IU rolls over Indiana State with QB job a toss-up


BLOOMINGTON – The way Friday night’s dominating 41-7 victory over Indiana State began for the host Indiana Hoosiers it seemed sophomore running back Jaylin Lucas was bucking for that downtown Indianapolis stadium called Lucas Oil to be renamed for him.

That would be where the Hoosiers meet Louisville next Saturday afternoon. In what may be IU’s signature quarter of football of the 2023 season, the human Lucas twice burst free for 25-yard touchdown runs.

In all, Indiana out-gained 0-2 Indiana State 234-22 in the first 15 minutes of play and 559-94 in the entire game. Lucas calmed down to gain just 88 yards rushing, but the way he galloped through holes in the line was breathtakingly swift.

“All I saw was a long gap hole,” Lucas said after the wipeout. “I hit it.”

Asked if he harbors fantasies of seeing wide open spaces like that when handed the ball, Lucas said, “I always dream of seeing holes like that.”

A week after 1-1 Indiana opened with a 23-3 loss to fellow Big Ten member Ohio State, the Hoosiers stomped all over the Missouri Valley Conference foe from Terre Haute. Indiana may not score as many points in a game again all season, nor run up as many yards. And holding a team below 100 yards from scrimmage is a memorable achievement. That is tenacious D.

Yet at times all of that seemed to be a sideshow to the drama of who was in at quarterback doing what and who will emerge from the two-man sweepstakes as the starter for the rest of the year.

Coach Tom Allen set up this mano a mano deal between sophomores Brendan Sorsby and Tayven Jackson by starting Sorsby against Ohio State and Jackson against Indiana State while giving them both in-game opportunities.

It is rare for successful teams to split the quarterback duties and Allen said post-game he has no intention of doing so. He wants a clear-cut anointed No. 1. Even if both players are worthy of playing time, Allen said he wants one five-star general leading the troops.

“The guys (Jackson and Sorsby) played well,” Allen said. “At the same time, you’ve got to have a guy. I do think it’s important to have a guy. They both can play.”

But will they? The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Jackson from Greenwood was at the helm during IU’s impressive first quarter. He finished throwing 18-of-21 for 236 yards, but no touchdowns. Sorsby, 6-3, 230 from Denton, Texas, went 9-for-16 for 108 yards when leading.

Indiana receivers seemed to enjoy the 70-degree evening, running amok in the Sycamores’ secondary. Indiana State just couldn’t cover the QBs’ targets, especially not Omar Cooper Jr., who caught seven balls for 101 yards. It was a notable introduction party for Cooper, a freshman from Indianapolis. Cooper talks to himself while running his routes.

Lucas, Donaven McCulley and Josh Henderson made four catches apiece and Henderson rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown. The 21-0 first quarter was a huge lift for IU.

“It showed we were playing the way we were supposed to,” Henderson said. “That’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

Indiana showed little offensive capability versus Ohio State, but was a new-look team a week later.

The defense was strong against Ohio State, but was mightier against the Sycamores. Indiana State’s TD came on a 75-yard return of a Lucas fumble by Maddix Blackwell in the second period.

It was no happy homecoming for Indiana State, coached by Curt Mallory, son of former Hoosiers’ coach Bill Mallory. The Sycamores gained 73 yards rushing on 29 tries, 21 yards through the air, and made just eight first downs compared to IU’s 33.

Allen said he was a bit ticked off the Hoosiers didn’t post the shutout. At one point with the Sycamores moving the ball he told defenders not to lollygag out there. The response was a Nic Toomer interception in the end zone, shutting the door.

“I had that play a couple of times in practice,” Toomer said. He said Allen’s mini-lecture had its purpose. “He was just saying to play up to our standards.”

The standards were pretty high against Indiana State, offensively and defensively. Matching them each game will be challenging – whoever is at quarterback.

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