Hoosiers pleased with Ramsey’s approach

Peyton Ramsey knows he shouldn’t do it.

Some things, however, just need to be done.

There’s plenty of time to watch film on Mondays and Wednesdays, when Ramsey has only one class on the docket. But Tuesdays and Thursdays? Those are the busy days for the secondary education major, who finds himself swamped with practice and class until the evening.

So how does Indiana’s starting quarterback cram everything he needs to do into those long, bustling days? He’s not proud to admit it, but studying film during class goes a long way toward staying on track.

“Probably a bad habit,” Ramsey told reporters this week, flashing a sheepish grin. “You probably got me in trouble there.”

It may be a bad habit, but it’s done with the best of intentions. After earning the opportunity to be the Hoosiers’ quarterback from Day 1 this season, Ramsey has been in tireless pursuit of becoming the best version of himself. That means early mornings and later nights for the redshirt sophomore, who won his first Big Ten game as IU’s starter last week at Rutgers.

There’s still more Ramsey needs to show inside this IU offense, but through five games, coach Tom Allen is pleased with the returns. Ramsey is backing Allen’s trust in him, while continuing to develop his own confidence that he can be the player Indiana needs.

“He shows the reason why we picked him to be the starter,” Allen said. “The things that make him special, we’re seeing on game day.”

On Saturday, Ramsey will return to his home state to lead the Hoosiers against No. 3 Ohio State, as tough of a challenge as any on IU’s schedule. The Cincinnati native has a greater understanding of what it takes to rise to occasion, having played nine games — including four starts — last season before piloting the Hoosiers in all five so far this fall.

What he does well is clear. Ramsey’s 115 completions and 71.0 completion percentage lead the Big Ten, while his eight touchdown passes rank eighth and his 1,209 yards of total offense sit fourth in the league.

Many of those throws have been of the shorter variety in an offense tailored to Ramsey’s strengths. The next step in Ramsey’s development will come from his ability to further open IU’s downfield passing attack, something the Hoosiers flashed last week at Rutgers.

Step by step in his career, Ramsey feels he’s growing into the quarterback he wishes to be.

“I think as the weeks have gone on, I think I’ve gotten better,” Ramsey said. “I think I’ve gotten more confident, just taking what the defense has been giving me.”

From Ramsey’s college debut against Ohio State last August to the buildup to this year’s meeting with the Buckeyes, offensive coordinator Mike DeBord sees a player who has benefited from a gradual uptick in self-assurance.

While working with him during their first campaign together last season, DeBord saw hesitation in Ramsey’s reads. If a receiver was not clearly wide open, Ramsey might pause and miss an opportunity. This year, DeBord sees a quarterback gaining confidence in his ability to find a window and reach his target.

“He’s making throws where guys may have some coverage, and yet he can still put the ball on a certain shoulder or a certain number,” DeBord said. “He has great confidence in his receivers going after the ball, as well as making that throw now. I just think he’s more aggressive that way.”

Is he aggressive enough to equip IU’s offense with the big plays it needs to compete in the Big Ten East? That’s a question that still needs to be answered.

As high as his completion percentage is, Ramsey’s 6.4 yards per attempt is tied for 12th in the league. The Hoosiers rank ninth in the Big Ten with 13 passes of at least 20 yards. They’re also tied for 11th with only three throws that have gone for 30-plus yards. One of those belongs to freshman Michael Penix.

But Ramsey also deserves credit for his understanding of the position, and his command of it inside IU’s offense. One play, in particular, from last week’s game earned praise from his coach.

When he saw movement from the Scarlet Knights’ defensive line late in regulation, Ramsey realized he had a free play. So Ramsey quickly motioned for tight end Peyton Hendershot to run downfield, where he found him for a 25-yard completion that gave IU the fresh set of downs it needed to kill the clock and seal the win.

“That was just a veteran play on his part,” Allen said. “… He’s a year older (and) may not have made that play a year ago, but he did now.”

Consider it another sign of growth for Ramsey, who credits quarterbacks coach Nick Sheridan for helping him draw a preparation plan he adheres to each week.

“Last year, I wouldn’t say I really knew how to prepare, how to watch film as well as I do this year,” Ramsey said. “I talk about that a lot. I talk about the film room a lot. I’ve done a good job of getting with Coach Sheridan and getting a regimented plan, regimented routine in every single week and watching film and preparing, and watching certain things based on down and distance, third downs — whatever it is. I think that’s helped me prepare and cleared my mind a little bit more.”

There is still more room for Ramsey to grow. His ability to continue maximizing his potential is crucial to IU’s pursuit of a postseason return.

So far, the Hoosiers are pleased with what they’ve gotten from Ramsey, and they trust his development will continue.

Through his work, his actions and early productivity, Ramsey is backing that belief.

“His maturity is continuing to increase each and every year,” receiver J-Shun Harris said. “Last year, he got thrown into the fire, being out there as a young pup. Things were probably moving really fast (for him.) But I can tell he’s slowed the game down … by watching film, just different things that help him grow as a quarterback. And it’s helped us as a team.”

6 comments

  1. No question that PR is a good kid with a lot of versatile skills, but he has a major chink in his armor. He needs to show that he can throw the home run ball effectively. If he cannot, it makes the defense much easier in all aspects of the game. Allowing the defense to virtually load up the LOS, puts pressure on everything else when there is no fear of a deep pass getting behind you. It pressures the running game, it puts enormous pressure on the Line, and exposes your receivers to the unnecessary injuries a of short passing game.

    Hopefully the deep pass has been a hidden secret for PR, otherwise the LBs and DBs can just crepe up close and never worry about getting beat further downfield.

  2. Has Andrew Luck thrown a deep ball for the Colts since his return from his long absence/shoulder surgery? If so, I haven’t seen it. And I really don’t see much zing on his throws. I think a lot of his throws are being dropped by receivers because they don’t have zing. Hardest thing to catch is a rather flatly thrown ball.
    Just sayin’…..Without proof of still having a great arm, should Luck be starting for the Colts? I’m sure he’s a good Stanford kid…but where’s the deep ball and the Joe Namath(ish) ropes?

  3. I wonder about the size of Peyton’s hands…In the snapshot above, they look rather small. Big arm throws usually take big hands. Only say this because his left hand(off hand) seems to be very securely on the ball in his drop-back stance…indicating a bit of lower confidence in his right hand getting around the ball enough to have a very sure grip. His lack of power could be mechanics…but it could also be a relatively small hand for a qb.

  4. thinkaboutit, I hope Ramsey shows he is capable of the deeper passes but against Rutgers he missed every deep throw and has all year. I see a QB that struggles with deep balls because of his arm strength issues as it puts everything into the throw without any control on it. The other problem is IU receivers don’t get yardage after the catch is DBs can close on the receiver because the ball doesn’t get there quick enough.

    Ramsey does a lot of good things but it is like having a RB without speed that only gains the yards the OL produces. It makes it tough to be consistent when that happens and that is where IU is with the passing game. I am at a loss about why Penix doesn’t get reps in games to show what he can do and show if Ramsey is the best alternative this year.

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