The Foster Farms Bowl on December 28th will mark new Indiana head coach Tom Allen's head coaching debut, and with the bowl game Allen will have an opportunity to lead the Hoosiers to their first bowl win since 1991 when they face Utah.
In an effort to do everything possible to be prepared for his new duties as head coach, Allen got creative while planning out Indiana's bowl prep practices. With Allen also calling the shots on defense, there were going to be a number of new changes for him and his staff to juggle come game day.
Yesterday Allen and his staff built in a scrimmage under game-like conditions during practice that served the dual purpose of helping his team, and getting him and his staff on the same page before game day arrives.
"The advantages were twofold. Number one, for me to just get the mechanics of calling the defense as well as working with the offense and special teams. A lot of times when you do things in practice you have to structure it where you're not going ones against ones, or ones versus two, it has to be offense versus scout team, defense versus scout team."
"So we put the scouts on one side of the field, as a whole team so it really created a game day situation where we move the ball. It was very, very good."
"There was a lot. Even as we went through it, I wrote down notes of things that you think of. Really, the key is those special teams transition plays - the punt team, field goals, going for it on fourth down, where you're at on the field, the use of the clock, we've got a guy in the press box coordinating all that with me. Usually those are things that Kevin [Wilson] and I would talk about during the season, and that was the extent of my input."
Then Allen got specific about the types of changes they needed to simulate to get a full grasp on the changes.
"Today we simulated me being on the sideline talking to the defense, making adjustments from that previous drive. Now, okay, it's a three-and-out and we've got to get back out there. Now I've got to go over there on third down being there with the offense making those decisions about what punt to use, or if we're going to go for it, and all that kind of stuff."
Many coaches out there believe that nothing can really prepare you for the game-time decisions you'll face in the heat of a moment as a first-time head coach, that is also calling plays on defense, but credit Allen and his staff for trying to work out some of the kinks beforehand.
Other first-time head coaches should consider doing something similar as fall approaches. Hear more from Allen below.