"I mean we knew they were good," Latimer said. "They're not average corners, and we didn't know they were going to play freshmen like that all game so it kind of changed our game plan, but it worked out for the best."
That would be a massive understatement. Latimer victimized freshmen corners Darius Mosely and Caleb Day to the tune of a career-high 11 catches for a career-high 189 yards and three touchdowns in IU's 52-35 win over Illinois on Saturday.
"It's lights out. You know he can do that on a daily basis," said senior running back Stephen Houston. "I'm just proud of him. He's making his campaign strong. He does what he has to do without complaining, any of that, so my hat goes off to him."
All three of Nate Sudfeld's passing touchdowns went to Latimer. The working relationship between the two has been building over the last two years, with Latimer as the quarterback's favorite target in 2013.
"We have a good connection out there, with Nate, me and him," Latimer said. "I just put my trust in him and he trusted me. He put the ball out there where it needed to be, he trusted me on go balls and on posts, things like that. So I just thank him for giving me the ball. We're just able to make plays."
The first big play from Sudfeld to Latimer came with 4:02 left in the second quarter and the teams tied at 14. With the ball at the Illinois 11-yard line, the duo saw single coverage on the outside and took advantage. This time, Latimer made a shimmy to cross up Mosely and catch an 11-yard touchdown over him.
"They called a fade and me and Nate looked at each other," Latimer said. "We've got the trust in receivers to throw fades. I mean we're big, physical guys that will go get the ball. So we made eye contact and I knew he was going to throw it so I just gave him a quick move and went up and got the ball."
Before busting off that big touchdown, Latimer had been working in the short passing game.
On more than one occasion, Latimer caught a five-yard button hook and was wrapped up around the ankles but was able to fight for the first down marker. Some of those extra efforts kept Indiana drives alive.
"It's a huge security blanket," Sudfeld said of Latimer's ability to fight for extra yards. "Just whenever you need a big play, he has the best hands I've ever seen, and you just put it in his vicinity and he'll make the catch."
The play before Latimer's first touchdown, Indiana faced a 3rd-and-5 at the Illinois 17. Sudfeld found Latimer short of the first down marker. The junior receiver did the rest, powering through grip of Mosely's tackle to just barely get the first down.
"Just knowing that was a critical down and that we need that first down," Latimer said. "Nate trusted me and threw me the ball. It was short and I just have to make a play, I mean use my strength to make a play, try to drive some defenders and get us a first down."
Latimer's next victim was Day. He simply blew by the freshman corner for a 41-yard touchdown down the far sideline, tying the game at 28 with 05:17 to go in the third quarter.
Less than three minutes later, Latimer would embarrass Mosely again. Latimer said Mosley was worried about Latimer going to the outside because Latimer had success there all game.
On a play action fake, Latimer ran an option route. Sudfeld said he had noticed that on a similar play earlier in the game when he handed it off, the safety was flatfooted. Latimer read Mosely and chose the inside route, and Sudfeld delivered a perfect ball on the post route for a 50-yard touchdown.
"So the second time I was like, ‘If they call that again, I'm just going to pull and throw it because at that point we needed a good play but I knew that the safety wasn't looking for the post, he was just kind of being a little lazy with his back pedal or something," Sudfeld said. "So the second time I pulled it and Cody got off the press really nicely and it was a touchdown so it was good."
Latimer looked like a men among boys against Illinois' secondary Saturday. Perhaps those freshmen corners never really had a chance against a junior already with over 100 catches and 1,0000 yards in his career.
"It's the scheme and also Cody's a great player," quarterback Tre Roberson said. "He's very fast, he's very strong, and he can make one move and if the corner messes up then he can go right by him."