Dienhart: Five observations from Indiana spring game
We got our first extended look at Indiana under new coach Tom Allen during the spring game. And, there is a lot to like as he looks to build on the foundation that Kevin Wilson laid.
Indiana is coming off back-to-back bowl games, which hadn’t happened since 1990-91. But the Hoosiers are still looking to notch their first bowl win since 1991. A big reason for IU’s success last year was the arrival of Allen, who did a bang-up job as defensive coordinator. He will continue to call the defensive signals as he becomes a head coach on the college level for the first time. Here are four observations from the spring game, won 42-36 in “overtime” by the Crimson vs. the Cream.
1. Richard Lagow looks solid. But the real story was the play of redshirt freshman QB Peyton Ramsey, who is more mobile than Lagow. Still, this is Lagow’s team. He arrived before last season from a junior college to take over for Nathan Sudfeld. Lagow had his ups and downs during his debut in Bloomington, ranking second in the Big Ten in passing yards per game. But he needs to be more careful with the football, as he tossed 17 picks. And, he could end up being one of the better signal-callers in the conference this season. But Lagow has to adapt to an entirely new offensive coaching staff. This was a good start.
2. There are some good wideouts on the roster. Simmie Cobbs is back from injury that basically kept him out all last season. Nick Westbrook is an emerging star. Keep an eye on him this fall. And youngsters Taysir Mack and Donavan Hale bubble with potential. No doubt, this passing attack could be formidable. And, it may have to be if the defense can’t build or sustain the progress it made last year. In the spring game, Lagow hooked up often with Cobbs, Shaun Bonner and Ricky Brookins.
3. The running back situation is a work-in-progress with the early loss to the NFL of Devine Redding. Who will be the main man for a program that has an underrated toughness about it when it comes to running the ball? Alex Rodriguez was a spring game star who needs to be watched. Camion Patrick is a guy Kevin Wilson used to rave about, but he has battled injury the past year and missed the game. Same for Mike Majette. There are some nice options like Tyler Natee, a 270-pound battering ram, along with Ricky Brookins, Cole Gest and Devonte Williams. New running backs coach Mike Hart, a former star ball carrier at Michigan, has some work to do.
4. The offensive line could be effective—again. This has been an unheralded unit in recent years. Yes, stud guard Dan Feeney is gone, a likely first-round pick. And center Wes Rogers also had departed. But the Hoosiers have some good building blocks. Gotta like sophomore left tackle Coy Cronk, who could follow Feeney and Jason Spriggs as the next star up front. Brandon Knight is another promising talent. Guard Wes Martin is needs to be a leader up front as the unit gains chemistry and experience.
5. The secondary looks good. Lots of veteran talent to work with young Marcelino Ball coming off a big debut season. He is a big hitter who excels playing in run support. Rashard Fant is a savvy cornerback who has played in a lot of big games. A’Shon Riggins is another nice corner, while Chase Dutra and Tony Fields are experienced hands in the secondary. A big key to the success of this unit will be how well the defensive line comes together.