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Wednesday, Feb. 21
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

‘What was the outlier?’: Tom Allen reaches important program, quarterback conclusions

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Indiana football head coach Tom Allen addressed the media Tuesday afternoon to discuss the current starting quarterback situation and depth chart uncertainties.

“We have made a decision,” Allen said regarding the question of Indiana’s starting quarterback. 

Still, that decision won’t be made public until the Hoosiers take the field against the Fighting Illini next Friday. And, apparently, it wasn’t an easy choice.

“It was very close,” Allen said. “It was a very, very long detailed process we went through as a whole group.”

[Related: Indiana football addresses questions about offense during fall camp]

As for the defensive side of the ball, redshirt senior linebacker Alfred “Lance” Bryant enters his sixth season for the Hoosiers. What is Bryant’s biggest improvement? His confidence, Allen said. 

After starting all 12 games during the 2021 season, Bryant is set to fill in a huge role for the Hoosiers’ defense. Bryant is playing at a high level right now, and this season being his last could be a huge reason why. 

“It seems like he loves what he’s doing and coming to practice every day,” Allen said. “It’s infectious with the guys around him.”

In the secondary, the battle for the third cornerback spot is still up for grabs as both redshirt sophomore Len Watley-Neely and redshirt freshman Brylan Lanier continue to separate themselves, competing for the third spot on the depth chart, Allen said. 

For the Hoosiers’ running game, Allen expects former Auburn University transfer senior Shaun Shivers to be productive in the backfield this year. Along with Shivers, two other new faces emerging in the running back room will be former University of North Carolina transfer Josh Henderson and freshman Jaylin Lucas.

As for the tight end room, Allen and his staff are finding themselves leaning on junior tight end AJ Barner for leadership in a young position group. 

“​​I think there’s no question that it’s a room that’s very young,” Allen said. “There are no seniors in that room. AJ (Barner) is the vet, and he’s still young.”

[Related: COLUMN: Indiana football's starting quarterback is still a mystery, but is that a problem?]

Redshirt freshman James Bomba has continued to impress throughout camp, the head coach said. Allen brought up the possibility of Bomba being involved with the run game along with the throw game. 

While the tight end room remains young, Allen said he is finding a lot of promise in his depth. He added that Bomba, redshirt freshman Aaron Steinfeldt and freshman Brody Foley have been developing well throughout fall camp.

Before Illinois comes to Bloomington to face Indiana on Sept. 2, the Illini will face off against Wyoming at 4 p.m. Aug. 27. The Hoosiers have plans to watch the game together in an effort to scout out their week one opponent, Allen said.

“We're gonna see if what we've been working on has been on point or if we need to make some adjustments,” Allen said.

Allen faults the disappointments of last season on the injuries the team experienced throughout the 2021 season, but he gave credit to the strength of the locker room culture throughout the ups and downs of the past couple of seasons for the Hoosiers. 

As for this season, Allen views it as crucial for defining the true identity of the program.

“2022 is going to show you what was the outlier,” Allen said. “Was it ‘20 or ‘21?”

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