Indiana football heads to Piscataway, New Jersey, this weekend to face Rutgers in its first away game since losing to Nebraska on Oct. 1.
Last week in a close loss to Maryland, 38-33, Indiana gave freshman running back Jaylin Lucas more opportunities to make plays. This week when the Hoosiers travel to face the Scarlet Knights (3-3), Lucas and senior running back Josh Henderson are expected to receive a similar workload.
“Jaylin has tremendous quickness and burst and has short speed and long speed,” head coach Tom Allen said. “That gives him the chance to make plays in multiple ways, whether that is in the backfield, on the perimeter, or the return game.”
As for Henderson, he has been a more consistent piece of the Indiana offense, totaling 211 rushing yards and three scores so far this season. Henderson also helps in the passing game, adding 16 catches for 214 yards and three more touchdowns.
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“There is no question that we really love what he is able to do,” Allen said. “He can run the ball. He’s catching the football and scoring in that regard, just doing a lot of different things.”
Allen said he hopes the diverse offensive players Indiana has prove too difficult to stop this weekend against Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights enter this week after a bye week last week. At 3-3 on the season, Rutgers is in a similar situation to Indiana. After a strong 3-0 start to the season, Rutgers has dropped each of its last three games in Big Ten play and looks to avoid dipping below .500 on the year.
Rutgers began the season with sophomore quarterback Evan Simon running the offense but following a three-interception performance against Nebraska in the last game he played, he was benched for senior Noah Vedral. Vedral was the starter last season for the Scarlet Knights and threw for 1,813 yards to go with seven touchdowns and seven picks. Redshirt freshman Gavin Wimsatt played in each of their first two games before suffering an injury, but he still threw two interceptions and one touchdown.
With all three of its quarterbacks heathy coming into this week, it will be interesting to see who Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano gives the nod for the homecoming game against the Hoosiers.
As for Indiana, following a turbulent week where back-up senior quarterback Jack Tuttle announced his intent to transfer following the season, it will be junior Connor Bazelak at the helm.
After the firing of its offensive line coach Darren Hiller, the Indiana line looked better against Maryland last week. Indiana has been rotating lineman in and out looking for the best combination to give Bazelak time to throw and the run game space to operate.
“We kept rotating Joshua Sales Jr. and Kahlil Benson,” Allen said. “Our offensive line has had another good week working together. They work extremely hard, which I love about that group. Those two guys have really stuck out to me, so we are going to continue to grow them in their development.”
Indiana enters the weekend with a 3-4 record after the loss to Maryland, with just five games left and stout opponents remaining, the Hoosiers hope to spoil the Scarlet Knights homecoming game. The matchup kicks off on Big Ten Network at noon, Saturday.