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Connor Bazelak expected to start vs. Ohio State as IU football QB room continues to fluctuate

Three quarterbacks saw the field on Saturday in Indiana’s blowout loss to Penn State.

But none of them will start when the Hoosiers resume action this weekend and face No. 2 Ohio State.

Instead, eight-game starter Connor Bazelak will return to that role and lead the 40-point underdog Hoosiers against the Buckeyes.

“Connor Bazelak will be back with us and has come back from his time being injured and will be our starting quarterback (against Ohio State).” head coach Tom Allen said on Monday afternoon.

Allen indicated Bazelak had not practiced leading up to the Penn State game.

“He did not practice, and he is healthy now and so he was just — he was beat up pretty good,” Allen said.

“So there’s multiple things and (he) just wasn’t able to, I believe, play at the level he needed to play at to be what we needed him to be. So that was the reason for him not being there.”

Instead, Bazelak spent Saturday in the press box, something Indiana has done throughout the season with multiple reserve quarterbacks.

Starting for Bazelak on Saturday was redshirt senior Jack Tuttle, a somewhat surprising move by Allen considering he intends to transfer after the season.

Tuttle played well but was injured late in the first half.  Allen indicated on Monday Tuttle’s shoulder is still being evaluated.  The precise nature of the injury and the length of his recovery are still not clear.

After reviewing the Penn State film, Allen reiterated what his instincts told him immediately after the game — he liked what he saw from third-year quarterback Dexter Williams.

Although Williams was presumed to be the third-string quarterback throughout the fist nine weeks of the season, Allen went with freshman Brendan Sorsby following Tuttle’s injury.

But when Sorsby struggled in the face of constant pressure from the Penn State pass rush, Williams was given a chance in the third quarter and immediately made an impact, especially with his legs, despite throwing two interceptions including one on a tipped ball.

Although he’s been with the program for three seasons, Saturday’s snaps were Williams’ first.  He was obviously nowhere near first team reps in practice since he was the third quarterback IU rolled out against Penn State.

So that means any action Williams sees going forward, Indiana’s staff will have to exhibit some patience.

“He’s got all the natural physical skills… He’s just unrefined right now,” offensive coordinator Walt Bell said on Monday.

But if Tuttle’s injury ends up forcing him to miss games, Williams appears to have moved up to No. 2 on the depth chart.  Allen even hinted Williams may earn some series over the last three weeks of the season, irrespective of the health of the other quarterbacks.

“I saw enough from Dexter that I was very encouraged by the way he responded and the way he played. I like the way he threw the football,” Allen said.  “Obviously had one poor decision, but I thought that ran the football with something that we need, and can help us for sure.

“I think that Dexter showed me that he’s earned a right to be able to be out there. So that will definitely be a part of the moving forward equation.”

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