Hoosiers’ offense looks to finish on high note

OAKLAND, Calif. — Richard Lagow isn’t used to hearing it.

“Good throw, 21,” Indiana coach Tom Allen will say after Lagow, his starting quarterback, completes a well-thrown ball in practice.

For many months this year, it used to be the other way around.

“When I make a good play, I’m used to him yelling at Rashard Fant, or whoever it might be (on the other end),” Lagow said. “It’s fun.”

Now, entering his first game as IU’s coach, Allen is balancing his approach and offering encouragement to an Indiana offense that could use a boost. After an up-and-down, largely inconsistent season, IU’s offensive players recognize the opportunity waiting before them.

It’s the chance to end this season on a high note.

“That’s one thing we’ve been stressing and talking about,” running back Devine Redding said. “We’ve had a lot of energy at practice trying to get things back to the way they were, as far as having tempo. We’re trying to get everything back and jumpstarted again.”

That means more consistent passing from Lagow, better blocking from IU’s offensive line and, generally, improved efficiency across the board.

That’s especially true when it comes to finishing drives, an area where the Hoosiers struggled perhaps more than any other during the regular season.

In a postseason game against No. 19 Utah, they’ll have to cash in.

Indiana’s 3.54 points per trip inside the 40-yard line ranked 125th nationally this season, so part of the team’s pre-bowl preparation focused on completing plays in the red zone and making the most of opportunities around the goal line.

“Efficiency, finishing drives, having tempo, we worked on a little bit of everything,” Redding said. “Hopefully, it translates to the game and we can get some things started and feel good going into the offseason.”

For his part, Allen said he hasn’t looked to make sweeping changes to Indiana’s offense ahead of the postseason.

At least not yet.

He’s allowing offensive coordinator Kevin Johns to call the game and take control of personnel. So Allen, by and large, will limit his offensive input to determining whether to go for it on fourth down, or similar situations that affect the whole team. To date, his most noticeable input has been felt through his uplifting words during practice.

“Now it’s kind of interesting where we do competition vs. the defense,” receiver Nick Westbrook said. “He can’t be one-sided. Even though he is, he’s rooting for the defense, but now he gives us some leeway. If we’re doing the two-minute drill, he’ll be like, ‘Oh, that was a first down.’ It’s interesting to be able to compete with them.”

Defenders see it differently.

“I’ve kind of been giving him crap about it because he’s being a little nice to the offense, even though he used to be our (defensive coordinator),” defensive tackle Nate Hoff said with a smile.

But just as Indiana required its defense to make the necessary improvements this season, it still needs its offense to be capable of scoring points when called upon, especially in the postseason against a ranked opponent.

Allen has said repeatedly this month that one of his few requests for the offensive staff is to make sure the Hoosiers establish the run. He appreciates a balanced offense, one that can take advantage of a solid receiving corps and a strong-armed quarterback.

But Allen is also adamant about IU’s ability to run with authority. Injuries and general inconsistencies have been blemishes along the offensive line all season, leading to a rushing attack that ranks 114th in the country in success rate (38.1 percent).

Allen wants that to change.

“That’s where I feel like we have to do a better job of finishing those runs this year, protecting the football and being great in the red zone,” Allen said. “That’s going to be our emphasis in the bowl game.”

And if the Hoosiers can follow through, the offense will carry a greater sense of worth into the offseason despite some of this season’s struggles.

“It’s a great chance to go out with a bang,” Lagow said.

7 comments

  1. It would be great to see the Offense to be efficient and scoring lots of points but it won’t be easy against the Utes defense. The offense did well at times against some strong defenses so this could be the game they put it together.

    It would be great to see the offense, defense, and special teams playing well together and showing how good this team could be.

  2. I think they will have to run the football and rely on defense. R.L . is who he is. Hopefully, he can have a good game for him but I do not see overnight changes in his ability. I think that is why K.W. often played close to the vest with the run when he could have opened up with the pass (often when K.W. did open up with R.L. it was a negative outcome).

  3. all the encouragement in the world, cannot improve Richard Lagow poor mechanics (proper feet position, throwing motion)….the only thing encouragement can improve and its a maybe, is helping Richard find the secondary receiver and improve some of his decision making ability….i am hoping that all of Richard Lagow problems are gone, but i cannot see that happening in such a short period of time. If he only commits two interception in this Foster Farms Bowl, i will consider that an improvement, maybe a major improvement. Richard Lagow is to inconsistent. winning this game will depend on the running game (Devine Redding)….i would like to really express my deepest thanks for the team working and serving the homeless…really was a great moment, to do that around Christmas.

  4. IU79, his problems came from Johns changing his footwork and throwing motion. His films from JC were much different and Johns screwed it up trying to change his throwing motion and footwork. He got the ball out of his hands quick and was on target for most passing plays. I hope the lay-off and being coached by someone than Wilson helps him do better.

    When Lagow had a running game he threw zero ints the last two games before Purdue. He will be challenged by King in Spring practice because he has a strong accurate arm or maybe Ramsey.

  5. I hope I win the Lottery, but it is highly unlikely. We must remember that Lagow is a grown man in his early twenties, not some kid a year out of High School. The the longer a person has been doing something a certain way, the longer it takes for them to change. I have no idea why anyone would attempt to change a mature Quarterback’s throwing motion and/or footwork in the time between Spring Football and summer camp, but if that’s what Johns attempted to do, no wonder R.L. has thrown so many INTs this year. That was bound to be counter-productive.

    IU can beat Utah if it wins the “take-away” battle.

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