Quarterback rotation helps Hoosiers get ground game on track
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Indiana coach Kevin Wilson threw a big change-up at Maryland on Saturday.
The Terrapins swung and missed all day.
As Indiana's Richard Lagow ran the regular offense, Wilson also used backup Zander Diamont, a stronger runner than thrower, and 270-pound freshman running back Tyler Natee, a high school quarterback. The continual changes and small switches, like having Diamont and Natee swap spots in the backfield to take snaps, completely confused the defense and allowed the Hoosiers' struggling offense to finally get in sync.
''I don't think they were totally ready for a 280-pound back there,'' All-American guard Dan Feeney said following the 42-36 victory. ''But I think we handled it well and I think we had a nice little scheme.''
Indeed, the rotating quarterbacks proved the perfect remedy for Indiana (4-4, 2-3) .
Lagow is a pure pocket passer, but Diamont, who started games at quarterback each of the past two seasons because of injuries, kept the Terrapins' defense honest. Indiana had some success with the switching two weeks ago against Nebraska though the Hoosiers still lost.
This week, Wilson added Natee as part of the package and the back nicknamed ''Big Bacon'' rolled right through smaller defenders, even avoiding a sack as he pushed one Terrapin on his only drop back of the game.
For Maryland (5-3, 2-3 ), it was about more than just moving parts.
It took the Terrapins several series to adapt and even then, they struggled. Late in the game, after they did seem to get a handle on Natee & Co., the Hoosiers wore down Maryland with their heavy package and Diamont scored the sealing touchdown on a 52-yard run.
Afterward, coach DJ Durkin acknowledged the game plan caught Maryland off-guard.
''That was new, so early on it was (a problem),'' he said. ''But I thought we adjusted the call well enough to how we wanted to play it.''
The problem was Maryland never really got a true handle on the Hoosiers ground game.
And the result was predictable, too. Devine Redding, Natee and Diamont all finished with 100-yard games, five players rushed for touchdowns and the Hoosiers churned out 414 yards rushing - 41 short of the Hoosiers' stadium record set in 2014 against Indiana State.
Natee is hoping it was the kind of day that will spur even bigger and better things over the final four games as Indiana continues to make a postseason push.
''Feels pretty good to finally get me started, now I expect myself to do it every game and do it better,'' Natee said, laughing. ''I had to read one guy the whole game and he did the same thing and it worked.''
Will the Hoosiers try this tactic again?
Perhaps. Even if they don't, however, Wilson knows it will force opponents to spend time preparing for one more creative element in Indiana's already unpredictable offense.
''That can get schemed up,'' Wilson said. ''We're just trying to find some running game. We gave them (the offense) some stuff today, they executed it and we did it.''
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