Last season, Indiana had great depth at the quarterback position. With both Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson being capable and experience college starters, the Hoosiers would be able to overcome an injury to one of the two guys.
That's not so much the case anymore. Roberson is the starter at Illinois State now, and none of the other quarterbacks on IU's roster had any experience entering this season. With Sudfeld now out for the season after separating his shoulder last week against Iowa, the Hoosiers will have to find a way to win without him.
True freshman Chris Covington -- who Indiana recruited as a linebacker and later converted -- came in for Sudfeld last week and is listed as the starter for Saturday's game against No. 8 Michigan State. Covington struggled against the Hawkeyes -- he completed only 3-of-12 passes with two interceptions -- but he's an athletic quarterback that Wilson feels is capable of running his offense.
Covington's teammates have faith in him.
“I’m real confident in him," senior wide receiver Nick Stoner said Tuesday. "I’m confident in the other guys, too. We need to get even more open and give him confidence and just show him that we do trust him, because we do.”
Covington isn't nearly the passer Sudfeld is, but his athleticism makes him a good candidate to run the option with elite running back Tevin Coleman. The Hoosiers (3-3, 0-2 Big Ten) didn't try the option a ton in the second half last week, but Coleman said the team has worked on putting in more such plays for this week.
“He’s real comfortable at it," Coleman said. "It'll be great. He’s been throwing better so he’s gonna be alright back there.”
Still, though, Monday's news on Sudfeld came as a crushing blow to guys like Stoner that have played with Sudfeld for years. The quarterback job was finally his and his alone this year, and he's done after only six games.
“It’s disappointing for me because I’ll never catch another ball from Nate Sudfeld again," Stoner said. "That’s what really hurt me when I realized that. Thank goodness football is a team sport and the next guy has to step up. That’s what happens in football, people get hurt. I feel bad for Nate, but I trust in Covington and the rest of the guys.”