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Indiana University

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IU quarterback battle getting contentious

Indiana quarterbacks Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson were a bit too focused on themselves the past few weeks, coach Kevin Wilson said.

He and his staff have worked quickly to snap the two out of that mindset.

“I’ve seen them both kind of have ups and downs,” Wilson said Monday. “I think they listen to the public perspective too much. My deal is, you’re young, and you’re not as good as you need to be, and you need to work hard and get better. That’s what great players do.”

The roommates are in a tough spot, to be sure. Both Sudfeld, a sophomore, and Roberson, a redshirt sophomore, are competing for the starting spot week-in and week-out. They’ve both played well at times and looked lost at others.

What concerns Wilson most, though, is how the two have reacted to their bad games, or not getting the starting nod, or seeing the other on the field for longer durations.

Roberson, Sudfeld and junior Cam Coffman said they were fine with the interchangeability at quarterback early in the season. As the grind has gone on, though, the Hoosiers’ top two options seem to have drifted a bit.

“When you’re at the end of the year, we need some guys to step up,” Wilson said. “To me, that’s what it’s kind of about. It’s about being more of a teammate.”

By Wilson’s account, neither part of the one-two punch has been as good a teammate as he was at the start of the year.

Both quarterbacks have played in all seven games. Roberson started the first and second games of the season, while Sudfeld has had the nod for the rest for IU (3-4, 1-2 Big Ten).

They’ve offered different looks for opposing defenses, too. Sudfeld is 126-of-211 passing for 1,726 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Roberson has thrown just 62 times, but has eight touchdowns, 644 yards and two picks.

Roberson is also second on the team in rushing touchdowns with five and third in yards with 167.

But both need to complement each other, not shrink when the other shines, for the Hoosiers to be as good as they can.

Wilson relayed that message in blunt fashion.

“Quit being so moody and mopey,” the third-year coach said he told the two. “Quit worrying about who goes out first. … When they both get going, they both can look really good. And when they’ve both been off, they both have looked very, very poor.”

IU will hope for more of the former as it heads into the final stretch of the season, starting with Minnesota during the Hoosiers’ homecoming Saturday.

For either quarterback, and the rest of a team that is still in bowl contention, letting go of individual success will be important.

“There’s a lot to play for,” Wilson said. “We’ve got five weeks. Find some positive ways to help us.“

smorrison@jg.net

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