FOXBOROUGH, MA — In the middle of its most thorough dismantling of an opponent in at least four years, Indiana lost arguably its most important player.
After rushing for 114 yards on just five carries and two touchdowns, IU sophomore quarterback Tre Roberson broke his leg when a Massachusetts defender fell on him on a running play near the UMass goalline early in the second quarter.
Sophomore junior college transfer Cameron Coffman filled in for Roberson and the Hoosiers blew out Massachusetts 45-6 in front of 16,304 at a mostly empty Gillette Stadium, but Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said after the game that Roberson needed surgery and will be out for the season.
“It’s unfortunate,” Wilson said. “It was kind of a freak thing with Tre. A guy just fell on the back of his legs. He got a clean break in the middle part of the leg. It’s a surgical one, it will be surgical, and it will be one that the way it is should be a clean repair. But it will take significant time. Through the season. Probably won’t get back until spring ball.”
It was devastating news for the Hoosiers considering how hard he had worked to become a complete quarterback over the offseason and to win the job over challengers Coffman and freshman Nate Sudfeld. He threw for 280 yards in the season-opening win against Indiana State and had completed six of 13 passes early in the game for 81 yards and a touchdown on Saturday.
A play after Roberson went down, kicker Mitch Ewald a 19-yard chip shot field goal to make it 24-6. They rallied together to stomach Roberson’s trauma without much of a fall off in play.
“It was tough,” junior tailback Stephen Houston said. “We thought we weren’t going to touch the ball today as backs because Tre took two of them to the house. So to see him go down is a tremendous blow, but at the same time, we’re gonna gel from this and become and even better team. … We were just talking and saying, if you didn’t come to this game with an incentive before, you have an incentive now, because Tre is down. He needs us more than ever. He’s gonna lean on us the same way we leaned on him. We just gelled as a team.”
The Hoosiers got contributions from across the board on offense and one of their best defensive performances in recent memory. They finished with 606 total yards of offense, breaking that barrier for the first time since 2001. They held Massachusetts to just 264 total yards of offense and just six points, the lowest total by an opponent since IU beat Murray State 45-3 in 2008.
The Hoosiers finished with 321 yards on the ground with a four-tailback rotation sharing the carries. Freshman Teven Coleman led the tailbacks with 86 yards on 14 carries. Isaiah Roundtree rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown. D’Angelo Roberts had 53 carries on 10 yards and Houston rushed for 29 yards and a score.
In relief of Roberson, Coffman completed 16 of 22 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown to tight end Charles Love III. Freshman Nate Sudfeld stepped in and completed three of four passes for 28 yards in a limited backup role.
“It’s a little tough because by that time there’s a little edge off the offense,” Wilson said when asked about the performance of his backups. “You’re kind of playing a little different style. The weather got us a little bit. But (Coffman) needs to play better. And we might have redshirted Nate if the year went through, but now we’re probably going to have to have him ready as a backup. … We’re going to need both of those guys. There’s not going to be a competition. Cam will start as the guy. Nate’s the backup right now. We’ll see how he handles it as he moves forward. An OK start, but it needs to be better as we go forward.”
The Hoosiers didn’t cause any turnovers but had two sacks with defensive end Ryan Phillis recording one and cornerback Tim Bennett getting the other. They recorded a total of 11 tackles for loss, with cornerback Kenny Mullen recording two for losses of 10 yards and leading the team with eight tackles.
Wilson also revealed Saturday that freshman slot wide receiver Ricky Jones is out for a year because of a broken ankle suffered at practice this week. Because he and Roberson have only played two games, they are both eligible for medical redshirts.