As we have moved under 50 days until the first time the Indiana Hoosiers will take the field for this 2018 football season, there is still one very large question surrounding this program: Who will be the starting quarterback? There are essentially three players that could contend for the position, but based off sources, it seems like two of them are much more likely (Brandon Dawkins & Peyton Ramsey) than the third (Freshman Mike Penix). Whoever gets the starting job, their success this season will ultimately decide the success of this team. Consider last season, outside of the Maryland game, if IU has just slightly above average QB play, they are in a bowl game. Peyton Ramsey and Richard Lagow both were under center last season, and the optimistic words that surrounded Lagow coming into the season were evaporated just two quarters into the week two game at Virginia where the offense looked like a D-3 team. This is where Ramsey made a name for himself, leading the team to a victory. Looking forward to this season’s battle, Ramsey is better known to the Indiana fan base and holds a decent amount of experience while Dawkins has more experience, coming in as a grad-transfer from Arizona. Penix is a 4-star freshman that the coaches have been really impressed by but I doubt that they throw a freshman under center for game 1. The good thing about all three options, they can all run.
• Dawkins comes in with a great amount of experience in the PAC-12. I am not crazy about his passing statistics, which is concerning because IU will sling the ball all of the field. Disregarding Dawkins 2015 season with the Wildcats (not a lot of meaningful time), he had a completion % of 53.8% in 2016 and 61.4% in 2017, so there was significant improvement in that, although IU fans would like to see that be higher. For me, the most concerning part about his passing is his turnover rate. In the last two seasons, he has thrown 13 TD and 10 INT, 5 TD and 4 INT last season before being replaced by upcoming star Khalil Tate. If he can prove to be an accurate passer that can make the right reads, he should be the starting quarterback. Why do I think he should be the starting QB if he can do this? Easy, the dude can flat out run the ball. Just type in his name on Youtube and his Arizona highlights are essentially all electrifying runs. In 2016 he was less than 60 yards away from 1000 yards rushing and tallied 10 TD on the ground. In less action last season, he tallied 8 TD with 460 yards on the ground. Please, please, please be accurate, I want to see him cut teams up with his feet.
• Ramsey comes in holding the best completion percentage in school history for a single season (65.4%). He played in 9 games as a redshirt freshman, starting four of those games. Ramsey did a nice job protecting the ball, except for Michigan where he threw two INT. My main issue with Ramsey is that he doesn’t display that smoothness and poise that you see in the nations top quarterbacks. Last season, when the pocket would collapse, you could sense the chaos that he was feeling. I would love to see him grow from last season and progress into the leader that the offense needs. He didn’t take a lot of risks, didn’t throw the long ball great, but did what the team needed at the time to get some wins for the team. Last year he finished with 10 TD and 5 INT in the air while rushing for 226 yards and two TD. I will also say that he was not helped in any form by the play calling of Coach DeBord, who I thought let the team down in some situations last season (Michigan State). His familiarity with the playbook, chemistry with his receivers, and experience in the Crimson and Cream could land him the starting job.
• I would be stunned if Penix starts, stunned. I think it would be most beneficial to redshirt this season, get stronger/faster under Coach Ballou, and return for his Freshman (RS) season ready to compete with Ramsey for the starting job, where I think he would win. He was a proven winner in high school and is fluid at the quarterback position. I don’t think he will be under center at all this season, but it won’t be long before he is.
Whoever the starter is will have ample threats to throw the ball to at split out, slot, and tight end. Also, if the offense line progresses, the running game should be strong which will open up routes in the air. Things could come together for a year where Tom Allen needs to display improvement. Also, there may be a package where Indiana Mr. Football Reese Taylor, freshman from Ben Davis, comes in to mess with the defense. If Reese was two inches taller, he would be the starter without question, but people freak out over a 5-11 QB so I guess we will never know if he could have been a Heisman contender.