Chances are you missed it.
The play meant nothing. The game was over. But on the last play for the Hoosier offense in the season opener, a second QB entered the game. Not walk-on Nate Boudreau. Not true freshman Zander Diamont. Not anybody even listed as a quarterback on the team roster, never mind the depth chart.
It was true freshman Chris Covington. Huh?
While Hoosier fans were initially hoping to leave Saturday’s game with the backup QB question answered, they instead left with more questions. Namely, who is Chris Covington?
Covington was a last-minute out-of-nowhere addition to the 2014 recruiting class. He was brought in as a safety and went through his first fall camp as a linebacker. He was wasn’t making any splashes on the defensive side of the ball and hadn’t been mentioned as a high-performing freshman by any of the coaches. Essentially, he was an insignificant freshman. Coming out of high school, his offer list consisted of Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green, Southern Illinois and Indiana. Pretty much a seemingly insignificant recruit.
So how’d he end up as the only Hoosier other than starter Nate Sudfeld to take a snap on Saturday? A team picnic. Apparently, at a post-practice picnic, the players were “goofing around” and Covington took to throwing the ball. The coaches saw. The coaches liked. And the rest is history.
Wild. But not that wild as Covington was a prolific QB in high school.
According to MaxPreps, he threw for 1993 yards and 26 touchdowns as senior. He also ran for 657 yards and 13 touchdowns. As you can see from his senior year highlights, the kid can scoot, which may explain why Wilson wants to give him a shot. Last year, even if Tre Roberson didn’t play the majority of a given game, Wilson liked using the mobile Roberson in running situations, specifically inside the red zone. Indiana’s previously known top three quarterbacks are all pro-style signal callers, so Covington would provide the team with at least one mobile QB option.
But then again, it’s hard to imagine Wilson, a guy who is huge on QB preparation and game knowledge, throwing a guy into the mix after spending his only fall camp learning how to play linebacker. It’s also worth considering the apparent lengths Wilson went to keep the playbook a secret heading into the rest of the season’s schedule. If he had a wild card up his sleeve (a mobile QB no one knew about), why would he unveil it on the last snap of the game? Why would he clue opposing teams in on his secret weapon?
One answer is, of course, that throwing Covington into the mix was just another effort to throw Bowling Green off while it game plans for the Hoosiers. Teams have a finite amount of time to prepare for upcoming opponents, and every minute of practice is valuable. If the Falcons have to game plan for a running QB, that would take away from the time they have to prepare for the rest of the Indiana offense.
So, is Covington the real deal or just a nifty, sneaky trick Wilson’s using to hamper opponents’ game plans? Probably a little bit of both. Covington has officially been changed to a “QB” on the official roster. Also, if he is just going to be used in running situations, the amount of “catching up” he’ll have to do won’t be as big of a deal assuming he only has to learn a fraction of the playbook. It’s unlikely he’ll pose a threat to opposing defenses in the immediate future, but don’t be surprised to see him in goal line situations as the season progresses.