We got our first look at Indiana’s 2017 squad, which will have a different feel under Tom Allen.
Here were the five takeaway points:
1. Richard Lagow is going to like having Simmie Cobbs back
Without a doubt, Lagow’s transition to B1G football would’ve been easier with Cobbs. Instead, the former 1,000-yard receiver missed all but two games in 2016 and Lagow lacked a proven weapon outside the hashes. Give Nick Westbrook credit for filling in that role, but IU needs Cobbs to spread defenses out.
Lagow consistently targeted Cobbs on Thursday night. He threw quick hitches and sideline patterns to Cobbs, and there wasn’t much hesitation. Cobbs had a nice catch in traffic that he ran in for the score in the first half.
Westbrook wasn’t on the field on Thursday night, so it was the Cobbs show for a bit. Not having Ricky Jones and Mitchell Paige made Cobbs one of the only familiar targets for Lagow. If those two can stay on the same page, they’ll put up big numbers together in 2017.
2. But Lagow still wasn’t as precise as he needs to be
IU’s starting quarterback still didn’t look as accurate as he needed to be. He still missed throws high, and was too late on a few plays, including an ugly interception to Rashard Fant (he went down with an injury late that hopefully won’t be serious). That’s not to say that Lagow played poorly, but he didn’t look like the guy who was named Indiana’s most outstanding spring player.
Completing 18 of 33 passes in a spring game isn’t anything to write home about. Lagow did respond better after the interception, but you can tell he’ll need fall camp to get on the same page as everyone. Missed check downs and sailed passes won’t fly in a few months.
3. Is Peyton Ramsey just Zander Diamont with a mask?
Ok, so I have a theory. Hear me out. Yes, Diamont said that he retired, but is it crazy to think that he could’ve been pranking all of us by going under the alias “Peyton Ramsey?” Knowing Diamont’s personality, that’s believable.
Watch this scramble from “Ramsey” and tell me that doesn’t look like Diamont.
But in all seriousness Ramsey, who redshirted as a freshman, looked every bit like a capable backup. Some might argue that he out-performed Lagow on Thursday night. Ramsey got a prime opportunity with Diamont “retired” and Danny Cameron dismissed from the team.
A mobile quarterback often looks more mobile in a spring game because he can’t be tackled, but Ramsey still brought some of the same elements to the table as Diamont. Might Mike DeBord get a little creative and have a few packages for Ramsey? Perhaps. For now, let’s just get Ramsey and Diamont in the same room at the same time.
4. Ian Thomas is going to be a different kind of tight end for IU
Kevin Wilson wasn’t really big on pass-catching tight ends. DeBord has one in Thomas. We saw what he was capable of in the Foster Farms Bowl and we saw some more of that on Thursday night.
The former JUCO transfer has size (6-5, 250 pounds) and he can get open downfield. Ramsey found him streaking across the middle for an early score.
The former No. 2 JUCO tight end was IU’s most improved player this spring. He’ll have a ways to go to show he can become a reliable red-zone target, but Thomas’ stock is certainly trending up.
5. Even in a spring game, the defense looked like IU’s clear strength
Spoiler alert: Tom Allen has a pretty good defense. This is the first time in a long time in which IU’s unquestioned strength is on the defensive side of the ball. Tegray Scales was everywhere and Fant and Jonathan Crawford each intercepted passes.
There are still questions on the defensive line, especially on the interior. But the Hoosiers have more talent and experience on the back end than they’ve had in a while. They certainly looked like a team capable of building on last year’s breakthrough effort.
Get used to saying that IU is a “defense-first team.” That’ll take some getting used to.