Take a closer look and you’ll see that Richard Lagow and Mike DeBord have a lot in common. Both had atypical journeys to get to Bloomington.
Lagow is at his third school working with his fourth offensive coordinator in his fifth season of college. In his final college season — and second at Indiana — Lagow plans on leading Indiana to the next level and showing NFL scouts that he’s a next-level quarterback.
DeBord is now with his 12th different team working in his 34th season as a football coach. Back coaching in his home state for the first time since the 1980s, DeBord plans on revamping another offense and turning another quarterback into a next-level prospect.
Both DeBord and Lagow share the same vision. They want to speed up the tempo, spread teams out and take shots downfield. They want to cut down on mistakes, wear down defenses and get back to lighting up scoreboards.
That vision wasn’t executed under IU’s old staff during Lagow’s first season in Bloomington. But now, Lagow is in better position to do that in 2017.
Three months ago, it was easy to question whether or not Lagow deserved to be the starter in 2017. Sure, he racked up the second most passing yards in the B1G, but the mistakes culminated in the Foster Farms Bowl.
Lagow completed just 35.9 percent of his passes and IU squandered a prime opportunity to win its first bowl game in a quarter century. That marked the seventh time in his final nine games that he failed to complete 60 percent of his passes.
Since then, Lagow’s surroundings changed, and possibly for the better.
He did lose a pair of reliable targets in Mitchell Paige and Ricky Jones. Lagow also lost his top competition at quarterback. With Zander Diamont’s retirement and Danny Cameron’s dismissal, Lagow won’t be in a quarterback battle.
But most importantly, Lagow will work with a guy who has a history of cutting down his quarterbacks’ mistakes and turning them into NFL prospects. These are the quarterbacks DeBord worked with as an offensive coordinator:
|DEBORD’S TEAMS AS OC||QUARTERBACKS||TD-INT|
|1997 Michigan||Brian Griese||14-5|
|1998-99 Michigan||Tom Brady||30-16|
|2006-07 Michigan||Chad Henne||39-17|
|2015-16 Tennessee||Joshua Dobbs||42-17|
Only once — Tom Brady’s first season as Michigan’s starter — did one of DeBord’s quarterbacks fail to finish a season with at least a 2-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Dobbs is also likely to become the next one of DeBord’s quarterbacks to get drafted (Mel Kiper Jr. actually said Dobbs could go as high as the second round). That was after he led Tennessee to its best offensive season in school history.
Does that guarantee Lagow will follow in that path? No, but it certainly adds to a few factors he has working in his favor.
At 6-6, Lagow certainly fits the DeBord quarterback mold. His throwing motion doesn’t necessarily maximize his height, but he can still make all the throws necessary to keep a defense honest.
Arm strength isn’t lacking, nor is experience. The game should slow down for Lagow in Year 2. Sure, he was technically in his fourth season of college football last year, but Michigan’s defense is a little faster than Kilgore College’s. Not that that’s an excuse for an entire season.
There’s also the leadership factor. Lagow admitted to the Indianapolis Star that it wasn’t a seamless transition among teammates after he transferred from Cisco Community College (Tex.).
“I’m much more comfortable now. I have a better relationship with all the guys,” he said. “It’s hard to lead people if you don’t have a great relationship with them. There were times last year when I didn’t think I had the best relationship with all the guys.
“It’s not that we didn’t get along; I just didn’t know them. I needed to know them. One thing I put an emphasis on after the season ended was just making sure I really knew a lot about each of my teammates.”
Lagow wants to command respect running IU’s new offense. He has to. We saw last year what happened when he wasn’t on the same page as guys.
Too many times in 2016, turnovers overshadowed a solid defensive performance against a quality opponent. That wasn’t all on Lagow, but it came back to him as the leader of the offense. Allen won’t put up with that now as the head coach. DeBord won’t, either. Lagow doesn’t want to be the reason that IU maxes out at six wins.
Considering the promise of Tom Allen’s defense, there’s potential for this squad to win more than six games in 2017. Of course a lot has to happen.
But in order for IU to make that next step, so must Lagow. And if the Hoosiers are fortunate, DeBord will be with him stride for stride.