Redshirt freshman Peyton Ramsey's play in both the spring game and practices leading up to last night's scrimmage has definitely set up a quarterback battle to watch this August when Indiana convenes for preseason camp.
Ramsey's Crimson team prevailed in overtime in the scrimmage, beating Cream, 42-36. A four yard touchdown run by Alex Rodriguez was the game winner in the extra time.
Regular starter Richard Lagow saw most of the snaps for the Cream team. Unofficially he completed 20-of-34 for 181 yards. He had one touchdown and one interception. That interception was a mistake throw to the left side that veteran corner Rashard Fant smelled out and easily picked off deep in Cream territory.
Lagow threw 17 interceptions last season and cutting down on those mistakes is what may have to happen for him to retain the starting job.
At 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Ramsey gives up four inches and 35 pounds to Lagow but is much more of a threat to run the ball. In the scrimmage he threw it much less but ran it several times despite QB safety rules that did not force the defense to tackle him to end his runs.
Ramsey engineered several successful drives and was unofficially 10-of-17 for 92 yards with a rushing and two passing touchdowns. His only interception was a half ending heave just short of the end zone.
“I am not surprised by his play at all," said head coach Tom Allen. "I watched him last year when he worked with the scouts as a true freshman. He is a coach’s kid. He has a lot of confidence and toughness. He is a good decision maker and a really good football player.”
Veteran wide receiver Simmie Cobbs talked about the young QB's progress.
"It's been incredible from when he first started till now," Cobbs said. "His confidence. He's focused, he's determined and he's not satisfied with where he's at. He's pushing to do everything he can and it's exciting to see that because that's a mentality you definitely want at quarterback."
His first passing touchdown was a perfectly led ball down the middle to tight end Ian Thomas. The senior ran it in the rest of the way for a 23-yard score.
"He was stepping up in the pocket, scrambling around making extra time," Thomas said." That's something that a quarterback has to do, especially with his size and he has the ability to do it."
That first half he capped a 12-play drive play with an 11-yard touchdown run down the middle.
"When he has the ball in his hands, he's dangerous," said linebacker Tegray Scales, Indiana's team MVP in 2016.
In the second half he hit Taysir Mack with a well thrown 10-yard touchdown to the right corner of the end zone. That ended a seven play, 75-yard drive.
Mack made a tremendous play on sophomore corner Andre Brown.
"I think Peyton Ramsey is doing a great job," Lagow said after the game. "You saw tonight that he was able to make plays, and taking care of the football. It's a little bit different because I'm the older guy in the room and he is pretty young so there's still things that he looks to learn from me and my experience. Part of being a leader is teaching the guys beneath you the ropes and guide them in any way possible that you can. I'm trying to leave this place than I found it. I think the world of Ramsey and he has a really bright future."
Based on the scrimmage this may be a two man battle in August. Austin King has drawn praise for his strong arm but the redshirt sophomore only saw limited minutes, connecting on 2-of-4 passes for two yards.
No matter who gets the nod after preseason camp, the competition should prove beneficial.
"It's great when you see you have competition between the quarterbacks--it's always going to make us better," Cobbs said. "You never know what can happen. Starting quarterback could get injured and having a backup quarterback that can do the same job--it's great to see that going on."
The head coach agreed.
“We all need that," Allen said. "We all need to be pushed. People need to feel that there is somebody on their heels. That keeps us sharp, keeps us focused. Again, I am not surprised at all with how he played tonight.”