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Saturday, June 22
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Column: Chappell looking better in retrospect

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but IU needs Ben Chappell back.

Can’t he petition for a sixth year of eligibility?

Isn’t there some ballroom dancing class he can take to fill his time?

I was critical of Chappell each of the two seasons he spent as the Hoosiers’
starter.

I made jokes about how slow he was and how he was built more like a lineman than a quarterback.

I complained about how long he sometimes held on to the ball and how he threw some untimely interceptions.

Well, let this column serve as a sort of apology to him.

I’m sorry, Ben. I was wrong.

IU fans didn’t realize what they had in Chappell while he was here.

He may not have been the quickest of foot, and he was a little chunky, but he was a true quarterback.

He spread the ball around, he hit receivers in stride and he helped the Hoosiers score a lot of points.

Now, look at the Hoosiers.

They can’t decide on a quarterback, and none of the three they’ve played this season are near the quarterback Chappell was.

Plus, the Hoosiers score on a passing touchdown about as often as Aaron Rodgers throws a pick.

Edward Wright-Baker overthrows his receivers when they’re open and underthrows them when they’re covered.

Dusty Kiel makes poor reads at times.

Tre Roberson, in the small amount of time we’ve seen him, has been somewhat inaccurate.

All three get nervous in the pocket.

None of the three is a true leader yet.

“It’s completely out of sync, and that’s real,” IU Coach Kevin Wilson said of the passing game after his quarterbacks threw for a combined 64 yards against Wisconsin. “How do we fix that?”

I don’t know, Coach, but we certainly didn’t hear many questions like that when Chappell was leading this offense.

Even though he left in the first half with an injury against Wisconsin last season, Chappell threw for 63 yards and a touchdown.

That’s one quarter of production. Wright-Baker and Roberson were less productive in a full 60 minutes.

Most of Chappell’s numbers last season came in spite of a pretty mediocre offensive line.

He got hit all the time, but he hung in the pocket and made some tough throws.
This year’s quarterbacks — at least recently — look like they want to flee the pocket before the ball’s even snapped.

That’s how much they trust the big guys up front.

“Obviously, it wasn’t good enough last week,” Co-Offensive Coordinator Rod Smith said of the quarterback play. “It was rather embarrassing. ... Our guys have been putting the work in, but they’ve got to put more work in.”

That was never a problem with Chappell, either.

While Wright-Baker, Kiel and Roberson have to be continually prodded by Wilson to watch film, Chappell didn’t like to leave the film room at all.

He was always putting the work in.

He knew which receivers were likely to face single coverage against a given opponent, and he found those receivers time and again on Saturdays.

Maybe, just maybe, this current IU receiver group isn’t as good as everybody makes it out to be.

Maybe Chappell made the wideouts look better than they were.

Most importantly, Chappell was the unquestioned leader of the offense. He held his teammates accountable when they missed an assignment or if they weren’t playing hard enough.

Who’s the Hoosiers’ leader now?

Damarlo Belcher doesn’t look like he wants to be that guy, and his production backs that up.

None of the quarterbacks has done anything to demand the attention of his teammates.

And Will Matte? He hasn’t looked good in the last few games.

The offense is without a leader, and the lack of production reflects that.

It turns out the IU offense really doesn’t exist without Chappell.

He just didn’t get as much credit as he deserved while he was here.

I guess it’s true: You really don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.

Sorry, Ben. Hoosier Nation took you for granted.

PREDICTION
The Hawkeyes are beatable, but they’re fundamentally sound and they won’t beat themselves.

Given the fact Iowa has relied on the big play the last few weeks and IU has given it up time and again, I think the Hawkeyes will be too much to handle.

This one won’t come down to the last play like last year.

Iowa 24, IU 13

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