It was still CHAOSBALL, but just on tranquilizers.
In Richard Lagow's first real collegiate start, Indiana only managed 3 offensive points in the first three quarters of play to start the season opener at Florida International on the verge of the Everglades, but a big final quarter pulled the Hoosiers well away from Ron Turner's Panthers in front of a, uh, sparse crowd in Miami.
Here's three things we learned from Sweetwater tonight.
1. Indiana might have a defense.
In Tom Allen's first game at Indiana, fans should have understood the praise heaped on his defensive unit after the offseason.Two defensive touchdowns off interceptions (Rashard Fant and Tegray Scales) and a safety paced the Hoosiers while the offense struggled to finish drives and find a full rhythm (as expected) in the first game of the season.
It's still too hard to tell if Indiana's defense is truly improved -- and we might not find that out for weeks. Ball State is, well, Ball State -- and will feature a decent MAC offense. Wake Forest scored 7 points tonight on Tulane. No one expects Michigan State's offense to be world-beating in 2016 -- and Ohio State's could do that to anyone and everyone. But the early sample size of only allowing 13 points to FIU? That's a helluva a start -- and a point total that anyone would've been happy with in any game last fall.
2. Richard Lagow has talent and ability and can be a positive asset for Indiana. He might not be there.. yet.
Richard Lagow's debut for Indiana wasn't a rock-star performance, but it's as much as you can expect from someone replacing a school's all-time leading passer on the road in his first year in the program. The JUCO transfer went 18-of-27 for 240 with 2 TDs -- a pretty good opening line for one in a major collegiate debut. There's still plenty to work on and develop there: footwork and progressions are a struggle and one has to wonder if he's capable of commanding the huddle like a Zander Diamont could in his third year starting games in the program. But Lagow proved tonight two things: he's got a ways to go -- but he's go the talent to get there.
3. Devine Redding is still really good -- and Indiana's going to have to lean on the run game.
Sure, sure. Devine Redding's fumble came at a non-ideal time -- and more stringent coaches might have left him sitting for quite some time. But his 22 carries for 135 yards should prove how vital he is to Indiana's success. Wilson loves the rotational backs -- but he and Deland McCullogh have got to be aware of when it's absolutely necessary to have Redding in the game.
Go to bed. That game took forever. Indiana's 1-0. We'll chat more about it tomorrow.