Quarterback woes have Hoosiers' offense struggling
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Indiana's quarterbacks can't seem to avoid taking hits - on or off the field.
After losing their top two quarterbacks with season-ending injuries last month at Iowa, the Hoosiers could be without backup Nate Boudreau on Saturday.
Boudreau took only three snaps in last weekend's loss at Michigan, but sustained a sprained throwing shoulder in the game and is considered day to day.
If he can't play, Danny Cameron, a true freshman who walked onto the team could be the backup to another true freshman, Zander Diamont.
''It's extremely challenging,'' offensive coordinator Kevin Johns said Monday, noting he's never endured so much bad luck at quarterback in one season.
''But that's part of the job, part of life. What we're trying to do is build on the positives we have and accentuate our strengths, find things we can do and go execute.''
Recently, that's meant relying even more on running back Tevin Coleman, who still leads the nation in rushing at 162.5 yards per game.
But after running for scores in a school-record 15 consecutive games, defenses that have kept Coleman out of the end zone in each of the past two games.
This weekend against Penn State (4-4, 1-4) things will get even tougher as the reeling Hoosiers (3-5, 0-4) prepare for the nation's stingiest run defense (77.1 yards per game).
And the constant churning of the quarterback situation is only likely to compound Indiana's problem.
Since losing starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld with a season-ending separated non-throwing shoulder and backup Chris Covington with a torn ACL on Oct. 11, Diamont is just 10 for 23 for 35 yards with no touchdowns.
The usually high-scoring Hoosiers have combined for just 27 points in those two games, something Wilson knows must change if the Hoosiers intend to snap a three-game losing streak.
''As we keep evolving, it's trying to find more ways to have some balance, get the ball down the field, get it outside, got to throw it more, but it's a little bit of a confidence factor, like you say, protection breaks down he (Diamont) takes off runnin' around,'' Wilson said. ''We can't go into a shell and get three plays and punt, we've got to the ball down the field, got to get the ball in the end zone.''
How did the Hoosiers find themselves in this predicament?
A year ago, Indiana had a glut of quarterbacks.
Sudfeld was backed up by Tre Roberson and Cam Coffman, both of whom had starting experience and elected to transfer during the offseason when it looked as if they would not be able to supplant the 6-foot-5, 230-pound junior. Roberson wound up at Illinois State, while Coffman landed at Wyoming.
The decisions made Sudfeld the undisputed starter for the first time in his college career, but left the Hoosiers perilously thin behind Sudfeld.
But nobody could have foreseen this.
After Sudfeld and Covington went down, the Hoosiers rushed Diamont, who was expected to redshirt, into starting duty. Boudreau, a redshirt sophomore, became the backup and saw some action late in a blowout loss to Michigan State and got three snaps against the Wolverines before he was injured.
That leaves the Hoosiers with only three healthy quarterbacks on the roster - Diamont; Cameron, the son of former Indiana coach Cam Cameron; and redshirt freshman Bryce Smith, also a walk-on who has never played in a college game.
And as the offense continues to struggle, the Hoosiers face this plight still needing three wins in their last four games to become bowl-eligible for the first time in Wilson's four seasons with the Hoosiers.
''Really from here, where we're at, we've got a lot of work to do,'' Wilson said. ''But we've got to keep at it.''