Image courtesy of IU Athletics
Quarterback Competition Revived: When true freshman Nate Sudfeld replaced sophomore Cam Coffman on Saturday and led the Hoosiers to their first victory since Tre Roberson’s season was cut short by an ankle injury, many fans began wondering what Coffman did to get sidelined for the rest of the game.
“Sometimes the game starts so fast,” explained offensive coordinator Kevin Johns, “that sometimes it’s not bad just to come and take a deep breath and watch it from the sidelines…instead of looking at it like a punishment, it’s more ‘hey man catch your breath, settle down, go execute the offense.’”
Although Sudfeld secured the third win of the season by completing 10-15 passes for 107 yards, head coach Kevin Wilson was far from impressed.
“We need to play a lot better than we did Saturday. We’ve won one football game since Tre got hurt and the one game we won was our worst quarterback performance. Both those guys need to keep pressing to play better.”
But Johns says that it’s difficult to decide who is going to start against Iowa on Saturday. “Each week we take it practice by practice, day by day, and see who we’ll roll with.”
Taking on Iowa: With a 4-0 record against Indiana in their last four matchups, notorious running backs, and a defense that is ranked 13th in the nation, to say the Hoosiers will have their hands full this weekend is an understatement.
“This is going to be a Big 10 brawl,” commented Johns.
Assistant coach and defensive coordinator, Doug Mallory, believes the Hoosiers are prepared to fight though. Mallory referred to the explosive plays that contributed to the last Iowa 45-24 victory over IU as the most important key to victory for the Hawkeyes.
“We gave up way too many last year. Where we have been better the past two weeks though, is we haven’t been giving up the explosion plays. They’re going to come out and run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, then play action fake and if you’re not paying attention they’ll get you.”
The ‘explosion plays’ are the result of Iowa’s senior quarterback, James Vandenberg who surpassed 5,000 career yards passing last week. “He’s got an incredible arm and he can make every throw they ask him,” explained Mallory.
Wilson expressed his respect for the Iowa program and head coach, Kirk Ferentz, referring to him as “one of the better coaches in the profession.”
“This will be a challenge because it’s a winning football program and we need to become that. We need to learn to win at home and just keep getting better.”
The “Common Theme”: Constant daily improvement and keep getting better. If someone earned a nickel every time Coach Wilson has said, “we just need to keep getting better,” at press conferences this year, they would have a large sum of money. But Wilson’s persistence for perfection and improvement has been the driving force behind the Hoosiers all season.
“As we build our team that’s what we’re trying to do – it’s being constant, consistent, getting better every day and that’s the mindset that we’re trying to build with our guys. We need to keep building and if our kids are really embracing our values then we’re off to a good start. Our kids have bought in in unbelievable ways.”
Wilson also mentioned that the atmosphere among the players has changed considerably since last year as a much better camaraderie among the guys has developed.
“The whole setup is different. It’s a completely different vibe but we still have a long way to go. We’ve pointed out that all the really good teams get stronger and better down the stretch. The really great competitors, great players, and great teams get better as you go.”
Only time will tell if Coach Wilson’s philosophy and plans will be proven. Until then, IU will host Iowa on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:42 P.M.