True freshman quarterback Zander Diamont showed for the first time this season that there is the potential to be a successful starting quarterback in the future, despite the poor play from Indiana receivers.
Diamont looked overall more comfortable in the 45-23 loss to Rutgers. While in the pocket, he stood taller and more confidently. He was able to step into a few passes and make some solid throws.
Statistically, it was Diamont’s best outing of his career. Diamont finished with a career high 179 yards on 15-of-31 passing, including throwing his first career touchdown pass.
His stats could have been even better, but his receivers weren’t helping him.
One example that sticks out was third down play in the first quarter. Diamont zipped a pass to sophomore Ricky Jones on a slant route, but the ball hit right off the hands of Jones and fell to the turf.
Another third down drop came in the third quarter. With Indiana down 17-16, Diamont tossed a beautiful pass on a deep post to true freshman Dominique Booth, but Booth couldn’t corral it, and Indiana was forced to again punt.
Booth’s drop wasn’t his only blunder of the game. The need to improve the mental part of his game was on display in the first quarter. Diamont was able to connect with Booth on dig route down the middle of the field in the first possession of the game, but an illegal shift prior to the snap by Booth brought the play back.
With less than two minutes in the third quarter, Indiana found itself with yet another third down play. Diamont slung a pass down the middle of the field, and the ball bounced right off of true freshman receiver Simmie Cobbs’ hands. That drop pretty much put the game away, as Rutgers was able to score on the following drive to give the Scarlet Knights a 31-16 lead.
As the horrible receiver play continued, Diamont was forced to lean on senior Shane Wynn. Wynn caught almost 75 percent of Indiana’s completed pass, recording 11 receptions for 120 yards and the lone receiving touchdown.
However, with a bowl game out of reach, it’s time to start looking toward the future. There is a lot of work to be done with this group of freshmen and sophomore pass catchers, and they have yet to prove they have what it takes to get the job done.
The group will need to show more consistency in the final two games of the season in order to help gain some confidence for both themselves and for Diamont.
Diamont can only be as good as his young receivers will allow him.