It was just about a week ago that Indiana quarterback Tre Roberson announced that he would be transferring to Illinois State, leaving Nate Sudfeld as the clear-cut starting quarterback for the Hoosiers.
Roberson’s departure means a couple of things for Indiana.
For one, it’s one less playmaker for opposing defenses to have to plan for. Though he only showed flashes of it in 2013, Roberson was always a threat on the ground if forced out of the pocket. His 21 carry, 154 yard performance against Purdue last season demonstrated that.
Another change will be the departure from the two-quarterback attack used by Kevin Wilson’s bunch last year. On one hand, you could argue that rotating Roberson and Sudfeld situationally made the Hoosiers more dynamic on offense. On the other, you could say the strategy broke up any continuity the Hoosiers had in the huddle. I’ve never been a fan of splitting the quarterback duties and that’s largely why.
Moving forward, Nate Sudfeld can now settle in and fully concentrate on running Indiana’s highly effective offense without having to worry about looking over his shoulder and wondering if the Hoosiers are in a situation or game where Roberson would have previously tagged him out.
In my opinion, this is a plus for Indiana. Sudfeld has all of the tools to be an elite passer, not only in the Big Ten, but nationally. With a young cast of inexperienced receivers coming up for the Hoosiers, having a quarterback like Sudfeld who can deliver the ball with accuracy will be key. It will also go a long way with those young wideouts to have continuity at the position in order to build that telepathic relationship so many good receivers have with their quarterback.
Anything lost by Roberson’s departure in the run game will surely be gained by adding additonal carries to running back Tevin Coleman’s workload. Coleman missed the last three games of the 2013 season due to an ankle injury but still managed to rack up 958 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. He might be the most underrated back in the conference.
Roberson’s departure does leave the Hoosier’s thin at quarterback. The only other scholarship player at the position on the roster as of now is true freshman Zander Diamont — a three-star prospect out of Los Angeles. He needs work, but Wilson specialize in developing quarterbacks, so he’s in the right place.
This Hoosier team will get tested early on with a September 20th trip to Mizzou and again in the last half of the season when they take on virtually all of the Big Ten’s big boys. Long-term, however, I think the Roberson transfer will end up being a good thing for a young Indiana team and a fairly new head coach looking for both stability and continuity on offense.
Having Sudfeld as the starter and the offense pretty much set will also allow Wilson to turn more of his focus to the defensive side of the ball. The Hoosier defense has been nothing short of atrocious as of late and any improvement could go a long way when coupled with what kind of numbers the Indiana offense is capable of putting up.
The headlines will paint Roberson’s transfer as a big loss to the program, largely due to Roberson’s status as one of the more talented products to come out of the state of Indiana in recent memory. Be that as it may, I see it as addition by subtraction for the Hoosiers.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON JUNE 17, 2014