Indiana offensive coordinator Seth Littrell was asked what he was looking for in the competition to become the Hoosiers’ starting quarterback.
“I want someone to take it and be the man,” Littrell said. “Step up and be the guy. “
The first step toward making that decision came Friday as the Hoosiers opened training camp.
None of the three contenders — juniors Tre Roberson and Cam Coffman and sophomore Nate Sudfeld — were made available to the media. That won’t come until next Friday at least.
But Littrell and head coach Kevin Wilson acknowledged it will be a long process to determine who enters the season as the starter.
Roberson entered last season as the starter but broke his leg in the second game and missed the rest of the season. That pushed Coffman, a junior college transfer, into the starting role.
The three quarterbacks came out of spring practice in a “dead heat,” leaving the most important position on the field to be decided this month.
While the Hoosiers did a lot of passing during Friday’s practice, primarily because they weren’t in full pads, Littrell said all three quarterbacks had good plays and bad.
“I guarantee all three had some plays they wished they could take back,” Littrell said. “But that’s how it’s going to be. It’s a matter of going out there Day 1, how are you presenting yourself, how are we working as a team, how much effort are we giving. That’s what today’s about, it’s not about plays.”
Wilson said there’s a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks.
“Those guys have a lot of stress on them right now,” Wilson said. “They don’t but they do. They want the job, so you’re always pushing and pressing.”
Wilson wants the quarterbacks to work within the offense, not try to impress him by trying to make plays.
“I’d like to see them a little better at checking down, taking what’s there, not trying to be so greedy,” he said. “One time a guy’s comment was, ‘Well, I saw [this],’ I said, ‘No, no, no, the read says go over there.’ Show me you’ve got the read.
“I think he’s trying to make the play to show me he’s the guy. No, no, no, trust the offense, manage the offense, take the read, don’t free-lance.”
Another important role for the quarterback, and the offense as a whole, will be to do a better job of scoring in the red zone. That means a better running game, Littrell said.
“Passing yards and rushing yards, that’s for losers. What it boils down to is can you score enough points to win a football game? That’s what we care about,” Littrell said.
“We’ve got to be more physical in the run game. … That includes O-line, tight ends, running backs and receivers,” he said.
“Good starting point [today], we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Wilson said.