Two days after Indiana football’s first loss of the season, head coach Tom Allen addressed the struggles against the University of Cincinnati in a press conference. Allen emphasized the team continues to learn and develop, preparing for its next opponent in Nebraska on Saturday night.
Against Cincinnati, it was a tale of two halves, and mixed emotions arose about the Hoosiers after the loss. Despite trailing 38-10 after the first half, Indiana’s defense nearly silenced the high-flying Bearcat offense in the second half, but eventually the team lost 45-24.
Allen said he was proud of his team for its second half adjustment on both sides of the ball but made it clear that multiple self-inflicted, first half wounds ultimately led to the unavoidable demise of his Hoosiers.
In talking with some of Indiana’s first-year coaches, Allen said they were anxious to see how the Hoosiers would respond coming out of the locker room at halftime.
“They’re recognizing and seeing that this team, this program has a lot of character to it,” Allen said. “A lot of grit to it, a lot of toughness to it.”
For Allen, he said wasn’t surprised in the slightest by how his team refused to roll over and continued to fight in the second half.
As for injuries, there was optimistic information about graduate student wide receiver D.J. Matthews Jr., who was an early exit and appeared to be injured after a punt return against Cincinnati. Saturday’s game against the Cornhuskers is an uncertainty for Matthews, but Allen said the injury is not long-term.
The offensive line also continues to be riddled with injuries. So far this season, the Hoosiers have lost senior guard Matthew Bedford to an ACL injury after week one, and redshirt junior center Zach Carpenter has missed the past two games due to a right-hand injury.
No matter which players find themselves in the offensive line against Nebraska, Allen urges them to play at a high level and be productive.
“Whoever those five guys are on the field, they’ve got to execute and give us a chance to be successful,” he said. “High priority for us.”
After beginning the season with a conference win, Indiana will get right back into conference play for the remainder of the season, beginning on the road against Nebraska.
Despite the Cornhuskers’ suboptimal 1-3 record, Allen said he recognizes they aren’t a team to dismiss.
“I know we’re going to get their very best shot,” he said. “We have to be at our very best, no questions.”
The main focus for Indiana, in preparation for Nebraska and the rest of the season, will be producing a faster start to avoid inadequate first halves and playing at a high level for the entirety of the game.
On the offensive side of the ball, the main focus continues to be consistency with an offense that has a lot of potential and continues to show glimpses of it. With that being said, Allen wants to see his offense execute, especially in the red zone, scoring field goals at minimum.
“We have been able to win three out of our first four,” Allen said. “We’ve got to be able to find a way to win the next one.”