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Indiana Football Notebook: Final thoughts, takeaways from week three



Tayven Jackson, Indiana football
Taking a look at the final takeaways and some key thoughts following Indiana football's 21-14 loss to Louisville. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

The Indiana football program had a tough loss in week three, falling 21-14 to Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

Now 1-2, the Hoosiers get back to work ahead of a week four matchup against Akron.

There were some key takeaways from Saturday’s performance, so let’s dive in.

Tale of two halves

It was definitely a game broken up into two entirely different halves. The first half, Indiana looked lost and totally outmatched. But, in the second half it was Indiana that had all of the energy and looked like the much better team.

The first half resulted in a 21-0 lead for the Cardinals and 30 minutes that saw them outgain Indiana 302 to 107. In the second half, however, Indiana outscored Louisville 14-0 and outgained them 250 to 120.

“Just proud of our football team,” Allen said postgame. “But you got to play two halves of football. Disappointed in our first-half performance. Gave up some big plays by our defense. Too many self-inflicted wounds offensively in the first half. Man, just proud of our team’s fight. Really didn’t have any momentum going into halftime. The guys bowed up and showed a lot of fight to be able to shut them down in the second half, give ourselves a chance offensively to win the game. Just proud of that.”

The energy in the second half started right after halftime as Tom Allen called for an onside kick. Indiana recovered and went down to score in just three plays. Indiana would also have drives of 13 plays for 97 yards and an eight-play and 89-yard drive.

Unfortunately, it was just too little, too late.

“I think it speaks to the character of our guys. They fought. Challenged them at halftime to see, get a chance to see who we are as a football program and a team. Every team is different. I believe the in core values of our program … How you respond in a game is important. Our guys bowed up and fought. That’s a good sign,” Allen added. “When you have a new group like we have, so many new faces, for them to be able to battle through and fight to the finish was encouraging. We just got to play four quarters.

Tayven Jackson is the right man under center

He had his ups and downs, but Tayven Jackson showed the potential he brings to this team as the starting quarterback. Jackson finished 24-of-34 for 299 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception.

In the first half, Jackson missed high on numerous throws, but as the game went on, that poise that Tom Allen talks about allowed him to settle in and make big play after big play as the Hoosiers were battling back.

“I think there’s no question, you could see him growing up throughout. There’s things that happen that you don’t always see, especially in the first half, just mistakes being young, the clock, different formations, checks, seeing guys in motion, things like that. But those will continue to get better and better,” Allen said. “But I just love the fact that he just makes plays. He’s able to create, extend plays, eyes downfield, finding receivers. Those are things you can’t teach. That’s just instinctual things that he has.”

In the second half, Indiana began to play a much more up-tempo offense, something that Jackson shines in.

“I think once we started playing fast. I’m used to that,” Jackson said when asked about finding a rhythm. “I think it brings out all of us as a group of quarterbacks and wide receivers. We all know how to play fast and when we play fast, we play free.”

The way Indiana is using Jaylin Lucas continues to grow

All offseason the talk was about how the Indiana football offense would use Jaylin Lucas. After week one, there were way more questions than answers. We saw some additional ways he would be used in week two, but still more was to be desired.

Those questions ended on Saturday as Lucas was the focal point of the offense. He went on to finish with eight carries for 29 yards and 10 catches for 89 yards and a touchdown. He was targeted 12 times.

Because of Lucas’ playmaking ability and elusiveness, getting him the ball in open space is critical. He had 70 yards after the catch on Saturday.

“We worked hard on that this off-season, for him in that role. I just continue to see that being a focus for him, getting the ball in space, try to do a good job with that,” Allen said. “As with all of our guys, you try to maximize an individual’s talent, what he can do. Getting him the ball in space is important, whether it’s hand it to him or throwing it to him. Like I said, he works really hard on that and we’re going to continue to emphasize that.”

Lucas caught passes out of the backfield, was used in jet sweeps and caught his touchdown as a wide receiver lined up in the slot.

“I think just getting me the ball and giving me open space. I felt like I did well, it’s just going to take getting continuous reps at it and keep doing what I do,” Lucas added.

4th-and-goal play-call

With 4:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, Tayven Jackson dove towards the pylon — coming up just short. It resulted in a fourth and goal play from the 1/2 yard line.

Indiana came out lined up in an offset I-formation with Josh Henderson as the back and handed it off that resulted in no gain and a turnover on downs.

“We didn’t execute it obviously. That’s frustrating,” Allen said postgame. “I’m sure that’s one that everybody is going to focus on. There are a lot of other variables leading up to that. Since the play didn’t work, I wish we would have called something else. I love or team, love our coaches. We just got to keep battling.”

While no game truly comes down to one singular play, you can’t help but wonder what could’ve been for the Indiana football program if it was able to change the outcome of that play in Saturday’s loss to Louisville.

“Could have run a quarterback sneak, run your base power play, whatever. We obviously chose to run, not to sneak,” Allen said. “Obviously since it didn’t work, you want to run the other one. We scored previously on the other one. Yeah, didn’t work, so … You obviously wish you would have done something else. I think that’s how we all would think the same exact way.

Louisville would go on to run the remaining 4 minutes and 37 seconds off of the clock after the turnover on downs, ending the game.

Walt Bell already had a lot of questions to answer, and this is the icing on the cake.

Other Quick Hits:

  • ‘We have to do what’s best for our football program’. It was the first public statement by Tom Allen since the announcement came that Indiana would be getting out of the IU-Louisville football series, and this would be the lone matchup.
  • Third down conversions was a big talking point heading into this matchup and Louisville won it. Indiana’s defense had been phenomenal on third down, limiting opponents to just a 17.4 conversion rate. Louisville’s offense ranked last in the ACC with a conversation rate of 22.7 percent through two games. On Saturday, the Cardinals finished 7-of-12 on third down.
  • Indiana needs to be able to run the ball. The running back room was one of the highlights of the team coming into the season and while they have performed in the passing game, Saturday was another very underwhelming performance on the ground. IU had just 58 rushing yards with a 2.1 yard per carry average.

Game Highlights:

SEE ALSO: Indiana football offense shows signs of promise with Tayven Jackson despite loss

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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.