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Monday, Feb. 26
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

True freshmen quarterbacks shined for both FBS programs

The seasons of 1-9 IU and 6-3 Ohio State have few similarities, but in the Hoosiers’ 34-20 loss to the Buckeyes on Saturday, one commonality between both teams played a central role.

Each team is now starting a true freshman at quarterback, Tre Roberson for IU and Braxton Miller for OSU, after opening their seasons with more experienced players under center.

“I would probably say Tre’s quicker, but Braxton has more stride, but that’s it,” junior defensive tackle Larry Black Jr. said. “Both guys are good players.”

Roberson was 11 of 21 for 174 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his third career start. He also led the Hoosiers in rushing with 70 yards in 20 carries.

“He kept his poise throughout the whole game,” sophomore running back Stephen Houston said. “He made plays with his feet when he had to. He threw the ball. He made the right reads. My hat goes off to Tre for keeping his poise.”

While Roberson helped keep his team in the game with a 34-yard touchdown pass to wide-open sophomore wide receiver Kofi Hughes in the third quarter, he also ended a late, potentially game-tying drive and helped seal the Hoosiers’ defeat with an interception to OSU’s Travis Howard with 4:18 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“I was looking for my over,” Roberson said. “I was trying to get it to him, but it was a bad ball on me. It was all my fault.”

Similarly to Roberson, Miller was responsible for both a long scoring play — in his case, an 81-yard quarterback run in the first quarter — and an interception. He finished five for 11 for 55 yards passing, but he also had 105 total yards on the ground, despite being sacked six times.

“Obviously, he’s a heck of a football player and can run the football very well,” said Luke Fickell, Ohio State’s head coach. “He’s getting better at everything.”

Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Chase Hoobler said the IU defense did not view Miller’s inexperience as a starter as a sign he could easily be rattled.

“It didn’t really matter who they’re playing with at quarterback, freshman or senior,” Hoobler said. “I was just trying to do my job, personally, on the team and play with my technique.

“You’re not thinking about ‘Oh, this guy’s a true freshman.’ The other players on the other team, you don’t really pay attention to what year they were. He was just the quarterback of the other team. That’s always the No. 1 guy you’re trying to get while you’re blitzing.”

IU Coach Kevin Wilson noted that in a game featuring two of the 12 true freshman starting quarterbacks in the entire Football Bowl Subdivision, each team used its young signal-caller differently, with Miller primarily a runner for the Buckeyes while Roberson was employed in a more balanced manner.

“Tre as a quarterback,” Wilson said. “We’re a little bit different, doing maybe a little more than they do with Braxton at this point. We’re still picking our spots with him.”

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