Johns: Offense comfortable with multiple QB’s

Kevin Johns coaches Indiana’s quarterbacks directly, and he doesn’t know who’s going to end up starting on Thursday either.

“That will be Coach (Kevin) Wilson’s decision,” Johns said. “Right now, he hasn’t told me anything. Whenever he wakes up and wants to make that decision, he’ll do that. That’s why he’s the head coach. He can do what he wants to do.”

It’s not something Johns is desperate to find out or needs immediate clarification on, he said, and he doesn’t think it matters nearly as much to the rest of the offense as most would expect either. Tre Roberson, Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld have each had so many repetitions with IU’s first team offense and the Hoosiers have become so used to having more than one quarterback that whatever situation transpires will hardly faze them.

“In practice that’s how it’s been for over a year,” Johns said. “When we say it’s not a big deal to us, I don’t think it’s a big deal. I think the kids are used to it. The quarterbacks themselves, I think they’re used to rotating. Sure, they all want to play as much as they can. But at the end of the day, we have to do what’s best for the program. We’re going to figure out what that is here as we get going.

Johns said they’ve not only rotated each quarterback in with the first team, they’ve also rotated which quarterback comes out first in each scrimmage.

“Whoever runs out there first, I don’t think our other players, our 10 other guys, I don’t think they’ll blink an eye,” Johns said. “I think they’ll say, OK, ‘Now it’s Tre’s turn. Now it’s Cam’s turn. Now it’s Nate turn.'”

One factor in the quarterback competition is the fact that Coffman and Sudfeld both do have a redshirt year still available and one of them could take that option.

“Coach Wilson is going to talk to both of those guys about that,” Johns said. “If that’s something they want to do. I’d be surprised, I’d bet they both say they want to play. They want to help this team win. These guys have worked extremely hard since last year. We now have new standards, we have high standards, and these guys want to take this program to a new level.”


  1. I’m not buying it. And besides, it’s not whether the team is “comfortable” with “multiple quarterbacks.” That’s not the relevant question. The question should be, ‘which quarterback allows his offensive teammates to perform at the highest level?’ The fact that there is yet another story on this subject suggests that the IU media is skeptical.

    I’m glad we have three quality quarterbacks, but one of them has to have attributes that separate him from his peers. One of them has to have that little something extra that makes a difference. One of them has to be named the starter, and get the majority of the reps in a real game. Wilson may be treating the ISU game like an exhibition game in hopes of seeing which of his three quarterbacks performs best in a game, but shortly after Saturday’s game, he’s got to name a starter. Otherwise, during some future game that IU must win, when the heat is on and IU has a chance of victory in the fourth quarter, the difference between winning and letting another close one slip away could come down to the trust and rhythm between IU’s quarterback and his offensive teammates.

  2. I am buying it and for all the reasons Johns and Wilson provided us. I’d make Navy prepare for all 3.

  3. I’m buying in. I believe Wilson thinks ISU is going to get ran over, therefore make Navy prepare as Hoosier Clarion stated. Pick and choose your battles. We have had success against ISU. Teams like Navy not so much.

  4. I’m not following this super closely, but couldn’t Wilson’s spreading the love between his quarterbacks be more intended to take some pressure off a kid coming back from a very nasty injury?

    Is Tre truly tested and confident on that leg? Is Wilson truly confident he can go for four quarters and be the multi-threat, play-action sorta QB that fits his style best? If Tre is apprehensive to attack with full force while in running mode, should he be pushed too hard too early?

    Wilson must be prepared..He must show confidence in Tre’s full recovery, but he can’t leave himself without options if the kid with so much promise does not reemerge as the same player.

    I’m sure this isn’t analogous to what Mo Creek went through on the basketball court, but any devastating injury can play tricks on the mind. That was a very traumatic injury for Tre Roberson last season. I saw a ton of potential in the kid. I’m sure Wilson understands the violence in the hitting that takes place on the field that we, as fans, can really never comprehend. Can you imagine having your lower leg snapped like a twig? Gotta give this young man a chance to erase the trauma of that moment. He’ll be fine. He’ll be back. Roberson is a hell of a football player.

  5. ….but much like the situation Michigan faced last year with Denard Robinson, Roberson’s athleticism is too much to keep off the field.

    Tre Roberson is a dynamic quarterback, but can he fully recover from a broken leg? (courtesy: opponent preview: Indiana)

  6. TR’s wheels are the problem but it has nothing to do with the past injury. He does not fit the QB model Coach Wilson’s offense requires. He prefers taller, mobile strong arm QB’s. Not dual threat. His establishing the ground game is from the RB position(think Adrien Peterson ,other RB’s at Ok. and NW). Developed by the D’s fear/respect for the passing attack. Coffman and Sudfeld fit that profile better than Tre. I still believe NS will be winner because he best fits it. Coach Wilson has plenty of ball carriers.

  7. Doesn’t the fear of the passing attack and going with pocket style QB also rely heavily on your offensive line being able to win battles at the line of scrimmage and contain the rush? We may put on the blinders and make false assumptions about our up-front strength against weaker teams in the early weeks. But against teams like Wisconsin, OSU, Michigan…I personally would like some speed/athleticism to get out of the pocket in the more dynamic Roberson. Coffman’s does have the size and height that gives him advantages to see downfield. He is no slouch of an athlete. I heard Wilson talk of how they were attempting to build Tre’s physical strength and body mass while he was sidelined. The corner speed and agility to get to the outside is always vital once flushed out of the pocket..Can Sudfeld and Coffman demonstrate the quickness to set up a secondary pocket outside the rush? Do they have good instincts to penetration coming from the back side?

    Sudfeld and Coffman will take plenty of snaps against the cupcakes, but if Roberson is showing no ill effects(mentally or physically) from last year’s traumatic leg injury, I believe you’ll see Wilson going with Tre against the supremely athletic and overpowering lines of the Big 10. Composure. leadership, execution under pressure, rallying the troops in the huddle…Lots of intangibles go into a great QB beyond arm strength and playbook memorization. I keep thinking of Grossman…All that ability but zero composure when the walls collapse and terrible instincts to blind side pressure. No grip and awareness of lineman swatting at the football..always coffman up the ball like it was a slippery baby pig.

  8. I do remember Dustin appearing to have difficulty restraining his favoritism for Coffman last season. I’m not sure if Coffman is that good or this is just Dustin’s football version of Hakeem ‘the Dream.’

    If you pay close attention, it’s easy to pick up vibes/signals where the journalists are attaching themselves beyond the so-called “objective” and developing surrogate son relationships with particular athletes….

    Fauxjectivity!! Are we going to have Big 10 Football Power Rankings on Scoop? Or is it just too easy and rather typical every previous season..?

    1. OSU
    2. Michigan
    3. Nebraska
    4. Penn State
    5. Wisconsin
    6. MSU
    7. Purdue

    Shake the rest up in a jar and make salad dressing for a trip to the Lettuce Bowl sponsored by Earthbound Farm Mixed Greens…? note: Clip sorta gets fun at the 3:13 mark.

  9. You need to look at last years sack #’s allowed. They were minimal. You may wish to argue with Wilson’s “O” philosophy but his resume tells me I will not. He has plenty of RB’s for the run game and an O/L to clear the way. That is why he is expecting 1 of them to gain 1000. He does not need another rusher in the backfield. As far as I know there is not a Grossman playing QB on the IU roster.

  10. We’ll see.

    We were 10th in rushing in 2012. Not sure if we’ll have the beef up front to make the enormous turnaround you’re expecting in the run game.

    Can the season statistics in football be very misleading…? It’s only a twelve game schedule. Small sample set and you’re averaging some very weak opponents into those averages.

    In the last three games of the season(2012-13), we were outscored a combined total of 163-71. Penn State and Wisconsin outscored us 107-36. We’ve looked high-powered and fared better against a Michigan and OSU in somewhat down years.

    I tend to think we’ll need the dynamic aspect that Roberson can bring(pending he is fully healed and confident on his leg).

    And we’ll need a defense that can prove it can hold the quality opponents under 50 points. No matter how potent our passing game season averages and the newly found zest for the ground game you’re anticipating based on Wilson’s history, we have to create turnovers and show some defensive resistant at the point of attack.

  11. I am not the 1 professing a big turnaround in the run game, Wilson is and I concur.

  12. I see since you discovered IU is 1 of the very best teams at protecting the passer it is now not possible for you to talk about a need for a scrambling QB. TR simply does not have the passing skills the other 2 do.

  13. Podunker, I’m confused… your ‘IZ don’t buy it seems to wash away a year’s worth of ‘I back Wilson’ and ‘like what he is doing with the program and how he handles it’. Then, a this last moment, you discover that it doesn’t fit ‘your’ concept of good football? I’m not trying to provoke you or dismiss you, merely to state how I read your statement.

    We’ve asked for Wilson to not just give us a team that it competitive, but to change a deep-rooted culture worth of losing football because institutionally and among the critical fan base we have had no idea (with exception of the Mallory years;- when the same lack of football culture led us to passively accept the vicious and stupid power plays and insider maneuvering that led to the firing of Coach Mallory and the destruction of the only real chance we Hoosiers had (until now)to establish a serially and permanently respectable Hoosier football program?

    Just don’t understand it Podunker. I know you want the exact same thing I do and Hoosier Clarion does and feel is just over the next hill.

    But, our bet is on Coach Wilson. Everything I’ve read about him, every serious former football contact (pro and college) I have speak of him as an outstanding football mind and leader. I don’t care if he wants to use one or three QB’s in sequence or at the same time. Or, if he plans to play Tre R. as a passing pulling guard. I’m ready for what he(CKW) bring, with the people he trusts, the players whose potential he foresees and with offensive and defensive planning and concepts on the field as he sees them. Podunker, we (ME TOO) have second guessed every coach we’ve had (including Mallory and John Pont) since Bo McMillen and, at some point, it’s (the second guessing) has become the disaster plague we suffer through now. It’s time we put our own ‘version’ of ‘virtual championship B1G football’ away and prove we are the equivalent of the smart money at those places where they expect winners, year after year- all done the right way and for the right reason.

    When AD Glass (who, like Wilson, is showing remarkable vision, planning, intuition, leadership and management skills) brought Wilson, we were not asking ony for a ‘decent’ football team but that he change the culture. Wilson has already done that. Our very standards as fans have changed at their core. We are well on the way. We simply need to continue to be patient, trust the leadership and finish our ‘long march’.

    Podunker, I respect the heck out of you and Hoosier Clarion and several others who, like you, know we are on the edge of a great Hoosier Era. I sincerely hope you take this note as a friend’s debate, not as anything negative. You and HC and some of our other friends are the essence of the guys I want to be sitting next to when the ‘stripes’ take the field at the Rose Bowl; now or when the Lord comes over and tells us to stop making so much damn noise.

    Right now…I just think it is time to just ‘believe’ and wait and give the seed the chance to grow.

  14. I’m not conceding anything. I said that without diving into the statistics(examining and breaking down the strength of opponent, time of possession, average yards per pass, etc.), you can’t just assume the protection came through way of controlling the clock/field or because of a hurry-up style and some big gainers. You can also dive into whether or not the blowout games(when we were blown out in the last few contests)resulted in our offensive line going against reserves. Also, how much of that protection came against weak non-conference teams…And I do remember hearing that OSU and Michigan were in reloading phases..And Penn State was coming off one of the biggest scandals in college football history and I believe they were softened by the fact that some incoming and returning stars dropped out of the mix.

    It will be interesting…I like Roberson and I do believe he’ll win the job. And who’s to say that his arm isn’t stronger..? I believe the Big 10 Network(The Journey) featured a piece on his rehab and it looked like there was a ton of upper body strength building to go along with the progression in leg work.

    If you’re sold on the other two, that’s fine. Good to have the dynamic of changing QBs to go along with a dynamic athlete at the position.

    I will concede that you’re likely far more involved in knowing the complete roster..But I’m not willing to get too giddy over leading in any statistical category given the numbers involve a small sample set and were skewed by cupcake competition, a reliance on the hurry-up, and some games already over at halftime with the Hoosiers on the wrong side of the scoreboard in blowouts.

    Some of the scores tightened up as a result of an opponent that had dominated for three quarters becoming a bit too complacent. Some almost resulted in miracle comebacks(a testament to the Hoosiers willingness to not give up). But I’m not going to full myself via statistics that we were facing the full force of some of the stronger conference teams for four quarters.

    That’s the real challenge in rebuilding..The stronger you’re interpreted, the more we’ll feel the full throttle of an opponent from kickoff to final play. There will be less opportunity to get those big passing plays while a team is celebrating a bit too early. …And that’s exactly when you’ll need the dynamic player that can present a run and pass threat.

  15. Not taking sides on this one but …
    1. Roberson’s arm is a heck of a lot better than you remember, and he wouldn’t still be in this competition if he was a zone read option quarterback only. He’s not as electric of an athlete as Robinson, but he’s at least as good of a passer if not better. When Wilson says he can run the whole offense, he means it. His leg is definitely healed. It was a clean break, and it’s not like we’re talking about joint issues here. Mentally he seems fine, but you can’t tell until gameday.
    2. Nate Sudfeld’s arm isn’t just the best of the group, it’s pretty spectacular by any evaluation.
    3. The Hoosiers were a much better pass-blocking team than they were a run-blocking team a year ago. They are very different skills. Jason Spriggs was a phenomenal pass blocker for an undersized true freshman left tackle, and he has admitted to not being great in the run game. But he’s also put on 25 pounds this offseason. They’ve had a year to grow up with that, but the Dan Feeney loss is major in that regard.

  16. Podunker likes Tre. Why be a killjoy? He’s entitled to an opinion without someone spinning(as always) that he’s not fully supportive of Wilson.

    I also like Roberson. But I do also like big arms. If you’re(the Hoosiers) still a bit undermanned and undersized, the big play, the deep downfield bomb to a speedy receiver, can be quite the quick equalizer.

    Nothing wrong with having a preference. Enough with crucifying a blogger that is merely engaging in pretend debate with the man in charge. Isn’t that what makes this entire process fun? Aren’t we all armchair QBs at the end of day? Don’t some constantly debate and armchair QB how Dustin and Jeremy run the blog? Why aren’t there decisions within their leadership role in their profession as respected as a football coaches choices?

    In the fear that comes with tempering any future critique of the program/coach/blog, your answer is to temper all the joy and fantasy of being the guy in charge. Can’t we be fans while enjoying the many hypotheses and possibilities that come with the debate of different players within different scenarios? Not to mention the hypotheses and debates that can come with discussing the many potential changing outcomes possible based on the ever-changing rosters and strengths each unique skill set each player can more advantageously can bring based on the opponent at hand each week. Must we just always rollover like a mutt for a biscuit? Never a second guess our masters or a thought we may have done it differently?

  17. So I guess I wasn’t too far off base in stating that Roberson was concentrating heavily on increasing upper body strength while rehabbing the leg…?

    Good points about the run-block vs. the pass-block, Dusty.

  18. You weren’t Harvard. His arm still isn’t close to as good as Sudfeld’s, but it is also more than serviceable.
    I should clarify. I do think they’ll be a good run-blocking team this year. They’re more experienced now and they’re much, much bigger physically. But they were a legitimately good pass-blocking team last year, was the point. Spriggs took on some big time defensive ends and came out on the winning end of it most of the time.

  19. It’s amazing how people can read into things that are not written or intended.

    What did I mean when I wrote, “I’m not buying it?” Here’s what I wrote immediately after that statement. “it’s not whether the team is “comfortable with multiple quarterbacks.” That’s not the relevant question. The question should be, ‘which quarterback allows his offensive teammates to perform at the highest level?’ Johns comments was a straw man, and I was not buying it. It’s a smokescreen.

    I’m not buying that Wilson does not know who his starter is going to be for ISU. I think Johns’ and Wilson’s comments on the matter are BS. I’m still a HUGE Wilson supporter, I’m just not a fan of playing multiple quarterbacks. I believe Wilson knows who is going to be the starter but refuses to name him. Not sure why, but as experienced an offensive coach and quarterback talent evaluator he is, Wilson’s has to have been able to find separation between the three quarterbacks. So, I’m not buying it. Hey, I love my daughters too, but I don’t buy everything they say, either.

    I’m not pulling for any of the three quarterbacks over the other two. I’m not a “Tre fan” or a “Sudfeld fan” or a “Coffman fan.” I really like all three and feel that IU is lucky to have three quality quarterbacks with experience. I’m an IU fan who believes that playing multiple quarterbacks for too long can be (not always, but usually) detrimental to an offenses’ development, timing and confidence, and that it can hurt a team’s performance later in the season when timing and trust is essential to win a close game I think I’ve explained why I believe this in previous posts.

    So, while I appreciate and support Wilson more than ever, I just don’t think he’s being sincere when he tells the media that there has not been any separation between the three quarterbacks. As I said some time back, if that’s really the case, then he needs to raise the bar, elevate the performance criteria, put more pressure on his quarterbacks and see who rises to the challenge. No, I think there has been separation, but for some reason he’s not willing to state that at this time. Maybe he wants them to stay focused this last week of preparation? Maybe he feels this tactic will reduce the anxiety and nervousness of the three guys, allowing them to just focus and relax. Maybe its the opposite and he wants to create that anxiety. Maybe, and this is what I really think, Wilson is using the ISU game as an “exhibition game” to evaluate how his quarterbacks perform in real-game conditions and pressure. Some guys are great “practice players” but don’t translate that performance during the games. Some players are not practice players, but something transforms them when its game time. Maybe that’s what Wilson is dealing with.

    Maybe Wilson believes that before the season is over, he’s going to need three quality quarterbacks and does not want any of these guys to lose confidence or get down about not being named the first-game starter. I can hear him now, “You guys have all done well, and I evaluate you as all being equal. So you’re going to draw straws Friday after practice to see who goes out there first. You’re all going to play today. Then we’ll watch the film and see who did the best, and take it from there.”

  20. Dustin, any data to support your comment about IU’s O-line being “much, much bigger physically?” I’d like to see the stats on the players’ physical progression as guys evolve through the program. I’m guessing Spriggs is now 300 to 305 pounds. Last year, I think he played at 270 as a true freshman.

  21. Tre Roberson will start. Wilson already named him as his starting QB(you just have to do a little searching).

    Wilson is coy.I tend to think he’s got a bit of a “keep out of my business” sneaky attitude. Maybe you could call it mild defiance..? It’s sorta a fun side of his personality. And if you missed something he’s already stated, don’t expect him to spoon-feed it to you later. Tre will start.

  22. Well, the game is Thursday night…I sure hope they don’t “draw straws” on Friday. Hate to see the game postponed due to a straw-drawing delay.

    Come on, dedicated and unwavering supporter of Wilson..Get with the program. You got football in less than 48 hours!

  23. Thanks Dustin, I must have been on vacation when that came out.

    They’re bigger and they’re stronger, but still have a way to go before reaching the average for Big Ten O-lines. If they stay healthy, it should be really interesting to see these O-linemen in two years. Spriggs is going to be a beast.

    I compare IU’s size against Wisconsin, the “biggest” O-line in the Big Ten for the past decade, as a barometer. I know we’re not anywhere close to being that big, and IU’s O-line may never be allowed to get that big because of Wilson’s uptempo offense. But I look forward to the day when IU’s O-line averages 310 lbs and still has the stamina necessary to run the uptempo offense. We’ll know we have a solid and competitive Big Ten football program when IU can maintain that average size year in and year out as the elite teams in the conference have done for years.

  24. Are they putting on fat or muscle mass? Let’s hope that they’re not using any harmful or banned substances(or substances that should be banned because of the long term negative side effects)to put on the 30 pounds of extra beef.

    I can’t imagine putting 30 more pounds into the same sized frame when likely already classified as grossly overweight for the height. A lot of that weight has to be in mid-section..Very hard on the heart.

    Can’t help but think of William ‘The Fridge’ Perry…Sad outcome..The man can barely get out of a chair because of the eating habits that took him prisoner back in his heyday. It starts to all feel like a cattle farm as we slaughter away their longevity and healthy living in exchange for the high price of a good contract for their beef.

  25. Some weeks ago (3-5) there were a number of posts that looked at the rise of the Hoosier program, comparing it to the rise of the U. of Louisville’s athletic programs, especially football which has had some very good years and won a major bowl. Fair enough, I thought puzzled because it was true. I wondered if something had, perhaps, changed since I lived and coached there.

    Generally, I knew they had a very astute A.D., and thought they were enjoying the luck of a succession of good football and basketball coaches, Also knew that Louisville residents love their sports and their University, particularly because they hate UK. (They are a lot like us that way). Still, it made me wonder.

    I found the reason today. I’m attaching a link to an outstanding article about UofL’s rise in the NY Times (no less). It absolutely answers all my questions. Luck had nothing to do with it.

    Not sure we can (or would even want to) do the same thing). We are clearly an outstanding academic university servicing the need for an outstanding education for the students, primarily from Indiana, and should remain so. And, our greatest focus should always be as a leader in education and research. That;s clear.

    But, the Louisville journey, the vision of its leadership and its athletic administration, the willingness to invest in its growth and its competitiveness in athletics does lay out a good road map for our own. Perhaps nowhere as crassly linked to the interests of an ESPN (we would have to wonder how neutral and balanced ESPN can be when it is also a part owner of college athletic programs). But there is a clear commitment and an importance and willingness given by Louisville’s alumni and supporters to invest in its own future in athletics that is admirable. It is, at least, a challenge we can learn from.

  26. I remember when Tsao once said that we should never refer to an athlete as a “beast.” It was probably a couple years ago. Sometimes I just have a strange ability to remember old conversations(usually triggered by a specific word and then my brain goes digging through the filing cabinets of my strange recall)…Sorry to digress.

    Haven’t read your the NY Times piece that you linked…Too tired at the moment. Good piece of writing though, Tsao. You really must have been one hell of a fine journalist during your prime. Then again, maybe now is your prime…

  27. Tsao, interesting article on the rise of Louisville athletics. It makes a lot of points worth a lot of additional thought and discussion. But the one thing that comes to mind is that if that school can do what they’ve done, why can’t IU?

    I’d like to see the information comparing the academic standards for student-athletes between IU (an other Big Ten teams) and Louisville. I’d also like to compare the alumni donations made to each school’s athletic departments.

    For those who argue the importance of football, I refer you to the comment in this article that states football is the alpha and the omega of college athletics revenue. In spite of Louisville’s traditional success in basketball, it was their football program that generated the revenue (from TV and alumni donations, etc) that has allowed the new construction of athletic facilities, increased coaching compensation, recruiting budgets and all the other “investments” that a University must make in order to become a big time winner in college athletics.

    Yes, if Louisville can do it, why can’t IU?

  28. I think we are well on our way Podunker. One look at our AD, and you can sense the man has a plan and a purpose that will be fulfilled.

  29. The seeds have been planted this year with the football program. If we can pack the fans in lime I think we can, then we won’t have to worry as much for people leaving town for higher jobs.

  30. UofL has a good athletic program, but IU is in good shape too. Glass is investing in facilities and Louisville has won 3 National Titles as a school…IU has won 25.

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