BLOOMINGTON – Richard Lagow embraces PET, which is not the same as pet, although both can deliver a lot of love.
And when you're a Big Ten quarterback, as Lagow is with Indiana, you need plenty of love, although you need points more.
Lots of points.
That's where PET comes in. It stands for Protect the ball, Explosive plays and Tempo.
This is the new mantra for new head coach Tom Allen, new offensive coordinator Mike DeBord and new quarterbacks coach Nick Sheridan. They push for an offense that thrives in all three areas, and it starts with quarterback.
More than likely, it will be Lagow, last year's starter who seems positioned to maintain that role next season, although nothing is sure except he'll get plenty of action in Thursday night's Cream & Crimson game at Memorial Stadium.
Also in the quarterback mix are Peyton Ramsey and Austin King.
What do coaches want from the quarterback?
“Be in control at line of scrimmage,” Sheridan said. “Be in command of the offense. If you do those things, you'll have a chance to win. If Rich can do that, we'll be fine.”
Allen has made it clear he wants mobility in his quarterback. He wants a player who can stress defenses as much with his legs as with his arm. That was NOT true last season, when Lagow finished with minus-188 rushing yards. He threw for 3,362 yards and 19 touchdowns.
“Coach Allen has said, we're looking for a winner, for a guy who can throw accurately and has escapability,” Sheridan said. “Sometimes that means extending a play in the pocket and throwing downfield. Sometimes it means running for a first down. The longer the play progresses, the harder it is for a defense.”
The 6-6, 240-pound Lagow insists he can do both, and this new offense lets him prove it.
“I have more options to pull the ball and keep it than last year. There are times I get to move out of the pocket and try to make plays there. There are designed roll-out pass or scrambles. I'm moving around a lot more
“I don't have blazing speed, but I can move for as big as I am. I have good feet and when I have space, I can run a little bit.”
Lagow is learning his third different offense in college — his first two years at Cisco (Texas) Community College, last year under former head coach Kevin Wilson (now the Ohio State offensive coordinator) and now with DeBord, coming off a successful run at Tennessee.
“You have to stay on top of it,” Lagow said. “If you study it, it's not hard, but if you slack off and don't study one night because you think you've got it, and then go out and don't know a play, well, quarterback is a lonely place on the field when you don't know what you're doing. You have to stay on top of your work and take it serious.”
Learning includes watching videos of top NFL quarterback such as Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and San Diego's Phillip Rivers, although his favorite is former Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, who recently retired to take an announcer's job with CBS.
“With what happened with CBS was tough for me,” Lagow said with a smile.
“I love watching Roethlisberger and Rivers. I think they're both really in command of what they do. They're both big guys, kind of like me. I love their presence on the field, the way they stay in the pocket and interact with their teammates.
“Obviously those guys are at the top of their games in the best league in the world. You want to emulate them as much as you can, but I get more from seeing their presence on the sidelines. How they react to adversity.”
Sheridan said quarterbacks get clips that show NFL quarterbacks messing up as well as making plays.
“The way it is now there are not many secrets out there. You can pretty much get any tape you want, and that's good and bad plays. It can make them feel better if the best in the world can make the same bonehead mistake you just made.”
Ultimately for a quarterback, it comes down to leadership. Lagow has progressed from last year, and he needed to.
“It's natural for guys to look for leadership from the quarterback,” he said. “I've been through a season. We have some new faces on offense. Some have that deer-in-the-headlight look.
“I'm much more comfortable in that role. I have a better relationship with all the guys. It's hard to lead people if you don't have a great relationship with them.
“There were times last year I didn't have the best relationship with the guys. It's not that we didn't get along, but I just didn't know them. I needed to know them. That's something I tried to put an emphasis on — make sure I knew a lot about each of my teammates.
“Everybody needs different ways to play better — some like to get yelled at and fired up, some have to pull to the side and talk to them.”
Added Sheridan: “I've seen (better leadership) in all the guys. It's not as consistent as we'd like it to be. That's my job, to get it right.
“Part of that is knowing what your own job is. You have to know your job inside and out.”
On Thursday night, we'll get a public glimpse of who knows what.
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