BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow has finally found a Division I school that fits.
The Hoosiers’ up-tempo style plays to his strengths, Indiana’s depth at receiver and strong ground game give him plenty of options, and after two games the strong-armed Texan looks like he’s been running this offense for years, not months.
That’s why the Hoosiers are off to a 2-0 start.
“I carry myself in a way that is not like an incoming freshman and that’s how I acted around the team and the guys,” Lagow said after his most recent win two weeks ago. “Just learning the offense was the only part, really, and learning all the guys new plays.”
For Lagow, it’s been a long journey.
He originally signed with UConn but transferred before his freshman season because of a coaching change. He landed at Oklahoma State, where walked on and redshirted. Then it was off to junior college in Texas for two years.
Now, at his fourth school in four years, the transition from highly-touted junior college prospect to Big Ten starter has gone about as smoothly as possible. He beat out junior Zander Diamont for the starting job in August, then went 18 of 27 for 240 yards with one touchdown pass, one TD run and no turnovers in his starting debut at Florida International.
Two weeks ago against Ball State, Lagow was even better: 17 of 28 for 266 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions and an impressive rating of 175.6. Not surprisingly, he led the Hoosiers to the first 30 points of the game — more than enough to weather the Cardinals’ 20-point closing flurry — for another victory.
Sure, coach Kevin Wilson asked Lagow to fine-tune a few things during their bye week, but he can’t quibble with the ultimate results — especially from the Ball State game.
On his first TD pass, Lagow read the blitz and was calm enough to put just enough air underneath the pass to allow the outstretched Nick Westbrook to run underneath it for a 43-yard catch.
In the second quarter, he sifted through his progressions before throwing a 10-yard dart to Nick Timian for another TD.
In the third quarter, Lagow detected the mismatch on the outside and threw a nifty flanker screen to Westbrook, who sprinted 79 yards for the score.
“You see their screen game, you see their quick-hitters, they’ve got a quarterback who’s starting his second game for them, so that’s part of their package,” Ball State coach Mike Neu said. “They do a good of mixing it up and trying to get him comfortable and calmed down and just playing the game.”
Indiana’s receivers expected nothing less from the new guy they’ve been working with since January.
But he might be playing even better than Wilson anticipated.
“There are a couple calls, we need to clean up,” Wilson said. “We’ve got to get it out of his hands, but he’s got a good look about him. His stats aren’t bad, but he’s 2-0 and that’s good.”
Now comes the hard part — making progress before a daunting stretch against four straight unbeaten teams.
The run begins Saturday when surprising Wake Forest (3-0, 1-0 ACC) comes to town. That’s followed by a home game against hosting No. 8 Michigan State (2-0), a trip to No. 2 Ohio State (3-0) on Oct. 8 and another home game against No. 20 Nebraska (3-0) on Oct. 15.
Between now and then, Lagow knows what his mission is: Get comfortable, get in sync and get ready to show everyone what he can do at his new school.
“First game, I would have liked to have started better,” Lagow said. “Second game, I would have liked to have finished better. So just continue to build the whole package and have one real, complete game and then keep stacking those up in a row.”
Notes: All-American right guard Dan Feeney (concussion) still has not been cleared to practice after getting injured in the Ball State game. … Wilson didn’t say whether Simmie Cobbs Jr. would return this season after injuring his ankle against Ball State.
Online: AP College Football Website: www.collegefootball.org