It would have been difficult to imagine senior Richard Lagow being dethroned as IU’s starting quarterback a month ago, when he was fresh off the heels of a 410-yard, three-touchdown performance against Ohio State.
However, Lagow has managed just 251 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception in the three games since. So there stood IU Coach Tom Allen at the podium Monday afternoon, matter-of-factly naming freshman Peyton Ramsey as the new starter under center for the Hoosiers.
It’s been a steady transition from Lagow to Ramsey, but it came to a head Monday, just two days after the freshman replaced the senior in the second quarter against No. 4 Penn State and held the quarterback position the rest of the game.
“Peyton Ramsey is the person for that responsibility, and so he's going to be our starting quarterback,” Allen said Monday. “It has to be a situation where we build our offense around what Peyton is best at.”
In the limited time Ramsey’s seen through four games this season, it’s become clear exactly what he's best at – extending plays and adding versatility to the quarterback position through his mobility. The Ohio-native is second among all Hoosiers in rushing yards this season, with 117 yards on 34 carries.
Ramsey’s quick feet and agility have helped him in the passing game too, like when he rolled to his right and found junior wide receiver Donavan Hale for a 32-yard touchdown in a win against Virginia last month.
That game was the first one in which Ramsey saw significant time. His 173 yards and two touchdowns against the Cavaliers in a little more than two quarters of play sparked the two-QB system Allen tried to employ against Georgia Southern and Penn State.
“I wanted to see what each one of them could do when they were out there and not just bring Peyton in when maybe things weren't going good,” Allen said. “But that gave me a chance to see, you know, in a pretty objective way who's able to move the ball.”
Against Penn State, it was Lagow again who largely struggled while IU dug itself into a 28-0 hole. Lagow led a 75-yard touchdown drive early in the second quarter, but followed it up with two straight three-and-outs and dropped his completion rate below 50 percent.
Ramsey came in about halfway through the second quarter, threw a touchdown pass five minutes later and never looked back.
The rest of the afternoon was a struggle for Ramsey against the Nittany Lions, as it was for the rest of the Hoosiers. The freshman threw his first career interception by the game’s end, but he also energized IU’s ground game with 53 rushing yards on 12 attempts.
Offensive coordinator Mike DeBord said Ramsey should be able to boost IU’s rushing attack as a whole moving forward.
“When he’s gone in the game, the running game has opened up, and that helps you control the ball more,” DeBord said.
With IU’s upcoming opponent, FCS school Charleston Southern, not posing much of a threat, both Allen and DeBord said they’ll ideally use this week to build momentum for the new offensive style they’ll construct around Ramsey.
DeBord acknowledged that IU was working with two different offenses as Lagow and Ramsey split time the past few weeks. The two quarterbacks combined for 185 yards and two touchdowns against Georgia Southern, the only game where time was truly split evenly between the two.
Now, barring injury, Ramsey has full control of IU’s offense.
“It’s not going to be rotating,” Allen said of his quarterbacks. “(Ramsey’s) got to be ready to go, there’s no question.”
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