The mystery continues. Indiana is one day away from kicking off the 2023 season, and no one outside of the locker room knows or is willing to say who will be the Hoosiers starting quarterback against Ohio State.
So let’s take a closer look and see if we can come up with some answers.
Below we look at the roster turnover, projected depth chart, quotes and notes for the quarterbacks on the 2023 IU squad.
ROSTER TURNOVER — WHO’S GONE
- Jack Tuttle (transfer — Michigan),
- Connor Bazelak (transfer — Bowling Green),
- Grant Gremel (transfer — Saint Francis)
ROSTER TURNOVER — WHO’S BACK
- Dexter Williams II (junior),
- Brendan Sorsby (redshirt freshman)
ROSTER TURNOVER — WHO’S NEW
- Broc Lowry (3-star, Canfield, Ohio),
- Tayven Jackson (transfer — Tennessee)
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
Indiana’s quarterback depth chart has been the story of fall camp.
A two man competition between Tennessee transfer Tayven Jackson (6-foot-3, 215) and Brendan Sorsby (6-foot-3, 230) went down to the wire. Indiana coach Tom Allen will not reveal who will lead the IU offense to the field for the Hoosiers’ first offensive series of 2023.
We do know this: True freshman Broc Lowry (6-foot-1, 210) will open the season as the third-stringer, and that’s because last year’s starter to end the season Dexter Williams (6-foot-1, 200) is still recovering from a knee injury suffered during the final game of the 2022 campaign.
Indiana also has two walk-on quarterbacks on the roster.
THE CASE FOR PLAYING TWO QUATERBACKS
As I first said on the Aug. 15 edition of The Hoosier Report before IU set their plan, and have repeated since, I believe there’s a real chance that Indiana plays both Jackson and Sorsby against Ohio State. Or at least I think there’s a real possibility the IU staff is entering Saturday’s game with that plan.
I say that not based on inside information I’m revealing here, but instead based on the following logic:
- Neither Jackson nor Sorsby, both redshirt freshmen, have any meaningful experience to draw from.
- Neither of them did much to separate themselves in any kind of meaningful way during fall camp as best as we could tell.
- Jackson and Sorsby have similar skillsets, so it isn’t as if the tie can be broken with a preferred style of play.
- Tom Allen was asked a year ago about playing two quarterbacks, and he quickly and firmly shot down the idea. This year he’s been asked multiple times, and he has seemed to dance around the question. Last year he thought he had a proven starter with significant SEC experience. This year he has no such perceived luxury.
- Ohio State provides a perfect “thrown into the fire” scenario. Indiana can see which of the two — if either — are ready to face elite competition.
- Saying the quiet part out loud: You don’t expect to beat Ohio State, so use the game as an extension of fall camp. There’s no better way to evaluate these quarterbacks than against a national top-5 program on gameday. There are quarterback intangibles that can only be discovered in situations like this. And if someone emerges in-game, then you ride the hot hand.
Clearly, Williams is the wild card going into the 2023 season. It doesn’t look like he’d be available until roughly week five when IU faces Maryland, give or take a week or two.
Obviously much can change between now and when Williams is ready to go. IU could feel like it has a clear starter, they could be desperate for Williams as an alternative, or somewhere in between.
Williams made his career debut in 2022, playing in four games with two starts. He was far from an efficient passer, completing just 13-of-38 throws for 184 yards, along with two touchdowns and two interceptions. But Williams did provide some dynamic moments, especially with his legs. He rushed 40 times for 165 yards and a score.
Of course, as we saw with Michael Penix in 2021, when coming off a major injury, ready to play physically doesn’t always mean fully ready to play.
Tom Allen on Jackson and Sorsby —
“You’ve got two guys now that are very similar. They’re both redshirts. Neither one of them really played much last year. I think they’re more at the same starting point. At the end of the day, we’re going to pick the guy that we think is going to give us the best chance to win. That’s the bottom line. You have a long season, and you have a very challenging first one. You’re going to have someone going up against one of the teams in the nation right out of the gate.”
Allen on having multiple options at quarterback —
“I think the bottom line is that we do feel like we have two guys that are really good players. Excited about that. It’s obviously a situation that you want to be in to be able to have more than one. Obviously, Dexter (Williams II) continues to work hard to rehab and get back and he got a lot of meaningful reps, as well. So, bottom line is we know we’ve got to be able to have multiple quarterbacks to help us win and do what we need to do in the 2023 season.”
OC Walt Bell on having a mobile quarterback —
“The entirety of the room is really athletic. Whatever we have to do to be able to run the football successfully. The advantage between Brendan [Sorsby], Tayven [Jackson], Broc [Lowry], Dexter [Williams II], everybody in my room is a good athlete. So, whatever we have to do to help ourselves be better in the run game, that is what we will do.”
WHY IT WILL WORK
Landing Jackson via the portal was a bit of a coup. He was a 4-star prospect and the 13th highest ranked quarterback in the 2022 class according to the 247Sports Composite.
There’s also a view that Sorsby, who was injured during his high school senior year, is much further along than his recruiting rankings would suggest.
And finally there’s Williams, who if nothing else, is intriguing based on what he flashed in 2022.
WHY IT WON’T
Indiana tried to pluck a veteran quarterback from the portal during the offseason, to no avail.
And so while the debate rages on regarding who will emerge, of course it’s entirely possible that no one on Indiana’s roster will be the answer.
Moreover, unless the offensive line improves drastically this year, much of this seems moot.
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