Indiana turns to new QB chance against Charleston Southern
All Indiana quarterback Peyton Ramsey wanted was a chance to show he could be a Big Ten starter.
Now that he’s earned the job, he must demonstrate he can keep it.
Less than a week after learning he would replace Richard Lagow in the lineup and that the Hoosiers’ two-man quarterback rotation was over, the Cincinnati high school star will make his first college start against Charleston Southern.
“I think I’m ready,” he said. “I’ve had opportunities to go out and play and play against good football teams.”
Ramsey played well enough to convince coach Tom Allen to make a midseason move.
It’s not that Lagow, a fifth-year senior, necessarily played badly.
Ramsey just moved the ball with more consistency, had fewer turnovers and posed a bigger challenge with his legs for Indiana’s opponents. So after getting blown out at No. 4 Penn State last weekend, Allen changed directions by turning the reins over to the talented redshirt freshman who had been dreaming of this day from the moment he arrived on campus.
The first test comes Saturday when the Hoosiers (2-2, 0-2 Big Ten) face a team that wasn’t even on the schedule a month ago.
“You have a two-week window here before we play back in the Big Ten again, so it gives us a chance to be able to look at some things,” Allen said. “But Charleston Southern, they’re the team that we play and that’s obviously all we’re focused on now.”
For Indiana, the Buccaneers (2-2) pose a familiar challenge. They, like Georgia Southern, run the triple option out of the shotgun.
The result two weeks ago: Hoosiers 52, Georgia Southern 17.
This time, they’ll have a new quarterback who could bring more efficiency to the offense — and a team ready to get things righted.
“We’re hoping that the benefit of playing Georgia Southern a couple weeks ago will be very helpful schematically in terms of not having to go through and do things that we haven’t seen, the techniques that you have to teach,” Allen said. “That should help, but it still creates challenges. That’s why they do it. That’s why they run it.”
Though not nearly as prominent as the quarterback switch, Allen also said he’s making changes on special teams.
While not providing specifics, it shouldn’t come as a surprise after Allen claimed special teams’ miscues last week led directly or indirectly to 21 points. That, Allen said, must get fixed immediately.
“I feel like our guys mentally were ready to play and did not execute the opening kickoff,” Allen said, referring to the 98-yard return for a touchdown. “And that’s a real momentum killer when they just take it right back the opening play of the game. So that to me is just inexcusable. Had to address personnel on that.”
Charleston Southern has won its last two games by a combined score of 124-7 over Point and Mississippi Valley State.
Don’t expect it to be so easy this week.
The Buccaneers lost their only other matchup against a Big Ten foe, 44-0 at Illinois in 2012. In fact, Charleston Southern is 0-19 against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents all-time. But it did beat Appalachian State in 2013 and Coastal Carolina in 2016 as both schools were transitioning from the Football Championship Subdivision to full-time FBS status.
DEFENDING THE RUN
Yes, the Buccaneers like to run. Succeeding may prove difficult.
A week ago against Penn State and Heisman Trophy candidate Saquon Barkley, the Hoosiers gave up just 39 yards rushing, their fewest against a conference opponent since the 2013 season finale against Purdue (31). The Nittany Lions also averaged 1.1 yards per carry.
Charleston Southern defensive lineman Anthony Ellis will be worth watching Saturday.
A year ago, he led the Big South with 16.0 tackles per game. Not surprisingly, he was chosen as the conference’s preseason pick for defensive player of the year — for the second straight year. He hasn’t disappointed. Ellis leads the team with 3½ sacks and he’s played a big role in helping the Buccaneers climb to No. 2 in FCS with 4.25 sacks per game.