COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 5: Travis Howard #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes attempts to tackle quarterback Tre Roberson #5 of the Indiana Hoosiers at Ohio Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Indiana 34-20. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Perhaps there have been times in which IU's quarterbacks have been in upheaval to a greater degree than in the past year, but if so, I can't remember it. At this time last year, Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker were fighting it out for the starting position, with Teddy Schell and Adam Follett down the depth chart. Tre Roberson was widely expected to redshirt and perhaps even change position, because five star quarterback Gunner Kiel had given his verbal commitment to IU. A year later, Gunner Kiel is at Notre Dame and Dusty Kiel and Wright-Baker appear to be out of football entirely (if they are playing anywhere, I can't find them). Schell graduated and Follett graduated and did not return for his fifth year. So, not even a year after many thought Roberson's future might be at another position, Roberson is the man, although he won't be without competition.
The starter: Tre Roberson.
IU gave up Roberson's redshirt in week 2, against Virginia, when he made an inauspicious debut, running for -3 yards on 1 carry. His first meaningful playing time came in game 6, against Illinois. Wright-Baker was out of the game with an injury, and Roberson relieved Kiel because of a combination of injury and ineffectiveness. Roberson played pretty well against the Illini, completing 11-17 passes and running for 36 yards. Kiel got one more shot in a 59-7 loss to Wisconsin, but Roberson started the final five games, beginning with a game at Iowa. At Iowa, Roberson completed 16-24 passes for 197 yards and gained 84 yards on 16 carries. He never again completed two thirds of his passes in a game (he came close against Purdue), but had only one disastrous performance, at Michigan State, where he completed only 10 of 21 passes and gained only a net 12 yards on 10 rushing attempts. Roberson ended up with a completion percentage of 57 percent on the season, more than respectable for a true freshman who is as valued for his running ability as his passing. On the down side, he had only 3 TD passes to 6 interceptions. On the ground, Roberson gained 426 yards on 3.9 yards per carry, a number that probably undersells his running ability, because quarterback sacks count against running yards. He looked very comfortable leading the offense, and it's exciting think about how he might have improved. According to his comments on the BTN IU preview show, new offensive coordinator Seth Littrell, a Mike Leach protege, expects a completion percentage of 70, so Roberson will have to improve to remain in his coordinator's good graces.
Coffman seems to have been a very nice pickup for the staff. As a high school recruit, Coffman drew offers from the likes of Arizona State and Missouri, but was holding out for a major SEC offer and after the other offers dried up, he ended up in junior college. Like Stephen Houston last year, Coffman comes to IU with three years of eligibility remaining and appears to be Roberson's most likely backup.
True freshman Nate Sudfeld, from Modesto, California, seems to have landed at IU based upon Littrell's interest in him when Littrell was still at Arizona. He seems like a strong candidate to redshirt, but as last year demonstrated, Wilson will not hesitate to play freshmen if necessary.
In this article, head coach Kevin Wilson says that all three quarterbacks are better than any of the options that IU had in 2011, but he also makes clear that it isn't an open position. Roberson is the man, and Wilson spoke highly of Roberson's commitment to being a better quarterback (which, in the case of a mobile quarterback, usually means he is doing a better job committing to the pass and not scrambling at the first sign of trouble. Quarterback isn't really a position of experience for the Hoosiers, and the depth chart looks entirely different than we might have imagined it a year ago, but I'm pretty excited about all three of these guys.
There are six quarterbacks listed on the roster, and all three of these guys are freshman walk-ons.