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Spring Football Saturday: Everything Tom Allen said following Saturday’s open scrimmage



Indiana football head coach Tom Allen met with the media following IU's final spring practice on Saturday. (Tom Allen / Indiana Athletics)

Indiana football head coach Tom Allen met with the media following Saturday’s final spring practice which included an open scrimmage.

Below are his full comments and video. 

Opening Statement…

TA: Just a couple of things here, and I’ll get right to questions. We had a very good spring. Just really excited about the work we’ve got, even continuing to today. More individual technique, fundamentals, working on things we to do to get better. 

We have two young quarterbacks that I believe tremendous high upside and just have to keep developing those guys. We have our weapons. We just have to keep getting better at every phase. These next several months are going to be huge. Really positive. 

It’s a big deal getting out of the spring healthy. Had zero long-term injuries. Had some guys that missed some days, but nothing that’s going to be past probably the next month. So that hasn’t been the case the last several years, so that’s a big deal to get through it, to be able to be healthy, and to come through and have a great, great summer. 

So, finish out academically strong here. Two weeks in the weight room. Then we have finals. Then we’ll have the month of May and then June and July. 

I feel like we made progress. I really wanted to develop our toughness as a team. That’s a huge priority. Obviously, we’ll watch this and gain some things off that. We have some situations to work through, but more than anything we wanted to get everybody involved today and have a good positive opportunity for our fans and be able to have some interaction there with them. 

It’s been a very, very positive spring. Excited about where we’re at. Just have a lot of work ahead of us. 


On the quarterback position…

TA: We aren’t going to name a starter. But I think we’ll sit down with them and talk with them and kind of tell them where they are and in that part of it from exactly if we’re going to play a game tomorrow kind of thing. We’ll tell those guys that open and honestly. To name a guy, no, we’re not ready to do that yet. I think they have a lot of work ahead of them. 

I know the summer is going to be huge. Fall camp is massive. Any time you have two talented young quarterbacks, I think you can see out there they both have skills. They can both throw it, and they can both run it. It’s going to be a big part of what we want to be able to do is take advantage of their skill sets and maximize our run game and our throw game. 

I think that the bottom line is going to be who is able to do that to the highest level, protect the football, and move our team down the field. 

On if there is more personnel flexibility on offense this season…

TA: I agree. That will be the whole objective. Obviously, it wasn’t a nationally-televised game, but obviously open to the public. You never know who can be sitting in the stands watching us from our first week opponent. So that’s understood as well how we did things today. 

At the same time, yeah, I want to maximize that room. I think Jaylin gives you some unique skill sets there regarding to have at our disposal, and obviously he is going to be a very, very critical part of all of that. 

Yeah, I’m encouraged by what we can do with our guys. I think we have talented receivers on the outside. We’ve got some good slots. 

I think that you saw some glimpses today of some of those receivers, what they can do, and also we know what Jaylin can do, and I think Josh is a special back. Christian Turner was one that didn’t get to practice much. He did have an injury earlier in the spring, but it’s nothing long-term. He probably could have gone later. We wanted to keep him healthy. He is a very, very talented player. 

I like that room a lot and feel like we have more flexibility. We have to run the football. We have to run it effectively. Just with different levels from that for our defense, for our offense, for the team. For late in the game finishing out late fourth quarter games. Huge emphasis, no question. 

On Andre Carter’s spring…

TA: I would say, as we recognize there, he was the MVP of the defense, he and Noah. It was that way about every day. He is 270 pounds. He is the biggest, most physical one we’ve had here since I’ve been here. Very, very disruptive. Got to get him in elite shape. He is not there yet. 

Just really excited about him. He is a great kid. He has bought into everything we’re all about here, and I believe that you’re right. He has to tackle a guy live, but you can tell what he can do.

So, it’s about I think even just the details of his technique that he’ll improve this summer as well. Yeah, he is a very good football player. Glad he is with us now. He has a chance to prove that he belongs in the Big Ten. 

On the youth in the tight end room…

TA: As he was listed, Aaron is one of our most improved players. I will say this, though. Having to go against Andre Carter every single day, he would admit it, sometimes there were some long days for Aaron having to go against him physically, but it’s helped him a lot. 

He has grown a lot. He has gotten way more physical. His footwork, his hand placement. He has always had good ball skills. He had a good spring for us. He needs to continue to develop that over the summer. 

As you mentioned, we have a young room. Sam West is a guy that’s really been a pleasant surprise. Did a really good job this spring and was up potentially for most improved as well. Once we get Trey back and some of the older guys back that are dinged up right now, it’s going to be a group that’s going to be by committee no question, and also look to add an older guy in the portal, which we have got opportunities to do that hopefully here in the near future. 

That’s definitely important for us, without question, but I think you see some young guys here. Brody Foley is the one that hasn’t gotten nearly as many reps. He is back. He is in a blue jersey do everything from skelly on down. He didn’t do anything more than that physically. He is 250-plus pounds. He can move. He has good ball skills. So he is a guy we need to bring along in the summer and this spring. He will be a key for our success up front. Being able to have a guy like him that can do both things. 

So, I love that room as far as just the way these guys work. Coach Wright does a great job developing them, and they need more development. That’s part of being wrong. 

Bomba, James, is going to do a great job for us. He was out and had his postseason summer. He will be back full bore for us here this summer. He also provides tremendous leadership for us as a member of our team. 

On the progress along the offensive line…

TA: It’s always hard when you don’t go full bore. We did some live ghosts throughout the spring. Didn’t do it today on purpose, but I love what I see. 

I think it’s the cumulative effect of just all of the pod work and all of the reps over and over again, the physicality just over and over and over. 

I think Kahlil Benson has probably made the most growth seeing him. Zach was having a great spring. He had a lower leg injury. It’s not going to be long-term, but we sat him out his last couple of weeks. He was practicing at a high level. 

Getting Matt back will be huge for us obviously. I would say Max Longman is going to be the one that has a chance to help him. I really like him. 

I think Mike Katic coming in and adapting to a new coach and just being able to elevate his game and continue to get better is going to be huge. 

Josh Sales, we’re going to keep challenging him. He has to step up. I want him to and believe he can. Carter Smith is another one that we expect to be competing to start and going to be battling for those spots. 

Those are all young guys that need to keep developing that I figure responded well to Coach. I love his approach. He is a no-nonsense guy. Doesn’t smile a whole lot, and that’s okay. He never cracks too many jokes, and it’s all ball. It’s all business. Our guys understand that. So I really appreciate his approach. I think we’re going to be a lot better because of it. 

On the importance of this summer…

TA: Well, first of all, you know, we talk about fourth quarter mindset. It’s been our focus all spring long. It’s part of the mental toughness piece, physical toughness piece. 

There’re three things we focused on. One was the word focus. Presnap keys, post-snap technique and execution. Then there’s the up with in the middle, which is trusting your preparation. That’s the key. 

To get in elite shape, to be able to — it’s all going to be fourth quarter driven. It’s all going to be how we’re going to finish in the fourth quarter from a physical perspective. To be able to dominate your opponent in that situation. Win those third downs, win those critical downs. And you have to have an expectation that I don’t get tired. They’re the ones that get tired. That has to be built, and that’s over the summertime. 

That’s to be able to maximize our conditioning. We’re going to bring in some other groups to get to build our team and do some things whereas team-building and toughness-building and shared adversity over the summertime, creating that with our guys through our strength staff and some groups we’re going to bring in will from the outside. 

To me it’s just about building the toughness to be able to finish the conditioning that you trust. They’ve given us OTAs now that we’re able to do. That continues to kind of expand in our roles with those, and so there’s going to be six of those in the month of June with our full staff, which is unprecedented in the past. 

So that allows you to be able to really prepare them in the month of June more than we ever have in the past. So that to me is a big, big deal. 

So, it’s not just the lifting and the conditioning. It’s also the timing of the receivers. Two young quarterbacks. All those timings have to happen together. They have to do that alone. Where he can’t throw the ball with our coaches there, but guys have both been here in the spring. We have all these receivers here right now. We have one more coming that was with us today that’s going to be here in June. Dequece Carter, who is a very, very talented player. 

I really like that room, but they have to come together and get the timing down. That happens during the summertime. To me summer is massive. It’s going to be big for us. The guys understand that. We make a big deal for it. 

We talk about May mattering even though it’s a time away for them. They have to still continue to train and work like a professional because that’s what the pros have to do when their time is away. Be able to have a great plan and to come back to work on June 1st. It’s a big part of our next step, and that all will be the focus right now. 

Now this chapter is done, and now moving into the best summer we’ve had since I’ve been here. 

On which group he wants to see ramp up the intensity in the summer…

TA: I want them all to up their intensity. They’re never going to let up in any way whatsoever. I think the running back room offensively that sticks out to me. I love the way they come to work every day. They have a lot of group. Trent Howland didn’t finish out. He had a minor injury, but that’s five guys there that I really believe are really good football players and give us a lot of weapons. 

Then I think defensively I like the depth of our safeties, even though there’s some young guys there. There’s a lot of guys there. We’ve had some issues in the past where you get one guy goes out, and it’s a major drop-off. So you have a chance to have our whole secondary, even though there’s some new faces, there’s more length there and more volume there. I like that group of guys. 

I want to see our D-line to continue to have a domination mindset, to be able to take a game over. I like the way Lanell Carr can give us a pass rush. He has a twitch to him that’s different. 

Myles, we sat him out during the team drills today, but he has had a great, great spring. He is a tremendous leader. You add Phillip and you add Marcus to that crew as well, and then you add Andre Carter, that’s some big men there. 300-pound guys. We already know how big Marcus is. 

Bottom line is that I believe that you’re only as good as your guys up front. You want to see your O-line to continue to grow from here to the next step this summer in their strength and their mindset and their toughness. 

I could probably mention all the groups, but as far as the two that stick out to me. Everybody has to elevate and continue to work, and that’s what we to do as a staff, our strength staff, who do a tremendous job of taking the baton now and finishing strong during the spring. 

On Donovan McCulley’s progress in his second spring as a wide receiver…

TA: When we met postseason, I said you have no idea how good you can be. You have no idea. 

So, when he we want away and came back from the break, we sat down again. We mapped out specifically what he was going to do. But he came to me and said, Coach, I want to play a little lighter. I said, I’m good with that. We’ll get you to Coach Wellman and get your exact diet down because he knows what he wants to be able to do. To me that’s a huge part of this. 

So, it’s about core confidence. It’s about dominating the guy across from you and the fact that that ball is in the area anywhere close to me, I’m going to catch it. 

You saw him make a phenomenal catch today. He does that throughout practice. Two hands. Nobody should be able to guard him. He is 6’5″ and is a 200-pound guy that can run and jump. I feel that he has tremendous skill. I’m not going to quit saying it. He are can be as good as he want to be. 

I do think that he has now figured out this isn’t just a show up and practice hard. This is a 24/7, 365. That’s my sleep habits, my diet, what I put in my body so I can be more explosive, run faster, getting to my brakes better and allowing him to be a better receiver. So I think Coach Tucker, we’ve had some really good receiver coaches here, and we have another one. I think he is excellent as well. 

He is responding to him really, really well, and I’m excited about what he has decided he wants to do. Another guy that is going to have a great summer. I believe he will because it started to click on the inside, and I think that’s a big part of the extent for him. 

On if his view of spring ball has changed with the added summer contact with the team…

TA: I’ll just give you a specific example. Usually the last couple of practices during the springtime we have to set the stage for all the drills we want the players to do during the summertime because we can’t be there. It takes some time to get that taught. You go through all those different things. 

Well, now we didn’t do any of that. We actually did individual. We did fundamentals all the way up until today. 

So, we have so much more work on that because now we’re going to be with them in June to be able to be during those individual periods where we don’t have a — we’re not throwing the ball. We’re doing conditioning, but it’s technique and fundamentals. That’s it. To me it’s a bit, big difference. 

Just the ability to do some things holistically where you can even have install. The install is way more aggressive. Here’s the thing, everything in the past that we did was player-led practice. You know how that goes. 

Sometimes you get nervous because you can get bad habits. You’re just doing pass skelly. Well, we couldn’t be out there. You can’t watch it. You can’t correct it. Players have to correct themselves. You have to rely on them to tell you the mistakes that were made and work them through it. 

That’s a little bit — always made me nervous because then you have to undo some of that when you get into fall camp. Now I don’t feet like that’s the case with them anymore. 

Now we can’t do skelly with them, but we can do no ball and teaching those concepts. I feel like it’s definitely more you are trying not to make it where it’s burdensome. You don’t want them to come into fall camp burned out and feel like they’re not excited about the start of the season. We don’t want to do that. I feel like we have to maximize. 

So that’s why we’ve actually done more in June, actually a little bit less in May. Even though they’re going to do some things in May, we want them to get away in May as much as they can because I think that’s important. 

Because if not, it’s year-round, and they never get a break. It’s kind of been an adaptation for us what you do in May, what sets up what you do in June. June is way more active than it used to be. That sets us up for a good July. 

Coaches need to get a chance to get themselves away a little bit so they can come back refreshed because June is camps, it’s recruiting. We have official visits. We have OTAs and a lot of things going on. 

June is really, really intense for the coaches, but that’s just part of it. So they get their time to get away a little bit in July, if that makes sense. You have to mesh all of those together to get it to where everybody is getting a chance to maximize the calendar, come back refreshed and be ready to start on July 31st. 

This year we report back to fall camp. First practice will be August 2nd. That’s how it works. That’s how it looks. That’s a great question. We’ve had to adapt, and I feel good about where we are. 

Follow Hoosier Illustrated on Twitter @Indiana_FRN to stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. 


‘I want to see us execute better’: Tom Allen looking for critical step in development as Indiana football wraps up non-conf play



Tom Allen, Indiana football
Tom Allen has made it clear about his message to the rest of the Indiana football program this week; it's about execution. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Tom Allen’s word for 2023 was ‘toughness’ — being both mentally and physically tough. It was meant to translate into being prepared for a full game and winning the fourth quarter, two aspects that have failed the Indiana football program over the last two seasons. Three games into the season this year and that same trend is rearing its ugly head.

In Indiana’s 21-14 loss to Louisville on Saturday, it may have hit its peak in both aspects. As Indiana went into the half down 21-0, it was a clear example of lack of focus coming into the matchup. Fast forward to a key 4th-and-goal with under five minutes to go, and it was a clear example of lack of toughness and execution that translated into getting stopped for no gain at the 1/2 yard line.

While this is an obvious issue for Tom Allen, it’s even more of a concern since it was harped on all offseason and emphasized during fall camp with Ohio State coming to town in week one.

“I would say with our inability to play 60 minutes of really good football on Saturday, disappointed in that,” Allen said on Monday. “Felt like that we were on track to get to where we wanted to be from what we stated as our goal from playing a team like that (Ohio State) in Week 1. Didn’t feel like we fully maximized that.”

There were two weeks between Indiana’s week one matchup against Ohio State and when it took on Louisville at Lucas Oil Stadium last weekend. There was ample time for preparation and, according to Allen, good practice time leading up to the week three game.

Trending: ‘They didn’t flinch’: Mentality of young Indiana football secondary showed major growth throughout Louisville matchup

“I thought we had a good week of preparation last week. So I’m not going to sit here and say — I talked it out with our players and say, well, what do we need to do now to be able to make sure that preparation translates and shows up on game day in the first quarter,” Allen said. “And that’s what I want to be able to do.”

While there was a lull in the first half against Louisville, it was the second half against Ohio State and the second quarter against Indiana State.

The lack of execution has been there in every game thus far, just in different areas. In the last two weeks, however, in-game adjustments have been on display in certain ways. But, at the end of the day Indiana can’t continue to play from behind or play reactionary football.

“Starts with the coaches: Can they see things in the moment, in the heat of the battle, whether they are sideline adjustments or halftime adjustments. Those are very critical,” Allen said. “I don’t think you can be a really good football team without having those. So we showed we can be able to do that. The starting fast and starting well is very, very important. So what you don’t want is you don’t want, I think as teams doing this long enough and you guys have covered football, you see teams develop a personality throughout the season and so you don’t want to get in that kind of a, hey, this is — we’re a team that starts slow. That’s not what you want.

“To me, we’ve got to nip that right out of the gate here. Obviously happened this past game, doesn’t necessarily feel that way the first two games, but again, we had a lull in the second one but didn’t start that way.”

Related: Early breakdown and initial thoughts on Akron

Indiana wraps up true non-conference play with a matchup against Akron on Saturday night. His message hasn’t wavered since day one of the 2023 season.

It’s all about execution.

“So to me, it’s about executing and executing at a high level of confidence, and being able to play at the speed I want us to play at from the opening quarter on,” Allen said. “That’s going to be the emphasis, and like I said, we’ll know more next weekend where we feel after the first few games.

“It’s an important week for that to be the case and obviously every week is a big week to get better, and that’s what we’re going to emphasize at such a high level this week in how our guys respond. To be able to come back and prepare at the level that they have to prepare at to be their best.”

Saturday, and beyond, will show if all of the talk comes to fruition, or if it’s just that. If it’s just talk.

“I want us to be a team that plays well early and is able to make good adjustments and then finish strong,” Allen emphasized. ” … I do want to see us, you know, I want to see us execute better. I mean, it’s not a complicated part in regards to that. Obviously you play who you play and your schedule is what it is and we have to continue to grow as a football team. To me, the jury is still out to see if that’s fully going to manifest itself.”

SEE ALSO: Indiana Football Week 4 Stock Report: Who’s trending up? Who’s trending down?

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustrated on Twitter @Indiana_FRN, Facebook and YouTube to stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. You can also listen to the Talking’ Bout the Hoosiers podcast on Spotify.

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Big Ten Notebook: ‘Blackout’ uniforms, Kyle Monangai vs. Michigan’s D and Two Primetime Matchups




kyle monangai
We're heading into the meat of the Big Ten schedule in Week 4, with some really interesting conference matchups on the schedule. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

The non-conference portion of the season isn’t completely done just yet, but a majority of the schedule in Week 4 involves Big Ten action. Finally, we’ve hit the meat of the schedule.

We don’t waste any time with some of the marquee matchups, either. Action starts Friday night with a Big Ten West showdown between Wisconsin and Purdue. The Boilermakers are trying to end a 16-game losing streak to the Badgers.

On paper, Rutgers-Michigan may not sound appealing, but both teams enter with 3-0 records. Can the Scarlet Knights pull off an unthinkable upset?

At night, we’ve got two ranked matchups featuring Iowa and Penn State and Ohio State and Notre Dame. It should be an incredibly fun night across the league.

So, let’s dive into this week’s notebook, shall we?

Enough with the ‘Blackout’ uniforms

It’s 2023, I get it. In today’s world of college football, presenting multiple uniform options for student-athletes to wear on gameday can prove to be beneficial for a program. But can we please put up the “Stop” sign when it comes to the “Blackout” uniforms? Particularly for those teams that don’t utilize black as part of the school colors.

Indiana revealed new “Blackout” uniforms for this weekend’s game against Akron. If you just take a look at them, they’re really sleek. It’s a nice addition to the wardrobe for the Hoosiers. But … I still can’t get over the fact that black isn’t part of IU’s traditional colors. For that reason, I’m out.

This isn’t just a gripe about Indiana, either. Minnesota also recently revealed “Dark Mode” uniforms, steering away from the usual maroon and gold for a game. Personally, I couldn’t have hated it more. But head coach P.J. Fleck provided an explanation behind the decision to move forward with it.

“Our traditional colors are maroon and gold,” Fleck said. “Always will be, always will be, always will be. No one is taking that away. …

“Everything we do is about the players that are on that field,” Fleck said. “The student-athletes love it. Our student-body loves it. The young people love it. And I get it but that’s why we do something a little different every week for everyone.”

Can Kyle Monangai give Michigan’s defense trouble?

Don’t look now, Big Ten fans, but Rutgers actually leads the conference with its rushing attack. The Scarlet Knights boast an impressive 210.7 yards per game average. Kyle Monangai leads the league through three weeks with 357 yards and five touchdowns, racking up over six yards per carry.

But that success came against Northwestern, Temple and Virginia Tech. That’s not exactly a “Murderer’s Row” of opposition. It does present an interesting matchup against a Michigan defense that’s viewed as one of the best in the country.

So, can Monangai carry some of that early-season success into Big Ten play? Obviously, the offensive line is going to have a big role in that. Michigan’s defensive line is nasty and won’t be as easily moved as some of the other Scarlet Knight foes.

Michigan’s defense allowed East Carolina to hit 103 yards on the ground, the only time it’s surrendered triple digits in the rushing attack. To use an old coaching cliche, Saturday’s game between Michigan and Rutgers will feature “good on good.”

We just aren’t quite sure how good Rutgers’ rushing attack is just yet.

Ohio State-Notre Dame comes down to defense

Sam Hartman and Audric Estime. Kyle McCord and Marvin Harrison Jr. Those are the names that will receive a lot of attention heading into Saturday’s top-10 showdown between Ohio State and Notre Dame. A lot of the attention is going to be on the offense in South Bend.

Call me crazy, but this feels like a game where the defenses might be the bigger story by the time the clock hits zero in the fourth quarter. Don’t forget, last year’s contest was a 21-10 decision in Columbus.

That’s not to say this year’s meeting will also be a low-scoring affair, but there are some things to keep an eye on between the Buckeyes and Fighting Irish.

Ohio State has recorded just five sacks through three games, with nobody having more than one at this point — one of the lowest totals in the conference. The Buckeyes have collected 17 tackles for loss and forced five turnovers, putting them in the middle of the road in the Big Ten.

While the starts aren’t great, the Buckeyes have looked pretty good on that side of the football. The 6.7 points per game allowed speaks to that, too. Notre Dame is a different animal, though, and if Ohio State can’t get pressure on Hartman, he could pick apart the Buckeyes secondary.

Why Iowa-Penn State has potential to get out of hand

The last five meetings between Penn State Iowa have been pretty epic. Throw out the 2020 game (a 41-21 win for the Hawkeyes), and the other four have been decided by six points or less. History tells us these coaches know each other pretty well and we’ll witness a dog fight on Saturday night.

For college football fans, I certainly hope so. But make no mistake, this game has potential to get out of hand, particularly in the second half. Penn State’s success on both sides of the football is a big reason why.

Yes, the Nittany Lions struggled last weekend against Illinois. Drew Allar completed less than 50% of his passes  and Penn State’s rushing attack was less-than-ideal against an Illini defense that has struggled. It was also PSU’s first conference game in enemy territory. Franklin and the Lions get Iowa in a “Whiteout.”

Penn State’s defense has played fearlessly this season. The Nittany Lions have racked up 10 sacks, led by Coziah Izzard with two. They’ve also forced seven turnovers through three games. How is Iowa’s offense — one without leading pass-catcher and star tight end Luke Lachey — going to move the football?

Simply put, there’s a good chance Iowa’s defense is on the field for way too long Saturday. It might be capable of keeping the Hawkeyes in the game through the first half, but don’t be surprised if Allar in the Lions start picking apart the defense in the second half and pull away for a big win.

Quick Hits

  • In addition to losing Luke Lachey for the season, Iowa will also be without running backs Jaziun Patterson and Kaleb Johnson for Saturday’s game against Penn State
  • Nebraska has lost two of its top three running backs to injuries for the season: Gabe Ervin Jr. and Rahmir Johnson.
  • Weird stat alert: Entering Week 3, Wisconsin’s defense had not forced a single turnover. Purdue’s offense had not turned the ball over at all. Last Saturday, the Badgers forced six turnovers in a win over Georgia Southern. The Boilermakers lost four turnovers in a 35-20 defeat to Syracuse.
  • Four teams in the Big Ten West have already lost two games (Illinois, Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue). The Big Ten East has lost a total of three games thus far.
  • Maryland has posted comeback wins in consecutive weeks after trailing both Charlotte and Virginia 14-0 early. The Terps are searching for their second 4-0 start in three seasons.

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustrated on Twitter @Indiana_FRN, Facebook and YouTube to stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. You can also listen to the Talking’ Bout the Hoosiers podcast on Spotify.

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Indiana Football Week 4 Stock Report: Who’s trending up? Who’s trending down?



Indiana football QB Tayven Jackson
Taking a look at who from the Indiana football program has raised their stock and lowered their stock heading into week four. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Indiana football moved to 1-2 on the season following its 21-14 loss to Louisville in week three. Now, it looks ahead to a week four matchup against Akron to close out non-conference play.

It was the first start for Tayven Jackson following his official winning of the starting quarterback job, but yet again there were questions about the play-calling.

After week three of the season for Indiana, who is trending up? Who’s trending down? We take a look at some players and position groups here. 


Tayven Jackson: There’s no question that following the game on Saturday, you came away impressed with the way Jackson played. While he had his ups-and-downs, his play only got better as the game went on and you could see his confidence continue to grow with each positive possession.

After a slow first half that saw multiple throws miss high, including his first interception of the season, the second half was nearly perfect. He would lead Indiana on a 13-play, 97-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown and then an eight-play, 89-yard drive.

Jackson finished 24-of-34 for 299 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception.

“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,” IU head coach Tom 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.”

“Tayven’s ability to make reads in the throw game was impressive. He’s obviously — they are loading the box and trying to stop the run and make the young quarterback make plays, and he was able to do that. He created several out of nothing. I always talk about, that’s kind of like a key quality you’re looking for in a quarterback is, hey, can he make something out of nothing. When something breaks down can he extend the play long enough to get his eyes down the field, which he’s able to do that, and either beat you with his legs or beat you with his arm.”

Jackson is now up to 559 passing yards on 71.7 percent passing with one touchdown and one interception. The best part of his skillset is his ability to move in and out of the pocket and get out of trouble without taking a sack. He’s been sacked just once this season.

Another standout skillset of Jackson’s that Tom Allen emphasized this week was his leadership ability.

“He’s a verbal guy,” Allen said. “I would say since I’ve been here, he has the potential to be the best verbal leader we’ve had at that position in all my years here, and I expect him to be that way.”

Jaylin Lucas: Jaylin Lucas was terrific — once again — but this time did it in the receiving game. All offseason the coaches talked about the potential Lucas had as a pass catcher and while they showed it in bits through the first two games, it wasn’t until this past week that you could really see the potential.

Lucas led all receivers in the game with 10 receptions — on 12 targets — for 98 yards and one touchdown. He lined up in the backfield, was used in screens, jet sweeps, short routes and his touchdown as a wide receiver lined up in the slot.

“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 is up to 15 receptions on the season — leading Indiana — for 138 yards. In total, he has 44 touches for 279 yards and three touchdowns.

Secondary: If you were to take just one half of the Louisville game, this group would be nowhere near trending up. But, likely it’s a two-half game and this unit did a phenomenal job after halftime.

Louisville quarterback Jake Plummer had six of his eight first-half completions go at least 13 yards. He would have 202 passing yards in the first half, including a 43-yard completion over top of the IU defense, as well as an 85-yard touchdown pass as well.

Related: ‘They didn’t flinch’: Mentality of young Indiana football secondary showed major growth throughout Louisville matchup

In the second half, however, it was entirely different. Plummer had just 36 passing yards after halftime, inducing an interception. Jamari Thrash, who had four receptions for 159 yards in the first half, had just one target and zero receptions in the second half.

“There was mistakes, there was a big explosive play that was in there, but they didn’t flinch. So it goes back to mentality, they’re young guys so it’s my job first to get them ready so the stakes don’t happen,” Indiana co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Matt Guerrieri said. “But I am pleased with them from a mentality standpoint of responding, taking the coaching, applying that so that’s a positive sign.”


Walt Bell: There has to be serious concern over the development and progression that Walt Bell is making with this offense in year two. There are enough playmakers and now a clear talent in Tayven Jackson at the quarterback position and there are still more and more questions about the play-calling every week.

While no game should come down to one play, the 4th-and-goal play call in the fourth quarter was as head-scratching as they come. With the ball on the half yard line, you decide to give it to your running back lined up six yards in the backfield. No quarterback sneak or bootleg roll out.

“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.”

Bell will likely have an ‘easier’ time calling Saturday’s game against Akron, so there won’t be any real answers to come from the script, but moving into week five, Bell’s ability to get this offense rolling to start the game and make it consistent throughout will be critical.

Offensive line: While the offense line hasn’t been bad by any means — and much more effective this year through three weeks than most of what it showed in the past two years — there are some concerns moving forward.

First and foremost are injuries. Matthew Bedford was dinged up last week and didn’t start. He came into the game in the second half after Max Longman went to the locker room with a lower body injury.

While it was mostly a clean game, there were two offsides penalties from the offensive line as well as a bad snap that caused a loss of 13 yards when Zach Carpenter’s snap went way over Tayven Jackson’s head.

The offensive line needs a nice bounce back week against Akron, and likely will see that. But, it needs to stay healthy moving into week four.


Tom Allen: The talk from Allen coming out of week three has been the increased and heightened emphasis of putting together a full 60-minute game. The loss to Louisville was exactly the opposite; a tale of two halves.

“I want to see us come out and play with the confidence that we played with in the second half from the get-go and so to me, it was a noticeable difference without question … Our inability to play 60 minutes of really good football on Saturday, disappointed in that,” Allen said. “Felt like that we were on track to get to where we wanted to be from what we stated as our goal from playing a team like that in Week 1. Didn’t feel like we fully maximized that.

“I want to see us execute better. I mean, it’s not a complicated part in regards to that.”

Whether it’s penalties, mental mistakes, clock mismanagement or poor play-calling, Tom Allen needs to get things in order and have a clean game on Saturday in that manner.

SEE ALSO: Indiana Football vs Akron: Key players, notes and opening spread

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