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Countdown Q&A: Indiana

Another season is upon us, and therefore it’s time to embark on the whimsical journey of the weekly opponent Q&A. Sometimes we only gain a little insight, but often our football brethren from across the country share a wealth of knowledge about their respective teams and what we may see when they roll the ball out there in the next few days.

The Cards next opponent are the Hoosiers out of Indiana. Lots of folks around these parts are familiar with our friends up north but the rivalry in football has been non-existent over the last few decades, having last played in 1986. Thankfully the two programs have righted that wrong and agreed to a three game series over the next-.....what's that? Only a two game series because Indiana wanted out? least we get two games with the Cards and the Hoos-....huh? Oh they want out of the second game as well? Are we actually sure they’re gonna show up this Saturday??? Just in case, my good friend LC Norton from ‘Crimson Quarry’ joined me to talk all things IU football. Check it out.

The common football fan may be surprised to learn that IU played two quarterbacks last week and Louisville played NINE quarterbacks last week, including five that completed a pass, but the Hoosiers were the one staring down the barrel of a QB controversy, if we want to go so far as to call it that. Earlier this week we heard that Tayven Jackson is the QB1 at least for this game. What’s your take on that decision and how should the Cards prepare for him?

The whole quarterback competition was puzzling going into the season.

Tom Allen has done this before, let competition linger until the first snap of the first game under the guise of competitive advantage. He’s now doing the same with the Big Ten’s injury reports so heads up on that. Tayven Jackson was ranked significantly higher than Brendan Sorsby when both were coming out of high school, but that entire ‘22 class was weird with COVID-19 limiting scouting. Having seen both in action I believe they can both play quality football, but it was the right decision. Jackson throws a bit of a better ball than Sorsby but the latter is a better runner. Indiana might minimize the option stuff with Jackson running the show.

Jackson is talented, accurate and willing to throw through pressure. He can gain *some* yards on the ground but probably isn’t worth additional attention as a runner of the football. As a young quarterback with very little experience, Louisville’s defense could throw a lot of different looks at him while keeping up a consistent pass rush.

I actually watched a bit of the IU vs. The Fighting Larry Birds game last week and outside of the QB position my eyeballs are telling me Jaylin Lucas could be a certified problem. Tell me about what he brings to the team both on the ground and in the passing game? Anyone else offensively to keep an eye on?

Jaylin Lucas is Indiana’s best weapon on offense. He has NFL-caliber speed and can turn the corner on almost anyone if he’s given space. If I’m Louisville, he’s circled three times on the whiteboard in the linebackers room. On top of that I don’t think Indiana has really shown all he can do against Ohio State and Indiana State, keeping things simple (maddeningly, in the first case). I don’t think that’ll be the case against Louisville, you could see more of him in the pass game.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Other than that? Starting receivers Cam Camper and E.J. Williams went down with injuries against Indiana State and their status will be unknown until Indiana releases its availability report. Camper, if healthy, is a problem for any secondary as the type of receiver Indiana has needed for years. He can get open and go up for contested catches. Dequece Carter hasn’t been much of a factor at wideout through two weeks but he has the talent to make plays downfield. The true running back duo of Josh Henderson and Christian Turner will grind out yards through contact. The tight ends haven’t been much of a factor in the passing game through two games. Overall I’d worry about Lucas breaking out on any given play and Camper should he be healthy.

The Hoosiers got a test right out of the gate against Ohio State week one and frankly, from an outsider’s perspective, appeared to play pretty well. Part of that was due to defensive disruptions early on. What’s the Hoosier defense looked like so far versus the preseason expectations that were set?

I’ll say I was surprised here. Tom Allen reloaded his defense through the portal in a way I didn’t expect to go well at all. The defense fell off with experienced players these past two seasons so watching a bunch of new faces hold Ohio State to 23 points was… interesting.

The defensive line is a huge strength of the unit. Andre Carter is a monster off the edge and Philip Blidi can create some havoc. At their back is Aaron Casey, the latest in a line of dependable Indiana linebackers who can fly in for a tackle. The secondary has played mostly well but is very untested, something that’ll change with Jeff Brohm.

Speaking of which, let’s address Brohm. Indiana was largely hapless against Brohm when he led Purdue and there’s a key reason why: explosiveness. I haven’t seen enough of Louisville so far, but Brohm’s Boilermaker offenses thrived on explosive plays. Tom Allen’s 4-2-5 defensive system, while sometimes effective, is susceptible to explosive plays. Purdue did a fair amount of that against Indiana these past few years.

If Louisville can create similar opportunities against an untested secondary? That’ll spell trouble right away. Allen, thankfully, handed off play calling duties this past offseason and I’ll be fascinated to watch Brohm take on Matt Guerrieri. Indiana’s 2019 win over Purdue came with another young play caller, Kane Wommack, so that’ll be something to watch.

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask about IU paying to get out of the three game series these teams were supposed to have. You think it was a smart move by the athletic department at IU in hopes to build in some more winnable games before B1G season starts each year….or just a blatant fear of all things Jeff Brohm?

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Oh boy.

I’m gonna be blunt here. I both agree with the decision to get out of those games and don’t like the premise of it. Indiana should look to schedule weaker nonconference matchups as it looks to build itself and gain some form of consistency as a program, especially heading into the new Big Ten. Now, should a program still be in that process in year seven of a head coaching tenure? No. But that’s where Indiana found itself regardless of the decisions that got it here.

I actually lived in the Louisville area for a year during my freshman year of college (Not at Louisville) and I really like the city. I would have loved the tailgating atmosphere in Bloomington next year and heading down to Louisville for a game the next year (I actually have a medal from a Bands of America regional at Cardinal Stadium so at least one Hoosier won there).

It is, without a doubt, a bad look for the program. But these are the types of games it should schedule once there’s some level of bowl eligibility in play on a semi-regular basis. I get it, but I understand Louisville’s points here.

Full disclosure LC, as a nearly lifelong Louisville fan and a Purdue graduate, I’m not exactly in love with the Indiana program, but I can respect the history and appreciate some of the players who have come out of that University, especially when we’re talking basketball. While we are a bit basketball starved right now in Louisville I’ll interrupt this Q&A briefly to give you a chance to hit on the expectations this year for the roundball Hoosiers and their corny pinstriped pants.

Oh man.

I truly have no idea how Indiana will look this year. You can look at this roster and see anything you want to: a middle of the road Big Ten squad or one of the better teams in the conference. They have a considerable amount of talent in the frontcourt in five-stars Kel’el Ware and Mackenzie Mgbako along with second-year big Malik Reneau. Payton Sparks and Anthony Walker should also see some time as well.

The backcourt could have a case for one of the best defensively in the league with Xavier Johnson and Trey Galloway. Gabe Cupps has enough of a floor to contribute in some form as a freshman and C.J. Gunn should take a leap. The issue at hand is who’s gonna start on the wing. Mike Woodson could have two bigs in the frontcourt, Ware and Reneau, while starting Mgbako at the three but I think he’d do better as his more natural position of four while the five sees some rotation between those two.

There’s not a lot of returning perimeter shooting so Woodson will have to look to Mgbako as a freshman and for leaps from Galloway and Gunn. I’d expect Ware and Reneau to take some shots as well.

One thing is for certain, Indiana isn’t running through the five like they did with Trayce Jackson-Davis these past few years. Their bigs have the talent for some of that usage but they need more time to work and develop. That’s not really what Woodson wants to run at Indiana, just the roster he found himself with. Which is why landing Mgbako was such a huge get, it’s the type of player he wants more of on the roster.

Really looking forward to this season but you couldn’t get me to predict a record with so many new faces.

I try to be objective each week and really look at what areas cause me concern about the upcoming opponent. I believe IU is better than I thought they would be, but maybe my expectations were too low. It’s a double-digit point spread but we’ve seen much crazier things happen already this college football season. How do the Hoosiers walk out of the House that Manning built on Saturday with a victory? Do you think they pull it off?

I’m… not sure.

Before the season I would’ve said no, but the team looks better than I expected. I don’t believe it’ll be a dominant victory by either side… but I have to consider how Jeff Brohm has been able to exploit Indiana’s defense in the past. I’d say Louisville takes this one.


Big thanks again to LC for his time. Feel free to give him a follow on the old ‘Twitter-X’ site right here and check out Crimson Quarry over there as well. Also, go check out my Q&A with the CQ guys right here. Let’s go drop three games worth of points on the fighting “no shows” and let Brohm’s dominance over the Hoosiers continue into 2024. Cards 34-17.