BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana’s starting quarterback, Richard Lagow, is emerging as one of the Big Ten’s top pocket passers.
His backup, Zander Diamont, is a more dynamic runner.
After watching Diamont provide a second-half spark in Saturday’s loss to Nebraska, coach Kevin Wilson wants the best of both worlds.
“He’s actually been our scout team quarterback the last two weeks,” Wilson said, referring to Diamont. “He was Tommy Armstrong, he was J.T. Barrett, so he’s getting 80, 90 percent of his reps going against the first defense. That being said, some of that carries over to what we’re doing.”
It showed up on the field Saturday when the California kid ran eight times for 31 yards while completing 5 of 7 passes for 49 yards.
Lagow’s has not done anything terribly wrong.
After six FBS starts, the junior college transfer has the second-highest yards per game (276.0) in the Big Ten, the second-most touchdown passes (12), the fourth-highest passer efficiency rating (145.8) and a respectable completion percentage of 59.9. The only glaring glitch: Nine interceptions, five of which came in one game and two that went off the hands of receivers. Wilson’s only real public criticism of Lagow came after he drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in a loss to Wake Forest.
Besides, the Hoosiers (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) are playing solid football. They’ve already upset one ranked team and seriously challenged two top 10 teams over the past three weeks , leaving them three wins short of a second straight bowl bid — something that last happened in 1990 and 1991.
After visiting Northwestern (3-3, 2-1) this weekend, Indiana’s more manageable second half of the schedule still includes home games against Maryland, Penn State and Purdue, and a road trip to Rutgers.
Using Diamont as a complement to Lagow makes the Hoosiers tougher to defend, gets another good player on the field and it worked in its first trial run.
“He (Diamont) is a big spark,” receiver Mitchell Paige said after catching nine passes for 101 yards in the 27-22 loss to the Huskers. “We kind of knew that was coming, but he always does — he’s a little spark plug.”
Diamont also has developed into something more than a runner.
Two years ago, when the true freshman was pressed into the starter’s role because of injuries, he threw 132 passes in six starts. In limited work Saturday, Diamont used designed rollouts and zone reads to effectively keep Nebraska’s defense off-balance.
That combination is forcing Wilson to consider all his options, making defensive coordinators around the league cringe at the thought of having to prepare for both Indiana quarterbacks.
“We weren’t playing wildcat. He (Diamont) is just a quarterback that can run a little bit more,” Wilson said. “I just appreciate in this day and age you see quarterbacks check out, it’s all about me getting the ball, receivers getting touches, running backs getting carries. I appreciate the way that he’s battled.”
Notes: Wilson said All-American guard Dan Feeney (concussion) is doing more each day, though he would not say whether he’ll be back on the field this week. Feeney has missed three consecutive games. … Wilson also said kicker Griffin Oakes has a leg injury, which limited his range last weekend.