Thursday, July 15, 2010

IU's Chappell Looks To Beat The Odds

Could Ben Chappell do what Texas’s Colt McCoy did last year and win the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award?

The odds might not be in the Indiana senior quarterback’s favor, but at least he has a chance. He’s on the preseason watch list for the award, which goes annually to the nation’s top senior quarterback and includes on-field performance, character, citizenship, integrity.

In other words, being a good player, a good guy and a good representative of the university.

And if your team happens to contend for a national title, all the better.

Chappell fits most of that criteria, although that national title thing ain’t gonna happen for the Hoosiers. No matter. Chappell was a team captain last year and likely will be again this season. He was an academic All-Big Ten selection. That’s impressive considering he’s an accounting major, which means he takes challenging classes on top of the heavy study load he has to prepare for opposing defenses.

It takes a smart, disciplined, dedicated guy to pull that off.

Chappell also had a pretty good junior season. He completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 2,941 yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. His efficiency rating was at 126.44, although nobody really understands what that means except for physics majors, and they’re too busy trying to discover dark matter to explain it.

Anyway, Chappell is the first IU quarterback in history to complete better than 60 percent of his passes. His yardages ranks second in school history and his touchdowns rank third.

In Big Ten games Chappell led the conference in passing yards per game (261.2) and was second in touchdown passes (14) and third in total offense (261.5) and completion percentage (60.4).

All that enabled Chappell to earn honorable mention All-Big Ten honors.

Chappell should end up among the IU career leaders in multiple categories. He ranks first in completion percentage (59.9), eighth in passing yards (3,956), ninth in passing touchdowns (21) and 10th in total offense (4,022 yards).

The bottom line for any quarterback, of course, is victories and championships. That seems unfair given football is such a team sport and no quarterback plays defense or special teams. But that goes with the position and if you can’t take it, take up knitting.

Chappell can take it. He had no choice given the Hoosiers are 7-17 over the last two years. Come this fall, we’ll see how many wins that kind of experience produces.

Oh. One last thing. Golden Arm Award competition includes Alabama’s Greg McElroy, Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi, Wisconsin’s Scott Tolzien and Washington’s Jake Locker. In other words, it's wide open.

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