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Indiana Football Notebook: What we know as Hoosiers begin fall camp



With just over four weeks until college football returns — yes we’re that close — the Indiana football program opens fall camp on Wednesday. Indiana head coach Tom Allen met with the media on Tuesday to break down the summer and discuss the keys to a productive next month.

Among other topics, Allen discussed certain standouts, notable changes to day-to-day practice, how all of the newcomers are adjusting and position battles heading into this week.

Here are some key takeaways and notes from Tom Allen.

New ‘football-only’ weight room a ‘concentrated area to eliminate distractions’

News came out this week that the Indiana football program received a massive gift by the way of Jay Wilkinson — a new football-only weight room. The project is expected to be completed in early 2024.

While the designs are still in some of the early stages, it will be located in the stadium’s North End Zone facility.

Tom Allen is extremely excited about the news and believes it can be the newest selling tool to help get the program back on the right track.

“I think big area of focus has been to be able to have a concentrated area to eliminate distractions. And to be able to brand it in a way that it’s football-specific, I think that’s really important in recruiting just to show the importance of it,” Allen said. “To me, I think the biggest thing is the focused training. We want to do a tremendous job of developing our players from a nutrition perspective as well as physically, their strength and development, their speed, to be able to grow as a player in those areas.”

Indiana continues to invest in the football program so now it’s time to show that return on the field. A new ‘football-only’ weight room is just another sign of that.

Secondary the ‘most open’ position battles

Last season, Indiana ranked 14th in the Big Ten in passing defense. It gave up a league-high in passing yards (3,290), yards per attempt (8.0) and touchdowns (30). On the flip side, it ranked 12th in interceptions (7).

That was with veterans in almost every spot. This season, the secondary is one of the biggest question marks heading into fall practice — and the season. Guys like Jamier Johnson, Tyrik McDaniel, Jordan Shaw, JoJo Johnson and others enter either through the transfer portal or as true freshmen and are competing for numerous spots.

Tom Allen said on Tuesday that the secondary was the position group with the biggest battles going into fall camp.

“There’s several positions with a lot of competition I think just in lieu of the new faces. I think the one that probably sticks out is the secondary, corner position as well as the safeties,” Allen said.  “I just think with the number of turnover, the guys that had played for several years here, those guys doing a great job for us, graduating, moving on to the NFL, it’s really critical we find top guys. I would say that’s probably the most.”

A healthy spring and summer

It has always been a battle for Indiana — staying healthy heading into fall camp. But, this time around, that seems to be something going in its favor.

Heading into this week, three players were seemingly the most notable injuries, but all were almost recovered and having injures that stemmed from last season.

Matthew Bedford, Cam Camper and Dexter Williams have all progressed nicely heading into the fall. Bedford is back in the fold, while Camper continues to make progress and is expected to be ready for the season opener. Williams, while making good progress, isn’t expected back until mid-season at the earliest.

Outside of that trio, however, it’s minimal injuries at worst.

“Fortunately we did not have any long-term injuries in spring or the summer,” Allen said. “Just your typical soft tissue things here and there. Really don’t have anybody else that is in that mode kind of from a limited perspective where they have to be on a play count early on … we have a few hamstrings, some soft tissue things that you usually get in the course of the summer. Even with those guys, feel pretty good about where they are. Want to stay that way.”

Getting through the next few weeks without sustaining injuries to key players is critical.

Josh Henderson standing out and evolving

Josh Henderson has never been the ‘lead’ back and has spent most of his college career in a crowded backfield. But, when he’s seen snaps, he’s produces and always been consistent with that.

Henderson is coming off of a season in which he had 90 carries for 398 yards and four touchdowns. He also had 24 receptions for 274 yards and four receiving touchdowns.

Heading into his second fall camp with the Indiana football program, Allen said increased confidence and leadership have been two facets of his game that have taken a step up in a very nice direction.

“I think there’s confidence just in being in a place for year two. He’s such a steady guy, he’s so consistent, so dependable in every way,” Allen said. “…He’s grown in his confidence, his ability to get out there. I just think he’s a guy that you can keep on the field. He’s a three-down back,” Allen added. “He can catch, he can block, he can run. He’s able to just really do whatever he’s got to do the team be successful and win.

“He’s a quiet guy, but there’s also the ability to lead that room, to be able to be a great example. When you think about being a great teammate, it’s doing your job, setting that example of being a consistent guy,” Allen said.  “It’s also have the courage to hold your teammates accountable. I think that’s something he’s grown in as well, being able within that group of guys to make sure things are right. You bring in guys, you bring in new players to a certain group, you bring in guys to that side of the ball, and he’s able to be, ‘Hey, this is how we do it here’. Just really feel like he’s just matured and grown in that area.”

Henderson looks to be a very valued member of the offense and with his increased leadership role, he will likely make a major impact on the program this season.

Read: Josh Henderson growing in confidence and leadership heading into year two with Indiana football

Indiana using a ‘two-spot method’ to get increased players reps

Indiana has 37 new players on the roster this year and 22 transfers. There are also numerous position battles still ongoing. Because of that Tom Allen needed to adjust the way he conducted spring and summer sessions.

It’s called the ‘two-spot method’. It’s a way of getting more guys reps, and allowing the coaching staff to evaluate more players at a given time, and thus, throughout camp. It’s something that will continue over the next few weeks. It’s also a new piece to camp that Allen hasn’t used in previous seasons.

‘(It’s) a way to be able to maximize team reps. We call it a two-spot method. Other places have used this. It’s a way to be able to get more guys involved where you have your staff kind of working in the middle, then one group goes, then you have your ones and your threes in one group, twos and fours in the other groups. They’re rapidly rotating,” Allen said. “But your coaching staff gets eyes on both group. So one focus on the other group. So one group will go, then you turn your staff around and they will focus on the other group. … You’re not necessarily going to have more reps for an individual player, but you’re going to have more guys getting reps. I think that’s really critical when you have a lot of new faces, competition at several of these spots, some four deep, which we have not had very often since I’ve been here. Some positions have three guys working for a spot. Some up to as many as four.”

SEE ALSO: ‘It’s important for me to become the best head coach I can be’: Tom Allen taking a step back to — hopefully — take a step forward with Indiana football

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.