said.
Even while IU’s offense stumbled down the field for much of the game, there were signs of what the offense could be.
In the Hoosiers’ second quarter touchdown drive, they turned to junior running back Stevie Scott III to pound the ground game. Scott picked up 29 of his 57 total yards, including a 14-yard touchdown. In IU’s last drive of regulation and its drive in overtime, Penix threw seven straight completions.
“Our kids performed at their best level when it mattered the most,” Sheridan said.
If the offense can stay on the field longer, Allen said the defense will perform better too.
Allen said the defense played well, and other than giving up the touchdown pass allowing Penn State to take a 21-20 lead late in the fourth quarter, the effort leading to three takeaways and good tackling was a huge benefit in the game.
“That’s what we’re working towards: being able to have all three phases working together,” Allen said.
The inability for the offense to create lasting drives hurt the defense, but turnovers gave IU possession in Penn State territory twice in the first half, resulting in 10 points. IU was five for five in scoring touchdowns in the red zone too.
In total, IU had 20 minutes of possession compared to Penn State’s 40.
Sophomore Miles Marshall is going through concussion protocol after getting hit in the head Saturday. Allen said there's no timeline for his return yet. Sophomore David Ellis was held out Saturday with a lower leg injury, but Allen said he might be back this week.
IU now has experience finishing close games. This weekend it will take on a relatively new experience of playing as a ranked team, coming in at No. 17 in the AP Top 25 Poll for the first time since 1993.
“That’s what we’re dealing with,” Allen said. “That’s who we’re playing. Our guys have to be 100% focused in on that and how we can get better from week one to week two.”