Indiana Football: The Hoosiers Need a Quarterback


What this Indiana Hoosier football team needs most right now is a quarterback. Not a better defense (the unit is up 42 spots from last year). Not better coaching. A quarterback.

"“The heartbeat of a football team is the quarterback position, and I think everyone who has any intelligence about the game understands you must have consistency at that position to be a championship team.”–Ron Jaworski"

I’m not talking about the fact that Nate Sudfeld doesn’t rank in the top 100 nationally in terms of his Quarterback Rating. It has nothing to do with statistical performance; that’s not what this team is missing. This team is missing a quarterback. A heartbeat and an on-the-field leader.

It’s Not All Up to Nate:

Some guys possess an innate (there’s a pun there) leadership ability. We haven’t seen that from Sudfeld, but that doesn’t mean he’s a lost cause. Certainly there are things a coaching staff can do to cultivate leadership. The Hoosier staff is doing quite the opposite. For starters, how about actually letting him lead the offense?

"“If you’re a quarterback, you want everything on your shoulders. You want to be the one to make the decisions.”–Tom Brady"

After last Saturday’s game, Maryland LB Cole Farrand shed some light on how the Terp defense was able to shut down the Indiana offense: “I think it was discouraging them a little bit because we were calling out the plays they were going to run all the time.” Yup. That would be discouraging if they predicted the play and you didn’t change it. While many teams trust their QB to change the play call at the line of scrimmage, the Hoosier staff does not. Indiana’s audible calls all come from the sideline.

This is Sudfeld’s third year running the offense. Surely he can tell when a team is loading the box or blitzing. Surely he can call his own audibles at this point. It’s time for Kevin Wilson to “cut the cord” and hand over control of the offense. If he wants his QB to lead, he should let him.

Closely related to the hindrance resulting from the staff’s refusal to place trust in their QB, is their apparent mindset with regard to the position.

"“If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a quarterback who thinks playing quarterback is just about passing.”–Bill Parcells"

The high speed, spread offense tends to have a machine-like nature to it, where individual players tend to be viewed as interchangeable parts rather than important variables in an equation for success. You don’t have to look any further than Wilson’s offensive inspiration, Mike Leach to see this point made clear. The number one and two NCAA single-season passing record holders (Graham Harrell and B.J. Symons) both played for Leach at Texas Tech. Despite holding all-time college records, neither did anything in the NFL. Both were products of the system they played in. Leach knew he didn’t need an elite QB. He just needed somebody he could plug in to his developed system.

That’s what Sudfeld is in danger of now. I don’t think he believes playing the position is “just about passing,” but the coaches’ actions suggest that they do. They don’t place the trust in Sudfeld to make his own calls on offense, because they don’t view the offense as his. The fact that they want to control even the audibles suggests they view the offense as “theirs” with Sudfeld simply being an arm used to carry out orders. Again, this is not conducive to instilling confidence and developing the leader the team needs.

No More Excuses:

While the staff isn’t facilitating Sudfeld’s development into the leader this team needs, some blame, of course, rests with Sudfeld. Sam Bradford is the perfect example of a guy who thrived as a leader in Wilson’s offense (his leadership was off the charts). Early on in his Oklahoma days, Bradford was in the thick of a QB competition similar the one in which Sudfeld was entrenched. However, once Bradford won the starting spot, he took off running as a leader:

"“When they named me the starter, it allowed me to step into that leadership role the quarterback is required to fulfill. The hardest part going through a three-quarterback competition is that it’s hard for one guy to emerge as the true leader.”-Sam Bradford"

This is no longer an excuse for Sudfeld. Both players he was in competition with have left. Not only is he the definite starter, but his competition isn’t even campus anymore to grumble on the sidelines. The 2014 Indiana Hoosiers are his team, although neither he nor the coaching staff has acted like it up to this point.

The Hoosiers Need a Quarterback:

You’d be hard pressed to find a more respected member of the Indiana community than the voice of the Hoosiers, Don Fischer. The man who has seen it all told Dan Dackich earlier this month what he thought the team needed in order to make the post season.

"“It’s gonna take leader. Not a coach, but a player to step up and become a leader”–Don Fischer"

I couldn’t agree more. Statistically, Nate’s having a bad year. He ranks in the bottom of the B1G in completion percentage, average yards per game, touchdowns and pass efficiency. Those statistics won’t be what keeps the Hoosiers from a bowl game, but Sudfeld’s reaction to them could.

"What’s the worst thing that can happen to a quarterback? He loses his confidence.–Terry Bradshaw"

That’s where this team is now, and where they end up will depend on what Sudfeld does next. Will he lose confidence, resulting in more showings like the one against Maryland? Will he just get back to his normal self and put up big numbers? Or, will he finally become the “quarterback” that this team needs?

*statistics from and