Spring Games are often much ado about nothing considering the depleted rosters, freshness of new schemes and the general lack of motivation to go beat up on a true opponent.
Indiana's Spring Game—a 42-36 overtime victory for the Crimson squad over the Cream—was likely no exception. A game with a pair of 12-minute quarters in the first half and a running clock on eight-minute quarters in the second only carries so much weight.
Still, takeaways can be had. After all, football is football any way you draw it up.
Peyton Ramsey is going to be good
Okay, so this one is cheating a bit because it's not just about the Spring Game.
But redshirt freshman Peyton Ramsey has spent the better part of the last 10 months or so quietly building a reputation behind the scenes. A five-time Scout Team Player of the Week and the Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year, Ramsey's ability as a dual-threat passer has garnered praise across the board.
The Spring Game gave a not-so-subtle glimpse as to why.
Ramsey completed 10-of-17 passes for 92 yards, a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown. His lone pick came on an attempted Hail Mary on the last play of the opening half.
“Not really surprised at all,” Tom Allen said of Ramsey's outing . “I watched him last year when he worked with the scout (team) as a true freshman. Coach’s kid, lot of moxie, lot of toughness, good decision maker, really good football player.”
Ramsey, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound passer, is more Zander Diamont than Richard Lagow. He can extend the play on his feet but clearly has little hesitation throwing the ball when he thinks he has his man.
He was smart, taking few risks and calmly working his way through his progressions throughout the evening. When the first option wasn't there he was quick to try and hit his check-down option, throw the ball away or just take off with it on the ground himself.
“I think Peyton’s doing an amazing job,” Lagow said of his younger counterpart. “You saw it tonight. He’s able to make plays, he’s athletic, he’s smart, he takes care of the football.”
Lagow, the returning starter as a fifth-year senior, is unlikely to lose his job to the unproven Ramsey. That would take quite a jump by the youngster or some sort of significant setback to Lagow's game.
But options are good. They always are.
And Ramsey seems like one.
Ricky Brookins and Alex Rodriguez looked...well...fantastic
Redshirt junior running backs Ricky Brookins and Alex Rodriguez haven't had much in terms of spotlight.
The two have a combined 230 rushing yards and one touchdown between them. Throughout the duration of their careers they've found themselves on the outside of the running back rotation looking in. Indiana didn't need them.
That's not really the case any longer.
On Thursday, Brookins and Rodriguez were the lone two healthy options at running back. They carried their respective teams throughout the evening, never taking a break as they impacted the game both on the ground as rushers and through the air as receivers.
"It felt really good to be able to go out there and show a little bit," Brookins said. "Me and A-Rod, it's friendly competition. I'm happy for him and I know he's happy for me."
Just as Brookins said that inside the Memorial Stadium Weight Room, Rodriguez snuck up behind him and draped an arm over his shoulder. The man teammates and friends call "A-Rod 2Kold" joked with Brookins about needing to get better at a video game as they shared a laugh as teammates, and more importantly, friends.
"I just feel like IU was really showcased tonight,” Rodriguez said a little earlier. “It’s not really about me, it’s about the team. I think everybody competed well, everybody did their own thing tonight.”
Running back has traditionally been a source of strength on IU's roster. The Hoosiers have leaned on Stephen Houston, Tevin Coleman, Jordan Howard and Devine Redding over the better part of the last decade but don't appear to have a true NFL-caliber back like them in the waiting.
Redshirt senior Camion Patrick appears to be the favorite to take over based on reputation alone, but it doesn't appear like he's been able to stay healthy. With a few others in the running back room banged up it was Brookins and Rodriguez making the most of their opportunity.
They aren't sexy names with big numbers or NFL Draft stock and may never be.
But Brookins and Rodriguez look more than serviceable for now.
Jonathan Crawford remains Indiana's quiet superstar
Jonathan Crawford doesn't say much. He never really has.
The junior safety from Lago, Florida, doesn't particularly like speaking. He's got a quiet voice and likes to keep to himself. He's been saying the better part of the last two seasons that he's been working on his communication skills but is still just coming along in that area. It's a weakness of his.
But his strength? That doesn't require any talking.
Crawford has been, is and looks to continue to be a ballhawk in the defensive backfield. He picked off Ramsey to end the first half of the spring game and would have added a pick-six later on if it wasn't for an offsides penalty negating his pick and score a while later for the Cream team.
"I thought I played pretty well," Crawford said afterwords. "Obviously we lost, though, so that's not good."
That's Crawford in a nutshell. He's quick to move on from talking about himself and moving straight to putting his focus on his team. He'd rather the attention turn toward the Hoosiers than a Hoosier.
But regardless of how much you hear from Crawford, you'll hear about Crawford plenty moving forward. He's already emerged as one of the better safeties in the Big Ten having been named Honorable Mention All-Conference a season ago and is looking to build from there.
Multi-pick games like he nearly had in the Spring Game will help.
So tell your friends about Jonathan Crawford.
He'll let his play do the rest of the talking.
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