Column: It's time to end the quarterback debate
By Robby Howard
Sophomore Nate Sudfeld should be the starting quarterback. No question about it.
Yet IU Coach Kevin Wilson refuses to name a starter.
He did move one step closer in the right direction this week when he moved junior quarterback Cam Coffman off the first line. It will either be Sudfeld or fellow sophomore Tre Roberson who will start Saturday.
“It’s really kind of been Tre and Nate going through it and trying to take advantage of what we’re going to give them or not,” Wilson said Monday. “Tre can make all the shots he’s going to, and you can see we’re going to run Nate. We’re going to try to keep doing what we’re doing. I don’t know if one of those guys is independently dynamic. I think collectively we could be better.”
Were we watching the same game Saturday against Navy?
Roberson failed to get a first down in his first two drives. Not that it was all his fault.
The running game also struggled, and he was given only one passing opportunity.
“The other day with play calling and with the other parts,” Wilson said, “Tre, maybe the cards didn’t come his way, and it wasn’t his fault. It was just play calling and execution of them, linemen breaking down or missing a shot a little bit. We just didn’t get in rhythm early, and it wasn’t his fault.”
But the fact is, Wilson decided to pull him, and in came Sudfeld.
And Sudfeld made plays.
Sudfeld changed the momentum of the game.
Sudfeld gave IU a chance.
This isn’t to say that Roberson is a bad starting quarterback. Fans saw in 2011 and the first game and a half of 2012 what he is capable of.
But Sudfeld is better.
“Nate’s a great quarterback,” junior wide receiver Cody Latimer said. “Any quarterback can drive the ball, but he’s coming out doing a great job of moving us, throwing touchdowns, doing a great job of completing the ball.”
No one on the team is going to say they prefer one quarterback to the other. And they shouldn’t, because a team defends each other and stands up for one another.
“Whoever comes in,” Latimer said, “we’re all going to make plays.”
But the fact is, this team responds better to Sudfeld.
If that’s the case, why even bother putting Roberson in at the start of the game?
If Sudfeld comes in and struggles in the first half, then Roberson can come in and potentially give the team a spark.
But Sudfeld should take IU’s first snap, especially because the offense doesn’t have any time to waste.
Last week, if IU had scored a touchdown on one of its first three drives, it would have won the game.
“We’ve got to score every drive,” Latimer said. “We’re a great offense. We need to outscore our opponents.”
Latimer also admitted that the team has to come out with a faster start.
Sudfeld gives the Hoosiers that fast start, no doubt about it. As soon as he came in against Navy, he completed a pass for a first down, then another pass for a first down. The team showed life.
That’s the guy you want leading your football team at the quarterback position, end of discussion.
Follow columnist Robby Howard on Twitter @robbyhoward1.