Hoosiers handle Hoos, 34-17

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Peyton Ramsey gave Indiana a boost and the Hoosiers ran with it.

Quite literally.

With its offense sputtering, IU turned to the backup quarterback early in the second quarter and Ramsey delivered, doing so in the air and on the ground.

Ramsey threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, propelling Indiana to a 34-17 victory over Virginia before an announced crowd of 38,993 at Scott Stadium.

Afterwards, IU players celebrated their first win of the season and coach Tom Allen’s first as a college coach. It was a victory to be savored, one that helps clear a path toward six wins — and potentially one or two more.

But Indiana’s trip East also raised a major question about the direction of its offense. Who, exactly, is the starting quarterback?

Richard Lagow didn’t return once he was pulled following his second-quarter interception, as Ramsey commanded the offense and looked good while doing it.

Allen said after Saturday’s game that Lagow will remain the starter and Ramsey will continue to play. But how long is that sustainable?

We’re about to find out.

“We got two quarterbacks,” Allen said. “That’s a great thing. One that throws it really well (and) one that can run a little bit, too — and throws it well, too.”

A week after Indiana began its opener by challenging No. 2 Ohio State’s secondary, the Hoosiers looked hapless in their execution against a much lesser Virginia team.

There was no viable running attack, more porous offensive line play and a passing game that failed to click.

Lagow completed only three of his 10 throws and was picked off on an athletic grab by Virginia defensive back Juan Thornhill.

Enter Ramsey, who used his legs and his arm to give Indiana a jolt after the Hoosiers held the ball for merely four minutes and picked up only 36 yards during the first quarter.

“He was supposed to play,” Allen said of the backup. “Just like last week, we were gonna play him for a certain number of downs. He was moving the team. We just said, ‘Hey, roll with it.'”

Ramsey did.

The redshirt freshman completed each of his first 11 throws, giving Indiana a 7-3 lead with a 29-yard strike to Simmie Cobbs, who danced, juked and took advantage of some beautiful downfield blocks to find the end zone.

Following a 3-and-out for the Indiana defense and a 43-yard punt return by J-Shun Harris, Ramsey came back and sliced through Virginia’s defense for a 26-yard scoring run.

In Ramsey, the Hoosiers have a more mobile quarterback than Lagow. Although Ramsey’s arm doesn’t appear to be nearly as strong as Lagow’s, it’s effective.

“If it’s not there, take care of the ball and go make plays,” Ramsey said of his philosophy. “That’s what I’m best at doing, so I tried to do that out there.”

Ramsey’s performance, along with a 51-yard field goal by Griffin Oakes, gave Indiana a 17-3 halftime lead. The quarterback orchestrated a major swing in production for the IU offense, which averaged 5.7 yards per play in the second quarter after posting merely 2.3 yards per play in the first period.

Ramsey continued his big day with a beautifully thrown 32-yard touchdown pass to Donavan Hale that extended IU’s lead to 27-10 late in the third quarter.

A week after making his collegiate debut, Ramsey completed 16 of his 20 passes for 173 yards. He also accounted for 42 of Indiana’s 121 total rushing yards, impressing his coaches and teammates with his aptitude.

“Our whole thing we talk about is, when things don’t go our way, we have to have people to make plays,” Cobbs said. “He came in making plays. We knew as a receiver corps that we had to step up. But when you see that overall as a team, you pick up the energy and just keep going.”

Meanwhile, Indiana’s defense was holding up on its end, too.

Although the Hoosiers didn’t force a takeaway — they came close a handful of times — for the second consecutive week, they were altogether solid.

IU believed it had its first takeaway midway through the fourth quarter, when a big hit by defensive end Greg Gooch knocked the ball loose from Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert. Defensive end Robert McCray scooped up the ball and ran 70-plus yards into the end zone.

But the touchdown was called back after officials went to replay and called Gooch for targeting. The targeting determination was questionable at best, and it led to a quick momentum swing in Virginia’s favor.

Two plays after Gooch was ejected, Benkert tossed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Joe Reed to cut IU’s advantage to 27-17.

But the Hoosiers didn’t budge after Benkert’s strike, and received a cushion from Harris’ 44-yard punt return touchdown late in the final quarter, sending them home with a win and a major question to answer.

“Richard is the starting quarterback,” Allen said. “But the bottom line is you gotta compete.”

32 comments

  1. Good that IU with T.A. as head coach got first win over a major conference team instead of mid major or lower.
    QB situation reminds me a little of other big ten teams like Northwestern in past years. Ramsey gives a touch of athleticism, durability, variation with some passing and running. Ramsey is a gamer. This is a season where Lagow and Ramsey will both play quite a bit depending on circumstances. Pivotal positive. Kinda Northwestern ness.

  2. The defense played well, but it missed on several take-away opportunities, mostly INTs that were dropped. I’m sure Allen will emphasize making the catch in next week’s film sessions.

    IU’s last drive into the red zone was looking very impressive until DeBord’s play-calling stalled it. Then 4th and goal on the three yard line and IU goes for it with a ten-point lead. I get that IU’s defense was playing well, but Allen should have kicked the easy FG and taken the 3 points, increasing the lead to 13 with about 7 minutes left in the game. It turned out O.K. because of the punt return for a TD, but given the circumstances (inexperienced quarterback, away game, etc.) that series was a mess. With a better opposing QB who could complete deep passes, that decision could have cost IU the game.

    1. I disagree. The reason for the punt return for a TD was the poor field position VA was in because of Allen’s decision to go for it on fourth down. It was a very smart call! You always call the play for the opponent you are facing on the field now. Not for some mythical better opponent.

        1. Also agree with Beat Purdue….Opponent matters. Field position matters. It’s also called trusting your defense to pick-up your offense when they come up just short.
          But to side a bit with Podunker, your overall depth also matters. Taking some risks may be more to your advantage against an opponent you’ll suffer against to sustain over 4 quarters. Virginia is an opponent not challenging our thinner depth in the manner an OSU team can.

          I do believe conservative football is not the product that will bring interest to a very lukewarm IU Football fan base. Risk aversion will build increased ticket purchase aversion. I would like more risk. A football team that has not put together a .500 conference record for almost 25 years must find ways to do something other than carefully/conservatively protecting the models of traditional football that have been not working.

  3. This was a good win but the offense is far from being an effective one against the B1G teams we will face. Our OL needs to really improve but I wonder if last year’s struggles were a precerser to the struggles this OL has. Did KW miss on the OL recruits or are they just struggling learning this run game? Coaches also need to establish two RBs so they get enough reps to improve as the season continues. Running more will limit reps too much for any real improvement to happen even if the OL gets better.

    T, I agree both QBs will play this year and I sure hope Lagow got the message about turnovers or it may be just Ramsey with Tronti being pushed to back up Ramsey.

  4. I am tending to lean towards the later especially as season progresses. Lagow has been coached, has tried, but has reached his ceiling which is what you see is what you get over extended periods of time.

    1. T, I agree about Lagow reaching his ceiling. He is one dimensional and he continues to make bad decisions. As I said after the OSU game, he was lucky not to have had at least 3 additional turnovers in that game. He has had 3 interceptions in two games which is on pace to match last years total.

      Ramsey deserves the start next week. His mobility and his ability to run the option helped the run game tremendously, and his passing was really sharp as well. Even though he was sacked a couple of times, he remained calm in the pocket and scanned the field for open receivers and did not turn the ball over. In my opinion, he is so much more composed than Lagow and his mobility gives the team a better chance to win.

      This game should have been a blow out. Ball’s foolish last second touch shove on the Va. QB nullified a great interception return by Dutra. Then, the call on Gooch was horrendous and the 70 yard TD fumble return by McCray (?) should have made it 34-10. Instead, after those two penalties, Virginia had the ball inside the 10 and quickly scored, making it 27-17.

      This was a must win, and thanks to Ramsey, the victory was secured. Hopefully the coaches can improve the OL play next week and make the run game more productive.

      1. I think that the best strategy for IU going forward is to start Lagow, but have a very short string. If he fumbles, throws an interception, rifles the pass to a receiver 5 yards away too fast to catch, or blows an obvious read, etc., pull him and ride Ramsey for the rest of the game. Since Lagow is an experienced senior this should save his ego and show him the real consequences for poor play-the bench. Since Ramsey is an inexperienced red-shirt freshman leave him in despite some miscues. He has talent, he needs the reps.

  5. ST’s won the field possession battle, added scoring and offensive momentum. They’ll have to do even more come the B1G season. Ramsey won’t surprise anyone again because the opponents will be preparing for him. There very well will be times when RL’s big arm is needed.

    1. If the OL was capable of protecting RL and giving him adequate time to make his progressions and then throw a 50+ yard strike, he could be a valuable weapon as the season progresses.
      The question is, how many long passes has RL had time to throw? Ramsey seems much more comfortable in the pocket, even with pressure, and his escapability makes up for any perceived lack of arm strength. His 32 yard TD strike to Hale covered 40+ yards in the air on a full roll out run and that’s not too shabby. He definitely has a much better arm than Diamont.
      Sure, defenses will prepare for him, just like Virginia prepared for RL, but at least they have to prepare for multiple scenarios.

      I think it is interesting that Allen stated after the game that Lagow was still his starter. I would have thought he might have waited until after conferring with Debord and his offensive staff and evaluating the game film, but then again, that’s probably why I’m not a football coach!

      1. Ramsey’s 40 yd. TD pass earned respect for his arms worth. Which I never stated was suspect. But it is easy to see both Cobbs and Hale will overpower many a DB and there will be times when Ramsey doesn’t achieve as a young QB and RL’s big arm will be called on. It is an advantage for IU to have these QB assets. As IU improves the rushing attack(eliminating Majette from the rotation would be the 1st good step)the D will have to share their focus of RL.

      2. Ranger 67- You are 100% correct. If IU still had Spriggs, Feeney and Camiel along with Cronk, sure Lagow would be a good choice. But they don’t. Lagow’s inability to run means he has to, HAS TO get the ball out quickly. He can’t go long because he can’t elude a rush long enough with the protection he has. Ramsey can, because he can brake containment and buy time like he did with the touchdown to Hale. Ramsey also helps the running game because defenses have to account for his running ability. No one has to account for Lagow as a runner. He cannot outrun most defensive tackles. He’s just not a threat and therefore defenses can play 11 on 10 and key on the backs or shade the receivers. Ramsey’s skill set generates offense more effectively with the line IU has. Lagow will never complete 80% with no interceptions and run for a touchdown like Ramsey just did. Ramsey gives IU the best chance to win.

    2. It will be difficult for opponents to fully prepare for two such different QB’s. IU will be in great shape!

  6. Progression process. Ramsey did not spot opponent any points by major mistakes. Lagow, regardless of pressure or no pressure to often has made major mistakes spotting opponents 7 to 14 points. Again this could be like recent past Northwestern ness. Ramsey as more athletic gamer (running, short, mid range passer and surprise seldom deeper ball. Lagow short, mid range, deeper and deep ball passer with no running by Lagow. The starter in this situation may be either one depending on game plan. Tronti is waiting in the wings to factor in as season progresses. Emphases is on team approach which is a strength of T.A. Everyone needs to keep perspective and positive attitude.

  7. t, I agree with you completely, fans do need to be patient as this offense is a work in progress. I worry about the OL as I think Wilson’s staff missed on the OL they brought in or they just don’t fit this offense. I think coach DeBord is working out what this offense will be and our QBs are different type of players. If this offense will require QBs to run as well as pass the ball then I would rather see Ramsey and Tronti prepared for the season and the following seasons.

    ST and defense won the game along with Ramsey. IU can build on this especially if Lagow learned from Saturday. If IU goes with QBs that fit this offense then I hope Tronti gets some backup plays with Ramsey starting.

  8. DeBord needs to focus on Ellison as #1 RB, Guest as #2 RB, with Natee as the change up guy pounding between the tackles. Try #1 and #2 on the perimeter as well as traps up the middle. IU is clearly playing our best at OL, just do the best that we can. Knight should help.

  9. v 13….i disagree with you, Kevin Wilson did not miss with these offensive lineman…it all has to do with coaching. It is all about coaching, Darren Hiller is no Greg Frye and Mike Debord (no matter who he has coached and no matter where he has been) cannot matched what Kevin Wilson produced over the last 6 years. There is no way the game against Virginia should have been close. Virginia was predicted to finish last in the ACC and from all indication they will, but Indiana struggle against this team. An if Virginia QB could have completed any of those (fairly) long (downfield) passes IU may of lost. This coaching staff has a lot of work to do. IU has the players for the breakthrough season, but do they have the coaching staff.

    1. Yup, Wilson is gone so the OL is his fault even though 2 Frosh and 1 RS Frosh are listed in the 2-deep. But they don’t count in the positive Hiller narrative. It will be a damn long season if something positive doesn’t come on display in the nest 2 weeks.

  10. Wilson is no genius, OK figured him out pretty quickly. He is a very good O Coach, nothing more. Frey may have been very special. Hiller will be judged on what he can do over 4-5 years (as Frey was). Put on your big boy pants and see how the season plays out. If IU wins 6, it will be a great year. 7-8 wins, would be incredible!

    1. I’m very near my 8th decade. I no longer need big boy pants. Your figurin even though in the generally right direction missed about 65% of the target. Wilson near single handedly changed the soft, Casper Milquetoast culture of the FB program at IU. I hope beyond hope Hiller puts his big boy britches on instead backing up to the pre Wilson era. Because the LOS is the easiest to excuse.

  11. Ouch…Jordan Howard drops pass on goal line to cost Bears the game against Falcons in final seconds.

    Wilson is no genius.

    IU as a stepping stone to get a top job @ OSU? Has any IU genius coach in IU history ever done anything comparable? Where is our former “genius’ b-ball coach now working?

  12. Put on your big boy pants, please!!!! You are correct Wilson was no genius and OK figured him out pretty quickly…..but we will see where Ohio State offensive is in two years compared to the IU offensive. Most of the offensive lineman on this team where recruited by Kevin Wilson and Greg Frey. An I doubt they missed out on to much, on good quality athletic. An as i said before slogans (LEO, breakthrough, takeaways, etc) are good for a little while, but they are only words. But like Hoosier Clarion advise the game is won at the “LOS” an Hiller needs to put his big boy britches on!! This seasons is starting out like the pre-Wilson era whereby we hope to beat the non-conference (Florida Intl and Georgia Southern) team and pray to be the low hanging teams (Rutgers, Purdue and Illinois) in the BIG 10. The key question is will IU be competitive with the rest of the BIG 10 teams (Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State (blow-out), Wisconsin (blow-out) and Maryland.

  13. IU football needs one upset game desperately this season plus Purdue win which IU will need to improve quite a bit in what they decide and try to do to beat Purdue. The upside potential is there by the time IU plays Purdue.

  14. After that nightmare 1st Qtr, it was nice to see the Hoosiers adjust, rally and win on the road.

    Yes, there are areas of concern. I haven’t seen our OL play this poorly in a while. I think 90% of Lagow’s issues have to do with the OL not protecting him.

    However, I don’t understand Lagow abandoning Cobbs. If he’s going to play chuck and duck, he could have done a lot worse than tossing a few Cobbs way to see if he could make a play.

    Either way, I’m impressed with his leadership. He didn’t sulk on the bench like Jay Cutler, he was standing right there, engaged and cheering on his teammates. Great leadership from him.

    Not a bad result for the 2nd game. The defense was solid and got a number of stops on quick 3 and outs early in the game. They kept us in it. This should have been a 44 – 10 win. That targeting call was one of the worst things I have ever seen. This may be my first post on this site complaining about the refs. Once a ref calls this supremely subjective “targeting” call, it hardly ever gets reversed. The criteria is just too vague.

    Either way, solid win. Not perfect. Team has a lot to work on and areas that look to be problems all year. However, I like how they bounced back from the poor 1 1/2 Qtrs to end the OSU game.

    Mike/Jeremy. Any risk of our next game being affected by Irma? Will FIU be ready or is there a chance they might not make the trip?

    1. DD,
      I read a story over the weekend that FIU was prepared to travel to Indiana from Birmingham, Alabama, where it moved its game on Friday night. So at the moment, seems like all systems go.

    2. DD,
      To follow Jeremy, seems that the game is on. Haven’t heard anything otherwise. FIU is currently in Birmingham, Alabama. Their spokesperson did, however, say that the team’s travel plans are in limbo. They’re not sure if they’re staying in Birmingham for the week or coming to Indiana early. That’s per an email exchange Sunday afternoon.

    3. Thanks guys. Would love to see Indiana open up its arms and show them that exceptional Midwest hospitality.

Comments are closed.