Insider Q&A: IU's offense has too few playmakers. So why not see more Jaylin Lucas?

IU's frustrating loss at Nebraska bled into the Postgame Q&A. Your questions were understandably pointed. We tried to provide some answers:

So this question is a little bit simplistic (not very; IU really was shut out in the second half). But it hits at something I think was laid bare Saturday.

We've certainly recognized by now how important Cam Camper and D.J. Matthews are to this offense. The former missed the game with an illness. The latter was clearly questionable after last week's injury, and tried warming up before being sidelined.

Point is, Indiana had at least some time to sit with the idea it would be without both players Saturday. And while Andison Coby and Emery Simmons did their best to fill in, the lack of comfort in making anyone else a showpiece player in this offense was clear.

'We beat ourselves.'IU loss to Nebraska shows a team without a lot of answers

Programs like this one thrive on playmakers. They can't count on a baseline level of talent that will stack them up against the best in the Big Ten East, or change tight games for them on the road. They need to know who they can rely on to make key plays at key times, and ensure those players see the ball when they need to. This offense still hasn't got enough of that.

In fairness to Walt Bell, five games isn't enough time to answer every possible question about your offense. Especially given the offseason turnover Indiana experienced. But the season doesn't work that way. Indiana's best shot at bowl eligibility counts on winning at least two games this month, and Saturday was gettable until IU's offense let it get away. That can't happen again.

Piggybacking off the previous question ... you don't want to make too much out of one play. And in moments like this, when a freshman makes one outstanding play but doesn't see a lot more action, I'm compelled to remind people Tevin Coleman only had 225 rushing yards his freshman year, and just one game with more than seven carries (which was UMass). In other words, freshman running backs don't always get big roles, even the promising ones.

That said, what you saw from Lucas on Saturday night, we saw in fall camp. Not all the time, but enough to wonder how quickly he might translate it to the game field. Lucas' cameo Saturday suggests he ought to get more touches in whatever form the staff can find. On an offense still seeking playmakers, Lucas has the potential to be one.

I get the sentiment. The problem is tempo is designed to speed games up to wear opponents down. If you start adjusting it to compensate for what it's doing to your team, it loses its efficacy.

Now, if your point is that Indiana's offense isn't efficient and effective enough to give its defense a rest, at any speed, that's fair. But when the offense is built around speed, you can't just remove that and expect better results. You have to strike the balance between the needs of both sides of the ball. Indiana hasn't done that yet.

Don't mention procedural stuff a lot in here, but this felt pertinent. Cameras even caught Connor Bazelak pretty emphatically motioning to a receiver that he needed to come back to the ball on a scramble that turned into an incomplete pass.

Receivers can't run scramble drills on every snap. But they can't blindly route-run for seconds at a clip either. If you have an offensive line that's prone to the occasional breakdown, you have to know where the top of your route is, and when it's time to break it off, look for your quarterback and then try to find space for him to deliver you the ball.

Even as media, there's a lot we'll never know about game plans, personnel groupings, play calls and the motivation behind all those things.

But I do think it's fair to say that in any instance, this should never happen. And if it does, the reasons for the breakdown in communication that lead to it must be dealt with.

I think it's fair at this point to take them at their word. Camper did normal media availability Monday, something he probably wouldn't have done had he been in doubt for this game at the time. For the moment this does just feel like a non-injury illness availability issue. And we're told it's not COVID-related.

There's a great pumpkin patch in Fowler. But it's open Sundays as well.

Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: IU football vs. Nebraska: Postgame Q&A after Hoosiers' loss in Lincoln