Since quarterback Nate Sudfeld left the game in the second quarter last week, the IU offense has become one big question mark.
IU Coach Kevin Wilson said the team would continue to play to its strengths. But without a clear starter, there’s no telling what those will be.
Part of the question will be answered at 3:30 p.m. Saturday when IU takes on No. 8 Michigan State in IU’s 102nd Homecoming.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Johns said they used Monday and Tuesday’s practices to find out more about their quarterbacks’ abilities and what they can handle.
“We need to be smart and make sure we put them in positions where they can be successful,” Johns said. “We don’t want to ask them to do too much. Same time though, we don’t want to go out and be too vanilla either.”
Freshman Chris Covington replaced Sudfeld when he suffered a shoulder injury during the second quarter last Saturday in a 45-29 loss to Iowa.
Covington threw just 12 passes through nearly three quarters of play and completed three of them in 31 yards.
The Chicago native was originally recruited by the Hoosiers as an athlete, Wilson said. He is still adjusting to the quarterback position as he was moved from linebacker during preseason camp.
“I thought he managed it really well; I think he managed himself really well,” Johns said of Covington’s performance at Iowa. “I thought he did a good job. He made some shots; receivers dropped some balls.”
IU’s option at third-string quarterback is another freshman, Zander Diamont. Diamont graduated high school early to be at IU during the spring and participate in spring practice.
He threw for 3,501 yards and 47 touchdowns during his senior season.
At his press conference Monday, Wilson said both quarterbacks could be used, and sophomore Nate Boudreau may be in the mix as well.
“You’ve got two freshmen, so you’ve just got to be careful of what you ask those guys,” Wilson said. “When you have freshmen, you have some mistakes and they are going to be challenged, but the defense is going to do everything they can to make his role uncomfortable.”
No matter which quarterback gets the start Saturday, the offense will face a Michigan State team known for its commanding defense.
Last season, the Spartans held opponents to 12.9 points per game. This year, they’re allowing 22.3, the most in a single game being 27 points against Oregon.
Safety Kurtis Drummond leads the team with 31 tackles this season.
“You’ll see a tremendous defensive opponent, so you have to put those guys in good places and don’t get cute, don’t get fancy,” Wilson said.
While Covington rarely threw the ball last week, Wilson said he doesn’t expect that to continue. He said with Sudfeld out, he still doesn’t anticipate his offense differing too much.
“We are not going to hand the ball off to every play; that doesn’t work,” he said. “We are not going to be a true option team and maybe the quarterback runs a little bit more, but you know, we’ll play to our strengths.”