Scouting Report: Taking An In-Depth Look At The 2017 Indiana Hoosiers

By James Grega on August 28, 2017 at 10:10 am
Richard Lagow

Game week is officially here. 

The Buckeyes are set to take on the Hoosiers in Bloomington, Ind., on Thursday night in what Indiana coach Tom Allen called the biggest home opener in school history.

Ohio State's week of preparation has already started, and one of the first things any football program does before beginning game prep is put together and distribute a scouting report on the upcoming opponent. So I have decided to put together our very own Eleven Warriors scouting report on the Buckeyes' upcoming opponent each Monday, and we begin the series with the Hoosiers.

Each week's scouting report will primarily break down the opponent's top players and personnel, analyzing strengths and weaknesses for each. The always knowledgeable Kyle Jones will continue to tackle the scheme side of things in his Film Study series.

Let's dive into the Hoosiers, shall we?

Offense (Spread)

Quarterback: Richard Lagow (No. 21) 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, redshirt senior


  • Lagow has a very strong arm and finished second in the Big Ten with 3,362 yards last season. 
  • Big frame makes him more difficult to bring down. 
  • Moves well in the pocket. Not particularly fast, but can extend plays when pressured. 
  • Experienced signal caller that is not easily discouraged.


  • Forces throws into tight windows, leaving opportunities for interceptions. Threw 17 picks last season. 
  • Not a threat to move the ball consistently with his feet. 

Running back: Tyler Natee (No. 31) 6-foot, 260 pounds, sophomore


  • Big, strong back that looks for contact, difficult to bring down on first contact.


  • Does not have breakaway speed, not a big-play threat. 
  • Largely inexperienced, has just 61 career carries. Not expected to be full-time running back. 

Wide Receivers: Nick Westbrook (No. 15) 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, junior / Donovan Hale (No. 10) 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, junior


  • Westbrook is an experienced downfield threat and leading receiver from 2016 team. 
  • Westbrook's height makes him a weapon to win 50/50 balls and also has speed to win one-on-one match-ups deep downfield. 
  • Both have long arms that make it difficult to get off blocks on the outside. 


  • Westbrook struggled to get open against Ohio State's press coverage consistently in 2016, registering just two receptions. 
  • Hale, who reportedly passed Westbrook on the depth chart in fall camp, has just 14 career receptions.

Offensive Line: LT Coy Cronk (No. 54) 6-foot-5, 305 pounds, sophomore / LG Wes Martin (No. 76) 6-foot-3, 310 pounds, redshirt junior / C Hunter Littlejohn (No. 68) 6-foot-3, 305 pounds, redshirt sophomore / RG Simon Stepaniak (No. 72) 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, redshirt sophomore / RT Brandon Knight (No. 62) 6-foot-5, 305 pounds, junior


  • Experienced left side. Cronk and Martin are both returning starters and helped lead the way for a 1,000-yard back in Devine Redding last season.


  • Littlejohn and Stepaniak are first year starters, and Knight is coming off an injury after starting six games in 2016. Inexperience and undersized offensive line could be exposed with strong defensive line play. 
Indiana offense
Lagow completed 50 percent of his passes and threw two touchdown passes in a 38-17 loss to Ohio State in 2016.

Overall analysis: An experienced quarterback and wide receiver combination could cause problems for an inexperienced Ohio State secondary. The running back situation will likely be by committee with Mike Majette and possibly Cole Gest (Cleveland St. Edward product) also playing. Wide receiver Simmie Cobbs (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) could make an impact if he plays. He has great size, and would compliment Westbrook well. He has battled off-field issues in the offseason and his status is questionable for the game. The battle on this side of the ball will likely come down to who can control the line of scrimmage. If Lagow is given time to throw, he can make defenses pay. When rushed, however, he is prone to turnovers. 

Defense (4-2-5)

Defensive Line: DE Greg Gooch (No. 49) 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, senior / DT Nate Hoff (No. 74) 6-foot-2, 310 pounds, redshirt senior / DT Jacob Robinson (No. 91) 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, junior / DE Robert McCray III (No. 47) 6-foot-2, 270 pounds, senior


  • Experienced front returns three starters in Gooch, Hoff and Robinson. 
  • Hoff is strong, and gets good leverage on offensive linemen. Recorded one sack against Ohio State last season. 


  • Shorter defensive ends in Gooch and McCray should make it easier to get off quick passes without them getting their hands up. 
  • McCray has yet to start a game for Indiana in his four-year career. 
  • Starting front accumulated just five sacks combined last season, with Hoff tallying 2.5. 

Linebackers: Tegray Scales (No. 8) 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, senior / Chris Covington (No. 4) 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, senior


  • Scales might be the most versatile linebacker in the Big Ten. Led conference in tackles (126) in 2016 and lined up at both linebacker and as an edge rusher. 
  • Scales moves well and will blitz off the edge often. Led the team in sacks with 7.0 last season. His speed could cause problems for Ohio State offensive tackles. 
  • Scales can play in space, as well as shed blocks near the line of scrimmage. 
  • Covington is athletic and thrives in space, having played quarterback for Indiana in 2014 as a freshman.


  • Covington is inexperienced as a linebacker, with just one career start and 33 career tackles.
  • Neither linebacker has great size, and can be pushed back if the offensive line gets to the second level.
Indiana defense
The Hoosier defense limited J.T. Barrett to just 93 yards passing in 2016.

Secondary: CB Rashard Fant (No. 16) 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, senior / CB Andre Brown Jr. (No. 14) 6-feet, 195 pounds, redshirt sophomore / FS Tony Fields (No. 19) 5-foot-11, 205 pounds, senior / SS Johnathan Crawford (No. 9) 6-foot-2, 203 pounds, junior / HUSKY Marcelino Ball (No. 42) 6-feet, 210 pounds, sophomore


  • One of the most experienced secondaries in the country. All five players are returning starters (Brown started eight games in 2015, missed 2016 with injury).
  • Ball will play closer to the line of scrimmage, as what some refer to as a 'monster' back. Still a member of the secondary, Ball plays the ball well in the air, as he finished second on the team in pass deflections last season with eight.
  • Fant is the most talented corner of the group. Led the conference in pass breakups with 17, and might be one of the fastest corners in the Big Ten. He plays the ball well in the air despite being slightly undersized. 
  • Crawford is a ballhawk at safety, collecting seven interceptions in two years as a starter. Has tremendous range and breaks on the ball well. 


  • Brown is coming off injuries in the last two seasons, costing him a total of 22 games. Could be a liability on defense if he is not 100 percent. 
  • Fields struggles to track the ball in the air at times, but is not afraid to come up and make a hit. Tallied 70 tackles last season. 

Overall analysis: The 4-2-5 defense has a primary objective of shutting down passing games and getting numerous athletes on the field at once. The Indiana secondary will pose a challenge to unproven Ohio State wide receivers as they put their most talented and skilled athletes on the field to test the Buckeye pass-catchers. Scales will be counted on to make plenty of tackles in the second level and also get pressure on J.T. Barrett, as will Covington. 

Special Teams

Kicker: Griffin Oakes (No. 92) 5-foot-10, 198 pounds, redshirt senior


  • Extremely long leg, and four-year starting kicker.
  • Hit career-long 58-yarder against Maryland in 2014, a school record.
  • Won 2015 Big Ten Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year award.


  • Can be inaccurate on extra points on occasion, has missed six in his career.

Punter: Haydon Whitehead (No. 94) 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, redshirt sophomore

Australian native, has yet to appear in a game, but is expected to beat out Joseph Gedeon for the starting punter job in 2017.

Overall analysis: While it is unlikely, should the game come down to a big kick for Indiana, the Hoosiers would feel comfortable sending Oakes out for a pressure-packed boot. On the other side, Whitehead has yet to kick a ball in a game, and it wouldn't be shocking to see Ohio State come after a punt early in this game. 

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