Sudfeld on loss: 'We weren't ourselves'

Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld struggled in Indiana's loss to Maryland on Saturday. In his first year as IU's full-time starter, Sudfeld has struggled to be consistent.

Last season, if quarterback Nate Sudfeld had a first half like the one he did Saturday, Tre Roberson likely would have been under center to start the third quarter.

But Kevin Wilson and Indiana don't have that luxury this season. Roberson is gone, and Sudfeld is the guy. That's a good thing in many ways, but it also means Sudfeld must put together complete, consistent performances, something he hasn't yet been asked to do in his career.

So far as Indiana's unquestioned starter this season, Sudfeld has struggled to do that.

In the season opener against Indiana State, Sudfeld struggled. He threw for only 111 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. A week later, he was terrific, throwing for 347 yards and a score against Bowling Green.

Last week, Sudfeld was good again, leading Indiana (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) to an upset win of Missouri on the road.

But Saturday, in Indiana's most anticipated home game in years, Sudfeld played one of the worst games of his career. Against a Maryland pass defense that had been exposed through its first four games of the season, Sudfeld struggled to find any sort of a rhythm.

The junior quarterback completed only 14-of-37 passes for 126 yards and an interception, a completion percentage of just 37.8. Last year, Sudfeld completed 60.2 percent of his passes.

"Execution is the key every week," Sudfeld said after Indiana's 37-15 loss in the Big Ten opener. "You can game plan and run the route perfectly and get the look you want, but if you miss the throw or miss something, it's not gonna work out.

"We really tried hard to handle success well. I guess, obviously, we still have work to do as a team. We just need to handle success, expect to win in a sense, but not just expect anybody to lay down or that it's just gonna happen. There are times where we aren't ourselves, and today was one of those times."

Wilson came to his quarterback's defense when asked about Sudfeld's lackluster performance after the game. Sure, there were a few drops mixed in throughout the afternoon, but Sudfeld just seemed off all day.

"He's going to look really good when his counterparts are working as a team," Wilson said. "He had a couple drops. He's gotta play better, but at the same time, as a team, our offense let him down as much as anything he did. I'm pretty sure of that. And the coaches let him down."

Indiana's defense wasn't good on Saturday, but it kept the Hoosiers in the game plenty long enough for Sudfeld and the offense to make some plays and take the came. That didn't happen. The No. 1 concern for IU fans at this point in the season has to be the Hoosiers' passing game.

It just hasn't looked right, and that has to change for Indiana to make a bowl game for the first time since 2007. Perhaps Sudfeld just needs time to get used to being a full-time starter. Maybe his young group of receivers needs a few games to get used to the collegiate level. I'm not sure.

But Indiana had its opportunities on Saturday, and failed to make the most of them. Fair or not, that starts with Sudfeld.

"I'm just gonna keep doing what I'm doing," Sudfeld said of his off-target deep balls this season. "I'm hitting them in practice, and again, it's not far off, it's splitting hairs. We have to hit those. I have to put those on target. It's what I came here to do, it's what my job is."

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