Indiana football offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan spent the Hoosiers’ previous seven games in the press box. From there, he’d communicate with Indiana’s quarterbacks via telephone, offering tips and observations with a bird’s-eye view.
Before Indiana’s matchup with Maryland this past Saturday, Sheridan knew that needed to change.
Sheridan went to Indiana head coach Tom Allen with an idea, Allen said in a press conference Monday. What if he moved down to the sideline to coach freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley face-to-face?
“I 100% agreed,” Allen said. “I’m glad we did it and I think it definitely helped Donaven and was really positive for our whole offense.”
On Saturday, Sheridan joined Allen on the sideline while tight ends coach Kevin Wright went up to the press box to take the former’s place. Sheridan was a quarterback before going into coaching, starting four games during his four-year career at Michigan.
“I thought it was positive, just being able to be there for him to communicate directly to him and not over a phone,” Sheridan said speaking about McCulley. “Just be able to look him in the eyes and ask him what he was seeing and how he’s feeling.”
Sheridan said each setup has distinct benefits, whether it be on the sideline with the team or up in the press box. The press box offers a more complete view of the field for diagnosing a defense, but the sideline adds a more personal touch.
There were no issues with seeing the field from the sideline Saturday, Sheridan said. The coaching staff collected useful information from those who were in the press box.
McCulley made his first career start and completed 56% of his passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns in the 38-35 loss against Maryland. Sheridan said McCulley, who threw two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, improved as the game progressed.
“I was just proud of his mentality,” Sheridan said. “I think he’s a competitive kid and great competitors, they just keep swinging.”
Sheridan, who played high school football just seven miles away from Michigan Stadium, is undefeated against his alma mater as an offensive coordinator. Indiana scored 38 points in a home win against Michigan last season.
Things are different now. Indiana is unranked, Michigan will have home-field advantage and both teams will likely have different starting quarterbacks.
McCulley, after starting against a Big Ten team on the road, will now enter Michigan Stadium and play on national television. He isn’t intimidated, rather excited at the opportunity of visiting his coach’s alma mater, he said in a press conference Tuesday.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” McCulley said. “106,000 people.”