Coming off its first loss since Sept. 28 at Michigan State, those who spoke to the media Monday for IU football were cool and collected.
IU head coach Tom Allen, his coordinators and select players were available to talk at Memorial Stadium on Monday. The program will recognize 16 seniors this Saturday during its game against No. 12 Michigan — a 3:30 p.m. kickoff that will broadcast on ESPN.
Here are three takeaways.
DeBoer’s offensive contributions, Ramsey’s experience are tough to overlook.
IU offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer is slowly becoming one of the more reputable, up-and-coming coordinators in all of college football. This is his first coaching gig at a power-5 program, and DeBoer has proven that his system can function at any level with the right pieces.
Despite not relying on just one quarterback for a majority of this season, the Hoosiers average 314.3 passing yards per game – the 13th-best rate in the country.
Junior quarterback Peyton Ramsey has plenty of game experience throughout his college career, but even he can see changes in his style of play in the few months he’s spent with DeBoer.
“In the decision-making process, (DeBoer) simplifies things so much,” Ramsey said. “When you’re able to identify things pre-snap because you’re so prepared and locked in, that’s a credit to how he teaches us throughout the week and what we’re able to do on Saturdays.”
On the contrary, DeBoer was complimentary of Ramsey’s skillset and how he makes his own job easier.
“The level of preparation he puts in... it doesn’t surprise me to see what his ability was,” DeBoer said. “As long as he knows his offense and what he’s gonna face, he’s gonna get the ball where it needs to go.”
Michigan offense has progressed from the start of the season.
Allen said he thinks the Wolverines, 8-2 overall and 5-2 in Big Ten play, are playing their best football right now.
Since falling on the road to Penn State for its second loss, Michigan has strung together three straight wins in which it’s outscored opponents 127-31.
“They look like a completely different team, especially on offense,” Allen said of Michigan. “They're just playing with a high level of confidence. They're executing their scheme better, and guys are getting open and getting the ball to open receivers and protecting the ball better.”
Allen credited their recent offensive success to senior quarterback Shea Patterson and an experienced offensive line blocking for him. Saturday, however, the Hoosiers will have their hands full on both sides of the ball.
“Really impressive football team, physically and athletically, and just doing a lot of great things in all three phases,” Allen said.
Seniors embrace final chance to play at Memorial Stadium.
This senior class features the last group of athletes recruited prior to Allen’s time as head coach. Many of them went to both the 2015 Pinstripe Bowl and the 2016 Foster Farms Bowl, Allen’s first game as acting head coach, before enduring consecutive 5-7 seasons.
Allen might not have the same connection with this class as the younger ones he hand-picked, but that doesn’t change his feelings for it.
“They all came here for those same reasons, even if I wasn't here back then,” Allen said. “I just think it's been neat to see the guys buy in, it's been neat to get to know these guys and be able to invest in their lives and make an impact in them that's going to be way beyond what happens on game day.”
For fifth-year offensive lineman Simon Stepaniak, this weekend crept up on him, and the idea of playing on that field one last time hasn’t settled in yet.
“This day was bound to come eventually, and it’s here,” Stepaniak said. “But all I’m really focused on right now is getting things fixed from the Penn State game and getting ready to attack (Michigan) with everything we have because we want this one.”
Stepaniak said it wasn’t easy going through a coaching change after two bowl appearances and before a pair of 5-7 seasons, but he’s just happy to see the program where it’s at on his way out.
“We’re back, and I think we’re back for good,” Stepaniak said he told fellow fifth-year lineman Hunter Littlejohn last week. “We’re going in an upward trend and no one is stopping us. The only way we’re getting stopped is if we stop ourselves.”
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.
More in Sports
The Los Angeles Dodgers won its first World Series in 32 years.
Javon Swinton and Jacolby Hewitt combined for three catches against Penn State.
Head coach Teri Moren’s squad lost its leading rebounder over the offseason.