Preseason and even pregame depth charts aren’t always good indicators of who will see the field on gameday.
Staffs don’t always want to tell the world who will play, and sometimes the gameplan plays a role each week.
But we now have four games worth of data to evaluate and compare against preseason expectations. Who stands atop the IU football offensive depth chart? Let’s take a closer look.
Note: Indiana has run 254 total plays on offense.
There isn’t much sense in examining the snap count here. Tayven Jackson won the job, so he’ll get all of the snaps until further notice. But it’s still worth noting he’s only played 225 snaps in his college career, including a few mop-up moments at Tennessee. That’s not quite the equivalent of four full college games. So as we’ve seen over the last two weeks, there will be ups and downs.
This has played out pretty much as expected going into the season, with each of Jaylin Lucas, Josh Henderson and Christian Turner seeing the field via a committee approach. Some of Lucas’ snaps have come at the wide receiver position. First Turner, and now Henderson, have dealt with injuries. Trent Howland has played, but Indiana hasn’t used his big frame in short yardage, which is surprising given their struggles in that scenario.
Here are the snap counts:
- Jaylin Lucas – 141
- Josh Henderson – 100
- Christian Turner – 64
- Trent Howland – 14
Statistically those four main backs have been similar from a yard per carry standpoint: Turner and Howland lead at 4.6, followed by Lucas (4.4) and Henderson (4.1). Lucas also has a team high 15 catches, and Henderson has six.
Note: It’s a bit surprising Lucas has been off the field for more than 100 plays, although that’s somewhat influenced by the Indiana State game getting out of hand.
The perceived preseason top seven on the depth chart have largely played out as expected at wideout. In addition to the depth chart, a combination of injuries, and play calling have led to the following snap counts:
- Donaven McCulley – 213
- Cam Camper – 166
- Dequece Carter – 110
- Omar Cooper, Jr. – 67
- Andison Coby – 39
- Kam Perry – 28
- E.J. Williams – 21
McCulley clearly won a major role. He has 12 receptions for 129 yards on the season, but he he’s had a drop in each of the last two games.
Camper is a clear starter and he’s been more productive in fewer snaps (13 reception, 249 yards) than McCulley. Coming off a torn ACL in 2022, he was on a pitch count to open the season, and he’s dealt with some minor additional injuries this year.
Williams was expected to have a major role, but he suffered an arm injury in the first half of week two and hasn’t been seen since, labeled “OUT” the last two weeks by Indiana. He’d be the most likely to push McCulley for snaps, along with Carter.
Note: Jaquez Smith, a former 4-star recruit in the class of 2021, has not seen the field.
There was concern going into the season that there could be a lack of production at the tight end spot, and that has played out through four games. Indiana lost Peyton Hendershot to the NFL, and then A.J. Barner via a transfer to Michigan over the last two years.
Stanford transfer Bradley Archer is leading the way from a snap count perspective. James Bomba and Trey Walker have dealt with injuries. Here are their snap counts:
- Bradley Archer – 149
- James Bomba – 97
- Trey Walker – 62
- Aaron Steinfeldt – 40
- Brody Foley – 3
In total that group has nine catches on the season for 122 yards through four games (2.25 catches for 30.5 yards per game from the position).
On PFF the tight ends have pretty dismal blocking grades. That could be a limiting factor for some in this group. Walker is earning the highest marks in both run and pass blocking. He got his first start against Akron.
Note: Barner has been on the field for 148 of Michigan’s 228 snaps. He has just four catches for 25 yards. He’s sharing the tight end pass-catching duties with Colston Loveland, who has 14 catches.
Likely because he’s trying to build continuity, new offensive line coach Bob Bostad hasn’t probed very far into his depth chart so far. Of course that comment comes with the caveat that head coach Tom Allen expressed frustration with offense after the Akron game, and hinted changes could be coming.
The key players along the offensive line have been as was expected during fall camp, although the move to place Matthew Bedford at guard and Kahlil Benson at tackle was a surprise.
Here are the snap counts, position shown is their primary spot:
- Kahlil Benson – 248 (tackle)
- Mike Katic – 248 (guard)
- Zach Carpenter – 241 (center)
- Carter Smith – 234 (tackle)
- Matthew Bedford – 192 (guard)
- Max Longman – 60 (guard)
- Joshua Sales – 49 (tackle)
- Bray Lynch – 30 (center)
- Vinny Fiacable – 16 (guard)
Note: Tom Allen said before the Akron game Carpenter was graded as the top performer along the line to start the season. Longman has dealt with multiple injuries, and Lynch did not dress vs. Akron.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the defense.
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