Against Ohio State, IU senior quarterback Richard Lagow played well. For a bit more than a half he gave his team a shot to win the game, and although the Hoosiers ended up losing, freshman quarterback Peyton Ramsey played a minor role as a foil and not much more.
At Virginia, Lagow struggled. Ramsey’s hot hand led his pace to become IU’s pace, and the Hoosiers won. The two sung each other’s praises as teammates do. It didn’t matter who got the credit.
Florida International got cancelled. Georgia Southern was, well, Georgia Southern.
Then Lagow gets the start against No. 4 Penn State and struggled again. Ramsey didn’t lead IU to victory this time, in fact he struggled after leading IU to a touchdown as the clock wound down in the second half, but before the game finally got away, he gave the Hoosiers a spark that cast further doubt into how much the two might split time in the future.
“We’re going to play the quarterback that gives us the best chance to win,” IU Coach Tom Allen said after the 45-14 road loss at No. 4 Penn State. “So, we’ll go back and watch the film, and whoever that is, we’ll make that decision.”
Allen said it himself. He hasn’t seen Lagow progress as much as he would have liked four games into the 2017 season, Lagow’s second as IU’s starting quarterback.
Through four games Ramsey has thrown for as many touchdowns as Lagow, four, with less than half the amount of attempts. Whether or not he’ll match Lagow’s interception or yards total— the senior has 661 to his 316 — is yet to be seen. But Ramsey has scored as many times as Lagow through the air.
Ramsey is also IU’s second leading rusher, and scampered for a touchdown at Virginia. Allen wants a quarterback that can lead the Hoosiers into the end zone.
“It’s about winning football games and executing at critical times, and that’s what we’ve got to be able to do,” Allen said. “We’ve got to move the football, score points, and we're not scoring no points."
Even with exceptional quarterback play from either of the two signal callers IU faced a steep road to victory. Special teams play, which Allen blamed for the loss, along with turnovers outside of Ramsey’s lone interception gave Penn State too many chances for a top-five team in the nation to blow.
It wasn’t about effort, Allen said. It was about execution. This season, Lagow and Ramsey don’t differ much in that respect. The question then lies in what ceiling exists for the pair.
After the game Ramsey said what one could expect. The tough environment was good experience for him, the offense gained some confidence after his touchdown drive but sputtered after that, IU needs to get better so that doesn’t happen and his interception was an accuracy issue.
Allen called Ramsey’s interception costly, but noted he did some good things. IU junior and No. 1 wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. did too.
“I think he went out there and handled business like we expect all our quarterbacks to do,” Cobbs said.
Andrew Hussey contributed reporting.