Despite Nate Sudfeld’s fourth-quarter comeback and Big Ten co-Freshman of the Week award, Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said Monday that sophomore junior college transfer Cameron Coffman is still the starter and will maintain the job unless his hip pointer becomes a long-term problem.
“Right now he is,” Wilson said. “Unless, again, this thing just nags. Our thought initially was ‘Just give it a few days.’ I even told him, just because Nate got his little award and had two nice touchdowns, don’t come back before your ready and make this a three- or four-week hip deal. Let’s get it quiet, get it right, move forward. he’s out there getting every play behind. He’s just not full tilt pushing off yet. We’ll see. We’ll get him checked out here later today. We’ll see as we move forward tomorrow. We’ll decide tomorrow and Thursday how much he needs to do. It will be our trainer’s call. Will it be best to take the whole week on the low key or does he need the reps?”
Coffman’s injury does help Sudfeld get more reps, which he could use. Sudfeld was stuck as the third string quarterback toward the end of preseason and saw fewer and fewer reps as it became evident that sophomore Tre Roberson would win the position. However, Roberson’s broken leg suffered in the Sept. 8 win over Massachusetts forced him into the backup role and he had to catchup quickly. He got much more work in the between the Massachusetts game and the Ball State game than he had in recent weeks and it showed, as he completed 13 of 20 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns in just over a quarter of play. Wilson said that while Coffman recovers, Sudfeld is taking approximately 80-85 percent of the snaps in practice this week. The rest are going to true freshman walk-ons Corey Babb and David Nelson among others just in case Indiana finds itself in a worse emergency than it has already been in.
“Every rep that Nate gets is a positive for Nate,” Wilson said. “We’re comfortable with him right now. Cam’s done nothing to not warrant it. Nate’s getting better every day and that’s a great situation. … They’re both very calm kids, they’re both reasonably good, and that’s why there was a competition. It wasn’t nothing against Tre because Tre is going to be OK and really good, but those other guys are good and we’re fortunate to have those guys. I thought they did well. They need to do better, but I thought they did well.”
— Wilson has been hard on junior tailback Stephen Houston for much of the season, especially the preseason, but after Houston ran for 102 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries on Saturday, Wilson said he saw a pleasing uptick in his work level.
“He had the best week of practice a week ago,” Wilson said. “Best week of practice. He really showed up. Expressing runs, playing behind his pads, playing with a little bit of purpose. … On Wednesday I said, ‘Hey, all I do is watch, but you’ve had a good week.’ I told him that Wednesday. He came out and popped a couple of runs.”
– Wilson effectively dodged a question about what he saw on the 18-yard pass in the closing seconds by Ball State that led to the game-winning field goal.
“It’s just film angles,” Wilson said. “The way the rule says, unless there’s enough evidence. You know. It kind of is what it is. I saw some other things I didn’t like on that play, but no one talks about those things.”
– Wilson was asked if he thought the secondary was exposed in Saturday’s game.
“I don’t know if I’d say exposed, but we missed some plays,” Wilson said. “… The lack of pressure, they have a nice offensive package, which a lot of people do. They spread it out and throw it quick, throw some screens, or they max it up and gap it up and run three-receiver routes. When they ran three-receiver routes, we need better coverage. You’re seven blocking four, unless someone really kicks somebody’s tail or they break down, they’re gonna get it launched, but you’d like to think you’ve got seven guys covering three. You’d like to think you could use some brackets and some in-and-outs and get it covered up. We gotta make some strides there and we’re getting better there. They came in as a good running team. I think they had 120 yards at tailback. They came in though as a good running team. I think they had 120 yards at tailback. They came in with two tailbacks that had rushed for over 200. We did a good job on the tailbacks. … I think we’re making strides. We still need to get better. We still got some issues.”
— Linebacker Chase Hoobler missed Saturday’s game and will miss practice this week. Wilson said he’s hopeful he can return for the Northwestern game Sept. 29.
“He’s got a neck issue nerve wise,” Wilson said. “We’re just trying to get that thing quieted down. He’s yet to practice. With this being an open date, we’re giving it more time. Hopefully we’ll have him Northwestern week. We’ll wait probably until Tuesday when we start hitting next week. We’ll keep him quiet this week to quiet that thing down. I don’t think it’s a major deal, but I think it’s a 1-2-3 week based on thing coming back and he’s getting in range.”
— Wilson said the bye week will primarily be used for fundamental work and simply working on blocking, tackling, pad level and such. The Hoosiers are also continuing preparation for the triple option offense they’ll face against Navy on Oct. 20, which they’ve been doing for much of the year. He said they’re also making more of a point to get work for younger players, including those who are likely to redshirt this season.
It’s also a useful recruiting week for the Hoosiers. Most of the assistants will be gone for the middle of the week while Wilson and coordinator-level coaches remain. He said he will be on the road Thursday night and Friday night to watch games.
“We still got next week to finish Northwestern,” Wilson said. “You’re not all-hours. You’re getting more recruiting time during the day. You’re getting more time to catch up with kids and coaches. Even your young players like your 2014 recruits. You’re reaching out to their coach Facebooking those kids or seeing how they’re doing. We’ll get a chance to go out two days recruiting. We’ll practice tomorrow morning and a lot of guys will leave. They will be situated so Thursday morning everyone except myself and Coach (Seth) Littrell and Coach (Doug) Mallory will be gone tomorrow afternoon, so they’ll get two full days of recruiting. Coach Littrell and coach Mallory and myself will go out for one day Friday. …We’ll get 17 opportunities to see kids, and that’s a big deal.”
– Wilson said Roberson watched Saturday’s game from the press box and the Hoosiers hope to do that in the future. He said he’s looking to contact the Big Ten to determine whether Roberson would count against his travel roster if he comes on the road.