Indiana coach Kevin Wilson didn’t bring a quarterback to the Big Ten’s Football Media Days because he doesn’t know who his starter will be for the season opener Aug. 29 against Indiana State.
That’s not necessarily a problem for IU’s third-year coach.
“If I did [have a quarterback here], I would have all three of those guys representing us because they’re three great leaders,” Wilson said Wednesday. “Until I know which one is going to be our leader, I wasn’t going to anoint someone. They’re going to earn it on the field.”
The three contenders are Tre Roberson, the junior who began last season as the starter before suffering a season-ending broken leg at UMass in the second game; Cam Coffman, the junior college transfer who started the final 10 games and threw for 2,734 yards for the Big Ten’s top passing offense; and sophomore Nate Sudfeld, the team’s top-rated passer who showed late-game heroics against Ball State.
It’s not the first time Wilson has entered training camp without a clear-cut No. 1. His first season, it was sophomores Edward Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel competing with the freshman Roberson. Last fall, it was Roberson fending off Coffman and Sudfeld.
“The first year, I didn’t know if we could throw it in the ocean,” Wilson said. “Last year we were kind of young and unproven.
“For our program to win, have the year we’re capable of having, we need to be dynamic at quarterback. So our quarterback’s got to be a difference-maker.”
While acknowledging Roberson is a more mobile quarterback than Coffman or Sudfeld, Wilson also pointed out that the play-calling was a little more conservative last year after Roberson’ injury, in order to keep the other two quarterbacks healthy.
And even though the Hoosiers statistically had the Big Ten’s top passing attack last season, Wilson wasn’t impressed.
“We led the league in passing, blah, blah, blah, all that junk. Once our quarterback got hurt, we lost five straight games,” he said.
“What we’re going to do is run our spread offense, be a little bit up-tempo,” Wilson said. “We’ll throw the ball in space and try to be a team that can throw it pushing 70 percent.”
Besides a high completion percentage, Wilson is looking for more points, period.
“Our offense moves the ball but we don’t score points proportional to moving the ball,” he said. “When you score points, you win games. You don’t win games by getting yards.”
Indeed, while the Hoosiers racked up 5,304 yards of total offense last season, a healthy 442 yards per game, they averaged only 30.8 points — a figure padded by scoring outputs of 49, 45, 39, and 35 points.
Three of those high scoring games for the Hoosiers were also losses — 56-35 to Purdue, 52-49 to Ohio State and 41-39 to Ball State.
“Quite honestly, it’s been embarrassing about how we played [defense] in our first two years,” Wilson said. “So our effort, toughness, need to be better.”