Kevin Wilson’s quarterbacks struggled during his first year at Indiana.
In his second, Wilson lost a starter to injury and dealt with a lack of experience at the position.
But in his third season, he finally has a good problem. He doesn’t know which quarterback to start because he feels he could start – and win – with any of the three top choices.
For our program to win, have the year we’re capable of having, we need to be dynamic at quarterback, Wilson said at the Big Ten media days in Chicago in late July. We can’t be average and let the complementary pieces give us the victories that we need for our program and our fans and alums and school. So our quarterback’s got to be a difference maker.
The question is, which one – or ones – will make the difference.
Wilson made a point in Year 1 of not anointing a quarterback, as he put it. Each year, the starter would have to earn that position. And this season is no different in that regard.
What is different is the experience, attitude and talent of the three primary candidates.
Indianapolis native Tre Roberson, a mobile player who played some his freshman year and was the starter until a season-ending leg injury early in 2012, has come back a better thrower and more physically ready for college play.
Cam Coffman, who has more starts than any other IU quarterback, got another year of experience at the position and offers a mix of speed and throwing ability.
And Nate Sudfeld, who played as a true freshman last year, is perhaps the best pro-style option, with a bit of mobility to boot.
They offer different looks within the same scheme, Wilson said. And that’s what makes this decision a tough one.
With our three players, maybe greatest arm strength is Nate Sudfeld, Wilson said in Chicago. Tall. Very smart. Young player, very good.
Maybe greatest moxie might be Cam Coffman. He’s a little daredevil. He’ll take some shots and take some chances. Great anticipation, vision.
The best athlete of the crowd is probably Tre Roberson. So they’re all uniquely different.
Those opinions haven’t changed a couple weeks into camp. And even though the competition dragged on the players at the start of preseason practices, they have turned it into a healthy battle.
It’s kind of human nature, Sudfeld told reporters after practice Friday in Bloomington. When you’re trying to compete for a job, you want to make the spectacular throw or the nice run. We’re starting to settle in more and play within the offense and within ourselves.
That’s helped the offense, and the potential starters, look better.
It has helped the three, who are all friends, come to terms with the idea of not playing, as well. They see that the offense can thrive with any of them starting.
I see how hard my teammates are working, and I want them to have a good season, Coffman said. I don’t want to be that guy that’s mad and pulling everybody down because something happened to me.
They won’t down-talk each other, either.
Roberson insists the other two are faster than they give themselves credit for. Sudfeld noted how great Roberson’s arm has been throughout camp.
And all three, despite the inherent tension in the position battle, seem to feed off each other.
We’re all just learning and continuing to learn, Roberson said. It’s whatever helps the team. Whatever the situation is, we’ll execute it.