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Quarterbacks work toward percentage goal


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By Evan Hoopfer




Before the season, IU Coach Kevin Wilson said he wanted his offense to complete 70 percent of its passes. After five games, sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld is at 64 percent.

“What are we doing that can get us at 70 percent?” Wilson said. “And that doesn’t mean you’re throwing dinks all day. What can you do to get the run game and get the
balance?”

If Sudfeld completes 70 percent of his passes, it would be a first for IU.

No quarterback in the program’s 129-year history has had a 70-percent completion rate for a season, and none have been close. The IU completion percentage record is held by former IU quarterback Ben Chappell. In 2009, he completed 63 percent of his passes.

However, reaching the goal is feasible, many coaches and players said. But completing more passes is directly correlated to run game production, Wilson said.

“When you have the run game, you’re throwing easier completions,” he said. “The (opponent’s defensive) line is not worried about rushing the quarterback because they got to play gap sound. Your play action and things are easier because you’re not second-and-long or third-and-long.”

Despite the emphasis on the goal, completion percentage does not seem to be directly linked to wins. In the Hoosiers’ three wins this season, Sudfeld has completed 64 percent of his passes, and in the two losses there has been no difference. He’s still completed 64 percent of his passes.

What seems to be a more indicative statistic is pass attempts.

In IU’s three wins, Sudfeld has averaged 27 pass attempts per game. Conversely, in the two losses he has averaged 40.5 pass attempts per game.

The team had to play from behind in the two losses and therefore was not able to get much of a run game going.

“He has a lot of room to grow,” senior receiver Duwyce Wilson said. “He’s still a young quarterback, and he’s a film head and a football junkie. And he won’t be happy with anything below a 95 percent. He’ll get that right.”

To hit the goal, IU will have to overcome a history of having, what they consider, sub-par completion rates.

During Coach Wilson’s first year in 2011, the combination of quarterbacks completed 56 percent of their passes.

Last year, then-sophomores Cam Coffman and Tre Roberson combined with Sudfeld to complete 61 percent of their passes.

Despite not coming close in previous years, the coaching staff said it believes hitting the goal is possible.

“Very feasible,” co-offensive coordinator Kevin Johns said. “We have missed a lot of easy shots that we feel like we shouldn’t have. And thrown some interceptions like we talked about, that we shouldn’t have. So I think it’s very feasible, and I’m sure Nate will tell you the same thing.”

One thing junior receiver Nick Stoner said he can do as a receiver is just catch passes.

But, he said running cleaner routes so Sudfeld can have an easier throwing window is the most important thing he can do.

Duwyce has a metaphor that helps the Hoosiers try and reach the goal. He said Wilson stresses the 70 percent goal, but it shouldn’t stop there.

“As a team it should be more than 70 percent, but 70 percent is not a failing grade,” Duwyce said. “Just keep your porch clean and good outcomes will come after that.”

Follow reporter Evan Hoopfer on Twitter @EvanHoopfer.

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