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Allen: Offense outplayed defense during 1st scrimmage

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Skill players shine during IU’s first practice game of fall camp

Indiana v Florida International Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Tom Allen came out of Saturday’s first scrimmage of the preseason with one overarching takeaway.

The offense outperformed the defense.

For the IU head coach, that was good to see — particularly because he went into the intrasquad game feeling like the defense had enjoyed more sustained head-to-head success during the first few padded practices of the week. But on Saturday, Allen saw an offense that blocked well, ran effectively and connected for some big gains through the air.

“I thought our offense did a really good job executing,” Allen said. “I thought our defense wasn’t as sharp as it probably needs to be.”

Perhaps the most encouraging component of the offense’s success on Saturday was the assertive play of running back Stephen Carr. The Southern California graduate transfer has emerged as the leading candidate for first-team duties as IU’s competition for carries continues into a second week. Although Indiana didn’t release any stats from the scrimmage, it appeared that Carr found the end zone at least twice in the contest, per a quick, 30-second highlight clip tweeted by the program’s official account.

“He does a lot of things well,” Allen said. “He can obviously run the football, but he can pass (protect) and he has really good hands and understands (the game). He has played a lot of football and understands how to run. Some guys just have that knack to them. He did some good things for sure.”

Allen was also pleased with the play of all three available scholarship quarterbacks, Michael Penix, Jack Tuttle and Donaven McCulley. The passing game was especially crisp for a first scrimmage, though that fact didn’t necessarily catch IU’s coaches off guard. The Hoosiers’ receivers, in particular, seemed to have a good few days of training leading into the weekend, giving IU’s passers some sure-handed targets to look for downfield.

“Just the timing on offense (impressed) — and you have kind of seen that coming the last couple of days with the things that we do with routes and all the things with the timing of our receivers and tight ends,” Allen said. “I like our tight ends room. I like our receivers room. Then the running backs, we have several guys there, as well. I think as a collective group, they put it all together, which is what you want to see.”

IU’s next scrimmage is set for Saturday, and by this time next week Allen expects to have a better idea of who will fit where on the two-deep.

“When you finish that second scrimmage,” Allen said, “I want to be able to challenge our coordinators (to be able to say) that this is what we feel good about, this is what we can execute on both sides of the football and special teams, and these are the guys that can execute it the best.”