The halfway point of the college football season brings Indiana its toughest test to date.
The Hoosiers (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) will face a ranked opponent for the first time in 2022 when No. 4 Michigan (5-0, 2-0) comes to Memorial Stadium Saturday. The game will kick off at noon and is airing on FOX, whose Big Noon Kickoff pregame show will air live from outside the stadium Saturday morning.
Michigan defeated IU 29-7 last season in Ann Arbor, but the Hoosiers came away 38-21 victors when the teams last played in Bloomington in 2020.
Here are some notes and quotes from Monday’s media availability with head coach Tom Allen, offensive coordinator Walt Bell, defensive coordinator Chad Wilt, and quarterback Connor Bazelak.
Lucas in future plans
Freshman running back Jaylin Lucas finished as IU’s leading rusher against Nebraska with just three carries. He broke off a 34-yard run — one of Indiana’s biggest plays of the game — to account for most of the yardage.
Moving forward from that positive showing, the Hoosiers are looking to get him more involved. IU coaches said he still has some growing to do — particularly in pass protection — which complicates the situation. But they all agreed on one thing: Lucas is an explosive player who can help the offense.
“To be able to bring him along and get him more involved is definitely a priority for us right now,” Allen said. “And as he continues to grow and develop as a player. You see what he can do with the ball in his hand and we know he can do that.”
Bell added that IU’s plethora of offensive weapons, including backfield mates Shaun Shivers and Josh Henderson, also makes it tricky to get Lucas extended playing time. But he said it’s something they’re hoping to do as he gets even better.
“But as he continues to grow and develop, he’s definitely going to become a larger piece of what we do,” Bell said. “He’s hard to get on the ground, he’s a guy that’s going to be a great space-touch player. And while those other skills develop — running the ball between the tackles, pass protection, things that a young player has to continue to learn — we’ll feature some of those other skills.”
Offensive line still has work to do
Ahead of the Nebraska game, Allen mentioned potential lineup changes coming on the offensive line.
IU did roll out a different look on the line in Lincoln — though comprised of mostly the same starters. Zach Carpenter re-entered the line after missing two games with a hand injury, but he played left guard as his snapping hand was still wrapped up. Mike Katic slid over to center from that guard spot.
Allen felt the offensive line play improved, but said it has to keep getting better. He added that Josh Sales will continue getting more reps, and that Kahlil Benson is progressing.
“I think we have some really good young O-linemen that we’re trying to bring along,” Allen said. “It’s a position that takes two to three years for a guy to really be physically — I know Matt Bedford was an exception to the rule to come in play as a freshman. That doesn’t happen very often. But, big picture-wise, we need to get better there.”
The Moore, the merrier
Junior Louis Moore made one of the biggest plays of the game at Nebraska.
The defensive back was one of several Hoosiers to get home on a blitz on Huskers backup quarterback Chubba Purdy in his own end zone. Moore forced a fumble, which Myles Jackson recovered for a touchdown.
The junior college transfer has played in all five games this season, with limited production — prior to the Nebraska game, he’d made just one tackle. He came up with two against the Huskers, including the strip sack.
Allen and Wilt have both been pleased with Moore since he got to Indiana. They both noted how grateful Moore has been for the opportunity to play at IU — Allen recalled multiple texts Moore’s sent in appreciation for bringing him to Bloomington and believing in him.
“I feel like he was overlooked in high school,” Allen said. “He was on a very talented team. Had a lot of guys that were more highly recruited than he was. But it goes into his attitude. He’s really thankful and appreciative for what he’s been given and making the most of it, which is pretty awesome.”
Wilt said Moore is still learning the intricacies of playing defensive back, after playing wide receiver for much of his junior college career. He said they’re trying to give Moore a basic role or job to tend to, as he develops more as a defender, and that Moore has embraced his responsibilities.
“He has really just come in very humble with a great mindset to work, and we saw it right away, the first time he ever walked out. He’s got a great skill set,” Wilt said. “He’s got a fundamental athletic skill set, that’s really, really talented, but he’s still learning how to play the position.”
Maryland kick time announced
IU announced Monday that the Maryland game on October 15 will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and will air on ESPN2. The Terrapins are coming to Memorial Stadium for the first time since November 2020.
For the complete 2022 IU football schedule, GO HERE.
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