Tom Allen Indiana

Behind Enemy Lines: Indiana Hoosiers

It’s a brand new season and there are big hopes for the 14 members of the Big Ten to get to Indianapolis at the end of the season and play for the Big Ten title and a shot at the college football playoff.

Ohio State and Indiana are two programs that are going in different directions however as the Hoosiers have taken a step back since 2020 and the year that the conference ADs had to make a special ruling to send Ohio State to the conference championship game, even with a head-to-head win over IU due to a lack of games played over the COVID season.

The Buckeyes have remained a fixture in the top-five teams in the nation and while the last two conference crowns have gone to the dreaded rivals to the north, Ohio State was a kick away from playing for a national championship last season.

The other side of the coin has Indiana going 6-18 over the last two seasons, 2-16 in the Big Ten conference and people questioning if Tom Allen’s seat is just hot or scorching in Bloomington (Ind.).

Starting off with Ohio State may not be the best course of action for a program that is looking to get off to a good start and giving its players something to believe in, but Indiana was going to have to play Ohio State at some point as long as the two teams are in the same division of the Big Ten.

How does this match-up look to someone who sees the Hoosiers on a daily basis? We are heading behind enemy lines with Daniel Olinger of HoosiersNow of the Sports Illustrated Fan Network to get the latest on Ohio State’s first opponent and what makes them tick.

Tom Allen is not ready to announce a starter at quarterback but knows who it will be. How are the two quarterbacks different and if it were your decision, who would you start and why?

Daniel Olinger: It’s really hard to pick out differences between the two because we’ve just never seen a meaningful snap from either of them at the college level. Because Jackson is the younger brother of Indiana basketball superstar Trayce Jackson-Davis, it gets presumed that he’s the better dual-threat option and a more athletic player, though Sorsby was the much more prolific runner during his high school football career and has the better 40 time on record. Neither appears to be jarringly great or different from the other, though I’d probably start Jackson if I want to take my chances of winning up from 1% to 2%. Even if he doesn’t have as great of straight-line speed as Sorsby, he appears a tad more elusive with his footwork within the pocket, and I think he has a bit more of a live arm that can drive the ball into tight windows. Though in full honesty, I do worry about Jackson getting injured against that menacing OSU front. He’s thin at 6-3, 215, and Sorsby would probably be more equipped to handle blows at 230 pounds.

Indiana was very active in the transfer portal, who was the biggest addition in terms of immediate impact and why do you feel that way?

Daniel Olinger: The three names I would look out for are Andre Carter, Lanell Carr Jr. and Christian Turner. Carter because he’s been named to practically every single preseason award list out there, and is coming off a pretty stellar season at Western Michigan. He’s probably their scariest pass rusher by a wide margin. Carr Jr. because the IU coaches can’t go a single presser without mentioning how great of shape he’s in and how much he’s stuck out to them since transferring from WVU. He’ll line up at the Bull position, which is really a weird mix between OLB and DE, and suffice to say he’s an impact player in the front seven. And Christian Turner because Indiana already had two good running backs in Josh Henderson and Jaylin Lucas, and yet have still felt the need to let people know that the Wake Forest RB transfer will get on the field for a significant number of snaps.

How has Donaven McCulley come along in his transition to wide receiver and how big of an impact can he have? Can he and Cam Camper keep opposing defenses honest?

Daniel Olinger: Camper himself said on Monday that McCulley is really coming along in his transition, and that he’s always been a freak athlete capable of playing it, but that it just took him a while to learn route running and other intricacies of the position. I don’t think McCulley will see more snaps than other receivers on the roster such as Camper, EJ Williams, Kamryn Perry, DeQuece Carter and maybe even Omar Cooper Jr. (who has had a fantastic camp), but on a team like IU, there’s always an opportunity to rise up the depth chart. As for Camper, he’s the No. 1 wide receiver on this team with a bullet as soon as he gets healthy. He’s one of the few true standouts on the team who could probably make an Ohio State, a Michigan, a Penn State, and so on. He said on Monday he’s not yet 100% healthy, but he plans to play against Ohio State and is feeling pretty good.

2022 was not a great year for the Hoosiers but why will 2023 be a better year, or will it be?

Daniel Olinger: There’s a very real chance the ’23 Hoosiers are a better down-to-down team than the ’22 rendition was, but finish with a worse record. They got extremely lucky in 3 of their 4 wins last year. They probably should have lost to Illinois, Western Kentucky and Michigan State in all three, yet somehow pulled out wins due to gigantic blunders from their opponents and very clutch strokes of luck. The defense should be improved with just how much they added in the front seven, and it might actually be impossible for the offensive line to be worse than it was in 2022. However, even if all their losses in ’23 look better than they did a year ago, my prediction right now might be a 3-9 record with a lone conference win against Rutgers.

How do you see this game playing out and what is your prediction for how things will play out?

Daniel Olinger: Asking who you think will win an Ohio State vs Indiana football game feels like asking if you think Wile E. Coyote will ever catch the RoadRunner. We all know the answer and are liars if we say otherwise. I have watched a lot of Buckeye season openers, though, and this would be a classic game where they lead 17-10 at half and everyone is upset. Then, any of Marvin Harrison Jr., TreVeyon Henderson, Miyan Williams, Emeka Ebguka or whoever rip off several 50+ yard touchdowns, and it ends in a 48-10 butt whooping of epic proportions. That sounds harsh, and I think it’s very possible IU gets thumped in this game and can still rebound to have a decent season, but Ohio State is probably winning this one very easily.

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