Wilson on quarterbacks: “Somebody’s gonna go out there”

So Nate Sudfeld’s 363-yard, four-touchdown performance has to signify the end of the quarterback battle, right? Redshirt sophomore Tre Roberson failed to lead the Hoosiers to a first down in two drives against Navy, Sudfeld stepped in and took the Hoosiers to the red zone on all six of his possessions and touchdowns on five, so he has to be the guy, doesn’t he?

Not according to IU coach Kevin Wilson.

Wilson appeared to finally concede that the quarterback battle is no longer a three-man race. Junior Cameron Coffman was listed as the third string quarterback on the depth chart, separated from the dual starter listing of Roberson and Sudfeld. However, he said that Sudfeld still hasn’t been given the job and Roberson will continue to play. He defended Roberson’s performance in the Navy game adamantly.

“His first drive, we got two play calls, he’s gotta scramble because protection breaks down because of his line,” Wilson said. “Quarterbacks look good when everyone around them looks good. Play calls, dynamics, he misses a bubble throw, then we run it twice. Had a chance maybe to pitch another one out, he didn’t. Nate came in, first play was 12-play drive with a pick, and then we score. As it keeps going, shoot, for what it’s worth, last night was Cam’s best night. But it’s really been Tre and Nate going through it. We’re not gonna be a Wildcat team. Tre can make all the shots. He’s going to, and you can see we’re gonna run Nate. We’re gonna keep doing what we’re doing. I don’t know if one of those guys is independently dynamic. I think we collectively we can be better. We’ll just see how the week goes.”

Wilson was asked when he would name a starter for Saturday’s game against Bowling Green.

“Somebody will go out there,” Wilson said. “I don’t know. Again, we’ve scored 15 touchdowns. Tre’s passing efficiency is higher than Sudfeld’s. The offense has to play better too. We need to block better. … The guy that you guys think is pretty good, he had a pick that he should’ve been throwing to the other side for a touchdown, because he made the wrong read and he threw a ball he shouldn’t have threw. Tried to get greedy and fit one in there. He throws to the other side and there’s seven points. They’re human. They’re kids. They’re pretty good, too. … Nate’s gotten in games, he’s played well, but he’s got some nice parts. The other day with play-calling and the other parts, Tre, the cards didn’t come his way. It wasn’t his fault. It’s just play-calling and execution of a lineman breaking down or miss a shot a little bit. We just didn’t get in rhythm early. That wasn’t his fault.”

Wilson was playing a little bit coy with the situation, but IU offensive coordinator Seth Littrell put the situation in more sharp relief.

“Tre’s going to have opportunities to make plays,” Littrell said. “I fully expect him this season when he does have those opportunities, he will make them. He’ll be a big part of what we’re doing. … We’re gonna play both of those guys. We’ve said that all along. We are going to play both of those guys. They both bring different things.”

NOTE: Wilson said offensive tackle Peyton Eckert returned to practice Sunday night and that cornerback Ryan Thompson is also back. He didn’t mention Chris Cormier, but said defensive tackle Alex Todd is close to a return.

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  • Hoosier Clarion says:

    This is where I do divide myself from the HC’s and OC’s decision on QB’s. I take this stance because I still think the best thing for the run game is Sudfeld’a arm. But I do not get to see what they see in practice everyday. I’m still on board.

  • Podunker says:

    I’ve been a very strong supporter of Wilson since he arrived in Bloomington, but these comments and his posture about the current quarterback situation makes absolutely no sense. And the more he discusses it, the dumber he sounds. Is he just being stubborn? Does he have a personal bias? Is he trying to keep future opponents off balance? Is he worried that Sudfeld is going to get a big head or that Roberson is going to transfer? This posture about the quarterbacks makes no sense.

    HC, you’re right. We don’t see what Wilson sees during practice, but who cares? We see what Wilson sees during the games. And what we see from the first two games indicates that Sudfeld is getting the job done, at a very high level. For whatever reason, the offense responds to him. The game tape shows that Sudfeld causes the offense to move the ball and score points, a lot of points, and he does it in a hurry. And it’s not like Sudfeld has never played before. He’s building on pretty impressive experience from last year.

    Look at Sudfeld’s stats. Look at the tape of his passes, his range and how accurate and precise his passes are. You’d have to be blind not to see that not too many quarterbacks can do what he’s been doing. And Saturday, we learned that he can actually run the football a little and avoid sacks.

    What else needs to be analyzed, Coach? If you can’t acknowledge what appears obvious to everyone else, that’s a big red flag. It’s kind of like going for it on 4th and 1 from your own 34 yard line when you and everyone else in the stadium knows you have a weak defense.

  • Old Hoosier says:

    The QB isn’t the problem, IU scores more than enough to win. The defense allows other teams of FBS to score at will. Until we have a defense, the rest does not matter. I like Wilson, but I thought this was the year of improvement, I see none on the defense where it must be to win.

  • Aruss says:

    CWK’s post game comments about Navy are that he tried to get them off the schedule like Stoops tried to get Air Force off the schedule. Hey genius, Navy got whooped several times last year.

    CWK says to the fans to stick with these guys because they’re a great bunch. But I say coach them better and get W’s and the fans will be there. I was enraged by his decision making at the game Saturday but my blood is boiling hearing all his post game nonsense.

    They’ll be lucky to get half the crowd they got against Navy for Bowling Green. We lose that game and the season is over.

    I should really stop posting because I know a lot of you look up to me as the intelligent, voice of reason on this site but I’m a 10x’s bigger football fan than basketball and checks have been written by the program about this season and it looks like the same old same old.

  • Podunker says:

    Aruss, aside from your comment, “because I know a lot of you look up to me as the intelligent, voice of reason on this site” I agree with your post and appreciate your passion. I’m as disappointed with Wilson’s post-game comments as I was with his defense on Saturday.

  • Podunker says:

    By the way, I wonder how Mike Ekeler is feeling about his decision to take the USC job this past winter? Given that USC lost to Washington State, at home on Saturday (10-7), and USC fans’ melt down resembles a china syndrome, Ekeler’s at serious risk of losing his job in December. I hope he did not buy a house in LA, cause I think he’s going to be moving again very soon.

    I’d love to know why Ekeler took that job. He had to know his head coach was on the hot seat and that he was taking a major risk of being unemployed after less than a year. Maybe he saw what was coming at IU and wanted to get out before some of it was attributed to him. At least his defense is not the problem at USC. It’s the offense that can’t do anything right.

    By the way, for those of you who do not know anything about USC football, losing to Washington State, at home, is like Ohio State losing to IU in Columbus. It is unacceptable.

  • Higgi says:

    Let’s cut the crap CW. Nate Sudfeld is the most composed and most talented QB we’ve had in Bloomington since Trent Green. Reward this kid for his pretty darn good play and name him the starting QB this week. Let’s face it, the IU Football has one potentially great QB on the roster and two good/to average QBs – JUST WIN BABY!

  • Hoosier Clarion says:

    Coach Wilson is on the hot seat at the beginning of the 3rd year of a 5-6 year rebuild? Ridiculous.

  • Jon says:

    Old Hoosier is correct. IU will score plenty of points. If we can’t force punts and turnovers then who gives a crap who is behind center because it won’t matter. Lets not lose focus here.

  • PB says:

    “Navy got whooped several times last year.”

    Though, the teams that whooped them had top 25 defenses, something we knew IU wasn’t going to have. Navy’s offense is the type you either CAN or just CAN’T stop, not much in between.

    Ultimately, we’ve always known that for the defense to take a step forward this year, the freshmen were/are going to need to really make an impact. And Navy is probably the worst possible opponent when needing such a significant freshmen contribution, especially early in the season. The performance is still disappointing, but just not entirely unexpected. Not trying to excuse the defense, but just saying that no matter how bad it was against Navy, my outlook for potential improvement is only slightly diminished from where it was prior to the game.

  • Ben says:

    Bottom line is this. If we can’t compete against traditional defenses like Bowling Green and games after, we might very well, be in trouble. As disappointed as I was in our defense, I will hold judgement after the Bowling Green game.

    For the record, I voted for 5 wins this year before the season started.

  • Podunker says:

    HC, who said Wilson was on the hot seat? I missed that comment.

    Wilson’s not on the hot seat, but he’s at risk of losing any momentum, confidence and optimism he has created within The Hoosier Nation. I believe it is essential for his team to show improvement this year. And I define improvement as the number of wins.

    Also, I find it interesting that Texas fired their Defensive Coordinator, Manny Diaz within 24 hours after Texas lost to BYU. Coach Mack Brown described the performance of the Texas defense as “unacceptable” and “one of the worst defensive performances in the history of the program.” Now that’s a decisive leader in charge of a serious program, who understands that you get what you tolerate. Hey, maybe Wilson can hire Diaz to replace Mallory. I think a defensive coach fired by Texas might still be an upgrade for IU’s defense.

  • PB says:

    Decisive leader? I’d maybe buy that if Brown wasn’t on the verge of losing his job. In reality, Brown is almost at the point of needing to make a BCS bowl this season in order to keep his job, and this is simply about putting himself in a better PR position if he comes up just short. Anything less than 10 wins and Brown is out no matter what.

  • PB says:

    Also, I’m not sure if Texas’ DC would be an upgrade, he took over one of the best defenses in the nation on a team that perpetually has top 3 recruiting classes and has turned it into a disaster. At least our coaches can claim they took over a disaster.

  • Harvard for Hillbillies says:

    It’s kind of like going for it on 4th and 1 from your own 34 yard line when you and everyone else in the stadium knows you have a weak defense.

    It’s early in the game. Why not gamble early? You may risk some momentum if the gamble fails, but if the gamble is successful, don’t you keep your defense off the field longer?

    I watched many years of Bears football where it irritated the hell out me when they finally decided to abandon conservative football(religious adherence to the run game; only passing on 3rd down; not going for it on 4th and short) when they were down two or three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

    I like that fact that Wilson understands pulling out all the stops doesn’t necessarily work better when the team on defense understands your desperation. Wilson keeps it interesting in his realization that desperation can be a card played early.

    And when you’re somewhat lacking in depth and the massive bodies not built of the seasoned/established variety some of your competition, don’t you understand, as the head coach, that fatigue may come into play faster(especially if you are attempting to keep band-aids on a “weak defense” full of potential wounds and vulnerabilities) because of those discrepancies?

    Wilson understands his depth…He understands that emotions are part of the game. It’s so simple to sit in the stands and criticize the gamble when it fails. Would I believe abandoning a conservative approach(e.g. old style Bears football) until late in the game would bring more fans to the stands and instill more confidence to my young team? I think the gains in showing some confidence in your ‘D'(even in the failed scenario and they give up some early points) and, alternatively, the confidence placed in your solid offense to move the chains, is not such a foolish “gamble” to do early in the game.

    When they’ve shown ineptitude an entire game to stop anyone, that’s when you abandon conservative football? Yeah, big surprise that’s gonna be when the opposing defense has looked at everything you have to offer for over three quarters of football.

    Planning for a team will never equate to what goes on come game time. Wilson can also plan for OSU for a year. Will the planning be enough to play conservative football and play a grind-it-out game with a team far deeper in experience/physical dominance/depth? With this team, 4th and 6 on the opposing teams’ 20 is a gamble.

    4th and 1 on the 34? I would think it’s more a gamble to punt. Play loose and fast. We’re not built for grinding it out. Not yet…Maybe not for a very long time.

  • PB says:

    Exactly, having a weak defense is probably the perfect reason to go for it on a 4th and 1 on your 34. Would an additional 40 yards really have helped stop Navy?

  • Harvard for Hillbillies says:

    And why not a QB controversy?

    Maybe we needed a center/post play controversy during stretches of last season when many were claiming he was playing “soft.” Maybe we needed our basketball coach to be less conservative and not so determined that certain players only get on the court when games are already decided.

    Why on earth would a coach not want his players to think he may just be a little “crazy” with your PT? Are they such frail souls that the head coach can’t mix it up with young players that have barely got their ears wet in the college game?

    It would be a grave mistake to make two of our three QB’s think they’re only going to see the field when the other young guys fouls up.

    Controversy and keeping “rights” to PT honest ain’t such a bad thing. It’s keeps the press interested. It keeps players humble and hungry in practice. We’re not talking three year veterans. Young talent can blossom right before your eyes. Roberson/Sudfeld/Coffman are all capable of breakout games when the untrained eye would think the distinct divisions are obvious hierarchy.

    Not sure if a rigid hierarchical structure is real wise with young players with inflated egos fresh out of high school. Do you think our basketball team would have suffered irreversible consequences if Crean would have pulled Cody in some early games(games he didn’t look like he was using his available physical presence to full advantage) and gambled on instilling some confidence in Perea?

    There’s a fine line between too much predictability and being a bit flippant with prima donnas this wonderfully modern day in college sports where players think they more qualified to be dictators by way of talent than a coach by way of teacher and leader.

  • Harvard for Hillbillies says:

    Can an offense get tired(especially one that relies heavily on the run)?

    Is it possible that playing many of these games is a bit like Ali going up against Foreman?

    Maybe we need to play a bit of rope-a-dope…We can’t match up physically, so we must lure the big “dopes” of the Big 10 into the comforts their dominance…Let them expend excessive energy while attempting to not use up all our countering defensive energy early because our mightiest resistance could in no fashion hold up against their dominant physicality and body blows through the interior our line for four quarters(15 rounds)?…We do the best to minimize the hits(do the best to minimize points allowed as it relates to yardage and first down blows) and then, when we get the ball, strike fast..In the later rounds(3rd and 4th quarters), when their offense is tired, we get off the defensive ropes, bring out an Ali flurry of jabs and hard surprising strikes an offensive assassin.

    Isn’t it an available strategy to demoralize an opponent that believes he’s dominated you as he suddenly gets stunned by your surprising ability to bounce back in an offensive assualt, look up at the score, and realize the contest is somehow still in question?

    And maybe that soft/bending/weak defense suddenly gets more aggressive/revitalized when the score begins to tighten up because they didn’t expel all their resistance in the first quarter(early rounds)?

    Certainly not saying we’re an ‘Ali’ football team..Merely trying to give argument that traditional strategy won’t always work when the opponent simply has too much punch to get in slug-fest in the trenches. This could involve “gambles” where gambles appear “foolish”…QB rotations…Defense-a-dope.

    Must Wilson, on occasion, resort to getting pushed around a bit with the structure/depth this young team? Stay in the fight. Lure the opponent into believing their complete dominance while still keeping some fuel in the tank? Was Ali not taking a crazy gamble against Foreman?

  • D-BONE says:

    It’s outright absurd not to name Sudfeld the starter. Yeah, if he’s sucking it up Roberson get in and has a chance. Just like what happened in reverse last week. If Roberson does what Sudfeld did in that role, great, we’ve got a legit QB competition. But, as of now, Sudfeld is the obvious choice.

    As far as the D, it only has to show reasonable progress this season. For me, that doesn’t mean much. A few three and outs per game and/or an occasional big play. It’s early, but so far it’s shown none. We’ll see what happens as the season unfolds.

  • Podunker says:

    PB, Brown is ready to retire. His most recent contract provides him for a real nice parachute when they fire him. As for Diaz becoming IU’s DC, I was being sarcastic. You know, a “tongue in cheek” comment.

    As far as a “quarterback controversy,” my point is that there is absolutely no grounds for a quarterback controversy. If Wilson wants to create one, I can’t imagine why. Generally, they’re not good for team chemistry.

  • Hoosier Clarion says:

    If Coach Wilson wants to continue the QB competition then I will not participate turning it into a controversy. I’d say the chemistry of the offense is pretty damn good and is directly attributable to the QB competition. The WR’s have all stated they really don’t care who is throwing. That neutralizes the controversy issue.

  • Podunker says:

    HC, what else are the receivers going to say? Come on, these guys are not going to express a preference to the media. They’re young, but they’re not stupid. Those conversation, if they happen at all, are always going to take place behind closed doors and should never, ever be discussed to a member of the media.

  • hoosiercow says:

    Do not mean to sound like a broken record here, but the only way IU wins any games is if there defense steps up to the plate. If the defense was average, they would stand a chance to win many games and be competitive in the others.
    Nothing else really matters until something happens on the defensive side of the ball. But if I had my choice, Sudfeld would would be the starter for the rest of the season. We all know that he is the starter of the future, so why not now?

  • DAThoosier says:

    OK, enough is enough. Wilson starting Roberson in the Navy game is the reason we lost that game. Two WORTHLESS positions leaves Nate and the gang playing catch up all game. What’s with this QB mystery crap he’s still pulling. Just tell us that Nate is the starter and that he’ll be the man this season unless he gets injured.

    The REAL problem has nothing to do with the QB’s though. It’s our TRAIN WRECK of a defense that is the problem.

  • davis says:

    PO- right on about Sud showing some feet and avoiding sacks. I was on the “Coach knows best” side of the argument, but Sud’s superior performance in games has to be obvious by now. At least to those of us who also find it obvious that Mallory is clueless and needs to be replaced immediately. I’m still happy with Wilson overall but am stupefied by some of the things going on.

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