On Sept. 25 — two days after a quadruple-overtime victory over the University of Akron — Indiana football head coach Tom Allen explained the offense’s execution led the Hoosiers to struggle against the Zips.
Fast forward to Saturday’s matchup against Maryland and the same concerns arose against the undefeated Terrapins.
“We need to execute the calls better,” Allen said postgame. “There was a lot of receivers open, opportunities to make proper reads and didn’t do that.”
Although redshirt freshman quarterback Tayven Jackson’s first career start resulted in a loss against the University of Louisville on Sept. 16, the University of Tennessee transfer finished 24-of-34 with 299 yards passing with a touchdown.
While Jackson showed promise two weeks ago, he found himself at the center of Indiana's offensive struggles Saturday, finishing 17-of-29 with 113 yards passing alongside an interception.
“We missed some open receivers, and we didn’t make some good reads,” Allen said. “Those are critical things that you have to have in critical situations; critical downs at times.”
After defeating Akron, Jackson stressed the importance of being better at reading the opposing team’s defense — something he struggled with Saturday afternoon missing crucial reads. Jackson’s rough outing ultimately led to redshirt freshman quarterback Brendan Sorsby entering the game in relief.
“We just needed a spark,” Allen said. “You have two quarterbacks that have proven that they can play so we felt like that Brendan [Sorsby] has earned the right to have that opportunity. [Jackson] knows that you got to play well if you want to continue to play your position.”
After entering the game in the third quarter, Sorsby finished seven-of-11 with 84 yards passing alongside a pair of touchdowns — the first of his career.
“Brendan came in there and made some plays, but obviously they had some guys subbed out as well,” Allen said.
Allen and company pinned the close victory over Akron because of a poor week of practice, he felt differently about the week of practice leading up to Saturday’s contest.
“I felt like we had a good week of preparation,” Allen said. “Wouldn’t have said the same thing about a week ago.”
With a productive week of practice leading into conference play, the Hoosiers were still unable to muster up anything until late in the game much like a week ago against the Zips. While Indiana now has a week off before traveling to Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Oct. 14 to take on Michigan, Allen explained what the week off will look like in preparation to take on the No. 2 team in the country.
“We got a week here to be able to get better and that’s going to be the focus,” Allen said. “The whole objective will be to improve ourselves fundamentally, get better schematically, and make sure we get the right guys in the right spots.”