Kevin Wilsons 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 doesnt 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 were capable of having, we need to be dynamic at quarterback, Wilson said at the Big Ten media days in Chicago in late July. We cant 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 quarterbacks 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 thats 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. Hes a little daredevil. Hell take some shots and take some chances. Great anticipation, vision.
The best athlete of the crowd is probably Tre Roberson. So theyre all uniquely different.
Those opinions havent 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.
Its kind of human nature, Sudfeld told reporters after practice Friday in Bloomington. When youre trying to compete for a job, you want to make the spectacular throw or the nice run. Were starting to settle in more and play within the offense and within ourselves.
Thats 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 dont want to be that guy thats mad and pulling everybody down because something happened to me.
They wont down-talk each other, either.
Roberson insists the other two are faster than they give themselves credit for. Sudfeld noted how great Robersons arm has been throughout camp.
And all three, despite the inherent tension in the position battle, seem to feed off each other.
Were all just learning and continuing to learn, Roberson said. Its whatever helps the team. Whatever the situation is, well execute it.