On June 13, 2014, Indiana’s football team received some surprising news as quarterback Tre Roberson announced he was leaving the program for Illinois State. Suddenly, a team known for rotating Roberson and fellow QB Nate Sudfeld as if they were hockey players was down to just Sudfeld.
Roberson was a dynamic offensive player who could beat you through the air or on foot, but Sudfeld is certainly no slouch. Indiana faithful should be ecstatic that No. 7 will now be under center full-time.
Last season, he threw for more than 2,500 yards and 21 touchdowns to just nine interceptions. Not too shabby, right? Just think what he could have done if he wasn’t sharing snaps.
Getting as excited as I am? If not, you should be.
The Hoosiers put up more than 500 yards and almost 39 points per game while rotating QBs. Now that Sudfeld — and Sudfeld alone — has the keys to Indiana’s explosive offense, he and the offense could be even better.
The two-QB system IU used last season was effective, but that doesn’t mean it was good for the quarterbacks themselves. Quarterback is a position that demands preparation, confidence and time on the field.
How can you be fully prepared when you aren’t receiving all of the reps in practice? How could you ever be completely confident when you could be replaced at any second? Finally, to be successful, a QB must be able to find a rhythm, get a feel for the game. This requires consistently playing, not switching in and out throughout the contest.
Fortunately for Sudfeld, last season’s situation is in the past. He will no longer have to look over his shoulder. He will be able to get into the flow of the game and won’t be taken out once he feels comfortable. He also knows that one mistake won’t land him on the bench.
The burdens of wondering whether or not he is going to start, what series he will play or how many series he will play are gone. The result should be a confident, prepared quarterback who feels in complete control. I firmly believe Sudfeld will be a totally different player without a QB controversy swirling around him.
For Indiana, the outcome of this season will largely depend on the play of Sudfeld, and he still has a lot to prove. He must show he can still produce without the talented playmakers he’s used to having at his disposal. Cody Latimer, Stephen Houston, Kofi Hughes and Ted Bolser will not be in cream and crimson in 2014.
Sudfeld will have to demonstrate he can limit costly turnovers like the interception at the end of the first half against Missouri, which gave the Tigers a 14-point lead and the momentum. Then there’s the interception in the fourth quarter versus Michigan, as the Hoosiers were driving to take the lead. Finally, we can’t forget the backwards pass in the red zone in the waning moments against Minnesota that was ruled a lateral and recovered by the Gophers, effectively the game 42-39 in favor of Minnesota.
If IU wants to get to a bowl game for the first time since 2007, it will need Sudfeld to show he is “the guy” and play the best football of his career. Now that he’s the only one in charge of the huddle, the Hoosiers are hoping that is exactly what happens.