OAKLAND, Calif. - On Wednesday, the Hoosiers have a chance to win their first bowl game since 1991. Tom Allen has the opportunity in his first game as the head coach--to prove that he's the man for the job.
Pressure? Yes. But the good kind of pressure.
The Hoosiers wrapped up their second practice in Oakland Sunday as they prepare for the Fosters Farm Bowl and all eyes are on coach Allen and the head coaching transition.
"The kids have been awesome they've been resilient and they're behind us 100%," Allen said after leading his team through practice at Laney College on Sunday afternoon. "We're just kind of locking arm and arm and doing this together."
Whether the Hoosiers can get a win over the Utes in the Foster Farms bowl remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: the former defensive coordinator has the support of his players.
"Obviously it was shocking when it all happened," IU quarterback Richard Lagow said of the coaching change after practice. "But whenever coach Allen was named the head coach, we were all pretty fired up about that."
"We all believe in coach Allen from the offense to the defense, so we're enjoying it," cornerback Rashard Fant said. "It's unfortunate what happened and difficult, but we're just going to keep it going and know that coach Allen is going to lead us and we're going to go out there and play hard for him."
So there you have it, the players are fully on board with coach Allen. But in order to give their new head coach his first win, they have to get past Utah. The Ute's obvious strength is their defense.
The Hoosiers' opponent boasts 28 takeaways this season, which ranks third-best in the country. The defensive line is to thank for much of the secondary's success, as they are notorious for putting pressure on quarterbacks and have racked up 40 sacks this season.
"They don't make a lot of mistakes. The defensive line is great, they have high energy and are high motor guys who get the job done," Lagow said of the players who will be hunting him come Wednesday.
"You gotta go after them, you gotta come off the ball and you gotta hit them," running back Devine Redding said of the Utes' defensive line. "They can move around pretty good and they've got some great linebackers and some great defensive backs that come down and hit. It's going to be a four quarter fight."
The Hoosiers face Utah on Wednesday, Dec. 28, at 8:30 p.m. on FOX59.