With about 13 minutes remaining in the second quarter during IU’s game Saturday afternoon against UMass, that nightmare scenario unfolded right in front of Hoosiers’ eyes.
Sophomore quarterback Tre Roberson rushed up the middle on a third-and-goal opportunity. As he was tackled, his left leg buckled under a UMass defender.
At that moment, everything changed. The Hoosiers had lost their quarterback and needed two players in their first season at IU to fill the void immediately.
“It is what it is,” IU Coach Kevin Wilson said after the game. “It’s unfortunate, and it’s a little bit of a freak accident.”
Following that play, everyone involved got back up except Roberson. Trainers came onto the field, followed by an ambulance.
Roberson, who had already compiled more than 200 yards of offense and three touchdowns in the game, was placed onto a stretcher, loaded into the emergency vehicle and taken to the hospital.
It was later announced after the game that IU’s starting quarterback had broken his left leg and would be sidelined for the remainder of the season.
“The coaches were stressing that I need to be ready at any point,” sophomore quarterback Cameron Coffman said. “I have been putting just as much pressure on myself during the week as if I were the starter, so I felt prepared.”
As the aftermath drama of the injury unfolded on the field, Coffman warmed up on the sidelines, preparing for his first NCAA snap.
A transfer student from Arizona Western College, a junior college in Yuma, Ariz., Coffman had to step in and take the reins from Roberson, who has led the IU offense during parts of the last two seasons.
In his first drive as IU’s quarterback, Coffman completed three of four passes for 51 yards, leading the Hoosiers to a touchdown on a run from junior running back Stephen Houston.
“When I came in, we had a 21-point lead or something,” Coffman said. “It was a good way to get acclimated and get used to it a little bit.”
Coffman ended the game with 16 completions of 22 attempts, with 159 yards passing and a touchdown to his name.
True-freshman quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who was going to redshirt this season before Roberson’s injury, also played against the Minutemen.
In burning his would-be redshirt, Sudfeld passed for three completions on four attempts, with 28 yards credited to his name.
“By that point in the game, the edge had been taken off the offense, there was a different style of play and the weather changed and got us a bit,” Wilson said. “(Coffman) will get better. We might have redshirted Nate if the year were through, but now we will have to raise him as a backup.”
With Roberson now gone for the remainder of the season, Wilson announced that Coffman will be the new starting quarterback.
With the new NCAA rules requiring that if a player’s helmet comes off, he must be taken off the field for at least one play, Sudfeld will have to be ready to play at any time.
“We’ll miss (Roberson’s) leadership,” Wilson said. “He’s a great guy. We’ll miss his ability to make some plays with his feet. We will see how Coffman handles it going forward.”
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