Indiana is looking to make its third straight bowl appearance for the first time since the 1980s, and coach Tom Allen could have a strong offense on his hands. The Hoosiers will return one of the Big Ten’s best quarterbacks in Michael Penix Jr., and they added a key transfer at running back as well — former USC tailback Stephen Carr, who was a five-star recruit in the 2017 class.

Carr brings nice upside to the position despite not having put up major statistics at USC. With a change of scenery, he could be the talented and experienced option that Indiana is looking for.

Indiana listed Carr as the first-string running back on its first depth chart of the season Monday, and Allen openly acknowledged that Carr has earned the starting job.

“I think for him at that position it became pretty obvious,” Allen said. “There’s no doubt, he came here and knew he had to earn that, and I believe that he has. But we’re going to play a lot of guys at that position — always have, always will. But he will be the starter for Game 1, and I feel like that, once again, it was really from Day 1 he came here with zero entitlement at all, knew he had to earn the spot, ready to work, total team guy. Not just in his words. His words definitely were that way, but his actions, and that’s what I look for and just body language and just how hard does he practice and how hard does he work on special teams and during those drills and those things that we ask him to do in those areas.

“But a room that we really are excited about and he has elevated himself within that room. And love how he practices, just even watching him during our last couple of days. We have been going with some spider practices and just going full speed and finishing runs out. So that’s what you want in all the guys, and that’s the standard that Coach McCullough has set in that room. But, yeah, excited for him and feel like that he is a guy that I think that even in that room and in all the opposite side of the football everybody would agree that he has earned it.”

Carr never made it to the 400-yard mark in any of his four seasons at USC, although he did contribute all four years. He has flashed some added utility in the passing game as well as a receiver out of the backfield — he topped out at 23 receptions for 143 yards and one touchdown over 10 games in 2019.

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Indiana will kick off the 2021 season with an extremely difficult opener: at Iowa on Saturday.

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