BLOOMINGTON — After three years of stepping back and allowing his defensive coordinators to call play in the system he designed, Tom Allen is taking the reins back and renaming his own plays.
Allen passed that news on Sunday in Assembly Hall as he introduced his new defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Chad Wilt and defensive coach Paul Randolph. Allen was initially hired at Indiana as Kevin Wilson’s defensive coordinator in 2016 and maintained his duties in 2017 and 2018 after being promoted to head coach after Wilson was forced to resign. He put defensive coordinator Kane Wommack in charge of play calls in 2019 and 2020. When Wommack left to become head coach at South Alabama, Charlton Warren was hired as the new defensive coordinator and given playing duties. Warren left early this month as co-defense coordinator in North Carolina after the Hoosiers’ 2-10 finish in 2021, and Allen decided to change direction and put himself back at the helm.
‘It was just a little time’:IU radio analyst Buck Suhr retires after 17 years
Depth chart early 2022:The ‘pruning’ of the IU roster means a lot of new faces.
“There’s a certain product that I want on that side of the field,” Allen said. “The system hasn’t changed, but I just feel like I’ve only had the role of head coach for the last three years. I’ve been able to grow defensively and I feel really good.”
Still, he sees Wilt’s role as crucial to making that work, even though Wilt won’t really call it plays. As Allen mentioned, the basic 4-2-5 formation will remain the same as the playbook, but Wilt will make sure everything goes as it should.
“My goal was to find someone who could be my right-hand man in meetings,” Allen said. “What I found, the biggest problem is whether it’s scheming through the week or you’re working on things and things happen that you need to get out of the meeting, you need to have someone who can keep the flow going. That’s what I want to get with Chad. To have him that person who can be the go-to man for organizational purposes, and even during the game to have someone who is able to make adjustments, to have his expertise and to guide him through our system When the attack is on the pitch and I have to do what I have to do so he can be back and make adjustments.”
Wilt, who has coached the defensive line at eight schools for the past 16 years, most recently Minnesota, Cincinnati and the military, seemed totally fine with the assignment. Allen said they had discussed the role before the announcement was made.
Wilt has ties to Indiana because his father coached Steve at Taylor University. He was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, but completed high school at Eastbrook High School in Marion and was a three-time conference player with Taylor. His wife is from Indianapolis and is a Roncalli graduate. Allen coached high school football in Indiana while the Wilts were with Taylor, so his relationship with them dates back to that time.
“We really think of ourselves as Indiana people, an Indiana family,” Wilt said. “To be able to be here in this state, to be in the Assembly Hall and to know what this university means to this state, to represent this state, is a tremendous honor for me and my family.”
Allen’s job to both himself and Wilt is to make IU’s defense in 2022 much more like IU’s defense in 2020 and less like 2021’s unit.
The Hoosiers went 6-2 in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, thanks in large part to a defense that wreaked havoc. IU finished second in the Big Ten with 25 sacks and led the conference with 17 interceptions and was one of the best teams in the country in terms of driving revenue. It was also fourth in the conference in scoring defense and fifth in total defense.
In 2021, however, the Hoosiers played it a little safer on ball hawking and ended up getting burned. Despite playing four more games than in 2020, they finished with just 17 sacks and five interceptions, both of which finished last in the conference.
Warren said during the season part of the reason sales were low was that the Hoosiers played more man-to-man coverage, while in 2020 they had more “all-zone vision” meaning all 11 players their eyes on the quarterback and the ball instead of their men. Allen said playing more zone vision would be part of their calculus.
“We’ll do everything we can to get takeaways going up again,” Allen said. “… You know, sometimes you’re going to give up some yards, but that’s how you eliminate possessions. So to me, playing with more vision gives you the opportunity to do that without a doubt. So – and I just think to be able to quickly and physically To be able to create that disruption is the focus. And tackling takeaways and effort, that doesn’t change. That’s who we are. That’s our DNA. Always has been, always will be.”
Wilt said he was excited to play that kind of defense.
“This is not a group that will just be a bend and not break the mindset,” Wilt said. “We want to attack. We want to prick up our ears. We want to wreak havoc again.”
Lake:5 Potential Immediate Impact Additions from IU Highest Rated Hiring Class Ever
To create more chaos, the Hoosiers will need more production from their defense line, which Randolph was just hired to coach. IU’s defensive linemen combined accounted for just 5.5 sacks in 2021 and the players responsible for all of this, defensive side Ryder Anderson and defensive tackle Weston Kramer, are ineligible.
The Hoosiers have discussed the position extensively in the transfer portal and in the recruiting process, and Randolph will try to promote them further.
“Big, fast and physical,” Randolph said when asked what he wanted from linemen. “You know, myself and coach Wilt, we were just talking about it a few minutes ago. But absolutely, you want the mindset, work ethic. And then the physical tools, of course, you just like height, especially in this league, height , size, and then the ability to hit the man in front of you.”
Follow Herald-Times IU Insider Dustin Dopirak on Twitter at @DustinDopirak or email him at DDopirak@gannett.com.