Everything you need to know: Louisville v. Indiana

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV / Radio: Big Ten Network / 93.9 The Ville

Spread: Louisville -10.5, O/U 52.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Last Time: 

The last time that IU and U of L faced off on the gridiron was in 1986 in Bloomington. U of L had two turnovers and 273 total yards, while Indiana’s Spud Washington rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown as the Hoosiers shut out the Cardinals 21-0.

Indiana leads the all-time series 2-0. This is the second neutral site game of Louisville’s 2023 season. This is the first time in program history that Louisville will be facing both Indiana and Kentucky in the same football season.

Heading In: Indiana Hoosiers

The Hoosiers are led by seventh year head coach Tom Allen, who is in a make or break season after going 2-10 and 4-8 in the last two seasons. Allen has had an up-and-down tenure at IU, including seasons in 2019 and 2020 where he had the Hoosiers in bowl games in back-to-back seasons and ranked in the Top 25.

Indiana is 1-1 heading into Saturday’s game, losing to Ohio State in the season opener and beating Indiana State last Friday.

Indiana Offensive Outlook

After splitting time between Brendan Sorsby and Tayven Jackson, it was announced on Monday that Allen would be going with Jackson as his starting quarterback against Louisville.

Tayven Jackson is the younger brother of Indiana basketball standout Trayce Jackson-Davis, and transferred in after spending last season at Tennessee. He headlines a transfer class that was 19th overall (per 247Sports) and second in the Big Ten behind Michigan. Jackson did show some good stuff against Indiana State last week, showcasing nice touch on his throws and poise for someone with little collegiate experience up to this point.

I’m not sure whether IU’s other starter, Brendan Sorsby, will take snaps at quarterback against Louisville. It wouldn’t surprise me but Jackson looked like he had a better grasp of the offense in last week’s game, and at some point, Allen is going to have to stick with one quarterback for the season. Jackson has completed 73.1% of his passes to Sorsby’s 53.1% and nearly doubled him in yards per attempt (10.0 v. 5.2 YPA).

They have a dynamic playmaker in Jaylin Lucas at running back, who is a speedster and among the best returners in the Big Ten. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry last season and had two kickoff return touchdowns as a freshman, so Louisville will need to key on him and prevent big plays. Former Michigan and Wake Forest running back Christian Turner (ten carries, 40 yards, TD) and Josh Henderson (15 carries, 65 yards, TD) gives the Hoosiers a solid group of running backs to rotate for their running game.

Indiana does get leading receiver Cam Camper (46 rec., 569 yards, two TDs in 2022) back from last year’s group, but he left last week’s game with an injury. Freshman Omar Cooper is coming off a 100-yard outing last week and should be another key target for Jackson, especially if Camper isn’t able to go for Saturday’s game.

Players to Watch: QB Tayven Jackson (73% completion, 260 passing yards); RB Jaylin Lucas (21 car., 112 yards, two TDs)

Indiana Defensive Outlook

Indiana’s defense has been a solid unit through the first two games. They were single handedly the reason why the Hoosiers kept it respectable against Ohio State in the season opener. That’s not even talking about last week’s game versus Indiana State, where the Sycamores were completely outmatched and only had 93 total yards (and as an aside, their only points through their first two games came on a 75-yard fumble return against Indiana).

Indiana’s front seven will be the focal point of Saturday’s game, and they have a very solid defensive lineman / linebacker pairing in Andre Carter and Aaron Casey. Carter was one of Indiana’s biggest gets in the transfer portal this offseason and so far he has played up to his billing; he had 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks last season at Western Michigan to earn second-team All-MAC honors, he’s already at four TFLs and a sack through two games. Carter is a versatile, big defensive end (6’4″, 270+ lbs.) that will play along the edge but can play inside if needed.

Indiana also returned Aaron Casey at linebacker, who led the team in tackles (86) and TFLs (10.5) last season. He’s a sideline to sideline player that can disrupt and make plays in the backfield. Louisville will have to keep tabs on him as he can affect their gameplan with both pass coverage and run stopping ability. IU also added Lanell Carr in the portal from West Virginia to bolster their depth there.

Their secondary has been pretty solid through the first two games, not allowing a passing touchdown through two games and holding opponents to 5.5 yards per attempt. Philip Dunnam is the name to watch at safety, with 14 tackles and an interception so far. He’ll be tasked with keeping Louisville’s explosive plays limited.

Players to Watch: DL Andre Carter (four TFLs, sack); LB Aaron Casey (18 tackles, TFL, PBU)

Things to Watch For

  • Will Indiana open up the playbook with Jackson at quarterback?

With the Hoosiers committing to Jackson at quarterback, one of the things I’ll be intrigued to see is if offensive coordinator Walt Bell will call plays as he did last week against Indiana State. He opened the playbook for Jackson in comparison to the season opener and allowed him to take shots downfield, while also leaning on Indiana’s depth at running back to physically set the tone against Indiana State.

I would expect IU to try and get Lucas some off tackle runs and quick passes to get him in space and create big play opportunities for him. Louisville will need to set the edge and have solid open field tackling on the perimeter to keep Lucas from going off.

  • Can Louisville’s offensive line continue to set the tone for their offense?

A huge reason for Louisville’s success on offense has been the offensive line, which has played superb to start the season. The Cardinals have allowed just one sack and four tackles for loss in the first two games, while helping the rushing attack go for 227 and 344 yards against Georgia Tech and Murray State, respectively.

And it has paid dividends for Jawhar Jordan, who is averaging an insane 16.5 yards per carry so far. There will be a coming down period at some point simply because such a gaudy YPC is hard to maintain, but Jordan’s big play ability cannot be denied. Especially when the Hoosiers allowed 143 yards and two touchdowns to Ohio State in the season opener, and so far it looks like their weak point given how solid their secondary has looked.

If Louisville’s offensive line can manage to continue their hot streak, Jordan could have another solid outing on the ground and it would help Plummer get the ball to his playmakers at receiver.

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