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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, September 09, 2017 1:00 am

Lagow, IU offense out for more vs. Virginia

Ben Portnoy | For The Journal Gazette

Indiana at Virginia

Where: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Va.

When: 3:30 p.m. today


Offense was the X-factor for Indiana in its season-opening loss to No. 2 Ohio State and it should be the difference in their second game of the season against Virginia today.

Quarterback Richard Lagow is coming off of one of the best starts of his IU career, going 40 of 65 for 410 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. His 65 pass attempts were the most in a single game in program history.

Lagow looked sharp inside the pocket in Week One, finding open receivers on underneath crossing routes instead of forcing deep-balls as he liked to do last year. Yet he still sees plenty of opportunity to get better.

“I think if you just look at the stat line, you know I got a lot of texts saying 'hey, good game, you threw for a lot of yards, touchdowns, whatever,' but when you really look at it, I could've played much better and I have to play much better to win some games,” Lagow said.

Redshirt-juniors Simmie Cobbs, Luke Timian, junior Donavan Hale and senior Ian Thomas figure to be major players in the passing game. Freshman Whop Philyor and Ty Fryfogle will likely get some snaps against the Cavaliers after Nick Westbrook's season-ending ACL tear.

“Younger guys got to step up and opportunities will be given to them,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “That's what this is about. When one individual has challenges, somebody else has to rise up and create his own opportunity and take advantage of it.”

For Lagow, it will be the Cavaliers secondary and linebackers he must be mindful of this week. Inside linebacker Micah Kiser and free safety Quinn Blanding, both All-Americans in 2016, are some of the best defenders in the nation. Kiser led the ACC in tackles per game with 11.2 per contest, while Blanding was second in the conference, averaging 10 per game.

This week will also loom large for the Indiana rushing attack that piled up a meager 17 yards against a dominant Ohio State defensive line. Mike Majette and Morgan Ellison look as though they'll shoulder the load against the Cavaliers after they combined for 14 of the 17 carries by IU running backs last week.

“You take what you get for sure but we got to be able to run the football,” Allen said.

On defense, linebacker Tegray Scales will continue to anchor the Hoosiers. Scales finished the opener with 12 tackles (nine solo).

“I feel like we deserved it, all the work we put in, but it just didn't go our way” Scales said of the Hoosiers' opening loss. “So we just got to bounce back.”

Virginia running back Jordan Ellis should take up plenty of attention from the Indiana defense. The junior ran for 80 yards and a touchdown on 20 attempts in the Cavaliers' 28-10 win over William and Mary.

Fifth-year senior quarterback Kirk Benkart will also be a point of concern. Benkart, who began his career at East Carolina, completed 69.2 percent of his passes in Virginia's first game and is coming off a season in which he threw for 2,552 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

“He's a really good quarterback, very accurate,” Allen said. “Big thing with quarterbacks like him pressure is a big deal.”