Indiana football’s quarterback competition is ongoing.
Head coach Tom Allen talked about his passers after IU’s 10th spring practice on Tuesday, and he said redshirt freshmen Brendan Sorsby and Tayven Jackson have both competed hard for the job. He said each has had good days and good stretches where they nudge ahead of the other, but he’s not close to calling the race.
“I think it’s back and forth,” Allen said. “They’re both obviously young, both learning, they’re both making plays. It’s a process you go through, without question. Not really ready to say who’s in the lead at this point.”
Allen added that the team has two more scrimmages this spring, including the Spring Football Fan Event on April 15, which will give more insight to the battle. But he also acknowledged that he and his staff are more likely to wait until fall camp to make this sort of call.
Allen said they haven’t decided when they want to make that decision by, but he knows they aren’t ready now.
“There’s so much to be done over the summer, there’s so much to be done in fall camp, that really going to be difficult to make that decision, I would think, especially when you’ve got two guys that don’t have a lot of experience,” Allen said. “But I love the way they’re working, and I’m excited about them. I think they’ve both shown they can run our offense and lead our football team.”
True freshman Broc Lowry is also playing this spring, but he appears less likely to get playing time straight away. Dexter Williams, who started the final two games of last season, is still recovering from his gruesome leg injury, and may not be ready in time for the beginning of the season.
So that leaves Sorsby and Jackson. Neither has much game experience.
Sorsby came in for a couple series during the Penn State game last fall, when he was a true freshman. And he struggled, with a 3-for-6 line for eight yards with one interception. But, to be fair, that was a very difficult spot for him to enter. And he’s shown more promise this spring.
Jackson transferred in from Tennessee in January. He saw action in three games for the Volunteers last year, all at the end of blowout victories. He totaled 37 pass yards on a 3-for-4 line, and 10 rush yards on four carries with a touchdown.
“I just think we’ve got two high-quality young men that have a lot of talent, that are highly competitive. They both want to be the guy, without question,” Allen said. “We’ve only had two full-padded practices, so there’s still a lot to be left out there. But I think that they’re learning the offense, we’re past the point of the initial install. Now it’s more about continuing to master some things and focus on some scenarios and situational football.”
Jackson has had to balance both coming in as a new guy and building relationships with his teammates, while also battling for this job. It hasn’t taken him long to earn respect, as he’s already on the team’s leadership council, along with Sorsby. Allen praised both players’ leadership abilities, as well as the grace they’ve shown each other while competing with each other.
It’s the second year in a row IU has had a quarterback battle heading into a season. The Hoosiers had to pick between Connor Bazelak and Jack Tuttle last year.
The difference this time, though, is the lack of experience. Both Bazelak and Tuttle were veterans who’d had more previous playing time than either Sorsby or Jackson. And that’s something IU has to work around while figuring out who will line up at quarterback to start the 2023 season.
“The one thing about experience is, there’s only one way to get it. So when you don’t have it, you have to find ways to manufacture that,” Allen said. “So that’s why the time we have between now and September is going to be huge. Everything do with that — I think the summer’s going to be even more important. It’s given us some more ability to work with our guys in the summer, with the new rules, so we’ve got to take full advantage of that as well.”
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