Indiana football has had some significant ups and downs over the last handful of years and the main source of the “downs” has been struggles on offense. IU lost Kellen DeBoer as an offensive coordinator after the 2019 season and that loss has led to some real uncertainty with Tom Allen’s job. While DeBoer is leading the Washington program to a potential playoff berth, Allen is on his second coordinator in four years.
Allen did get a major coup in the off season when Tayven Jackson decided to come home as a transfer and join IU. Jackson is one of the best quarterback recruits from the state of Indiana in the last handful of years and after spending a year at Tennessee, he decided to hit the portal.
Jackson is the likely starter for this game though he has split time in the first two games of the season. Jackson looked very good against Indiana State as a passer which was probably the only thing holding him back from being named the starter this fall. Jackson is a competent runner but I would compare him to a C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young in the way that he will work to throw from the pocket and run only when he has to. However, the IU offense has some option aspects this year and Jackson has looked good running it. I was extremely impressed by his touch on the ball down the field as well as how he timed his throws on short routes.
Brendan Sorsby will be the likely backup on Saturday but I wouldn’t be surprised if Louisville saw him at some point in the game. Sorsby started the opener against Ohio State and looked good as a passer. The issue for Sorsby is that Jackson is just more dynamic as a player. Sorbsby can run the full offense but I haven’t seen anything from him that would make me worry about him as a runner. But, IU would be in good shape if he needed to play.
The Hoosier running backs are the group that impressed me the most over their first two games. Jaylin Lucas is one of the quickest and fastest running backs in the country and IU uses him in a variety of ways but they don’t shy away from running the 5-9/170 back between the tackles. Lucas is very good at finding a small space to slink through and once he does he can take off on a defense. He will be a huge factor in the run game, especially as an option guy when they run those plays.
Josh Henderson could be the starter on Saturday as IU rotates backs pretty regularly. Henderson is a tough runner with good size and the ability to get first downs as he falls forward and avoids direct tackles very well. Henderson is the guy that worries me the most over the full game because he runs so tough. He also had a good game catching the ball out of the backfield last week.
Ohio State mostly put the clamps on the IU receivers in week one but they were able to show their talents against Indiana State last week. Omar Cooper leads the team in catches and yards after a 7/101/1 performance last week but Cam Camper is the top target on the team. Dequese Carter and E.J. Williams will also be a factor in the passing game. One thing about this group of receivers is that they are big. They have big catch radiuses and they also do well shedding tacklers after the catch. UofL will have to be strong on the outside when they go to bring these guys down.
Indiana’s offensive line has done a solid job opening holes for the running game but they haven’t shown me enough on runs outside the tackle. The option plays are more reliant on speed and decision making but nothing works if your line doesn’t give you true options. From a pass protection standpoint, IU has done well to protect the quarterbacks. Jackson was able to stand tall in the pocket at times and deliver the ball with no disruption. UofL could have a tough time getting pressure with no blitz as Ohio State did.