Self-review part of Lagow’s prep for Michigan State

It couldn’t wait until Sunday.

To understand the moments where the 33-28 loss to Wake Forest hours earlier had gone wrong, to reconcile a program-best passing performance with the hiccups that allowed Indiana’s offense to come undone, Richard Lagow sat around Mitchell Paige’s Bloomington apartment on Saturday night and diagnosed the problems.

“Alright, we need to figure out what was going on,” Lagow told Paige. “We need to learn from this.”

So that’s what they did.

Indiana’s quarterback reconvened with a few of his receivers not long after the game had ended and they watched the film together. Nick Westbrook, who also lives with Paige, was there. So, too, was fellow receiver Luke Timian.

This wasn’t a formal study session so much as it was a conversation — an opportunity to form their own diagnosis of the loss before Indiana coach Kevin Wilson delivered his postmortem during the next day’s meeting.

“We watched the whole game and went through it,” Paige said. “We let Rich just talk himself through things and talk to us about things. It gave us a lot of confidence in him. I think our feedback gives him confidence in us.”

Across the last couple days, Lagow’s response to a five-interception, 496-yard throwing performance has been to Wilson’s liking. Wilson wasn’t aware that his quarterback and receivers met on their own to break down their shortcomings in Saturday’s game.

But when informed of the meeting on Monday, Wilson admitted he wasn’t surprised.

“We did talk after the game about not being negative,” Wilson said. “Permanently, they need to own their performance — personally address it and come back with better body language and better mindset. Let’s correct what’s correctible and control what we can control.”

There’s plenty Indiana can control. That includes leveling an offense that may not be far from tapping into its potential.

Indiana will enter Big Ten play on Saturday night ranked sixth in the Big Ten in scoring offense (30.7 points per game) — a modest standing given the firepower and approach deployed by Wilson.

On the other hand, IU is first in the league in passing offense (334 yards per contest) and second in overall pass efficiency (157.1), highlighting just how close this team is to fully opening up its offensive toolbox and reaping the rewards.

The interceptions Saturday were the obvious roadblock to realizing offensive fruition, but while Lagow is blaming himself, Wilson refuses to stack similar blame on his quarterback.

Wilson maintained that Lagow was primarily at fault for only one of the five interceptions Saturday. That would’ve been his fourth pick of the day, a ball he threw right into the waiting arms of a Wake Forest linebacker standing in front of intended receiver Nick Westbrook.

“It’s against one of my laws of physics,” Wilson said. “Laws of physics says a football cannot travel through a person. You know? The quarterback always wants to stick it through there. It don’t work.”

Otherwise, Wilson pointed to the two picks that were deflected off the hands of IU receivers. Another came after Lagow absorbed a hit as he threw. Wilson once again pinned the fifth and final pick to himself Monday, saying he called a play that hadn’t been practiced enough.

As a whole, Indiana’s offense is not where it feels it should be right now.

The problems are recognizable. So, too, is the promise.

“There are still some things we’re doing where we’re kind of unsure,” Paige said. “We’re not really letting it rip and going after people like we’re used to at this school. There’s just got to be a little more watching film during the week by everybody, a little more communication between Rich and receivers. Because there’s some plays being left on the field, points being left out there that we need to get.”

Hence the urgency of Saturday night’s informal film session, and the yearning of a quarterback and his receivers to understand what went wrong and where they go from here.

One comment

  1. This doesn’t point to the biggest problem right now and that has been the play of the OL all year. They haven’t come together and meshed yet as they haven’t established the LOS in any game so far. As a result our running game and point total have been less than expected so far, along with giving up more sacks this year than in the past.

    Lagow does need to get his slants down lower as IU receivers aren’t NFL quality that will catch slants with their hands. Getting the passes down will give the receivers a chance to catch the ball with their body and if not then there is less chance of the ball being deflected. Our receivers need to go after the football instead of letting defenders step inside the route.

    Our defense is doing well and only giving up four TDs in three games. They can improve with their tackling and getting sacks. They are much better with our new DC and will be much better with new recruits coming in.

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