A very different game was played in Bloomington Friday night in comparison to last week’s game against Ohio State, with the Indiana Hoosiers defeating the Indiana State Sycamores 41-7.
Last week the defense was all anyone talked about, while the offense left a little to be desired. This week the offense boasted their talents, led mostly by Tayven Jackson.
Jackson started the game, as previously planned by coach Tom Allen, and finished the game 18-for-21 with 236 passing yards. Not to mention, he also rushed for one of Indiana’s five touchdowns.
Brendan Sorsby also saw his promised playing time Friday, throwing 9-for-16 for 108 yards. But the offense could not convert in the red zone, nor find the rhythm it had under Jackson.
“I think our guys believe in both of them,” Allen said. “But at the same time, you have to have your guy. I really do believe that, I think that is important.”
The starting quarterback question has been topping the headlines surrounding this team since last year. After Friday’s performance, it is fair to say that Jackson made a very good case for securing that position. However, Allen said he will be sleeping on that decision.
“I think they both played well,” Allen said. “They both started a game, they both played a few minutes both games. I said we’re going to go back, evaluate both games, and make a decision and we’ll have a starter for Week 3.”
Allen said the decision will be made by himself and the rest of the coaching staff after closely looking at film and both quarterbacks’ decision-making.
The quarterback room was not the only one to have a night. Three Indiana running backs punched it into the endzone against the Sycamores. Josh Henderson, Christian Turner and Jaylin Lucas (twice), added to the final score. Bloomington is not entirely unfamiliar with this running back room, as Indiana has famously utilized this position in the past year.
Where surprises came were from the wide receivers. Cam Camper picked up where he left off before his ACL injury last season, with an incredible lay-out catch for one of his three. However, Camper left the game with an undisclosed injury. He was not the only one. E.J. Williams, the transfer from Clemson, also left the game with an undisclosed injury after one catch.
These injuries from some of Indiana’s top wide receivers gave opportunities to some younger faces. Freshman Omar Cooper Jr. impressed, repeatedly putting up a fight and refusing to go down. Cooper Jr. finished the night with seven catches and 101 yards.
“I just want to be the best receiver I can be for myself right now,” Cooper Jr. said. “There isn’t a standard right now, I just want to go out there and keep performing at a good level every game.”
The defense’s performance tonight may not have seemed as impressive as compared to that against the goliath that is Ohio State, but they contained Indiana State. The Sycamores’ only score came off of a fumble return, leaving the offense at fault.
Nic Toomer contributed to that containment, intercepting Indiana State’s Evan Olaes in the end zone.
“I think the defense is playing really well as a team. I think we just need to get better on the small details,” Toomer said. “It’s always the small things that are going to win you the big games.”
Philip Dunnam, who had the interception last week, had another big week with eight tackles, closely followed by Aaron Casey with seven.
Andre Carter and the rest of the defensive line put up a fight as well, but Toomer says he doesn’t think they’ve reached their full potential.
“The defensive line is crazy,” Toomer said. “I don’t even think they have reached the peak of what they can do.”
Where the Hoosiers fell short was on the special teams. Indiana accumulated seven penalties throughout the game, including two roughing the kicker and one kick-catching interference.
“It’s ridiculous,” Allen said. “It was silly, lack-of-focus mistakes.”
Indiana struggled with penalties last week as well.
All and all, it looks as though the Hoosiers are starting to piece together a respectable football team.
Indiana will face the truest test of the season up to this point when the Hoosiers head up to Lucas Oil Stadium to meet familiar foe, former Purdue coach Jeff Brohm, and his Louisville Cardinals (2-0) next Saturday.