Positional Series: Quarterback

Indiana has three capable quarterbacks vying for the starting job with 10 days to go before the season opener with Indiana State. The good news with that scenario is all three could start and IU wouldn't miss a beat. Making the decision more difficult is that all three do certain things well.

Expected to Start

Quarterback


<Tre Roberson/RS SO/6-0/199
Cameron Coffman/JR/6-2/197
Nate Sudfeld/SO/6-5/232

The quarterback race remains too close to call so guessing at a starter at this point would be just that, guessing. All three have strong intangibles weighing in their favor. Roberson started the final five games of his freshman year and the first two last year before breaking his leg in the second game and being lost for the season. Roberson's strength is that he's a dual threat quarterback with the ability to take off and run at any time.

Coffman has the experience factor. He started the final 10 games of the season and averaged nearly 41 pass attempts per game. He completed, on average, 25 of them. He doesn't have the strong arm like Sudfeld or the running ability of Roberson but he's shifty and he is battle tested under fire in Big Ten play.

Of the three, Sudfeld clearly looks the part. He's 6-5, weighs 232 pounds, and just seems to be a pocket passer with a good command of the field and his team. And he's got a gun for an arm. So there are three QB options, all three with different intangibles they bring to the table.


In the Two-Deep

When you have a three-way tie for first, obviously the guys that don't win the job are going to fall into the second and third roles. With that in mind, two of the three quarterbacks will begin the season in a backup role and be continuing to push each other in practice.


Others in the Mix

Indiana is likely going to go with its three quarterbacks and hopes it doesn't need a fourth. A guy like Nate Boudreau, a reshirt freshman, gets a few reps in practice he'll be related to clip board/baseball cap duty when the season begins. Another quarterback, Bryce Smith, a freshman from Floyd Central (Ind.) High School also gets reps in practice.


Help on the way

Alexander Diamont/Fisher HS/Fishers, Ind./5-8/165

IU has 10 commitments in the class and one is a quarterback. Alexander Diamont from Venice High School in Southern California, is committed to play next season for the Hoosiers.


Position Coach

Kevin Johns

Johns, who is also co-offensive coordinator and coaches the wide receivers, is IU's quarterbacks coach as well. This is his third year with Indiana, though he and Wilson have history. Johns' first job in college football was as Northwestern's offensive graduate assistant during the 1999-2001 seasons when Wilson was offensive coordinator.

Prior to Indiana, he spent the 2004-10 seasons at Northwestern, including the final five coaching the receivers. He was the receivers coach at the University of Richmond from 2002-03.


Positional strengths

Versatility has to be Indiana's biggest strength. Wilson has three capable quarterbacks at his disposal and they all do different things well. Down by two touchdowns late in the game and need to air it out? Sudfeld could be your man. Need a steady, consistent quarterback who will move the offense? Coffman proved last season he can do that. Looking for someone who can keep the defense honest because he can take off running at any time? Roberson is your guy.

Along with that versatility comes depth. The nice thing about having three quarterbacks is the ability to make a change for a series or two without missing a beat. With the Hoosiers this season, all three quarterbacks have shared the reps in camp to the point where players say they are comfortable with whomever is on the field.


What needs to improve?

Don't focus on statistics as much as scoring points. Take last season for example. Coffman was second in the Big Ten in passing yards per game, completions and attempts, third in passing yards, tied for third in touchdown passes and fourth in total offense. But Indiana won four games. Statistics are important but moving the chains is the most important statistic for this quarterback group.

Strike a balance between running and passing the football. This doesn't mean it has to be 50/50 but it means that you can be less predictable in certain situations. Having Roberson on the field more could go a long way to improving that balance because of his ability to take off and run.


Kevin Wilson's take on the unit.

"It's not that no one is playing well or we don't have a one because we're trying to be nice. They're actually competing, fighting and it's healthy. And in the end, if we do it right, if we have more than one and we need to make that a positive. Don't let some good talent and some good play get in the way. Because a lot of times we haven't had that. So it's our job to find out how it works out. It would be easier to say there's one but right now to not sound coach-like they're all doing well.''


The players and coaches weigh in, too

"They need to move the ball down the field -- period," Johns said. "At the end of the day, the quarterback is evaluated on if he can put his team in the end zone. That's what we're looking for."
—Wide receivers coach Kevin Johns

"Everybody wants to be THE guy," Sudfeld says. "It's human nature. But we're all team players. You don't want to be the guy being selfish. We all can move this offense. Whoever they choose, whether it's one guy or (more), we'll play at a high level."
—Nate Sudfeld


Overall analysis

The whole talk that if you have three quarterbacks you really don't have one just isn't the case with this group. Here, you have three capable players. Don't be surprised if you see all three get some action in the first couple of games. Ultimately, the player that is the most consistent and can move the offense the best will be the one who gets the starting nod.

The good news for Indiana fans is that IU has three players that can get the job done. It's a much better situation that limping into the season not really knowing how much production you're going to get from the quarterback position. With the group of wide receivers, tight ends and running backs that Indiana has expect the Hoosiers to score a ton of points this season.

Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch.


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