Nate Sudfeld’s spring game was, by his measures, ?a success.
Five months after separating his shoulder and five months before IU’s season opener against Southern Illinois, Sudfeld played through IU’s annual Cream and Crimson game without any ?setbacks Saturday.
He completed 17-of-24 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown. He was able to mix up his passes — long, short, left and right — while connecting with a variety of receivers in what was ultimately a losing effort for his Cream teammates.
But at the end of the day, the score wasn’t Sudfeld’s concern. He was just happy to be back on the field.
“Today was a blast,” Sudfeld said. “It was good to be back out there, to be with my guys and compete with a little bit of a crowd. Good energy today. It was a lot of fun.”
A lot of fun — except for two plays.
The first was a one-handed interception by junior defensive lineman Darius Latham. Sudfeld said he was upset because he thinks Latham knew the play call. He sniffed out the called screen and pounced on it.
To make matters worse, when Sudfeld led with his right shoulder to tackle the 305-pound Latham, he bounced off to the ground before the play was ruled dead.
“I was not smart,” he said. “I was waiting for them to blow the whistle. I wasn’t gonna let them score.”
The second play that left Sudfeld shaking his head was a near-touchdown pass to sophomore receiver ?Simmie Cobbs.
Cobbs appeared to catch a fade route in the corner of the south end zone that would have put Sudfeld’s team up two scores, but the referee ruled it an ?incomplete pass.
Sudfeld joked that there’s a reason instant replay was instated. Even in a game where the score was meaningless, Sudfeld wanted the touchdown to his name.
“Yeah, (officials) are still in their offseason,” he said.
Sudfeld said he felt the passing attack was in rhythm during the scrimmage. His counterpart, sophomore Zander Diamont, said it was much farther along now than it was at this time ?last year.
Sophomore receiver J-Shun Harris led IU with 57 yards on five catches. Senior Damon Graham hauled in both touchdowns for IU with Cobbs nearly adding another had it not been for the ?missed call.
Cobbs finished with four catches for 34 yards.
“We definitely knew we had to step up,” Cobbs said of the receivers. “Nate, he’s always a hard worker. He definitely brings leadership to the team. Having him back and connecting with him is a great feeling.”
Sudfeld’s return brought with it a tempo. He hurried the offense to the line and organized the plays quickly.
Senior offensive lineman Jason Spriggs said the offense looks quicker with Sudfeld because he gets them set and ready to go almost immediately after the previous ?play ends.
That type of speed helps keep opposing defenders on their toes.
“Not only does Nate open up that passing game, but he keeps our offense moving and keeps our offense rolling. He’s not just a quarterback role, he’s more of an offensive role. He’s got our whole offense on his back.”
That leadership Spriggs has seen is by design. Sudfeld spent the offseason working with IU Coach Kevin Wilson on the mental side of ?the game.
With Wilson’s guidance serving as a pseudo quarterbacks coach, Sudfeld said he’s more mentally sharp than ever before.
He’s hoping that progress only continues throughout the offseason.
Because as it stands, he’s still five months away from his first real game. He knows there’s still a long way to go.
“I think we have the guys right here, right now that can do some special things this fall,” Sudfeld said. “We’ve just got to keep working and get on the same page, but we’ll get there.”