BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Right now, Indiana coach Tom Allen has the best of both worlds at quarterback.
Richard Lagow is a tall, prototypical pocket passer who spent three quarters carving up Ohio State’s secondary in the season opener. Peyton Ramsey showed Virginia he can beat teams with his arm, his feet or both.
So rather than choose one as the starter, the Hoosiers’ first-year coach is telling everyone he intends to use some semblance of a rotation.
“It’s a gut feel, for sure,” Allen said Monday when asked how he’ll decide on playing time. “But I’m just telling you, when you have the ability, whether it’s change pace, change scheme, change things that force them, whether it’s a running back that brings a certain skill set, you bring another guy in, he brings a different type of running style, type of skill set that he can do, things that he does well maybe the other guy doesn’t do as well, I think that it forces them (opponents) to be able to prepare for both. That’s hard to do sometimes.”
For the Hoosiers (1-1, 0-1 Big Ten), just finding a talented starter at football’s most important position has occasionally proven challenging. Finding quarterback depth has, at times, almost been mission impossible.
Antwaan Randle El opened the 2001 season at receiver after starting at quarterback for three seasons. It took one stagnant offensive game for then-coach Cam Cameron to move Randle El back behind center.
The Hoosiers went into the 2013 season with three quarterbacks that had Division I starting experience — Cam Coffman, Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld.
Coffman and Roberson both transferred after the season. So when Sudfeld and backup quarterback Chris Covington both went down with season-ending injuries in the same game in 2014, then-coach Kevin Wilson handed Zander Diamont, a true freshman, the starting job. Wilson adapted by simplifying the offense and taking advantage of Diamont’s running skills. Covington is now a starting linebacker for the Hoosiers.
First career victories are the best.
— Indiana Football (@HoosierFootball) September 10, 2017
In his first college head coaching job, Allen has been given a rare opportunity with two talented quarterbacks who seem content to split the job and the snaps.
“He was really helpful on the bench with me, talking about what he was seeing and what I was seeing,” Ramsey said after Saturday’s 34-17 win at Virginia . “He was just trying to help me through it.”
Ramsey didn’t need much help last weekend.
Just one week after Lagow threw for 410 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-21 loss to the Buckeyes, Ramsey took advantage of his chance. The redshirt freshman completed his first 11 passes, finished 16 of 20 with 173 yards and two touchdowns. Ramsey also ran 12 times for 42 yards and another score.
It caught Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall and his defense completely off guard. The Cavaliers never recovered.
MORE: Tom Allen gives game ball from first victory with Hoosiers to his father
That was Allen’s plan all along, and he’s content following the same script this weekend when the Hoosiers host Florida International — and for the remaining 10 games of Lagow’s final college season if that’s what it takes.
“Threw him a curve ball. They were expecting one thing, got another,” Allen said. “(They) had schemed accordingly (for Lagow). I know when you have two individuals at a certain position, especially that position that can play at a high level, that’s where we want to be.”
Notes: Allen is hopeful that starting offensive lineman Brandon Knight and running back Tyler Natee will return to action soon, perhaps even this week. Both have been out with injuries. … Allen noted that Florida International played last weekend in Birmingham, Alabama, and has been displaced by Hurricane Irma. The school is located in greater Miami. But the Hoosiers are preparing this week as if the game will be played in Bloomington, as scheduled. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them,” Allen said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to help and support them, be thinking of them for sure.”