Interception study helps Lagow ahead of bowl trip

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.”

14 comments

  1. The QBs may have a ne coach next year depending on coach Allen’s new hire coach Grant Heard is assigned. He comes from Ol Miss where he coached WR. His experience is at schools where coach Allen coached. He has coached QBs along with being a passing game coordinator until moving to Ole Miss where he coached WR.

    I don’t know what this means about our current coaching staff but clearly some changes are coming. Coach Heard is someone Coach Allen has coached with and knows well so he will be a good fit for what coach wants our offense to look like as a spread offense.

  2. I like this introspective look back for RL during the interruption of play between seasons end and the Bowl game. I certainly have no way to know how big the positive impact will be but it will be positive. Also see the OL as benefiting from the shut down between competitions, particularly LT Cronk and C Rogers. Also for the team as a whole weight loss through the season will be regained as muscle. I am sure S&C Coach Caton made that a focus. Feel like a little kid waiting for the 28th to see what will be in a couple of aspects a different IU team play Utah.

  3. Has Grant Heard officially been hired by IU? I can’t find confirmation through a Google search.

    According to 247 Sports, Heard was/is getting paid $180,000 by Ole Miss as the receivers’ coach. Is he coming to IU for the same job? If so, how much did IU offer to pay him to make what would appear to be a lateral move? Unless he just really loves working with Allen, or was in trouble at Ole Miss, or is getting a significant increase in pay, I”m struggling to understand Heard’s motivation to leave his alma mater and take the identical job at IU?

  4. Thanks, Jeremy. I’m guessing that when it become official, Mr. Heard will be more than just a Receivers Coach for IU. Otherwise, the move does not make any sense.

  5. Po, if I had to bet I would bet Heard comes in as QB coach like he was prior to Old Miss. It will be interesting to see what coaching changes are made after the bowl game.

  6. I agree with the lateral move (and leaving alma mater) seems odd. My thought was he will be named OC. I do not think he is in trouble at Ole Miss, that usually comes out and Glass can’t afford that after Wilson’s departure.
    I had not thought about a pure pay raise as motivation. If he were making $180,000/yr and we offered (pure speculation) $250,000/yr I would move also.

  7. Having lived in the South most of my life I can tell you that, even in 2016, being an interracial couple in Mississippi can be difficult. Heard’s wife is the former Renata Nowacki, a tall blond Canadian.

    There are plenty of people in Mississippi who would try to make their life unpleasant. For most reasonable people that would be enough to prompt a change of scenery

  8. I do feel he could be a possible OC. Either Watson or Johns move on. Or both. Only room for 1 of them on the staff. I do hope Johns stays because what he learned about offense being with Wilson for 6 years plus the time working for him as WR coach at NW is not an ordinary commodity and damn hard to replace. I think continuity of staff will be a large part of the criteria in Allen’s decision. Also who can best coach throwing QB’s that can also run. Something Allen professes he wants in the offense.

  9. HC, we have three QBs maybe four that can run and throw which includes Lagow based on how he scrambled in JC, King and Ramsey are QBs that can run and throw. Personally I would prefer Johns not calling plays unless it was Wilson pushing play calling and making bad choices in the Red zone or on third and fourth downs. I will wait until after the bowl game to see what the play calling is like. The WR don’t show they are being taught how to run routes to get open as they run straight routes and make one cut from what I can see on TV.

    Heard has called passing plays in his coaching career that Johns has seen up close at the schools both coached. It will be interesting how the staff works out and we will have to wait until after the bowl game. I do hope most of the coaches stay and keep some continuity going.

  10. Don’t see where we disagree much. King and Ramsey are why I said what I did about who would coach the QB’s moving forward. Wilson said he took over most of the play calling in 2016 about the 4th game and has always been responsible for 4th downs tries. As far as WR’s I felt timing throws to a particular spot were left out of the playbook for RL’s 1st year in the B1G. Johns has coached more complicated pass routes in the past. Heard being OC bothers me for only 1 reason, he’s never done it in the B1G.

  11. Well, Allen has never been a head coach in the Big. And Wilson had never been a head coach in the Big before he was hired by IU. Talent is talent, and it finds a way to rise to the top and achieve results. If Allen is a good judge of talent and character for assistant coaches, he’ll do just fine. I think what’s more important than Big Ten experience for Allen is surrounding himself with talented people who will compliment his philosophy and work in harmony with his other assistants. Until this last year, I never thought Wilson’s offensive philosophy worked in harmony with the reality of his defenses. I mean the hurry-up, fast paced offenses he deployed were fun to watch and chalked up some gaudy numbers, but they were often at odds with IU’s young, inexperienced, and under-sized defenses. Countless times over much of Wilson’s tenure at IU, either when IU’s offense went three and out, or scored quickly, taking all of 60 seconds or less for an offensive series, IU’s young, small and exhausted defense would be right back on the field getting worn out or immediately giving up a huge, back-breaking play. Mid-way through the third quarter, IU’s defense was often physically spent, and could no longer stop anyone. I believe Wilson’s insistence on running a hyper-fast paced offense at IU, regardless of his defenses, was often counter-productive and cost him some important wins. The 2015 Michigan game, played in Bloomington, comes to mind. I hope Allen’s teams will establish greater harmony between the offense and defense.

  12. I wanted to finish up my post. Lagow isn’t the kind of QB that is like OSU or PSU has but can run a limited read option scheme. Other than Ramsey, IU will have to recruit QBs that are dual threat QB if that is the type of offense coach Allen wants to run. I would love to see IU run that type of offense as it is a great running offense but can be a great passing offense too. Interesting changes coming and we won’t know until Spring Break what direction IU’s offense is going other than some type of spread fast paced offense.

  13. A HC from the D side of the ball is exactly why GH is a worry to me as OC. Somewhat as the D side was for Wilson. Possibly the same results in reverse. Holding the opponent to 12 points and only scoring 9. It still is a worry to me to have an untested OC.

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