Indiana Daily Student

Indiana football’s second-half offensive struggles continue with loss against Rutgers

<p>Junior tight end AJ Barner and graduate student reciever D.J. Matthews celebrate after scoring a touchdown on Sep. 10, 2022. Indiana lost to Rutgers 24-17 on Saturday in Piscataway, New Jersey.</p>

Junior tight end AJ Barner and graduate student reciever D.J. Matthews celebrate after scoring a touchdown on Sep. 10, 2022. Indiana lost to Rutgers 24-17 on Saturday in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Indiana football got off to a quick start in its game against Rutgers on Saturday. Freshman running back Jaylin Lucas returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown to spark the Hoosier attack. Then, junior quarterback Connor Bazelak took a redzone run into the endzone to extend the Indiana lead to two scores.  

In the second half, though, the Hoosiers fell back into old habits. 

Through the first two quarters, Indiana totaled 187 yards of offense to go along with a 14-7 lead heading into the locker room. The third quarter was clearly the turning point of the game, as Rutgers found life offensively behind its run game. Indiana managed to total negative two yards of offense in the third quarter, and its lead slowly evaporated. 

[Related: COLUMN: Indiana football continues to beat itself in another mid-game collapse]

Rutgers ran the ball very effectively with 50 rush attempts as a team. Penalties were about equal on each side, and neither team was particularly good on third downs. Indiana went just 2-11 on third down in the game and Rutgers was marginally better at 5-17. 

Indiana finished with a low 62 yards rushing as a group, while Rutgers racked up 192, allowing them to bleed the clock as they gained full control of the game late. 

One bright spot early in the game for the Hoosier offense was junior receiver Cam Camper. However, Camper left the game in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury.  

“Obviously lost him for the game,” Indiana head coach Tom Allen said. “Don’t know the extent of the injury yet, but it's been a noticeable difference when he is in there.” 

Following a first half where Indiana was efficiently passing the ball to get down the field, it seemed the opposite was true in the second half.  

[Related: Indiana football finds new season low, drops fifth straight on the road against Rutgers]

“Very disappointing. We got off to a good start like we wanted to,” Allen said. “We could not sustain anything on offense, and that put a lot of pressure on the defense.” 

Bazelak had trouble finding time to make reads, and even when he could, he overthrew receivers on multiple occasions. The final blow for the Hoosiers came when Bazelak was flushed from the pocket in his own end zone and had to get rid of the ball to prevent a safety. Under duress, his throw did not make it out of bounds and the Rutgers defense picked it off for a touchdown to put the game away. 

The Scarlet Knights ended the game on a 24-3 run to seal their victory and put Indiana’s season into a deep hole. 

One interesting aspect of the loss was Indiana’s play calling. In a game where the Hoosiers had seemingly found some success running the ball, with Jaylin Lucas averaging 4.5 yards per carry and senior running back Josh Henderson averaging 7.8 yards per carry, they only attempted to run the ball with those two players a combined 10 times. 

Indiana’s offense continued to fall flat when the team needed it to perform well most, and if it continues down the stretch, the Hoosiers will have trouble winning another game this season. 

Follow reporters Garrett Newman (@GarrettNewman20) and Jacob Spudich (@spudichjacob) and columnist Will Foley (@foles24) for updates throughout the Indiana football season. 

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