Analysis: Can Diamont step up vs. Michigan?

Can Zander Diamont take a big enough step forward to keep Indiana in the game Saturday against Michigan? Here is a blueprint for what he would need to do to be successful against the Wolverines.

So what will happen with Zander Diamont: Part 2 for the Indiana University football team?

Will it be same story/different opponent when Diamont leads the Hoosiers into the Big House Saturday afternoon to play Michigan?

Or will it be a much more competitive and confident Diamont, who has taken advantage of the bye week in the schedule to get more up to speed and ready to play when IU faces Michigan on Saturday?

There is not a lot of in between here. Either Diamont will have it or he won’t and Indiana’s ability to play with the Wolverines will likely hang in the balance.

Here’s the reality: With Tevin Coleman in the backfield, if IU had an average to above average quarterback under center this weekend, the Hoosiers could be primed to knock off a struggling Michigan team. This didn’t even have to be someone like Nate Sudfeld at quarterback for IU to perhaps be favored on the road in the Big House.

If Tre Roberson had stuck around, Indiana would be in good shape Saturday. If Cameron Coffman had opted not to transfer to Wyoming, I would have thought Indiana had a good chance against the Wolverines.

Chris Covington? We didn’t have enough of a sample size to really know but at this point he would have had a couple of games under his belt plus the bye week and you’d still feel more comfortable than you did heading to Ann Arbor with Diamont in control.

Now, I should say this about Diamont. It’s kind of quick to rush judgment here. We’re talking about a true freshman who was thrown into an incredibly difficult situation against Michigan State. He went from running the Scout team a few before and being IU’s fourth or five quarterback option to starting against the No. 8 ranked team in the nation on national television on Homecoming weekend in Bloomington.

And that all transpired in less than a week. On top of that, it was his first collegiate snaps. We’re not talking about easing into the situation against Indiana State or North Texas. We’re talking about going against the vaunted Michigan State defense your first time out.

So was it surprising that he didn’t succeed? Not at all. What was troubling though, from an IU standpoint, was how completely ineffective he was. He had open receivers and didn’t come close. He did not look poised, he did not look confident. He tried to make things happen when they weren’t there and you just didn’t feel with Diamont at quarterback that IU was going to be able to ultimately win.

And so that’s the backdrop heading to Michigan.

What is different is that Diamont has had two full weeks of practice since his first opportunity against Michigan State. IU had a bye last week and so Diamont had extra time to build up his confidence. Will that be enough? That’s the million dollar question. But stranger things have happened.

In 17 years covering IU football, I can count close to a dozen times when other teams have brought inexperienced quarterbacks into Memorial Stadium and made instant names for themselves. So it can happen.

The key I believe is that Diamont needs to have good success on one of his first drives. Complete a couple passes, maybe get a reception down field, a couple of first downs, that kind of thing. He simply needs to have confidence. In his first game I believed the IU game plan needed to try and set up some real safe passes for him to gain that confidence. I’m not sure if that’s what I believe with this game or not. I think he could use a home run early. Something down field to give himself and his teammates some confidence. Not sure if that will be in the game plan or not, but that’s the kind of thing I believe the true freshman quarterback needs.

If I was to predict what will happen, I think Diamont will be considerably better this week than he was against Michigan State. Can it be enough to lead Indiana to a win? That’s hard to say. A lot will depend on how successful Tevin Coleman is but I don’t think an IU upset is completely out of the question.First off, though, Diamont needs to complete some passes and gain that confidence. If that happens, it could be an interesting afternoon of football in the Big House.

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