Written by Alex Compton (@alexncompton)
A successful spring campaign was wrapped up with the Cream and Crimson Spring Game on Saturday, and it was good to see some guys out there in game situations. After playing one half of action with two sets of field goal competitions mixed in, the Crimson Team came away victorious, beating the Cream Team by a final of 37-28. The play-calling on offense was very vanilla, as the point of the game was to get guys game reps and get them looks against a real defense that is trying to win the game. Regardless, there were some definite things to take away from the game on Saturday, starting with the quarterback room.
As expected, Peyton Ramsey and Mike Penix Jr. were the two starters on offense on Saturday. Each one had just four completions, but both showcased solid ball skills and the ability to get everyone in place at a good tempo. Peyton Ramsey had an early deep shot picked off by Andre Brown Jr. that was eventually taken away because of an offsides on the defense, but settled in from there. He didn't really force the ball down the field after that, but got the ball out of his hand quickly especially on a few crossing routes over the middle. Ramsey also showed no negative effects from his ankle injury last year, as he was very mobile all game long. He burned the defense on a few plays, including a 53 yard touchdown that opened up the scoring. On the other side of the field, Penix Jr. didn't force any balls, which was a great sign, and hit Whop Philyor over the middle a few times right in the soft spot of the defense. Penix Jr. was pressured heavily during the game, but was able to keep his eyes downfield and make the proper read with the ball. For a guy that's supposed to be a high school senior, that was a great sign.
At the end of spring camp, I think the QB room breaks down as follows. Peyton Ramsey is your starter, with Mike Penix Jr. making up the most ground and winning the backup job. Nick Tronti left some to be desired, so he's looking at another year of development before pushing for playing time again. It may not currently matter how the room looks however, as the addition of graduate transfer Brandon Dawkins changes everything. The former starter at Arizona will be on campus once he graduates from U of A, and will immediately be one of the three guys with a shot to win the job. Mike Penix Jr. said he's excited to learn from Dawkins and that having guys to compete against will make everyone better, and Coach Allen echoed many of the same sentiments. Regardless of who wins the job in the fall, Indiana's QB room is in a much better spot now than it was at the beginning of spring ball.
Two somewhat unheralded guys that we told fans to keep an eye on both had strong spring game performances that make the backfield more intriguing moving forward. Walk-on running back Ahrod Lloyd had a very strong game, showcasing a great array of skills and the ability to finish runs. He is a guy that Coach Allen specifically mentioned when talking about guys that turned heads this spring, and I would say he absolutely is a guy that will be getting touches this year as a result of his strong camp. The other guy that really had a solid game was Craig Nelson. He was a guy we mentioned as one of our sleepers for this season based on his skill set, but he may not be a sleeper for much longer if he keeps improving at this rate. Nelson was about a half step away from breaking two long touchdown runs, and also showed off some new strength when running in between the tackles. He didn't line up in the slot, but that is something that he can do as well and that I would expect to see in the not so distant future
All in all, it was a solid day on Saturday. Young guys made some solid plays, both QB's looked good, and nobody went down with a serious injury. The team will now focus on finishing up class, go home to recharge for a little bit, then arrive back on campus to join the incoming freshman for summer camp. As we head back into a slow period, check back on the site for player profiles, interviews with recruits, and much more. Thank you for your support this spring.