Ramsey armed and ready for opener

Peyton Ramsey knows the knocks against him.

Does the Indiana quarterback have the arm strength needed at this level? Is he well-equipped enough to make all the throws required of a Big Ten starting quarterback?

Ramsey understands that the questions have been floating. That’s why, since the end of last season, the sophomore has been determined to answer them.

An off-season of arm-strengthening workouts have Ramsey confident that he’s only beginning to tap into his potential as a passer. Ramsey demonstrated his accuracy during his debut season last fall, when he posted the highest single-season completion percentage (65.4) in program history.

And Saturday night, when Indiana opens its season at Florida International, Ramsey will be eager to show off the next phase of his development — a better, stronger arm.

“In spring football, I started to sense and see a little bit of improvement,” athletic performance coach Dr. Matt Rhea said. “But in fall camp, there hasn’t been a single throw in our offense that Peyton can’t make. He’s got the throwing velocity to make all those throws.”

Ramsey credits Rhea, hired in January as part of IU’s overhauled strength and conditioning staff, for tailoring an offseason program to his needs. Not long after Rhea arrived in Bloomington, Ramsey approached him about the gains he wanted to make, particularly with regard to improving his arm strength.

So Rhea started him on a program focused on core and rotational work. There were throwing exercises, too.

“Practicing throwing hard and practicing throwing deep balls,” Ramsey explained. That’s the best way to develop arm strength and that’s exactly what I did all summer.”

In Rhea’s eyes, Ramsey reminds him of another quarterback he’s worked closely with across the past eight years: Tennessee Titans backup Luke Falk, a former walk-on at Washington State who set Pac-12 Conference and Cougar career records for passing yards (14,486) and passing touchdowns (119) among a host of other categories.

With Falk, there have been similar criticisms about arm strength. As he worked with him, Rhea saw that Falk had enough arm strength to do what he needed to do, while gradually adding velocity to his throws.

With Ramsey, Rhea believed he saw similarities in the two player profiles.

“He was saying that his arm strength needed to improve, so we started looking and did some assessments and found what we thought was a weakness in his core area that we then targeted between spring ball and now,” Rhea said. “His throwing velocity is significantly better now than it was then. That’s a good sign that he’s connecting and transferring that power from his lower body through the core to the arm.”

But it’s not like Ramsey was a mere weakling last season. There were signs that he had more in his toolbox than, perhaps, was originally believed.

The 32-yard touchdown pass Ramsey made to Donavan Hale while running to his right in the Virginia win last September was a work of art, a perfectly thrown ball that ended with the desired result. Throughout fall camp, teammates say they have seen those kinds of moments in larger doses.

“For the deep balls, yeah,” receiver Luke Timian said. “I just think that he was a little bit hesitant last year. Playing as a freshman, that’s tough, especially at that position. Going into his second year, he’s more confident in making those throws, so you just see it more consistently.”

Beyond the arm-strengthening workouts, Nick Westbrook believes simply having that steady confidence could turn Ramsey into a different player this fall.

“Everyone bags on him, I feel like, for last year, but that was his freshman year,” Westbrook said. “He’s a freshman playing in the Big Ten East, starting at quarterback. It’s coming at him so fast. Now, he’s a great leader, he’s definitely taking control of this locker room (and) everybody loves him, respects him and trusts him to win us games.”

Ultimately, that will be what determines Ramsey’s fate this season.

There’s no question that true freshman Michael Penix has the best arm on IU’s roster, and the competition level between the two during fall camp seemed close enough to where Penix isn’t far behind Ramsey should a need arise.

And while the belief that Ramsey has added all-important arm strength is a valuable development, his accuracy and poise are likely to remain his best attributes.

Added up, those qualities equal a player Indiana believes can and will deliver this season.

“I see a completely different player,” Timian said. “His transition to spring ball and summer to now has been awesome. He’s put in a lot of work and his arm strength will also be something you guys will see is much improved.”

4 comments

  1. This is what I’ve been wanting to hear – details on why PR has improved. It would have been helpful if this interview could have been out sooner, no knock on you Mike know you turn it loose when you can get it, but hearing what Rhea is having to say possibly changes the perception. If the S&C program is on the level, then it ought to show up on the field at FIU.

  2. I look forward to seeing the new & improved Peyton Ramsey. Hopefully his increased arm strength will qualify him as a legitimate Big Ten QB. Last year he was a red-shirt freshman, not a true freshman. So what’s more valuable, the experience he gained or his increased arm strength? If he scores points and produces wins, he’ll continue to be popular leader. If he loses, the team will embrace Penix as the team’s leader.

  3. Our S&C coaches use measurements to determine weaknesses finding where power and strength need to be improved so the whole body is in sync. It will be good to see Ramsey in action to see how much improvement he has had. It will also be fun to see how the team looks with the improvements that have made in speed and strength. I will wait to see what these changes look like before becoming too excited about the new look Hoosiers.

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