4 things we learned from IU’s win at Virginia

1. Indiana will proceed by playing two quarterbacks.

Richard Lagow’s ineffective first quarter led to the first meaningful action of redshirt freshman backup Peyton Ramsey’s young career. Moving forward, the two Hoosiers will share snaps, creating a juggling challenge for coach Tom Allen and offensive coordinator Mike DeBord. Make no mistake, Indiana seemed determined to get Ramsey onto the field this season even before his strong performance at Virginia. But Ramsey’s efficiency against the Cavaliers means he now deserves a closer look — and, likely, more snaps than IU previously planned to allot for him. Lagow certainly has the arm you want in a quarterback, and by all accounts is a confident leader who holds the respect of his teammates. But he’s clearly still wrestling with inconsistency when it matters on game days. Ramsey doesn’t have the same deep-ball arm, but that didn’t hinder Indiana’s offense against Virginia. If he can continue making the kinds of shorter throws and jump balls that this offense seems predicated upon, the Hoosiers can succeed. The biggest difference between the two, however, is that Ramsey has the mobility to overcome an unreliable offensive line. More on that in a moment. The question now becomes: how, exactly, does does Indiana manage this scenario?

2. Tom Allen is sticking with Richard Lagow as the starter.

This may end up being the smart play. Two games into the season is not the ideal time to take definitive action at quarterback. If you can wait, then you should wait. Luckily for Indiana, it has a couple weeks to figure this out. Both Lagow and Ramsey are likely to look good against upcoming opponents Florida International and Georgia Southern, the weakest teams on IU’s schedule. These games will allow Ramsey to continue settling in, while Lagow can attempt to ultimately find the consistency that has eluded him. Every team needs at least two capable quarterbacks, and if Allen were to bury Lagow as the backup after one good game by Ramsey in the middle of September, it could have lasting consequences. What if Indiana needs Lagow during the teeth of the Big Ten schedule? Do you really want to turn to a quarterback who had his confidence shot from losing his job after his first bad quarter of the season? Reasonable people can agree to disagree, and juggling two quarterbacks is no easy to task. But at least for now, Allen will allow Lagow to work his way out of this. Time will tell, but it may be a good thing for all involved.


3. The offensive line remains an issue Indiana must resolve.

The Hoosiers don’t have enough experience up front, and right now, it’s really hurting their offense as a whole. Perhaps this group jells as it gains experience. Only left tackle Coy Cronk and left guard Wes Martin entered the season with a full year of starting experience. But two games into the season, the offensive line is just not good enough. After getting manhandled against Ohio State in the opener, Indiana failed to consistently get a push against Virginia. That’s concerning. The group did look a bit better during the second half, helping freshman running back Morgan Ellison pick up 39 of his team-high 47 yards during the fourth quarter. But until this O-line delivers more consistent results, it’s going to be difficult for Indiana to run and operate as it must against Big Ten opponents. Injured right tackle Brandon Knight traveled and warmed up with the team prior to Saturday’s game, but he did not play. His upcoming return should help.

4. IU’s special teams could be special.

At least a few on Indiana’s sideline Saturday wondered if J-Shun Harris should’ve been pulled from punt return duties after he fair caught a ball on his own 2-yard line early in the second quarter. Tom Allen, however, refused to budge. Allen wanted Harris to know he believed in him, even after a bad decision. Sense a theme? The Hoosiers are lucky they stuck with him. Harris had a couple big returns after his mistake, setting up Peyton Ramsey’s second-quarter touchdown run with a 43-yard return that started Indiana’s eventual scoring drive at the Virginia 30. He later put the game away with a 44-yard return in the fourth quarter. Kicker Griffin Oakes also resembled the 2015 version of himself, connecting on field goals from 51 and 48 yards. Allen vowed to fix Indiana’s special teams woes when he was promoted to head coach in December. The early returns, at least on Saturday, are promising.

WHAT’S NEXT: Florida International, Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Memorial Stadium, Big Ten Network.

You have to feel for the Panthers, displaced from Miami due to Hurricane Irma. FIU had its home opener against Alcorn State moved to Birmingham, Ala., due to the threat of the storm, and now the team’s travel plans appear in limbo ahead of this week’s game in Bloomington. As of Sunday afternoon, FIU officials were still unsure whether they would remain in Birmingham to prepare for the Hoosiers, or make an early trip to Indiana, a program spokesperson told The Herald-Times. Either way, it’s a tough situation for FIU’s program, in its first season under coach Butch Davis. The Panthers did defeat Alcorn State, 17-10, on Friday despite the circumstances.

18 comments

  1. The OL is the biggest issue right now and I hope getting Knight back brings about results. It also points out that IU missed on who they brought in as OL players as they just aren’t good enough after being at IU for one or two years. I hope the staff settles on two RBs so they start to get enough reps to get better and mesh with the OL.

    Defensively it seems IU just hasn’t hit their stride yet. Saturday was a good day for them but they aren’t coming up with the big plays they did last year.

  2. Even with all the issues on the OL, and at QB, it’s nice to tune in to the Scoop after a road win vs. a major conference opponent.

    1. Virginia Football is IU Football….They are from a major conference playing in a very minor key.

      Virginia’s ‘major’ highlights:
      Conference record over last 7 years: 15-41(whopping .268 win % includes a pair of 1-7 seasons and an 0-8 season)
      Last 9 years: 1 season with a conference record over .500
      Call it a breakthrough when they go to a Chick-fil-A Bowl once in a decade

      Come on, man….

      1. Indiana’s ‘major’ highlights:
        Conference record over last 7 years: 13-44(whopping .228 win % includes a pair of 1-7 seasons and an 0-8 season)
        Last 9 years: Zero seasons with a conference record over .500 (last season over .500 was 1993).
        Bowls for Bottom Dwellers = Pinstripe & Foster Farm. You have bigger mixing bowls in your kitchen cupboard.

      2. Relax Harv. Tom made a very simple comment, which was that it was nice to come to the Scoop (Hoosier Sports Report!!) to talk about a win vs a team in a major conference. He didn’t say “breakthrough” or “Rose Bowl.” In all the years that I’ve spent watching Hoosier football, he’s right. It might not impress you, but CKW lost the vast majority of these games even when we were improving. I, too, enjoy coming in on Monday talking about a win versus laying another egg on the road.

        1. I’m relaxed. I just miss Tom making more than pollyannaish statements. Miss his poetic sarcasm and creative not-so-simple take on things.
          He’s a happy camper because his U-Dub Huskies are on top of the world(should have been in the championship series last season instead of OSU).
          I really don’t get too excited when ‘Husky’ Tom blows some happy gas onto IU Football. If U-Dub played in the the Big Ten East with the likes of OSU, Michigan, and Penn State……then @ Virginia wins would be just as special.

  3. So bogus. Greg Frey and Kevin Wilson know OL talent. I don’t yet know if Hiller does or not. But he for sure isn’t getting the desired results on the field for the tune of $400K a year. But if I was trying to build a positive narrative for Debord, Hiller and the rest of the offensive staff I would damn sure blame Wilson and company for something. I stated after these hires were made that I feared for the offense this season. Over the next 2 weeks my fears may x many times. Debord is suspect he can be successful with mid-grade talent and Hiller has shown so far he can’t fire up a match and Hart has displayed poor evaluation skills deciding the best backs to get the most time in the rotation with such a strong focus to MM. Monday morning QB-ing is easy when the facts come from these results. Ramsey will make some difference but he won’t be blocking at the LOS and he cannot produce the run game by himself. Heat needs to be felt with an uncomfortable mandate to Hiller to produce some attitude at the OL or the breakthrough will stay shaded.

  4. That’s a really good positive plus V was 2 and 0 against IU so IU must have done something right even if it was a down V team. Good point S.T. Currently, IU will get their win streak snapped against Purdue, unless offensive line comes together. V. I agree (not sure if IU missd on offensive line or got the best that was available to them). Attitude adjustment needed. M.E.and C .G. should be featured R.B. Then, depending on dents and dings or circumstances supported by M.M. and T.N. Defense has been scouted for a year and hopefully T.A., staff and IU defense will respond which I think they will. Still early in season. So far IU has lost game they should have and won game they should have. Still early in season and IU will know more about themselves after week 4. Hopefully, the team can learn and improve leading up to week 4.

    1. Two games into the season, you already feel comfortable predicting that Indiana will lose to Purdue this year?

  5. Actually, M.E. would be one featured running backs and there might be a couple others besides C.G. who could win the other featured running back spot to get it to a two back operation with suppress by other backs in place.

  6. Wow…Looks like most of Florida dodged a major bullet. Figures are still coming in from the National Hurricane Center but it’s increasingly apparent that CNN reporters collectively generated more surge and wind than Irma.

  7. So HC, is it Hillman’s salary or the less-than-ideal performance of IU’s O-line that bothers you most?
    It’s not like Allen had a lot of time to find a replacement for Frey after he took Michigan’s money and ran. And Houston, a football program that has a much better tradition than IU has ever had, thought enough of Hiller to hire him before Allen poached him away. South Florida is no rinky-dink football school either. $400K was what it took to get Hiller away from Houston, and if he’s smart, he appreciates that salary and does not want to lose it because of pour performance. If you want to blame someone, blame Wilson for getting fired, or blame Glass for firing Wilson because he was too inconsiderate of or insensitive to his injured players. But from my vantage point, IU has a new head coach and a new Offensive coaching staff that has begun their first season 1 – 1 against two schools from Power-5 conferences. They need to improve performance, but they’re way ahead of the curve relative to previous new coaching staffs.

  8. I think that we learned that Ellison should be the primary back. He really looks like the most well rounded back. I know with our super up-tempo pace that we will always use multiple backs but to me Ellison looks like he needs the lion’s share of the load.

    The O-line isn’t as talented as years past but I do think the unit will improve as the season progresses. Hopefully Knight’s return will add a little boast to the unit.

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