B1G 40: What happens to Hoosiers after offseason QB turmoil?

B1G 40: What happens to Hoosiers after offseason QB turmoil?
July 3, 2014, 10:30 am
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Vinnie Duber

B1G 40

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As the dog days of summer arrive, the longing for football becomes all the more intense. Well, we here at CSNChicago.com are here to provide you with a summertime football fix. Over 40 days, CSN's Vinnie Duber will have 40 posts pondering the biggest questions heading into the 2014 Big Ten football season — the B1G 40 questions. Be sure to check out the entire B1G 40 series at csnchicago.com/big-ten.

What do the Hoosiers do at quarterback in the wake of Tre Roberson’s transfer?

The answer: Hand the ball to Nate Sudfeld and watch it fly.

The Hoosiers employed a pretty effective dual-quarterback system (if you can call it that) last year, with Sudfeld and Roberson teaming to lead the most dangerous passing attack in the Big Ten. It’s easy to look at Sudfeld’s numbers and think he was running the show. After all, he threw for 2,523 yards and 21 touchdowns. But no mere backup throws for 1,128 yards and 15 touchdowns, and that’s why Roberson’s offseason transfer does really throw things into a bit of turmoil.

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Roberson was the more run-oriented of the two, also finishing as the Hoosiers’ third-leading rusher. He picked up 423 yards on the ground and scored five rushing touchdowns.

So while Roberson’s departure does make the quarterback position a little more one-dimensional, there’s little reason to believe that Sudfeld won’t take the increased role and flourish. Last year, as a sophomore, Sudfeld was the arm behind one of the best passing attacks in the country. Indiana led the Big Ten with 306.7 pass yards per game (17th in the country), and the Hoosiers offense as a whole posted 508.5 yards per game (second in the Big Ten, ninth in the country). Their 38.4 points per game ranked second in the Big Ten and 16th in the country. With most of that offense back, Indiana figures to provide a dangerous attack yet again.

There are some negatives going for Sudfeld, though. He did have nine interceptions, and at times that forced him out of games. Wilson’s two-quarterback system was less a finely tuned thing (like, say, that of Northwestern in recent years) and more of an unplanned rotation. Sudfeld only started eight of the Hoosiers’ 12 games, with Roberson starting the other four.

[MORE BIG TEN: Purdue running back Raheem Mostert channels his inner Bart Simpson]

But the most important thing isn’t the loss of balance and safety net in Roberson. It’s the loss of three of the Hoosiers’ top four receivers from last season. Cody Latimer, Kofi Hughes and Ted Bolser combined for 154 catches, 2,155 yards and 22 touchdowns. That’s not just a huge chunk of the offense but a trio of experienced pass-catchers that Sudfeld won’t have in 2014. Shane Wynn is back after leading the team with 11 touchdown catches, and he figures to have a big year as the Hoosiers’ top receiver.

Still, even with key departures, Sudfeld should have plenty to lean on between Wynn, an experienced offensive line and big-play running back Tevin Coleman. Not only that, but Sudfeld’s arm should do the Hoosiers quite well as the clear-cut No. 1 guy on this team. Wilson had a three-way battle for the quarterback spot last summer, and it bled into the season. By Week 2, it was a two-man rotation, but that lasted all year. Consistency should suit the Hoosiers well with Sudfeld being the guy from Day 1.

How will Nate Sudfeld fare in the wake of Tre Roberson’s transfer? Just fine.