IU football kicked off the 2019 preseason with its annual media day as Head Coach Tom Allen, the assistant coaches and various players all addressed members of the press on Thursday inside Memorial Stadium.
Here are three takeaways from the day.
1. Peyton Ramsey is the man to catch behind center
Tom Allen said a few weeks ago at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago that redshirt junior Peyton Ramsey will have an edge in the quarterback competition since he started all 12 games in 2018, and the head coach reiterated those sentiments Thursday.
“He's a returning starter, and I think there's a lot of merit in that, and he's earned it,” Allen said. “And I think there's a level of — when you put yourself in that position like he has in the past, and he earned a chance to be a starter two years ago and did it last year, as well. So to me, reward him for that.”
Because Allen called Ramsey starting last season as an advantage in the 2019 battle twice in the last month, it seems as if Ramsey is the frontrunner for this season's quarterback position. That is not to say redshirt freshman Michael Penix Jr. or freshman Jack Tuttle have no chance to win the quarterback job. It just means they will likely have to overtake Ramsey in order to start under center.
2. Running backs should play more of a role in passing game
One change new offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer wants to bring to the Hoosiers in his first year is to involve the running backs more in the passing game.
“The running backs I hope are very involved in the receiving game,” DeBoer said. “I just think that those are some of your best athletes that you have on the football team, not just here but in a lot of programs."
IU's running backs did not produce much in the passing game last season, as no Hoosier halfback had over one hundred yards receiving. IU’s leading pass catcher out of the backfield was now-graduated Mike Majette, who caught 21 passes for 97 yards and one touchdown.
But running backs Coach Mike Hart thinks the running backs will make a bigger difference in the passing game. He mentioned players like sophomore Stevie Scott, junior Cole Gest and sophomore Ronnie Walker Jr. as examples to kick start that trend.
“They can all catch,” Hart said. “Stevie can go out and catch some balls last year and scored a touchdown, Cole is a great third down back and Ronnie can catch."
Hart said it puts more stress on the defense and DeBeor does a great job integrating backs running routes in the offense.
"The more touches we can get the better," Hart said.
3. Kane Wommack has full reigns of the defense
Kane Wommack is taking over the play-calling duties for Allen this season as defensive coordinator, but Allen discussed Thursday how much he has let Wommack control the defense throughout the offseason.
“When we got into spring football, I did not sit in on any of the defensive staff meetings, okay, as they were planning and organizing,” Allen said. “I wanted the defensive coaches to look to Kane, not look to me if there was a question, and let him answer their questions and let him solve the technique discussions and all the things that happen behind closed doors.”
While Wommack is going to call plays and is now leading the Hoosier defense, don’t expect the IU defense to look drastically different than it did when Allen was calling the shots.
“Although Coach Wommack has taken over, his attitude of the defense and the things that we need to do won’t change,” cornerbacks Coach Brandon Shelby said. “That’s being aggressive, being smart and going out and competing. So we’re going to cover man-to-man, blitz and play cover two zone, while trying to make it all look the same.”
Junior defensive back Raheem Layne also believes the changes have been minimal.
“There hasn’t really been many changes,” Layne said. “Coach Wommack’s young, Coach Allen’s young, they’re both pretty similar. Just a different voice, that’s it.”
The Hoosiers open fall camp on Friday and will begin the season at Lucas Oil Stadium against Ball State on Aug. 31.
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