Behind Enemy Lines: Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow
Coming off a career-best season in 2016, it’s safe to say that Richard Lagow has had a rocky senior year.
The Indiana quarterback has completed just 56 percent of his passes for 661 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers rank just 69th in the nation in total offense after a 3-2 start.
To top it all off, Lagow — who was named honorable mention All-Big Ten last year — lost his starting job to redshirt freshman Peyton Ramsey after a 45-14 loss to then-No. 4 Penn State.
But Lagow is well-versed when it comes to difficult situations.
After graduating from Plano High School in Texas, Lagow signed with Connecticut. He didn’t last long there — nor did he spend much time at Oklahoma State, his next stop.
The Daily spoke with Lagow at Big Ten Media Days in July about playing in former Michigan offensive coordinator Mike DeBord’s scheme this year, his long-winding journey to Indiana and facing Michigan’s top-ranked defense.
Q: The coaching change was made and (former Indiana head coach) Kevin Wilson was dismissed. How surprised were you? Were you prepared at all for that?
RL: No, it was very surprising. I actually found out about it — I was in class, and we got a text saying we had a team meeting later in the day. I’m sitting in class and the information got leaked to the media, and there’s a kid sitting next to me in class, and he taps me, he’s like, ‘What’s going on?’ ‘What are you talking about?’ He turns his phone and shows me the screen (saying), ‘Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson fired,’ and I’m like, ‘Whoa. You know more than I do, apparently!’ It was extremely surprising.
Q: What did you think of the reasons that were given for his dismissal?
RL: I’m not sure. I had never had anything but great experiences with Coach Wilson. He’s the coach that recruited me. I have a good relationship with him. A lot of the stuff that they talked about, I wasn’t even at the University for, I was (at) Cisco Junior College or something else.
TMD: What’s been the biggest adjustment, scheme-wise, going from the old style of offense to Coach DeBord this year?
RL: I think just the terminology is the biggest difference. You have to learn a whole new language, really, when it comes down to it. Everything is called different stuff. That’s the stuff you have to put the most work into.
TMD: What was your reaction to being named to the Johnny Unitas watch list this offseason?
RL: It’s a big honor. Anytime you can be associated with that name, and be on the same list as some of the other top quarterbacks in the country, it’s an honor, something that you don’t really take lightly, so it was cool.
TMD: You had a long road through this process. You started at Connecticut and then Oklahoma State. I guess, through all those stops, did you ever consider letting football go?
RL: I went to Cisco Junior College. That was my platform to get here. It’s a small town, with about 3,000 people — at most. That’s what they say on the internet. But there was times where I questioned why I was doing this. I was there for two seasons. After the first season I had some small offers, nowhere near what I wanted, so I decided to come back for my second year. And just throughout that time, there were a couple times where I would question it. But my teammates at Cisco — I wouldn’t have made it here without those guys, no doubt about that, so they kept my head straight.
TMD: What led you to Cisco in particular?
RL: No one else really wanted me. I was at UConn for like three weeks, I was barely there, and then I was at Oklahoma State because I just need somewhere to go, I had nowhere else to go. And by the time I was at Cisco, I had already transferred twice. Leaving Oklahoma State, a lot of the jucos were like, ‘You’ve already transferred twice, we haven’t seen you play since your senior year.’ Cisco gave me a chance. It worked out. Paid off for them. Paid off for me, as well. Crazy journey.
TMD: Now heading into your last year, looking back, is there anything you would change in retrospect?
RL: No, not a thing. I had a bad attitude when I was at UConn and Oklahoma State, really, so I guess that’s the only thing I would change. But I had to go through that time and mature to grow to get where I am now and be how I am now, so if I got to go through it again, I would do it the same way.
Q: How would you describe that attitude that you had?
RL: I wanted to play right away. I think every freshman needs to have that attitude — ‘Get me on the field right now.’ But you’ve got to have that attitude while also understanding that the people that are there before you, they know stuff that you don’t know. They might’ve played already, they might’ve been through a season, they know the system. So you’ve got to have the attitude of, ‘Put me in the game right now, I’m better than everyone else on this team,’ while also understanding that everyone else around you is there to help you and is there to help you grow as a player and a person and to teach you. That’s the thing that I needed to understand sooner, is that the people that were above me, I needed to look at them as an opportunity to learn, rather than the person that was keeping me from being on the field.
TMD: Looking back at last season, what was the most difficult part about playing Michigan’s defense?
RL: I think Michigan had a good pass rush last year. They had a really good defensive line. Their defensive line made it hard for us not only to run the ball, but made it hard for me to throw the ball at times. When you have some of those guys coming down on you, you don’t have a lot of time to throw the ball.
TMD: Statistically, they blitz on a high percentage of plays. How do you prepare for a team that likes to throw pressure at you?
RL: You’ve just got to be aware of that fact that they do like to bring pressure. When we’re getting ready for a game, we know when they like to bring pressure, on what down, on what distance, against what formation. So they’ll surprise you, but a lot of the times you’re expecting it, so you’ve got to be aware on the field and ready to react.
TMD: Do you have any impressions of this year’s Michigan team at all?
RL: I don’t, I don’t. It’s a whole new year.
Q: What do you think, though, when you hear the name Michigan when you see them on the schedule? What’s the first thing you think about Michigan football?
RL: Tradition. A lot of tradition.