He appeared to do just that, completing 23-of-29 passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns in IU’s 49-24 win Saturday over North Texas at Memorial Stadium.
”A lot of that goes to again, Nate today, because it wasn’t an easy passing day,” IU head coach Kevin Wilson said. “The structure of their team, they were going to make you do it, and that was a huge part of what was going on.”
Saturday’s game was a prime opportunity for Sudfeld to regain confidence. The Modesto, Calif. native faced a North Texas defense which ranked 47th in the country in pass defense, allowing 220.5 passing yards per game.
Sudfeld would take advantage of this early, completing 11 of his first 12 pass attempts.
”I thought we had a really good rhythm coming out,” he said. “We were going to attack all day. They have a really good and aggressive defense, so we knew we were going to try to use their aggression against them.”
The frequent passing was no surprise, especially to redshirt senior wide receiver Isaiah Roundtree. He said it was part of the game plan.
”Suddy came up before the game, told us all before the game, ‘I’m about to rip it,’” he said. “He told us, and we were all like ‘alright.’ We knew it was coming.”
Roundtree, who finished with six catches for 29 yards, was one of seven different receivers Sudfeld completed a pass to against the Mean Green.
But the receiver Sudfeld benefitted the most from was senior wide receiver Shane Wynn. Sudfeld connected with Wynn five times for 127 yards and two touchdowns, including completions of 45 and 76 yards.
”Shane and I were clicking today,” Sudfeld said. “That’s how we need to keep going.”
The long pass plays were a result of the defense crowding the box, meaning the linebackers weren’t always in coverage. As a result, only the defensive backs were left to cover the receivers, and Sudfeld was often throwing to receivers with one-on-one coverage.
”We were expecting that they were going to load the box and we were going to have some one-on-one options outside,” he said. “We did a good job of executing that today, and that’s what we’re going to do have to this year.”
Sudfeld’s performance moved him to fifth in program history in passing scores (33) and eighth in program history in completions (342). He also became the ninth Hoosier quarterback to have over 4,000 career passing yards and is now ninth all-time with 4,211 yards.
This was all accomplished while throwing with and against the wind.
It was an emphasis to get in rhythm this week and for me just to cut it, to let the ball rip,” Sudfeld said. “That’s what I tried to do today, and with the wind, it was just a good mindset to have to cut it through the wind. I had some success with it. We did a great job game planning.”