Hoosiers open fall camp, continue building toward Buckeyes

Over the din of hip-hop music, on the sun washed fields adjacent to Mellencamp Pavilion, Indiana opened fall camp on Wednesday morning.

Let the countdown to Ohio State begin.

There are now 29 days until the Hoosiers open the 2017 season against the Big Ten-favorite Buckeyes, and IU coach Tom Allen walked away from his first practice of the month pleased with what he saw.

“Typical first day,” Allen said in a video posted to iuhoosiers.com. “Lot of energy in the beginning, and not necessarily used to being out here in this heat of the day, which is good for us. I like that. I think at the end a little bit of fatigue set in, but the way we want to practice, the tempo and all, that’s going to be part of it. I think the kids responded really well to that.”

Across the coming weeks, Indiana will continue with one of the central tasks of its offseason — installing the offense. New coordinator Mike DeBord, who will oversee the offense while Allen focuses on the defense, now has his full offensive squad on campus after beginning the installation process with IU’s returning players during spring practice.

For the players trying to grasp DeBord’s offense, learning new terminology is the biggest challenge after spending past seasons working within former coach Kevin Wilson’s system.

To senior quarterback Richard Lagow, who is now preparing under his fifth different offensive staff since graduating high school, this is not necessarily anything new.

“Football is football,” Lagow said. “Everywhere you go, concepts are gonna be similar throughout the entire country. Everyone’s doing pretty much the same things in different ways and different formations, whatever it might be. It’s challenging to learn an entire new language. You call something in last year’s system, it’s got a whole different name now.”

But once IU players are fluent in DeBord’s terminology, the offensive structure may not look too different, according to Lagow.

“It’s still gonna be explosive,” Lagow said. “I made the comparison at media day that if you’re gonna be watching on TV, it might not look all that different. It’s gonna be the same fast, uptempo offense you’re used to seeing at Indiana. But if you were there during spring practices trying to learn it, to us, it seems a lot different. It’s going to be exciting.”

From DeBord’s view, one of his most important goals for camp is making sure his players limit turnovers. DeBord felt his offense did a decent job in that regard during the spring, but attention to detail is critical now with the regular season on the horizon.

Indiana was one of the most turnover prone teams in the Big Ten last fall, finishing 13th in the conference with 29 turnovers. A whopping 18 of those were interceptions, with all but one committed by Lagow.

After he was hired, DeBord did a film study on IU’s seven losses in 2016 and found turnovers to be a root issue in each defeat. Preaching better ball security is one of his missions this month.

“We’re gonna talk about that and the effect it had on last year,” DeBord said. “You gotta learn. I thought we did a pretty good job in the spring of taking care of the football, but you can’t beat yourselves. So we’re gonna play to our strengths, whatever those strengths are. I hope it’s running and throwing the football.

During the coming weeks, the Hoosiers will soon find out.