Hoosier opponent?

Thomas Jilk

We caught up with Cameron Drummond, sports editor for the Indiana student newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student. He gave us inside knowledge of the Indiana football program, including its strengths, schemes, stadium and history.

What would you say is the biggest strength of the Indiana football team? Biggest weakness?

As weird as it is to say this, this year’s IU football team prides itself on defense. Long gone are the days where Kevin Wilson’s high-powered offense would try and lift IU to victory despite a subpar defense. New head coach Tom Allen helped lead a defensive revitalization for IU last season, and the team is definitely stronger on that side of the ball. The defense also comes with veteran presence from senior linebacker Tegray Scales and senior cornerback Rashard Fant, two of the best in the Big Ten.

IU has failed miserably to run the ball so far this season. Starting junior running back Mike Majette has averaged 1.1 yards per carry this season, and IU as a team has gained less than 200 yards rushing through two games. Granted, one of those games came against the fierce defensive front of then-No. 2 Ohio State, but IU has struggled a lot in the run game early on.

Senior Richard Lagow started at QB but did not finish in the win against Virginia. Peyton Ramsey came in and impressed. Do you know who will be the starting QB against Georgia Southern?

According to both the IU depth chart, released on Monday, and Tom Allen’s comments both after the Virginia game and during his weekly press conference, Richard Lagow will start.

Ramsey is a still a redshirt freshman and only entered the Virginia game after Lagow got off to a dreadful start. Ramsey is a lot more mobile and presents more of a dual-threat option than Lagow, but it looks like IU will stick by its senior quarterback.

Which skill players on offense for IU are the most dangerous and why?

Simmie Cobbs, Jr. has lit up the field for IU through two games. A year after he only played one down for IU after a suspension and then a season-ending injury, Cobbs has come back better than ever before. Cobbs has 16 catches for over 200 yards this season, including a very nice touchdown against Virginia that sparked the IU offense.

Senior Tegray Scales was a second-team All-American linebacker last season. What makes him so good?

Scales is like a freight train on defense. He’s not the biggest guy at six feet tall and 230 lbs, but he gets involved on almost every play. The defensive system IU uses features four defense lineman, two linebackers, two safeties, two defensive backs and a “husky”, which is a hybrid linebacker / safety player.

Scales, as one of the two linebackers, dominates anything in the mid-range of the defense between the linemen and the safeties, allowing him to pick up some insane stats. He’s mobile enough to play as a linebacker, while he also has a great knowledge of the defensive scheme so he’s able to rush the passer and drop in coverage when needed.

Talk a little bit about Memorial Stadium and the Indiana football program in general. We think of IU as a basketball school for good reason, but what’s unique about the football program?

Don’t get me wrong, IU is a basketball school. It always has been and it always will be. Interest level in the football program tends to go in waves, and right now IU is riding a high wave. ESPN College GameDay came to Bloomington for this year’s opening game against Ohio State, and the game was widely, and correctly, billed as the biggest season opener in IU football history.

It’s not often that the student section at Memorial Stadium is filled to the brim, but it was that night. The IU turnaround really began around 2005 when the late Terry Hoeppner took over as head coach. Hoeppner only coached IU for two seasons before he tragically died of brain cancer, but he changed a lot of perceptions about the IU program.

There’s now a monument in the North End Zone of Memorial Stadium called “Hep’s Rock”, its a rock that Hoeppner found on the IU practice field one day and now all IU players touch the rock as they enter the field.

This weekend is the unofficial 10-year anniversary of Hoeppner’s death, and IU will also be honoring the 2007 football team that fulfilled Hoeppner’s goal to “Play 13” and qualify for a bowl game. So, despite being a seemingly meaningless game, this Saturday will be an emotional day for the program.

Who are some notable former IU football players?

Current NFL players Tevin Coleman (Atlanta running back) and Jordan Howard (Chicago running back) are probably the best-known pro Hoosiers right now. Former NFL quarterback Trent Green and wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, who played as a dual-threat quarterback at IU, are some other big names.