Saturday, September 18, 2010
How Does IU's Chappell Stack Up In The Big Ten
So where does Ben Chappell rate among Big Ten quarterbacks?
Yes, you can point to Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor, as so many do, as the conference’s best. Pryor is a dual-threat guy with a wide receiver’s speed and a tailback’s strength. If he’s not always the most accurate passer, he’s certainly not bad.
Chappell is not a mobile guy, but in Indiana’s pistol formation system, that’s no big deal. Nobody is going to ask him to run the option or turn into another Denard Robinson. Not when you’ve got the kind of big-play receivers Chappell has at his disposal.
Take IU’s 38-21 victory at Western Kentucky. Yes, it would have been nice to hold the Hilltoppers under 15 points to get a real feel that the defense is stout enough to handle Big Ten power, and we’ll get to that in a minute.
Chappell, however, was brutally efficient against a pass defense that ranked among the nation’s worst. He was 32-for-42 for a career-high 366 yards and three touchdowns. That’s what you’d expect from the most accurate quarterback in school history.
He’s smart, resilient and likes to throw to the open guy. Against Western Kentucky, nobody got more open than Demarlo Belcher. He caught a career-high 10 passes for a career-high 135 yards and a touchdown. Terrance Turner was right behind him with eight catches for 55 yards.
Chappell looked like Peyton Manning in the first half. He hit 11 straight passes at one point and threw for 230 yards as the Hoosiers took a 17-7 halftime lead. Overall he directed an offense that converted 10 of 12 third-down opportunities and that had to punt only once.
If there’s an offensive concern, it centers on tailback Darius Willis, who rushed for just 30 yards and fumbled in the red zone. He needs to play better, and he will.
As far as the IU defense, it held Western Kentucky to 197 yards over the final three quarters and dominated in the second and third quarters.
The Hoosiers led 31-7 after three quarters, then let up enough to allow the Hilltoppers to roar down the field for two late touchdown drives.
If this is, indeed, a new-era defense, that can’t happen.
So what does this win mean? Western Kentucky has lost a nation’s worst 23 straight games for a reason. It can’t stop anybody. IU (2-0) isn’t about to get any top-20 votes or scare Ohio State.
Still, it won in dominating fashion, which is what it had to do. Next up is Akron and the Hoosiers need a third-straight blowout before Big Ten play begins. Bet the house they’ll get it.
After that, when Michigan and it’s high-octane, Denard-Robinson-led spread attack rolls into Memorial Stadium, all bets are off.
Oh, as for that question about Chappell and his Big Ten rating, put him just behind Pryor and Robinson (both dual-threat guys), and ahead of Iowa's Ricky Stanzi, Wisconsin's Scott Talzien and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins.