It couldn't have been the collegiate opener that Zander Diamont had dreamed about.
In his dream he led IU to a victory over the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans.
In reality, he threw for 11 yards before being pulled for Nate Boudreau in the fourth quarter Saturday in a 56-17 loss to the Spartans before a nationally televised audience on ESPN.
”He had a good week of practice,” Wilson said. “Practiced well, threw it around well in practice. But again, you’re going against Michigan State that brings a lot of pressure. They make you work for everything.”
It was a challenging matchup for the Los Angeles, Calif. native. Entering the game, the Spartans ranked 12th in the country in total defense.
IU tried to build Diamont’s confidence by going to junior running back Tevin Coleman early with a handoff and screen pass on the first drive of the game. It wasn’t as effective as the Hoosiers hoped, though, as Diamont finished with 10 incompletions.
Despite those struggles, Coleman supported his teammate.
”He was good back there,” Coleman said. “We still need to keep practicing with him and keep rolling with him and he’ll be alright.”
In addition to his struggles in the passing game, Diamont also nearly lost a fumble. After further review by the officials, it was ruled a forward pass but constituted an intentional grounding penalty.
”The only thing I didn’t like about him was the ball loose,” Wilson said. “That’s one of the reasons why he was third (string) because he’s a little careless with the football. As we go, we got to get past that.”
Because of his difficulties with accurately throwing the football, Diamont attempted to make plays more often with his legs than his arms throughout the game. He had five carries for negative 12 yards and a touchdown which gave IU its only lead of the game.
Despite his rushing touchdown, he ended up with negative one yard of total offense.
Diamont’s athletic style of play is something the IU offensive linemen aren’t necessarily used to after working with a pocket passer in Nate Sudfeld through the first six games of the season.
”You can’t change a lot when you’ve got right guards that have been doing things for weeks and months, receivers, whatever,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to play to your team’s strengths.”
In regards to Diamont’s athleticism, IU redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Dan Feeney said it’s a matter of being set when the freshman takes off.
”You just have to be ready when he runs out of the pocket and keep blocking,” Feeney said. “He’s a smaller guy and he’s still a freshman, so we try to take the hits off of him and try to prevent the hits from piling up on him.”
Diamont was replaced by redshirt sophomore quarterback Nate Boudreau with five minutes and six seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Boudreau finished 0-for-1 with no passing yards.
Wilson didn’t say whether an open competition existed between Diamont and Boudreau in the next two weeks for the starting quarterback job.
”Again, they’re both threes and fours for reasons,” Wilson said. “We got to keep bringing them along.”
Wilson said Diamont has to learn from this.
”You can say you’ve got it, but you fought against one of the best teams in the country,” Wilson said. “That was your first start, first game. He jumped into some deep water. At the same time with that, we’ll see how quick he can grow from that.
Diamont was not made available to the media following the game which is why there are no quotes in our coverage from the true freshman quarterback.Spriggs released from Hospital
Spartan offense too much for worn out defense