Welcome back to the third day of Indiana week. Today, we’re going to encourage you to head over to Big Woods Brewery in Bloomington and have any of their excellent beers.
Today, we’re going to talk about Indiana’s offense.
The Hoosiers welcome back the services of QB Richard Lagow, WR Nick Westbrook and potentially look to RB Mike Majette to carry the rock.
How will Indiana do on offense this year with Lagow, Westbrook, and Majette given a coaching transition and in general?
LPW: Richard Lagow seems solid considering his production last year, but I’m not sure that Mike Majette (or whoever the Hoosiers choose to fill Devine Redding’s shoes will be comparable). Nick Westbrook will probably have another really productive year. Then again, it all depends on how well the Hoosier O-Line can protect Lagow and give him time.
Candystripes: Given that last year’s offense looked a bit lackluster, I think having a bit of a shake-up this year might help at least part of the offense. While a new offensive line coach and a new running backs coach means the front might be a little shaky at the start of the season, the wide receivers should be as good as ever, and if Lagow can build on the good parts of last season (while moving past the bad parts; see Wake Forest), Indiana should be finding the end zone with a bit more regularity in 2017.
Townie: You know the smell of vomit after drinking a handle of Southern Comfort? Yeah...that’s how bad Indiana’s offense is going to be this year.
Don’t get me wrong, the Indiana offense put up some yards last year. They were third(!) in total offense last year. They averaged 426 per game...so they could move the ball. The problem was, they couldn’t score. They only put up 39 touchdowns last year.
The only teams with fewer touchdowns last year were Purdue, Sparty, Illinois and rutger.
Indiana managed just 18 touchdowns on the ground. Again, that puts them fourth from the bottom. They did much better passing, ranking second in passing yards per game...behind only Purdue in average yards per game.
I guess there’s more to winning than a prolific pass offense?
Like Purdue, Indiana suffered through a lot of interceptions. Indiana’s quarterbacks threw 18 picks last year. That’s second most in the B1G...after Purdue.
Now you have wholesale change. There will be a new offensive coordinator in Mike Debord. He comes from Tennessee, where he ran an offense that won’t work as well with the talent he’s got in Indiana.
Josh Dobbs was a four star, dual threat quarterback. He ranked 4th in his position. He’s gone on to the NFL now.
Lagow is good, but he’s not Dobbs. Not by a long shot. He doesn’t run. He had 37 “rushing” attempts. Most of those were run-for-your-life moments. He racked up -178 yards.
The best thing Debord could do for Indiana is to settle Lagow down and keep him safe. The Indiana defense took the ball away frequently last year...but Lagow and Co. gave it right back. Constantly.
In their close loss to Wake Forest(!), he threw five picks.
I’m looking for Indiana’s offense to remain right where it is...fourth from the bottom in the B1G.
MNW: Tom Allen is basically giving Mike Debord the reins and letting him run with it...but he’s also providing the vision that Indiana run something approaching a “tempo-spread” offense, relying on the run to make the pass available.
Given the reshuffling and replacement on the offensive line...good luck.
Now, I think there’s a much better chance that Indiana doesn’t fail to finish quite as many drives this fall (it’s hard to get worse than 124th in pts/trip I-40), but I’m still uncertain about the run setting up the pass or, for that matter, Indiana being able to move the ball behind a green offensive line. It might take some growing pains against the non-conference portion of the schedule after Ohio State spends a day in the Hoosier backfield.
Over time I like Debord to rebuild the Indiana offense to something approaching its stupidly-high-scoring ways. But I’m not sold it’s happening in 2017.
Aaron: Indiana appears to have the backs and receivers in place for a big year on offense, but a lot is going to depend on that offensive line getting some push on the early downs and keeping Lagow out of third-and-long situations. If it can’t get that done, we could see a repeat of last season with Lagow throwing for a bunch of yards but also more than one interception per game, which made it very hard for the Hoosiers to break through in their tough division. Sure, a whopping five of Lagow’s picks came against Wake Forest, but he also turned the ball over multiple times in a close loss to Nebraska and a six-point win over Rutgers. If the veteran quarterback can cut his interceptions in half, it could mean an extra two or three wins for Indiana.