There may not be white smoke coming from Memorial Stadium, but Indiana has decided on its starting quarterback.
The Hoosiers held their second preseason intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, and the coaching staff made their decision in the following days. During a Zoom press conference Wednesday, IU head coach Tom Allen declined to announce who will lead his offense against Ohio State on September 2. But he said he’s been pleased with both Brendan Sorsby and Tayven Jackson, and feels Indiana could win with either player at quarterback.
“I think they’ve both improved a lot since they’ve been here,” Allen said. “Both worked extremely hard. I think even the leadership role really challenged both of them. They’ve grown in those areas and then are viewed in that regard. Two young men that we feel very, very good about, that have great qualities.”
The two redshirt freshmen have been battling for the starting job dating back to spring ball, and there’s been very little separating the two throughout the competition. Each came in with very limited game experience — Sorsby played a few series during one IU game last year, while Jackson came in at the end of three blowout victories for Tennessee. Both have similar skill sets, with some mobility and dual-threat potential.
Allen said their performances in game-like situations in practices and in the scrimmages made the difference.
“We have ‘move the ball’ periods in practice, where we just put the ball down and play football, on both sides. We don’t script them. The calls come in based on the situation. … And so you go through, look at those, those are really where you kind of probably separate yourself and try to make decisions based off of that,” Allen said. “When you go through, you’ve just got to say, ‘Okay, who gives us the best chance to win?’ And that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Meanwhile, redshirt junior Dexter Williams II continues to loom in the background. He’s been continually ahead of schedule in recovering from a knee injury suffered in last season’s finale against Purdue. After initial fears that he might not be able to play at all this season, Williams was back on the field taking reps in fall camp.
Williams played in four games for IU last season and showed potential. When healthy, he has dynamic rushing ability at quarterback, and Indiana leaned on that to beat Michigan State last season. He looked raw at times, especially in the passing game, but he gave the offense a clear spark.
Earlier in fall camp, Allen said the the Hoosiers are hoping to have Williams back by midseason, and potentially a little before then. The timeline hasn’t changed since that update.
“Dexter continues to progress, and it’s just an ongoing thing,” Allen said. “He will not be available to play these first few games, and so will not even probably dress. He’s not going in. Once he’s able to do that, then we’ll continue to see what he can do from a mobility perspective. And obviously continues to throw, he’ll continue to develop, and he’ll practice with us, and do everything he can do to be able to be in that position.”
Camper ready to go
Indiana’s leading receiver from 2022, Cam Camper, also spent his offseason recovering from a knee injury, suffered around a month before Williams’.
Camper was around the team during spring ball, but mostly did individual workouts away from his teammates as he continued his rehab. He was back at receiver this preseason, but spent most of camp in a blue jersey, indicating no contact.
Camper shed the blue jersey late in camp to go live (in full 11-on-11) with the rest of the team for some plays, Allen said. He was tackled, and came out of those reps in good shape.
Allen said Camper should start against Ohio State.
“Feel like he’s ready to go. Should be a game one starter for us. Expecting him to play,” Allen said. “Anytime you have a guy like that, you always have a pitch count mentality. But in regards to just being when he’s out there, he should be full bore.”
In seven games last season, Camper caught 46 passes for 569 yards and two touchdowns. Indiana’s wide receivers are one of its most talented position groups, and a healthy Camper would be the top option.