Richard Lagow took his last final of the semester on Thursday morning.
In between his academic work this month, Lagow completed studies of a different kind.
At the behest of his recently-promoted position coach Shawn Watson, the junior quarterback took time to review all 16 of his interceptions from the regular season. With plenty of downtime leading into the Dec. 28 Foster Farms Bowl matchup with No. 19 Utah, Lagow wanted to understand his flaws.
So he sat in front of the screen and reviewed each of those errors, seeking to learn what went wrong and how those issues can be fixed ahead of the final game of the year.
“That was big,” Lagow said, “just looking back and learning from all those.”
Lagow is second in the Big Ten with 264.5 passing yards per game and is third with 19.9 completions per contest.
But he was also second in picks.
The film work provided clarity about those mistakes. Lagow found his errors were fixable, noticing little things that can be honed and corrected. With the intensity of practices ramping up and the team set to depart for Santa Clara, Calif. on Friday, that is what Lagow has aimed to do.
“It wasn’t anything like one huge issue,” Lagow said. “It was just something little here or something little there that was easy to clean up.”
Working with Watson has helped, too.
Watson, a former offensive coordinator at Texas, Louisville, Nebraska and Colorado, spent the past nine months serving as a quality control coach for the Hoosiers. He’s also previously specialized in mentoring quarterbacks, like he did with Teddy Bridgewater during his three seasons on the Cardinals’ staff.
Lagow said Watson’s tutelage has helped his growth this month. Prior to former coach Kevin Wilson’s departure on Dec. 1, while Watson served in a background, non-coaching role, offensive coordinator Kevin Johns functioned as both the quarterbacks and receivers coach.
Freeing Johns to spend more time with receivers has allowed Watson to dedicate time to more details of the quarterback position.
The two men, player and coach, have already formed a nice bond.
“(Previously) he was just a calming voice, really,” Lagow said. “That was the biggest role he played for me on Saturdays, at least. He’d get on the headset or something and talk about, ‘You’re good. Calm down.’ Even in practice, that’s kind of his mentality. He comes off like that. He’s not real loud. He doesn’t scream or anything like that. He’s just a really calm guy. he’s easy to listen to and he’s easy to take corrections from because he’s good at that.”
Accepting constructive criticism is what Lagow wants from this month, which affords the IU starting quarterback and his teammates extra practice time to continue working.
Under new coach Tom Allen, Indiana spent the first couple weeks of this month recharging and focusing solely on themselves. Allen didn’t want to dedicate an entire month toward preparing for the Utes for fear of getting stale.
So the period of self-reflection seemed to be time well spent for everybody, Lagow included.
Lagow’s regular season was defined by crests and troughs, including five games that saw him throw multiple interceptions. He was picked five times against Wake Forest, three times against Purdue and twice each against Nebraska, Northwestern and Rutgers.
He flashed impressive arm strength at times, but too frequently missed open receivers and appeared erratic in critical situations.
When he was on the mark, however, he could be brilliant.
Indiana will hope that version of Lagow appears for four quarters against Utah next week, and after spending the past couple weeks tending to himself, Lagow feels he can deliver.
He’s not alone.
“You can definitely see that he’s matured a lot over the season,” receiver Nick Westbrook said. “These practices have really shown it.”