Indiana football, once again, does not have a starting quarterback.
After the Hoosiers rotated between redshirt freshmen Tayven Jackson and Brendan Sorsby during last week’s 52-7 loss at Michigan, head coach Tom Allen would not name a starter for this week’s game against Rutgers. Jackson started and finished 7 for 13 for 52 yards with two interceptions, and he also lost a fumble. Sorsby went 6 for 15 for 44 passing yards, and he rushed for 30 yards on 13 attempts with a lost fumble.
Allen said the team won’t continue rotating between the two players — the Hoosiers will come out with a starter on Saturday. But it is clearly once again unclear who that will be.
“Just want to be able to do a great job of moving us down the field, scoring points. That continues to be the goal. Both of them did good things on Saturday. Both of them made some mistakes. But it’s about protecting the football. It’s about running the offense and being able to be effective with that,” Allen said during Monday’s press conference. “So we’ll make a decision. When we make this decision this week, that person will be the guy. So I’m not going to rotate back and forth.”
Jackson beat out Sorsby for the starting job after a battle from spring and fall camp extended into the first two weeks of the regular season. Jackson had three games as the sole starter before the rotation returned. Sorsby entered late in the Maryland game, when the result was already decided, and Allen included the quarterbacks when he said everyone would be evaluated during the bye week.
Allen did make clear early in the week that Jackson would start against Michigan, but didn’t mention the forthcoming rotation.
Dexter Williams II is continuing to progress in his injury recovery, and was upgraded to questionable for the first time against Michigan. Allen said Monday that Williams was available to play against the Wolverines only in an emergency. His full return would further muddy the quarterback situation.
“To me, (Williams is) progressing, and he’ll be a guy that’s, each week has grown in his ability to be ready. That’s even more so this past weekend,” Allen said. “He’s getting closer and closer.”
It’s nothing new for Indiana to enter a week without clarity at quarterback. Allen didn’t declare a starter ahead of the Ohio State game to open the season, and didn’t discuss the plan to rotate the two until after that game.
Last season, Indiana came out of its bye week in early November and would not declare either Connor Bazelak or Jack Tuttle the starter ahead of the Penn State game. It wound up being Tuttle, and when he got injured, Sorsby and Williams entered. And Allen didn’t reveal whether Bazelak or Tuttle would start last season’s opener against Illinois before game day.
New offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rod Carey coached his first game in that role for IU against Michigan. He said both Jackson and Sorsby had some highs and lows during the game, and bemoaned the inconsistency both showed.
“I think it was pretty obvious in the first quarter and a half of last game, when they’re doing exactly (what they’re supposed to) in the system, they’re performing at a high level. They both are. And when they go a little bit away from that, then it’s not good,” Carey said. “I think the highs are pretty good, and the lows would be the turnovers for both of them. I don’t see much difference in that ebb and flow. That’s the problem. It’s my job to get rid of this (inconsistency).”