Big Ten: Nate Sudfield

Indiana season preview

August, 21, 2013
8/21/13
10:30
AM ET
Indiana is looking for a postseason breakthrough in Kevin Wilson's third season with the program, and he has no shortage of returning talent on hand to make a push for a bowl bid.

INDIANA HOOSIERS

Coach: Kevin Wilson (5-19, two seasons with Hoosiers and overall)

2012 record: 4-8 (2-6 in Big Ten, fifth in the Leaders Division)

Key losses: C Will Matte, DT Adam Replogle, DT Larry Black Jr., CB Antonio Marshall

Key returnees: QB Tre Roberson, QB Cameron Coffman, QB Nate Sudfeld, RB Stephen Houston, WR Shane Wynn, WR Kofi Hughes, OL Jason Spriggs, OL Collin Rahrig, DE Ryan Phillis, DE Zach Shaw, CB Brian Williams, S Greg Heban, LB David Cooper

Newcomer to watch: The Hoosiers don’t have many holes to fill on defense with eight starters returning, but they were hit hard right up the middle with both tackles up front moving on after last season. Wilson didn’t have to look far to find a potential stopgap with an ESPN300 player on the market in Indianapolis, and the signing of Darius Latham was a critical one for the Hoosiers both in terms of the caliber of player and because it came at a position of need.

Stepping in as a true freshman and making an impact in the Big Ten trenches is a tall order, but at 6-foot-5, 291 pounds, Latham at least has the frame to give himself a chance to help the Hoosiers right away.

[+] EnlargeCameron Coffman
Mark L. Baer/US PresswireIndiana's Cameron Coffman threw for over 2,700 yards last season. But will he be the starting QB in the Hoosiers' 2013 opener?
Biggest games in 2013: If the Hoosiers are going to go bowling, it would certainly help to take care of business outside the Big Ten. Opening the season against Indiana State on Aug. 29 shouldn’t be much of a test, but Navy (Sept. 7), Bowling Green (Sept. 14) and Missouri (Sept. 21) all could provide a test for Indiana even before it steps into the league with a home date against Penn State on Oct. 5. As if drawing both Michigan State and Michigan from the Legends Division wasn’t tough enough, the Hoosiers must face them on consecutive weekends -- both on the road.

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: Maybe it won’t matter who ultimately takes the first snap of the season for the Hoosiers. There are more than enough skilled targets to take advantage of in the passing game, an emphasis on being more physical should yield better results on the ground and Indiana has a coach who has proven his system will put up points.

But a three-man quarterback battle waged throughout training camp has left a pretty significant piece of the offensive puzzle undecided this month, and at some point Wilson is going to have to settle on a guy to lead his attack and point the Hoosiers in the right direction. It’s not like he doesn’t have options, and with each of the candidates bringing something valuable to the table, it’s understandable why Indiana has taken its time.

Roberson is a versatile athlete who can add mobility to the position, Coffman showed off his arm a year ago by throwing for more than 2,700 yards and Sudfield has turned some heads on the practice field this month. But they can’t all play, and sooner or later Wilson will have to make a decision.

Forecast: The buzz is building for a return to the postseason, and after going to just one bowl in the past 19 years and not winning one since 1991, the Hoosiers are definitely overdue.

But even with all the returning talent from a productive offense and a number of veterans back with a chance to improve a porous defensive unit from a year ago, the path to a winning record or even six wins isn’t exactly a smooth one for Indiana. It will benefit from playing eight games at Memorial Stadium, but the schedule wasn’t all that kind for the program within the Big Ten and aside from Indiana State, the games outside of the league are far from sure things.

The Hoosiers showed they could compete against some of the top teams in the conference a year ago, including a thrilling, high-scoring shootout against undefeated Ohio State that offered growing evidence of what Wilson’s attack could be capable of as he adds more talent and athleticism to the roster.

Without significant improvement on the other side of the ball, the Hoosiers will have a hard time making up much ground in the division. But if the defense is able to make a jump and take a little pressure off the offense and whoever winds up winning the quarterback job, a trip around the holidays could be within reach.

Midseason report: Indiana

October, 16, 2012
10/16/12
11:00
AM ET
INDIANA

Record: 2-4 (0-3 Big Ten)

The good news: this Indiana season looks a lot more like 2009 than 2011. The bad news: the 2009 Hoosiers couldn't get over the hump, and the 2012 version has the same problem.

If there's a 2-4 team in the FBS that shouldn't hang its head, it's Indiana. After a 1-11 season in 2011 that featured few competitive losses, the Hoosiers have found themselves in every game this season. They dominated Michigan State for a half. They put up 49 points against Ohio State. They cut a 27-0 deficit at Northwestern to a one-possession game in the fourth quarter. They erased a 13-point Ball State lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, only to lose on a last-second field goal.

Indiana is certainly making progress under second-year coach Kevin Wilson. Despite losing top quarterback Tre Roberson to a season-ending broken leg in Week 2, the Hoosiers have continued to rack up points and yards. Reserve quarterbacks Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld both are showing potential, and Indiana boasts some of the league's most dynamic set of receivers in Cody Latimer, Kofi Hughes and Shane Wynn, not to mention a solid running back in Stephen Houston. Indiana leads the Big Ten in passing (313 ypg) and ranks second in total offense (473 ypg).

The problem is the Hoosiers have been here before: big offense, good quarterbacks, great receivers, no defense, a bunch of moral victories. The defense continues to hold back the program, ranking 103rd nationally in yards allowed and 92nd in points allowed. It's still far too easy to run the ball against Indiana and find gaping holes in the defense. The overall athleticism seems to be improving, but the cohesion, depth and ability to avoid breakdowns still isn't there.

The good news is Indiana's second-half schedule provides some opportunities for wins. If the Hoosiers can get over the hump the next two weeks against Navy and Illinois, they could make some noise down the stretch.

Offensive MVPs: QBs Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld. Wilson says little separates the two signal callers in practice, so we're linking them here as well. The offense hasn't slowed down at all despite Roberson's injury, and both Coffman and Sudfeld are showing they can make plays against Big Ten defenses. Coffman has been the starter and boasts the better numbers (108-for-172 passing, 1,076 yards, 7 TDs, 1 INT), while Sudfeld has entered games late and helped rally Indiana against Ball State, Northwestern and Ohio State. The freshman has completed 31 of 50 passes for 434 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions.

Defensive MVP: DT Adam Replogle. There's no obvious choice on a struggling unit, but Replogle has had a good start to his final season in Bloomington. It's not often that a defensive tackle leads the team in, well, tackles, but Replogle tops Indiana's chart with 41 stops in the first six games. He leads all Big Ten defensive linemen in tackles per game (6.8). Replogle also leads Indiana in both tackles for loss (5.5) and sacks (3.5) to go along with a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Cornerback Greg Heban (6 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, 3.5 tackles for loss) merits a mention.
There's a new team at the top.

Ohio State might have needed a fourth-quarter rally to outlast Cal in Columbus, but the Buckeyes remain unbeaten. And with Michigan State's offense flat-lining against Notre Dame on its home field, the Buckeyes move up to the No. 1 spot in the rankings.

Week 3 wasn't as disastrous for the Big Ten as its predecessor, but the league once again didn't flex its muscles and endured some sobering results. Only three unbeaten teams remain in the league -- Ohio State, Northwestern and Minnesota -- and while several teams have suffered losses to very good opponents, Purdue's narrow setback at Notre Dame and possibly Nebraska's loss at UCLA are the only defeats that really hold up in the court of public opinion.

There's not a ton of shuffling among the first six teams, which are all fairly close. Wisconsin looked terrible again, even in victory, and paid the price in the rankings.

The exciting news for Big Ten fans is the league lacks much separation from top to bottom, which should make for some fun division races. Three weeks into the season, these rankings are a snapshot of how teams are playing at the moment.

Let's get to the rundown ...

1. Ohio State (3-0, last week: 2): The Buckeyes had plenty of tense moments Saturday, but star quarterback Braxton Miller came to the rescue in the fourth quarter. Miller has put himself on the Heisman Trophy radar with brilliant performances in the new offense, and some weapons are beginning to emerge around him, namely wideout Devin Smith. Ohio State's defense isn't playing nearly as well as many thought, however, and the Buckeyes won't stay here too long if they allow more than 500 yards again.

2. Michigan (2-1, last week: 3): The UMass game provided few revelations about the Wolverines, who took care of business and steamrolled a feeble opponent. Eight different Wolverines players scored touchdowns in the 63-13 romp, including standout left tackle Taylor Lewan. It was a stress-free day at the Big House, but Michigan needs to get serious again as it prepares to face Notre Dame in South Bend. The Irish should be geared up after dropping the past three games to Michigan, all contests Notre Dame felt it should have won. Denard Robinson owns Notre Dame and likely needs another spectacular effort this coming Saturday.

3. Michigan State (2-1, last week: 1): Coach Mark Dantonio called Saturday night's game a defining moment for his team, and Michigan State learned it has a long way to go to reach its top goal of the Rose Bowl. The Spartans never seized momentum on either side of the ball and had few true highlights in a convincing loss to Notre Dame. Their defense should be fine in the long run, but Dantonio indicated some changes could be coming on offense after poor protection and dropped passes led to Michigan State's first touchdown-less performance at home since 1991.

4. Nebraska (2-1, last week: 4): It's hard to know what to make of these Huskers, who have looked very good at home against weak competition and shaky on the road against a UCLA team that could turn out to be much better than expected. For now, Big Red retains the No. 4 spot. Nebraska might have the most offensive weapons in the Big Ten, and it had little trouble racking up points (42) and yards (527) despite playing without top back Rex Burkhead for the second consecutive game. The Huskers' defense needs to build on a solid effort, and Taylor Martinez must take better care of the ball as Big Ten play inches closer.

5. Northwestern (3-0, last week: 5): Name the only FBS team to have beaten three major-conference foes in the first three weeks. It's Northwestern, which added an ACC notch (Boston College) to a belt that already includes teams from the SEC (Vanderbilt) and Big East (Syracuse). Pat Fitzgerald's team once again won in atypical fashion Saturday, grinding out the game on the ground, playing stout defense and struggling to translate yards into points. Northwestern has a lot to improve and a quarterback situation to sort out, but this young team has to feel very good about its progress through three weeks. The upcoming schedule remains favorable for NU.

6. Purdue (2-1, last week: 6): We're tempted to put the Boilers higher, and Danny Hope's squad looks like the best postseason-eligible team in the wide-open Leaders Division. Purdue definitely has the defense to go a long way this season, perhaps all the way to Pasadena for the first time since the 2000 season. The Boilers also have several weapons in the backfield, as they showcased Saturday against Eastern Michigan. Quarterback play continues to be a question mark, but Purdue is a team to watch the rest of the fall.

7. Minnesota (3-0, last week: 8): The Gophers showed Saturday against Western Michigan that they're more than a one-man team, as they rallied for a nice win despite losing starting quarterback MarQueis Gray. Max Shortell stepped in under center and fired three touchdown passes as Minnesota held off Western Michigan. The concern is how long Minnesota survives without Gray, who likely will miss the next few games with a high ankle sprain. Minnesota's defense should get a good test this week as quarterback Ryan Nassib and Syracuse visit TCF Bank Stadium.

8. Illinois (2-1, last week: 9): Much like Nebraska, Illinois has looked good on its home field and not so good in its only trip away from Champaign. Saturday's win against Charleston Southern showed very little about the Illini, and defending WAC champion Louisiana Tech should provide a better gauge this week. The problem Saturday was the injury bug, as Illinois played without or lost a host of key players. Top quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase should return this week, and Illinois hopes to get some of its other banged-up regulars back in the fold.

9. Iowa (2-1, last week: 10): The Hawkeyes rediscovered the end zone Saturday, thanks to walk-on fullback Mark Weisman, the latest Iowa back to step up after AIRBHG struck again. There's no need to get too giddy about a win against Northern Iowa, but the Hawkeyes controlled the line of scrimmage and the football, and limited their mistakes. Iowa's defense has looked solid so far, particularly against the run, and if the offense can build on this and survive the depth problems in the backfield, the Hawkeyes could soon rise up the rankings.

10. Penn State (1-2, last week: 11): As we've written previously, Bill O'Brien's Lions did some good things in the first two weeks, and they finally put it together in an easy win against Navy. While this isn't a typical Midshipmen team, Penn State's passing attack clearly has made strides under O'Brien as Matt McGloin and Allen Robinson continue to connect for touchdowns. Penn State received another strong defensive effort and finally got a chance to celebrate. It's important that the Lions keep the pedal down this week against Temple, which looks for its first win at Beaver Stadium.

11. Wisconsin (2-1, last week: 7): The Coaches' Poll voters continue to embarrass themselves by putting Wisconsin in the Top 25. We're not nearly as kind to a team that has looked thoroughly unimpressive for most of the first three games. Wisconsin should have lost Saturday night to a plucky Utah State team, and the Badgers were extremely fortunate to walk off of their home field -- a place where they've dominated for years and years -- with a two-point win. The offensive problems go deeper than replacing one assistant coach, and Bret Bielema and his team have some serious work to do. There's a major identity crisis in Madison right now.

12. Indiana (2-1, last week: 12): The Hoosiers showed some grit in the final minutes Saturday night and nearly recorded a nice comeback win behind third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Unfortunately, IU's defense still isn't up to snuff and Ball State had the ball last and capitalized. Indiana certainly has firepower on offense and a much improved passing attack (423 yards, four touchdowns on Saturday), but it's the same old story with the Hoosiers' defense. IU couldn't keep Ball State off the field enough, which doesn't bode well as Big Ten play gets closer.

Hoosiers win big but lose Roberson

September, 8, 2012
9/08/12
7:36
PM ET
Indiana crushed Massachusetts to record its first win against an FBS opponent under Kevin Wilson and improve to 2-0 on the season.

But the victory came with a huge cost.

Hoosiers starting quarterback Tre Roberson will miss the rest of the season after suffering a broken leg in the second quarter of the team's 45-6 victory. Wilson said Roberson, a true sophomore, will redshirt the season and need three to four months to recover.

Roberson was off to a great start this season, following up a solid effort in the opener with three first-quarter touchdowns Saturday, including scoring runs of 50 and 39 yards. Wilson had been pleased with Roberson's development as a passer to complement his tremendous athleticism.

Indiana's quarterback situation is better than it was a year ago, and junior-college transfer Cameron Coffman could be a good option. Coffman played well in relief of Roberson on Saturday, completing 16 of 22 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Nate Sudfeld moves up to the No. 2 role.

It'll be hard to get a read on Indiana's offense until the competition improves. But Roberson is a significant loss, as it appeared he was headed for a big season.

The injury dampened the mood a bit for IU, but it was easily the best overall performance by the team under Wilson, even it came against highly suspect competition. Remember that the Hoosiers didn't beat a FBS team all last year, and though UMass has only played two games as a FBS member (losing them both badly), it still counts.

Indiana had 606 total yards and nearly pitched the shutout, which should add confidence for the defense. Wilson got to play a whole bunch of guys, as nine different Hoosiers carried the ball and 11 different players caught a pass.

The Hoosiers will look to go 3-0 next week at home against Ball State, which lost 52-27 to Clemson on Saturday. That won't be an easy game -- IU lost to Ball State last year, after all -- and Roberson won't be available. But Wilson's team finally has at least a little bit of forward momentum.

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