Crimson beats Cream in overtime, 42-36

Indiana’s spring game went to overtime and Tom Allen couldn’t have been happier.

“I was thrilled,” Allen said.

To an extent, Allen saw it coming. When he sat down to grade the quality of the Cream and Crimson draft held earlier this week, Allen felt each side had the same number of positions where they held an advantage. Where Crimson may have had the stronger group of defensive linemen, Cream may have had the stronger group of receivers. And so on.

That it took a four-yard touchdown run by Alex Rodriguez to give the Crimson side a 42-36 victory in sudden death didn’t surprise the IU coach.

He was just glad the annual scrimmage came down to a pressure situation.

“I just wanted to put us in tough spots,” Allen said. “I want to be able to create that adversity. I want to be able to create that (pressure) on both the coaches and the players and see how we respond because, to me, that’s where we want to be.”

Thursday offered a glimpse into where this program stands four-plus months into the Allen era, with a revamped offensive coaching staff and a will to break through with the program’s first winning season since 2007.

Allen wants to instill in his players a pressure to deliver. That was apparent at perhaps the most important position — quarterback, where starter Richard Lagow experienced a range of highs and lows last season.

If it’s possible to gain any read from this unofficial football game in the middle of April, it’s that Indiana has at least two quarterbacks. Unofficially, Lagow finished 20-for-34 for 181 yards with an interception and a touchdown for the Cream team.

His Crimson counterpart, Peyton Ramsey, impressed in his first public showing since arriving on campus last summer. Unofficially, Ramsey completed 10 of his 17 passes for 92 yards, throwing for two scores, rushing for another and tossing an interception on the last play of the first half.

One of the takeaways from IU’s spring season is that Lagow is more sure of himself as a leader and as a passer. He also has a teammate who appears unwilling to settle for the backup job behind him.

“We all need that,” Allen said. “We all need to be pushed. We all need to feel that there’s somebody on my heels that keeps me sharp, keeps me attentive to the little things. But I’m not surprised at all with the way (Ramsey) played today.”

Ramsey, a 6-foot-2 redshirt freshman, scored on an 11-yard touchdown run that tied the game for Crimson at 7-7 with 4:45 left in the first quarter. He put Crimson ahead minutes later with a 23-yard strike to tight end Ian Thomas and later added a 10-yard touchdown pass on a fade to Taysir Mack, who caught the ball despite pass interference on the defense.

Ramsey moved well in the pocket and showed arm strength, throwing accuracy and good agility on the run, while taking the bulk of Crimson’s snaps in front of Austin King.

Although Thomas earned IU’s award for most improved offensive player this spring, and Lagow was the spring’s offensive most valuable player, consider Ramsey among the Hoosiers’ most intriguing players entering the summer.

“I think Peyton’s doing an amazing job,” Lagow said. “I think you saw tonight. He was able to make plays, he’s athletic, he’s smart, he takes care of the football. I think we push each other. It’s a little bit different because I’m the older guy in the room and he’s pretty young, and there’s still things he looks to learn from me from experience and stuff like that, but I think the world of that kid and think he has a really bright future.”

Intrigue wasn’t exclusive to the quarterback position. IU receivers Jonah Morris, Simmie Cobbs and Isaac James each made big plays — and those plays weren’t necessarily the result of them catching the ball.

James, a former quarterback at Carmel, completed a second-half pass to Ricky Brookins that went for 68 yards and helped set up the game-tying score for Cream.

Even hybrid safety Marcelino Ball got in on the offensive fun, taking a double-reverse 28 yards to open the second half. The play should have gone for a loss, but Ball danced and finessed his way through would-be tacklers to produce a big gain.

Allen wasn’t happy with the tackling on either side Thursday, but he had to be pleased seeing his offensive players gaining some traction to close the spring.

Those tricky plays were the result of some fun the Cream and Crimson sides had during Tuesday’s practice. Allen gave both teams privacy to simulate game preparation and gave them the liberty to install two tricks.

Those big gains were the result.

And on a night when Allen wanted to simulate as many live, regular-season situations as possible, explosive plays like those are what IU hopes to see more of when the games count for real.

Thursday was a start.


  1. Wow! Thoroughly enjoyed this Spring game as it was a good scrap. Clearly thought the Cream team on paper had the offensive superiority. But the Crimson QB Ramsey was the intangible that evened it up. He is the future at QB for the Hoosiers. As far as the present RL may get the nod but it could change by Fall. RL does show some experienced maturity from his 1st year as starter. IU is WR U. with additions Mack, Morris, James, Berry and TE Ian Thomas making their presence known. To bad RB’s were all banged up as only 3 played. After seeing Ball carry the ball in the open field I’d give him an opportunity to be a return man. There is now enough depth at the Husky position to showcase Ball’s talents even more often as the best player at IU by getting him on the field to produce some offense from ST’s along with his prowess on D. Cobbs is going to be a handful for any DB in the B1G but CB Riggins did well. Rodriguez and Brookings are gamers.

  2. this IU team is loaded at WR’s…..only hope IU has a QB that can get the football to the WR’s in the proper position (timing and accuracy -(balls not high, low and outside) – hitting receivers in stride) on a frequent percentage bases. Not negative here but this just looked like the same old Lagow in a different offense in this spring football game. IU has no option but to start Lagow this season. Hopefully Ramsey or King can develop into starting IU QB. I for one was spoiled by the play of Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson in recent years.

  3. Good point being RL should target Timian, Thomas, Mack and J-Shun Harris as I view them as the WR’s with the best hands.
    Just can’t continue to hold onto positive hope for Camion Patrick to help this team in 2017. He played sparingly in ’16’ having 9 receptions with a TD and 4 carries with a TD. But here he is missing again. His M.O. just does not give confidence to reliability.

  4. A lot to like in the Spring game. As noted, Ramsey should ability to both make plays with his legs and avoid defenders and make plays with his arm. Lagow showed that the problems he had last season- lack of vision, inability to find 2nd receivers and inability to avoid defenders are still problems now. Lagow clearly has the bigger arm and looks the part but Ramsey has more upside. Simmie Cobbs looked like a first round draft choice and Ian Thomas, bulked up from 220 to 250, looked NFL caliber as well. Allen Stallings did not sack Lagow but was disruptive and had several QB pressures and Tom Bolstad, the Bolstad Beast, looked liked the next Mitchell Paige- a walk on that is going to be a serious contributor to the team.

  5. Bottom line, there is no real issues at QB. However, at best IU is no better than just average at QB. I remember last year how everything was about how deep IU was at receiver. Then, S.C. was injured; next thing you know with QB inability and further dents and dings in receiving positions IU passing game was struggling mightily. Another season to look forward to with some degree of positive aspirations for 2017.

  6. It was a fun and exciting game to watch. I like the changes I saw with the offense so far. It is good to see TEs and RBs being used to stress defenses and give easier throws to the QBs.

    Ramsey showed he is capable of running this team and LaGow needs to show more improvement if he is to be the starter. Ramsey gives IU more fexibility on offense and seems to deliver a betterball to the receivers. the receivers have better depth this year than last year. t don’t forget that Westbtrook wasn’t available for this game yet more play makers showed up in the passing game. Without much question Mack gives the Hoosiers a real play maker to go along with Cobbs and Westbrook. The best news seems to be there are several others that looked like they could step up and be play makers themselves.

    It was really good to see the TE and RBs in the passing game. As the season starts up teams will be able to game plan for the passing game so TEs and RBs will give defenses more to worry about. It also gives them match up problems as players like Thomas with his increased size will be tough to handle.

    The defense looked very capable to be a force this Fall as the defense was split up yet there wasn’t a big drop off at any position. Riggins looks to be much better than last year and could really shut people down with his aggressive play. It was good to see Simmons on the field again making physical plays. I don’t know how much he will play but against running teams he could be a real force. I hope Fant’s injiry is slight so he doesn’t miss much training this Summer.

    I didn’t see much change in Lagow’s play but the change in offense will help him. I am not sold that he will be the starter though as Ramsey looks like he may be the more effective QB. If Ramsey becomes the stater it creates an interesting set up with Tronti coming in. IU goes from having Sudfeld and not much else to having a line of QBs being developed to run a program.

    How well the team performs in tight situations will determine how this season goes. I am looking forward to a good season for the Hoosiers.

  7. I am pleased with the emotional maturity that RL has demonstrated. Whether he has the physical skills to hold on to the starting job I do not know but he has certainly shown marked improvement as a leader.

  8. Based on comments from a couple of writers and a couple of posters, it sounds as if Lagow didn’t really look much different in the spring game than he looked last year, and that Ramsey looked better. The coaches comments, however, seem to support Lagow as the clear #1.

    I know it would be extremely hard for Ramsey to start in the opener against Ohio State, but I just can’t get excited about our offense being run by Lagow again. Too bad we don’t start off with a couple of easy teams where Ramsey could ease into playing OSU. There have been a number of redshirt QB’s around the country the last few years who have come in and led their teams to great years, and of course, even a couple of true freshman (think Alabama).

    Has anyone else noticed Lagow calling both Tronti and Ramsey kids in interviews with the press? I know Lagow has been around and is 22 years old, but Ramsey is 19 and has a year in the program. Just sounds a bit demeaning to me for Lagow to refer to both as a “kid”.

    1. I don’t know. I wouldn’t read too much into the vocabulary chosen by a 22 year old. I don’t think it was meant to be demeaning so much as he wants to be seen as a mentor.

      To be it sounds more like a young man whose coach has told him that he wants his quarterback to be a leader and this is him trying to do just that.

  9. No doubt it is good to have RB’s and TE’s used in the passing game, but situationally used is ideal. If not the opponents D starts coming off the edge with a rusher(s) since there is no one there to chip him off his target. It happens all the time in the B1G. Top TE’s used to regularly come out of Iowa, Meatchicken and MSU heading to the NFL. Even the Sooners put 3 in the league during Wilson’s time there. But edge rushing has become such a staple to the D disrupting passing offenses they just aren’t as available for receiving, although they are most valuable as the check down receiver. TE’s must have blocking and receiving assets to be solid contributors.
    That leads to Lagow. Lots of arm strength but what has always been complained about RL is getting his feet positioned right. Wilson always said big QB’s have to have good foot work. Still is a causing RL some off target throws. But better than last year. He also does not process through his procession as smoothly as even Ramsey does. But again he is better than last year. QB at IU is in pretty good shape. All in all the DEFENSE and skill positions of IU FB are in the very best position I’ve seen in 6+ decades and that is saying something in the era of the expanded B1G.

    1. I think that’s the whole point. The appearance of the ‘H back’ in offenses is to add to the confusion by inserting a TE/FB hybrid in the backfield.

      Glad to see some ‘toppings’ for our previously very vanilla offense. Even when they mixed in the Wildcat is still lacked misdirection and there was a 95% chance it was one of two running plays.

  10. It seems like all of us are in agreement about what we saw. If Lagow is the starter I hope they have Ramsey prepared to take over if Lagow isn’t having a good game. Ramsey and Tronti are going to have a real battle over the next few years. Ramsey played against out defense last year and won 5 scout player awards so I am not so sure he isn’t ready to face OSU’s defense.

    Its a shame we didn’t get to see the RBs that were injured to give us a better idea of who will step up to be the starter. I think A-Rod stepped up and deserves a chance at the starting spot. Brookins even looked good but he hasn’t sold me that he can be a B1G back on a regular basis but a good spot player. There are a lot of good things to take from the Spring game. It seems like they will break through this year if they get Lagow improved or play Ramsey at QB. Ramsey is respected by the players so there is no issue with him being the starter other than experience. King’s play was very disappointing because he has an outstanding arm but he looked lost in the offense where Ramsey looked comfortable and in charge.

    Maybe this year will be the year IU has a winning season, we will have to wait and see.

  11. V13- I did not have an opportunity to watch the game on TV, so I am glad you commented on King. I was wondering what had happened to him as his name was not mentioned in any of the newspaper accounts that I read. Kind of makes you wonder if he will stick around. Do you think he wasn’t getting as many reps as the other two during the Spring, or does he have trouble learning the offense or maybe just doesn’t put as much effort into learning it as Ramsey?

  12. Ranger 67 according to coaches all three QBs have been getting many reps in practice so I have to think King struggles to learn the offense. He sure didn’t get many reps after looking so lost. He never looked comfortable in the pocket and didn’t have a chance to show off his arm because of happy feet. To make matters worse he moved to avoid what he thought was a rush right into the pressure. Ramsey on the other hand moved away from the pressure and seemed comfortable in the pocket despite severe pressure. Watching all QBs Thursday Ramsey looked like the starting QB based on performance. Lagow did play the role of QB and leader much better than last year. However, he showed the same problems as last year. I was hoping he would show some improvement in his playing but I am not sure we saw any improvement other than in his leadership.

  13. Over the weekend watched again the Spring scrimmage. I got to say many past seasons in IUFB if we had an RB like Alex Rodriguez as our feature back we would all have been ecstatic. He is hard to bring down on 1st contact by twisting, turning and keeps moving his feet. He also regularly breaks arm tackles created by his quick moves just before contact. He is almost always leaning forward for more gain. He hangs onto the hog hide and does catch passes well. He as a walk-on may cause some other RB’s dreams of being in the RB rotation to diminish a level. I’ll bet Hart loved his production Thursday night.

  14. Thanks V13, I appreciate your response. I guess Allen needs to be careful about what he says about the QB’s until fall camp so he doesn’t create any controversy that might lead to one opting to go elsewhere. If Ramsey beats Lagow out in fall camp, there is not much Lagow could do except be a team player and try to help out.

  15. If there is anything Hoosier fans should appreciate it is the fact that you need more than one ‘starter quality’ quarterback. It’s a luxury we have rarely had.

  16. HC I agree about A-Rod and I think the Spring Game has moved him into contention for the starting spot. He may not be an elite RB but he is one that will keep the drive going and be hard to bring down. He is also a great example for the other RBs about how hard work elevates you to starting level at RB so coach Hart at least has a great example for the other RBs.

    Chet, yes it appears we have two starter quality QBs which is a good thing to have for a team.

  17. I predict Lagow will be the starter for the game against OSU. His experience has to give him the edge. It is my hope that after that game, the team’s performance will allow Allen to get some game experience in games 2 – 4. Then, if Lagow starts throwing INTs or gets injured, we’ll have a capable QB to run the offense. There is no substitute for game experience, especially at QB.

  18. Po, based on what the coaches have said I do expect Lagow to be the starter when the season starts. Ramsey would really have to move way ahead of Lagow to get the coaches to make a change. It is a shame because Brady went through the same thing in college going up against Henson a strong arm QB. I am not saying Ramsey is another Brady but how will we know how good he is just as UM didn’t know about Brady until his senior year. It would be great if Lagow does improve but with his performance in the Spring game he has played the same way his whole college career. At least with Tronti coming in IU will have two young QBs with the knack of lifting a team to play its best.

  19. It’s so easy to forget that these are just kids.

    Which 19 year old will end up being the next big thing?

  20. I’m from the camp that saw some uptick in the QB performance of RL in the Spring scrimmage. Something that could have gone flat line or backwards while navigating the change of a new HC, OC, QB Coach and system. 2 things make me believe we’ll see some improvement again come Fall. 1st he’ll have a combined/complete OL compared to last Thursday and 2nd the names Cobbs, Mack, Hale, Westbrook, Timian, Harris, James, Morris, Berry and TE Thomas, Bonner are going to be in fierce competition for playing time. That is to Lagow’s advantage. A dropped ball will cost a receiver this year. But I do expect Ramsey to improve during the same time frame. Move the calendar to August.

  21. HC, I see your point about Lagow, the improvement just wasn’t too big. My biggest concern was his inaccuracy barely above 50%. I did like how he hit the check off receivers in the middle, he did this several times. Lagow definitely has improved as a leader. I agree about receivers and drops as there will be real pressure with a strong receiver behind you wanting on the field.

    I want to see what OL develops and how they do against OSU. The DL is the strength of OSU’s defense and will be a real challenge for coach Hiller and the OL. They need to improve if IU is to have a good running game. It will help to have healthy RBs though.

    This could be the special team we have been waiting on as the defense will be solid and the offense is looking to be much better than it was in 2017. Lets go Hoosier and do the work this Summer to be an excellent team in the Fall.

    1. RL’s accuracy #’s were 20-34. Ramsey was 10-17. Lagow had the better WR’s but challenged the better defenders. Reasons I say he displayed some improvement. It is apparent DeBord is confident Sheridan can instruct RL to a higher level. Otherwise why did he make him his #1 free agent on his roster for the Spring scrimmage?

      1. It could have been a confidence builder for his returning senior QB. In a perfect world he wants him to be the guy.

        1. DeBord by putting his $ on Lagow also puts near all the practice snaps in his hands. He and Sheridan have made their determination and the Spring scrimmage lends them support. I would say they feel what Wilson felt about his possibilities.
          In an aside I would use Ramsey in several developed red zone packages to replace last seasons ‘shake n bacon’ where he offers other situational dynamics than RL does.

  22. It’s interesting how we get excited about a guy with a ‘big arm’.

    Jeff George had a big arm. Ryan Leaf had a big arm. Lots of bad quarterbacks have big arms.

    Tom Brady doesn’t. Peyton won a Super Bowl with almost no arm.

    If a guy can complete an ‘out’ he’s got enough arm.

  23. Chet, you are right about having a big arm, it doesn’t make you a good QB. Playing QB is making the players around you better by making good decision and being accurate with the ball. Some people worry about starting a redshirt or maybe a true freshman yet top teams have won with freshman QBs including OSU and Alabama.

    Don’t forget about Joe Montana as a great QB with just an ok arm. I would take a QB with an ok arm that has a knack for winning games over a big arm QB. The most critical asset is accuracy and as long as a QB is accurate he doesn’t need a big arm. Ramsey seems to be a QB with the knack of making plays and avoiding mistakes which is a starting QB in my book. We will have to wait and see how this breaks out this Fall.

    Coach Hart may be in the same delimma with his RBs. Several very good RBs seem to be injured often while A-Rod and Brookins step up and play every chance they get. Coach may have to look past talent and go with dependability. I am not saying eliminate all the RBs that missed the Spring Game but if they can’t get healthy and stay healthy they may need to be put in the back of the lineup.

    If things work to IU’s advantage this Fall, this team could be the one we have been waiting for so long. We will find out early on, first against OSU then VA, FL Int, GA Southern, how good this team can before hitting the rest of the B1G schedule.

  24. I’ll take a Jeff George or a Ryan Leaf type QB at IU any time. Those two guys were great college players that just did not make it in the NFL. But there are numerous variables, most of which are beyond the control of a QB coming out of college, that can determine if a QB makes it in the NFL. A strong arm is not the only attribute that matters, but everything else being equal, I’d rather have a QB with a strong arm than one with an average arm. With Lagow, he has to feel comfortable and confident before his strong arm can used to maximum value.

    1. Leaf was successful in college. He was money in the Rose Bowl.

      George was never anything more than a crappy quarterback with a big arm. Had he had unlimited eligibility he would have ended up at IU eventually, I’m sure.

  25. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a QB with more accuracy than Brady.

    In terms of accuracy, Marino would be the only competition to Brady. Marino was a surgeon. He completed many open heart surgeries on my Bears.

    Joe Willy Namath had a big arm. He also wore big cowboy boots and big fur coats….and walked down the big streets of NYC under big skyscrapers aided by big metal knee braces and a couple big celebrity supermodels or Playboy bunnies of latest big centerfold spreads providing appropriate balance to the happy stride underneath the big smile on his face.
    This was back in the days of an NFL that was simply big fun.

    Aaron Rodgers has a big arm. He’s pretty accurate as well.

    Jay Cutler has a big arm. He also powders his nose.

    Indiana Hoosiers? Have never lived up to playing in a conference with “Big” as a descriptor. Big arms on little teams. Big campus with little results. Big talk and same old little results. Big drain on basketball lore to play in little bowls.

    1. Marino was a stat machine but nobody ever made a living betting on the Fins to win on Sundays.

      A lot of people liked to hang that label on Peyton, as well, but the Colts and Broncos usually won.

  26. Archie Manning(and possibly Archie Miller) could have won the Super Bowl with that Broncos defense.

    And just about any NFL QB could have won a Super Bowl going up against the Bears with the disaster known as Rex Grossman.

    1. Yeah, because the Super Bowls were the only games he ever played in.

      Fins fans would have settled for preseason wins. Any kind of win. A coin toss.

  27. If Lagow is the starter, IU needs an explosive back like Gest or a healthy Patrick. Lagow has shown he is not a running threat and throws poorly if pressured. If I’m Ohio State, I blitz him every play. He can’t burn you with his legs and he is prone to mistakes when pressured. The best way to overcome that is an explosive back (think Tevin Coleman). If Gest or Patrick could get a few long runs, it could keep OSU more honest. Otherwise, I’d expect a constant supply of blitzes.

  28. 123, I agree about needing an explosive back but that would help any QB. Lagow especially needs one unless the OL is so good they can give him 5 seconds to throw the ball every pass play. Besides players like Patrick and Gest, Natee can be an explosive back himself if he can learn to run behind his pads instead of so upright. He won’t be the explosive type to score anywhere on the field but explosive to gain 10 or more yards by running over players.

    IU needs every player to be healthy and playing up to their ability. After 2017 IU will have two mobile QBs with Ramsey and Tronti. They will have interesting battles over the next few years with their demeanor, leadership, passing ability, and running ability. The 2017 team needs our explosive players to be available every play as there are several at RB and receiver. It will be interesting to see if any freshman can break through to be a starter and provide explosive plays for the team.

  29. Natee has a long way to go to reach ‘explosive’. I understand that it had a lot to do with the offensive sets but ‘lumbering’ would be much more accurate.

  30. Chet, Natee has quick feet and faster than we saw last year. If running over tacklers is lumbering then he has a chance to being lumbering every play. I call picking up 12 or more yards before the defense knows it is explosive but you are right he has a way to get there. There was a reason Wilson said he could be the next Ron Dayne based on how he was doing in practice. In the next couple of years, I hope he developes into a dangerous RB for our opponents.

  31. V, honestly I remember him doing that the first game using those sets and a couple times afterward but, for most part, once it had been seen I remember him being stuffed. Diamont had a few breakaways but once the D was ready Natee didn’t do much. I’m pretty sure that’s why we saw it less and less.

  32. Chet I know that is why they stopped using the “legs and bacon” but he got stuffed because: #1 the OL didn’t block very well #2 he was too upright for using the power of his legs. Getting Natee into a different offense, with some options besides him, would get him making D players to miss him; instead the majority of defense focused on him. He has good feet and I hope coach Hart gets him running behind his pads to run over a player or two. Giving him some space in the OL with blocks on the LBs he will find the hole and run over a player or two. As a former QB he runs too upright and he needs to have RB skills with forward lean. He can avoid a tackler and with forward lean he can run over a player. Wilson’s offense with Natee and Diamont was ridiculous due to lack of options other than a straight ahead run by Natee or Zander running outside. They tried one pass by Natee but that was it with him in the QB spot.

    I hope in the next two years he turns into a Ron Dayne RB to give IU a power runner. After Lagow leaves, I hope coach Debord uses the QBs in a run zone offense at times, Ramsey and Tronti are both good runners, and use it to run both ways instead of just an inside run or outside run to one side.

  33. V, I agree with all that.

    Seeing Natee standing upright reading the end/OLB before ever taking a step down field was hard to watch.

    Lots of excitement with change. I hope our expectations are on target.

  34. Chet, I do hope our excitement is justified this year and our expectations are on target. Too often we have had teams that were not too far from beating the top teams but came up short while other programs [NU, IA, MN] found a way to win a few of those games to get their programs growing. Maybe this team and coaching staff are the ones to reward our optimism after all these years.

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