Following a 44-17 loss at Maryland, Tom Allen could have just come out and said Tayven Jackson was still the guy at quarterback.
He didn’t do that.
And what he did say seems to make it clear — the IU quarterback competition that extended into week two is back on.
Jackson struggled on Saturday afternoon at College Park, completing 17-of-29 passes for 113 yards with no touchdowns and an interception that wasn’t his fault. He was sacked three times, and the pressure seemed to make the redshirt freshman tentative at times.
Jackson was pulled from the game in the second half.
Allen was asked after the contest whether things as fundamental as the offensive scheme and play calling were on the table for further evaluation during the upcoming week off. The seventh year head coach said everything is on the table, but he also seemed to point a finger at Jackson’s performance.
“There was a lot of receivers open, and a lot of opportunities to make proper reads and didn’t do that,” Allen said. “That’s what I saw today, obviously haven’t watched the film yet.”
In response to another question, Allen again mentioned missed open receivers and reads.
It would have been reasonable to assume Allen benched Jackson because the game was out of hand. While Jackson certainly needs all the reps he can get at this point in his young career, the Hoosiers trailed 37-3 when he was replaced by Brendan Sorsby.
Was this just part of getting the second unit into the game during a blowout?
It doesn’t sound like it.
“The bottom line is we needed a spark, we’ve got two quarterbacks who’ve proven they can play, so felt like Brendan has earned the right to have that opportunity,” Allen said of the third quarter quarterback change. “He (Jackson) knows, you’ve got to play well if you want to continue to play you’re position. Everybody’s in that same boat.
“Brendan came in there and made some plays, but obviously they (Maryland) had some guys subbed out as well. He (Jackson) understands he’s gotta perform to be in that position.”
Sorsby completed 7-of-11 passes for 84 yards and rushed five times for 25 yards. He led both of IU’s touchdown drives, although both came in the fourth quarter, as Allen suggested, against Maryland reserves. He found Donaven McCulley for an 11-yard touchdown pass, and then hit Andison Coby with a beautiful ball in the game’s closing second for a 16-yard score.
There were certainly things to like about Sorsby’s play, but of course its always dangerous to put too much weight on late game performances in blowouts.
Allen won’t meet with the media again until a week from Monday, at which time the first question he’ll be asked will no doubt be about the quarterbacks.
For now, we’re left with what Allen didn’t say, and that was any kind of unequivocal statement that Jackson remains his starter.
Instead, the quarterback job appears in the same basket as every other role on a 2-3 team seemingly going nowhere.
“Every position has got to be evaluated,” Allen said.
There’s no relief on the other side of the week off.
No. 2 Michigan awaits Indiana on Oct. 14 in Ann Arbor.
For complete coverage of IU football, GO HERE.
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”