Wednesday, February 8, 2012
IU's Wilson has high hopes for Roberson
By Adam Rittenberg
First, Indiana brought in an offensive coordinator, Seth Littrell, with a pass-first pedigree.
The Hoosiers then added Cameron Coffman, a coveted junior college quarterback who Littrell had recruited at his previous coaching stop (Arizona). Then, late in the recruiting process, Indiana added Nate Sudfield, rated by ESPN Recruiting as the nation's No. 14 quarterback prospect. Sudfield is the highest-rated recruit in Indiana's recent signing class.
Indiana's Tre Roberson has shown that he can run. Now he aims to be a more efficient QB.
Some might see all of this as sending a message to Tre Roberson, who emerged as Indiana's starting quarterback midway through Big Ten play last season. While Roberson showed tremendous potential at times, he also completed only 57 percent of his passes and threw twice as many interceptions (6) as touchdown passes (3).
But the team's recent moves have been made with Roberson's development very much in mind. When Indiana opens spring practice March 3, Roberson will lead the offense.
"Tre will definitely have a huge advantage," Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "He has the potential to be a very quality player. He's off to a great young start in his career. ... He can make some plays with his feet, but he's a better quarterback than people give him credit for. I want competition at every position, but going into the spring, without a doubt Tre Roberson's our guy."
Coffman is one of six junior-college additions already on campus at Indiana. Sudfield arrives in the fall. Indiana was looking to add quarterbacks after both Ed Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel left the team last month. Roberson moved past both Wright-Baker and Kiel on Indiana's depth chart during Big Ten play and provided a spark with his athleticism.
His next challenge is to become a more effective and consistent passer, which Wilson has little doubt he can be.
"[Littrell] is going to escalate Tre in the pass game," Wilson said. "I think Tre can be really good. These other two guys will make great competition for him."
Although a historically poor defense remains Indiana's primary offseason focus, Wilson thinks the Hoosiers can take steps offensively as well. Indiana had at least 350 offensive yards in half of its games in 2011 but cracked the 30-point barrier just three times and only once in Big Ten play.
Wilson wants to score more through the pass game, a big reason why he brought in Littrell, a Mike Leach disciple whose Arizona offense ranked third nationally in passing in 2011.
"I look to see what elements of that passing game will become the true part of our pass offense," Wilson said. "We'll still try to have balance and run the ball. We're going to play to the strength of the quarterback. But for us to score points, we've got to make strides defensively, but we've got to make a boatload of strides offensively, particularly in scoring, and one of the quickest ways of doing that is trying to improve the pass game.
"I don't see it as a change of offense, but it's an emphasis on some subtle things in the passing game."