Looking for something to spark their running game the Hoosiers inserted Zander Diamont at quarterback in today’s game against Nebraska. The IU junior finished the game with 31 yards rushing on nine carries, and completed 5-of-7 passes for 49 yards.
Diamont said after the game that the coaches started talking to him in the last week or two about using him in certain situations if the opportunity presented itself.
“There just was some talk this week, last week about using me as a gadget guy,” Diamont said. “I wasn’t coming in with any expectation on how much I was playing, I was just ready to go if need be.”
Indiana wide receiver Mitchell Paige said he was happy to see Diamont get a chance to show what he can do.
“Big spark,” Paige said when asked what he thought about the play of Diamont. “Zander did a great job. We kind of knew that was coming but he always does. He's a little spark plug. It's what we expected but really happy for him to get out there and make some plays."
Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson said after the game that the thought process on using Diamont was they believed he could give them something at times at quarterback they don’t get when Richard Lagow is out there.
“We got Zander going to try to get a little bit of quarterback run game because you've got to add a guy and that's not Richard's forte,” Wilson said. “We had a couple situations we thought Zander could be a running threat because you're either going to throw it or you need to incorporate an extra runner.”
Even though a big reason why Diamont was out there was because of what he can do with his legs, Wilson said they don’t see him as a Wildcat QB that won’t be throwing the ball.
“He was five of seven throwing,” Wilson said. “It wasn't like we were going…we weren't playing wildcat. He's just a quarterback that can run a little bit more.”
Diamont said that it wasn’t that difficult for him to get into the flow of things even though he had not seen any meaningful snaps so far this season.
“With the plays that they were calling…when you’re throwing downfield it’s a little harder to get a rhythm, but I really didn’t have to do that, other than the pass to Mitchell (Paige),” Diamont said when asked if it was hard to get into a rhythm. “So no, it wasn’t a problem.”
The biggest thing that Diamont believes he needs to improve on going forward is just playing with more aggressiveness and more confidence.
“I felt like I was a little bit hesitant,” Diamont said. “I just felt a step hesitant, a step slow, not trusting myself. My Dad already sent me a couple clips that he recorded on his phone back home and even just watching those I felt like I looked a little bit slow and hesitant. The biggest thing is just trusting that game speed again and being ready to play next week. So I’ll be rolling next week.”
The Los Angeles native said being able to come off the bench and provide a lift to the team in game six of the season is not something he thinks he could have done as well earlier in his career.
“When I was younger I’d say that it was harder,” Diamont said. “As I’ve gotten older my biggest thing is just being present and taking every day at a time. Not having any expectations and knowing my role on the team. If my role is sitting on the bench and being a leader I’m good with that, if that’s going to help us win. If me going out there and playing a little bit is going to help us I’m good with that too. I’m just ready to roll for these guys.”
Paige said that Diamont has shown good leadership skills since the day he arrived at IU, and because of that the team has complete confidence in him.
"Ever since he's gotten here, he's just a vocal kid," Paige said about Diamont. "He's really positive, he's just a natural leader and you can tell just being around him. He's comfortable in a leadership position, so when he comes in there's no drop off. It's not like 'Oh no Zander is in" it's 'Oh Zander is in, let's go to work with him too.'"
Coach Wilson said he is proud of the way Diamont has handled his role on the team in an era when players transfer all the time when they aren’t getting the playing time they feel they deserve.
“He's been a very strong teammate,” Wilson said about Diamont. “I just appreciate in this day and age you see quarterbacks check out, it's all about me getting the ball, receivers getting touches, running backs getting carries. I appreciate the way that he's battled. I appreciate the way we played.”
Indiana QB Zander Diamont talks to the media after the Hoosiers' 27-22 loss to Nebraska: