Tayven Jackson and Brendan Sorsby were not alive to see it. Not even close.
In fact, Jackson’s father was not even in high school yet when Indiana last defeated Ohio State in football in 1988. So it goes without saying, there’s no sense in giving the Buckeyes any additional advantages for their season opener against IU on Sept. 2 in Bloomington.
That’s head coach Tom Allen’s thought process when it comes to making a public announcement after he chooses between Jackson and Sorsby at fall camp in August.
“I don’t ever want to give our first opponent anything extra that would be beneficial…I’m not going to give anything out before I need to,” Allen said on Thursday at the Big Ten Media Day in Indianapolis.
It will be the second year in a row Allen has kept his decision veiled in secrecy until his offense ran on the field for their first series.
Last season, Connor Bazelak was widely speculated to be the favorite, and that turned out to be the case as he led IU to a season opening win over Illinois.
Neither Jackson nor Sorsby really stood out or gained separation in the spring. Both are redshirt freshmen and neither has any meaningful college experience. So at least going into fall camp next week, this competition does seem to be wide open.
Allen never allows his quarterbacks to take hits at fall camp, not even during scrimmages, so there’s a composure aspect he won’t know for sure until the Buckeyes line up on the other side. That makes this decision particularly challenging for Indiana.
“Obviously whoever it is going to be is going to be a younger guy that’s going to have to grow up really fast,” Allen said.
Allen and his staff won’t make the decision alone. While the quarterbacks are young, he is seeking the input of the veterans on the team.
“Part of the variable in picking the starter is what do the other 10 guys think,” Allen said. “I think that’s massive.”
Jackson is a local product with more name recognition, and he was a more coveted recruit. Those factors are seemingly biasing the opinions of some who believe he’s the leader going into camp.
But Sorsby has a year in offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s system, and like Jackson, he can escape the pocket — something the staff values.
Like last year’s battle between Bazelak and Jack Tuttle, who are now at Bowling Green and Michigan, respectively, there doesn’t seem to be much difference from a skill and athleticism standpoint between Jackson and Sorsby. But admittedly, that’s based on a fairly limited sample size of watching them compete in the spring.
Indiana does have two more scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. Allen continues to say we could see Dexter Williams at some point during the season. He suffered a serious knee injury in late November against Purdue.
And true freshman Broc Lowry is an option as well. He’s been flying under the radar to this point. If he played in more than four games he’d be in the same spot eligibility wise as Jackson and Sorsby, which obviously would not be optimal.
Ohio State is ostensibly in the same position going into fall camp, with Kyle McCord and Devin Brown battling it out in Columbus.
Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day said this week he could even utilize a two quarterback rotation to start the season. It should come as no surprise both OSU quarterbacks were highly ranked prospects out of high school.
Brown was a 5-star and ranked as the No. 31 player overall in the 2022 class out of Utah and the No. 5 quarterback in the 2022 class according to the On3 industry average.
McCord was a 5-star, ranked No. 25 overall in 2021, and the No. 5 quarterback. He saw playing time in seven games in 2022.
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