Wilson’s 4th-quarter discussion with Sudfeld just a little “family love”

When his third-down heave to Nick Stoner flew past the receiver and out of bounds early in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game at Missouri, IU quarterback Nate Sudfeld found an unlikely visitor as he trotted to the bench.

There was Kevin Wilson storming onto the field to greet Sudfeld after the quarterback took a sack and threw an incompletion to stall Indiana’s drive deep in its own territory with the game tied 24-24. Wilson became animated as he talked to Sudfeld, continuing the conversation long after the two had walked back to the sideline area.

Asked earlier this week about that moment, Wilson said he was instructing Sudfeld to do a better job of attacking the Tigers’ defense.

“That’s called family love,” Wilson said. “That’s how we love our brothers. We need to call that play, get the ball out of our hand and keep attacking. That’s all that was. Short and sweet. We’re coming at these guys. Let’s go, man. Call the play, get them set, spot the ball, lineup and play, and let’s go get it. That’s all it was. Let’s don’t start waiting around and seeing what they were doing. We were waiting.

“Not that we want to be a hyper‑tempo team, but if we had slowed down, those guys could really tee off on us and we didn’t want that. We wanted to be teeing off on them. It was swing and misses, but we were going to swing. We were not going to sit there and hope the fourth pitch was a ball. We were going to take a cut at it if it’s close. I pointed out we’re not looking and waiting for something to happen. We’re attacking. Let’s get back into attack mode. That was some good old family love to a great player who played very, very well.”

Overall, Wilson said he’s been pleased with Sudfeld’s play through the first three games. The junior quarterback has completed 65 percent of his passes (60-for-92) for 710 yards and two touchdowns, while throwing only one interception. He played one of the best games of his career two weeks ago at Bowling Green, while doing a decent job managing the game at Missouri.

There are times, like on Saturday, when Wilson wants to see Sudfeld be more assertive and more aggressive. For all of his talent, there are times when Sudfeld may appear too cautious. There’s still a delicate balance between both of those sides. More and more, Indiana coaches say, they’re seeing a quarterback that’s playing relaxed and playing within the confines of a game. The big play potential is always there, but Sudfeld is doing a better job of picking his spots.

“Coach Wilson does a great job of talking with the guys all the time about managing the game, understanding the situation that we’re in” IU offensive coordinator Kevin Johns said. “Maybe we don’t need the home run play here, just dump it down, let’s move the chains, let’s keep managing the game. So I think he’s done a phenomenal job in that area. Always looking to improve. When you play quarterback, it’s really hard to play a perfect game, so we’re always gonna find something that he can do better. But I just keep using that (phrase) ‘maturity level.’ I think Nate’s doing a good job handling the situation, handling the pressure.”