BLOOMINGTON – Indiana football coach Tom Allen said the offense was ahead of the defense in its second intrasquad scrimmage Saturday, but all three phases still need improvement before IU’s season opener Oct. 24 at Memorial Stadium against No. 9 Penn State (3:30 p.m., FS1).
“It was pretty balanced, back and forth, but just from an objective perspective, I didn’t like that we missed some tackles on defense,” Allen said. “I thought we jumped off-sides too many times, did not have any illegal procedures on offense, so I’d give the edge to the offense.”
Allen said IU was able to achieve its goal of getting 50 snaps for the ones and twos on the depth chart. Offensively, freshman wide receiver Javon Swinton continued to stand out, while redshirt sophomore receiver Jacolby Hewitt had a TD catch. Hewitt is coming off ACL surgery that sidelined him the entire 2019 season.
“I am really excited for him because he has worked extremely hard,” Allen said.
Allen said Swinton continues to show maturity and an ability to process information within the offense.
“He is very talented in the ball skill area,” Allen said. “He is able to make difficult catches at times and consistent catches. Sometimes guys can make those tough catches and they drop the ones that are right there, but he has been very consistent in all those areas.”
On the offensive line, Allen said position battles remain open, with senior Mackenzie Nworah, Stanford grad transfer Dylan Powell and redshirt freshman Mike Katic all battling for the two starting guard spots. On defense, safety Devon Matthews continues to show growth, Allen said, while defensive end Jovan Swann and linebacker Aaron Casey played well in the front seven.
Allen feels comfortable with the linebacker rotation, with Micah McFadden, James Miller and Thomas Allen in the middle and Cam Jones and Casey on the weak side.
“Those five guys give us the most amount of experience,” Allen said. “That is going to be competitive and continue to be. Their attention to detail, how well they run the defense, how well they hit the run fits … they are all going to have to play.”
In addition to more penalties, Allen said the tackling wasn’t as crisp as it was in the first scrimmage. That’s something the Hoosiers are looking to fix, considering they will face the talented Penn State running back duo of Journey Brown and Noah Cain in less than two weeks.
“That is a concern and I think the overall stamina and conditioning,” Allen said. “You can tell that the defenses in some of the games I watched are fatigued. It becomes so difficult to be able to concentrate, make checks, communicate with the guys and get in good position when your body is worn down. Making critical stops and tackles in space and all those kinds of things …
“Defensively, it is the physicality part of it. It is hitting both sides of the ball. We have lifted more during this preparation period than we have in the past, trying to get our bodies ready. They just have to go do it. There are no ramp-up games.”
IU announced its latest COVID-19 testing results within the football program Monday. Since camp began, there have been 3,016 negative tests and four positive tests, two involving student workers and two involving student-athletes. There are currently no active cases. … Allen mentioned freshman David Baker and sophomore Luke Shayotovich as two more wide receivers who stood out during Saturday’s scrimmage. … Allen announced freshman offensive lineman Kahlil Benson is sidelined for the season after suffering a torn ACL in practice. “He will be having surgery here soon,” Allen said. “I hate that for him, but he is an awesome young man, and we have big plans for him. He is going to be a very good player for us, and that has not changed and will not change.”