Indiana Daily Student

Column: Hey Coach Wilson, who’s the quarterback?

Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still runs wide in an unsuccessful attempt to sack sophomore quarterback Dusty Kiel.
Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still runs wide in an unsuccessful attempt to sack sophomore quarterback Dusty Kiel.

IU Coach Kevin Wilson needs to make a decision quickly.

He’s seen what two of his quarterbacks can do. Now, it’s time for Wilson to pick one of them and stick with him for the rest of the season.

If it’s sophomore Dusty Kiel, fine. If it’s four-time starter Edward Wright-Baker, great.
And even if Wilson wants to go with freshman Tre Roberson, that’s OK, too.

For goodness’ sake, just put your faith in one of them and help him develop during the course of the season — not during the course of a game.

I know Wright-Baker missed Saturday’s game for what Wilson called a sprained ankle, but Wilson can’t keep switching the way he has during the first five games.

It simply won’t work.

Kiel, who made his first career start against Penn State, looked the way Wright-Baker did in the season opener against Ball State — average. It takes time for a quarterback to develop, no matter who he is.

Wilson is only hurting his team by playing both and naming neither the starter.
“He didn’t hurt us,” Wilson said of Kiel. “At the same time, like Ed, they’re both young, they’re both battling. We probably would have played them both (if Wright-Baker wasn’t hurt). Maybe. I don’t know.”

And how exactly did that go for Penn State, Coach?

The IU defense was a lot better — as Co-Defensive Coordinator Mike Ekeler promised it would be — but most of Penn State’s offensive struggles in its 16-10 win could be attributed to bad quarterback play.

Penn State’s Rob Bolden threw it at the feet of his receivers on a regular basis, and Bolden’s teammate Matt McGloin — with the exception of one throw — wasn’t much better.

One drive Bolden, next drive McGloin. Two drives McGloin, one drive Bolden.

It doesn’t work for Penn State, and it won’t work for IU.

If Wilson doesn’t name a starter now, both quarterbacks will continue to feel the pressure that comes with having to constantly look over your shoulder at the other guy. Kiel and Wright-Baker aren’t good enough to play well with half of their focus on the field and half of it on the guy holding the clipboard.

If it were my choice, Wright-Baker would be the guy going forward. He’s sometimes erratic, and he doesn’t always see the field that well, but his arm is much stronger, and he’s more talented than Kiel.

During the final drive against Penn State, for example, Kiel needed to target the sideline so the Hoosiers could stop the clock with no timeouts remaining. He instead went over the middle every time and had to try to heave one to the end zone during the final play as a result.

I would guess he didn’t throw outside more because his arm isn’t strong enough to get it there on a rope. Wright-Baker’s is.

But I don’t care who Wilson chooses. If he wants to play Kiel or Roberson for the final seven games, I’d support the decision.

What really matters is having the confidence to pick one guy and keep running him out there week after week. This team isn’t going anywhere this season, anyway. At most, it’ll win one or two more games.

So why not develop one quarterback and watch him improve with time? If nothing else, that quarterback could push Gunner Kiel next year.

I asked wide receiver Damarlo Belcher if he’d like to see Wilson stick with one quarterback or the other, and he wouldn’t give an opinion.

“Both of those guys are playing well,” Belcher said. “Pretty soon, we’ll have a permanent quarterback.”

I sure hope so. If not, the offense is going to continue to be as stagnant as it was Saturday.

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