Coming off Indiana football’s 35-21 loss to Nebraska, head coach Tom Allen touched on the offensive line, receiver depth and the running back situation. Heading into the homecoming game against Michigan, the team is hopeful and eager for the matchup
As for last week against Nebraska, the Hoosier offense was left without its two primary receivers in junior Cam Camper and senior DJ Matthews Jr. While Indiana played most of its games with eight-to-nine receivers in rotation, the output in Lincoln was not enough.
“I think it’s always difficult when you lose two guys that have been your most productive playmakers, but at the same time other guys have to step up,” Allen said. “Other guys made some plays, but I think we had five drops, which is something we can’t have. We needed catches in those situations.”
One theme of Indiana’s season thus far is the inconsistent rushing attack display, as the offensive line has dealt with injuries and inexperience, and the running back group has been shuffled around. Allen said he knows the offensive line is crucial to establishing a stronger foundation for the offense in general.
“Things happen. Injuries happen. When someone goes down you have to have another guy there,” Allen said. “I think we have some really good young offensive linemen that we are trying to bring along, and it’s a position that takes two or three years to be ready physically. In the big picture, we need to get better there.”
Following senior lineman Matthew Bedford’s torn ACL in the season opener against Illinois, the Indiana offensive line has attempted to find its stride through the early portion of the season.
The running game has been hindered by the issues on the offensive line, but freshman Jaylin Lucas has been a bright spot. Lucas has received more reps lately in the offense, as well as the return game.
“He’s young, true freshman,” Allen said. “To be able to bring him along and get him more involved is definitely a priority for us right now.”
While it is just week six, the program has seen radical changes over the last two seasons. Having switched many of the assistant coaches and coordinators, the staff is not the same as it was during the successful 2019 and 2020 campaigns.
“The quarterback play in the two previous years was good, and then last year, keeping a guy healthy was tough,” Allen said. “Defensively, we haven’t set our team up for success with takeaways like we did in those two previous seasons. That was huge — probably a way bigger deal than you realize.”
With a tough homecoming matchup this week, Indiana will look for consistency on the offensive side of the ball and vast improvements on defense if it plans on coming out with a victory on Saturday.