Wilson: QB competition a good thing

Kevin Wilson has said time and again that he doesn’t like to have his starting quarterback looking over his shoulder, and that he’d prefer to be able to pick one and settle. But now that the season-ending injury to Tre Roberson, the uneven play of Cameron Coffman and the promise of Nate Sudfeld have thrown the position into flux again, the second-year Indiana coach insists that the competition between Coffman and Sudfeld is good for both players.

“To me that should be at every position on our team,” Wilson said. “We talk about that with our guys quite a lot at every spot, every day, you need to bring it. If you’re supposed to be one of our better players, you better bring it harder than other guys. … I’m not trying to be a little league coach and make everybody happy and give everybody a trophy when the year’s over. We’re trying to get them better. We want both to be better. They’re both about the same. They both have things to work on. Ideally, the rub I got, they’re both kind of close enough that it’s not a competition. It’s just let’s see who plays well and communicates well and who gets us going.”

In the aftermath of Tre Roberson’s injury, Wilson had immediately planned to give the job to Coffman who had established himself as the backup, and let Sudfeld gain seasoning as Coffman’s backup. But Sudfeld entered the Hoosiers’ game against Ball State after Coffman suffered a hip pointer against Ball State and then led them to two touchdowns and the lead before they fell 41-39. Coffman struggled in the first half against Northwestern and was eventually pulled for Sudfeld, who led the Hoosiers to three touchdown drives to get within a possession of Northwestern before the Wildcats pulled ahead to win 44-29.

Wilson said Monday night and Tuesday that the Hoosiers will let practice play out to decide who starts. Though he isn’t thrilled about the idea of in-season competition at the quarterback spot, a position where stability is more important than other spots that are more effective with multi-player rotations, he said he believes Coffman and Sudfeld have the right mentalities for it.

“They’re both pretty good,” Wilson said. “They’ve got great families. Christian families. Unbelievable parents. They’re competitors, and trust me, neither one of them like not being the guy, because they want to be the guy. They just know how they’re supposed to answer questions when you ask them things. They want to be the guy. And they better be, because they’re the quarterback. And there ain’t no quarterback worth his salt that in his gut, don’t say, ‘I’m the guy, give me the ball.’ That’s why I like them too. They don’t say that, but I know that’s how they think. That’s how they all do. I think it’s a good deal. I think it’s a positive.”

Wilson said his lone concern was that during practice this week and until the dynamic changes, he’ll still have to split the reps 50-50 to get an equal look at both quarterbacks. He’d rather his starter get more than that.

“You don’t want to be so 50-50, because technically you want to get all those reps to almost 60-40, 65-35, two out of three, where the 1 gets a little more reps,” Wilson said. “When you’re at a pro practice, the 1 gets them all, the 2 gets a little bit. Sometimes there is a dimension where they’re so about the the same. One of the reasons they’re about the same is they’re both doing good, but neither one of them are doing good enough. That’s a product of being here for x practices as a freshman or having spring ball plus x practices. So we’re gonna keep them both plugging.”

— Wilson and his defensive assistants all stressed that they believe the defense is not as bad as the numbers suggest. They didn’t so much attempt to defend or explain the 704 yards of offense they allowed to Northwestern, but they were emphatic in their belief that there is a lot they can build on.

“I saw guys playing their freaking tails off,” co-defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler said. “Guys so damn close to making the play. Some things schematically we would’ve liked to have revisited with some runs. The issues we had were not getting off blocks. They kept running the same damn slow-developing reverse zone. A play like that, if you’re getting off blocks and snapping off blocks, it’s not going to (expletive) a drop. We gave up a ton of yards on that. That’s a frustrating thing. We’ve gotta continue to work on snapping off blocks and making better adjustments during the game like that. … They made some great plays and we had some guys right there.”

Ekeler and co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory said there were schematic issues on occasion and that at times the Hoosiers were out of place when Northwestern was playing at fast tempos. They were generally pleased with the effort, but again, they said the biggest problem was an issue of getting off blocks.

“It’s a mindset,” Mallory said. “We work every single day. We go against our wide receivers.  We go against our tight ends, we go against our running backs, We go against our offensive line. We do a one-on-one drill every single day. When we get done with our stretch, that’s the first thing we do.To me it’s a mindset. A lot of it’s technique, a lot of it’s heart. You’ve got to be able to get separation and be able to shed a block.”

The Hoosiers couldn’t do that much Saturday, but Ekeler said he still believes the Hoosiers aren’t that far off.

“The thing I like most about this team is we got unbelievable character,” Ekeler said. “I love going out to practice. I can’t say that a year ago. I love going out there. These guys love playing. They know they’re getting better. They know we’re getting it and we’re close. People can laugh and say whatever they want. ‘We’re close, yeah, you gave up 700 yards. That’s real close.’ Well, you know what? I’m telling you. We’re closer than people think.”

— Much praise has been heaped upon the Indiana wide receivers this week thanks to some acrobatic plays on jump balls by junior Kofi Hughes and sophomore Cody Latimer. Wilson said he was happy with the athleticism but still wants to see more physicality when it comes to downfield blocking.

“They made plays,” Wilson said. “I still don’t think we played well without the ball. Blocking wise, perimeter blocking. Physicality there. I do, because they believe in our quarterbacks, they think we can throw it, they think that guy’s gonna make a read and give it to me. I think they’re excited about playing. … That’s the hard thing about skill players. I do think our kids know they’re gonna get the ball so they’re more excited. The rub right now is teaching them, ‘Don’t pace yourself if you don’t think you’re getting the ball. Play as hard as you can play and as fast as you can play. That was my disappointment Saturday. I don’t think the offense played as hard and as fast as they should have. Play hard when you don’t have the ball, because the ball is going to come your way.”


AUDIO: Kevin Wilson Part 1

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson Part 2

AUDIO: Doug Mallory

AUDIO: Seth Littrell

AUDIO: Mike Ekeler (Parental Discretion Advised)

AUDIO: Mark Murphy


  1. I think I agree with, who is it, Harvard who posts here sometimes on the issue of religion in sports.

    I don’t know why the kids’ family’s religious background is relevant in Coach Wilson’s comment:

    “They’ve got great families. Christian families. Unbelievable parents.”

    Because what if the parents were Muslim or atheist or Hindu or Jewish? Would he mention that?

    Imagine that instead, he was saying:

    “They’ve got great families. Muslim families. Unbelievable parents.”

    In either case, it is just not relevant and mentioning it may make some feel excluded needlessly.

    All he needs to say is this:

    “They’ve got great families. Unbelievable parents.”

    The thing that IS relevant is that these guys have got great families and parents and they’re not only good players but nice people.

    And by the way, I have absolutely no problem with the fact of the families being religious and Christian. I think that having a religious background is a positive thing.

    But I don’t think it belongs in a coach’s evaluation of a player’s performance.

  2. West Coast, Dunbar… it doesn’t bother me at all, either way. I think he’s trying to say they are anchored to some greater belief that helps them and I just think it’s all good. If he wants to say it on terms important to him…that’s fine; if he wants to do it on terms important to a Muslim, a Jew or an agnostic.. that’s fine.

    We do not need to become obsessed by another’s belief. I support his right to state it on any terms meaningful to him without my feeling violated. That’s what I think about…what a great country! it’s all Good…!

  3. ^ Yeah, he can do it in private not as IU Football Coach.

    So are we replacing Lynch’s student athletes with Wilson’s QBs into Christ. ?! Here we go loopty loo…

  4. No, he can say it whenever he wants, however he wants, in any forum he wishes and wherever he wants to whoever will hear him. That’s why they call it freedom.

    On the other hand Wang, Wang, you’d feel right at home with the crowd from the Maghreb in Benghazi, Libya…wouldn’t you?

  5. No, you’re wrong TzeTze. His freedom is to be able to express whatever he wants as a private person. His opinion, not the School’s. His freedom does not include the ability to speak on behalf of others, against their will.

    He also has some obligations, that he’s paid for: to do better than his predecessor. So far–way below. Bill Lynch: superior. Father Pancake: miserable.

  6. He’s speaking to what he thinks is a strength in the character of the player…their family’s Christian ethic. Yes, he could also say Muslim or Jewish or Buddhist but whatever it is, is central to those families and, from his point of view, contributes to the kid’s good character.

    Then, the whole point of Freedom of Expression or Freedom of Religion is that you can express it in public and no one can tell you otherwise Genius.

    Here’s how it is worded in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom,…”

    Then you get all Al Qaida on us. But you genius, object and would abridge and restrict the Right to Free Speech about the right to exercise his (KW’s) right to Freedom of Religion in a public setting?

    I just reread your last post. Now you have KW speaking ‘against their will?’ You just don’t do very well with English reading or writing, do you? That’s OK, I wont blame it on your background or family…I’ll just assume you’re the one who struggled. Maybe you just fell asleep that class in Junior High.

  7. If the kid can play football(or basketball), I could give a rat’s ass what beliefs his family adheres to. Is it not possible to be a decent human being with plenty of solid values without publicly making statements that can make those not part of your personal faith feel alienated?

    Is Bloomington undergoing a Bible Belt invasion? I sometimes wonder if Bobby and all his brash and crude behavior(not to mention his magnificent foul mouth..God I miss the ‘F’ word)kept it all somewhat at bay for many years. Did the floodgates of intolerance those not devout Christians open with the final act of ‘Zero Tolerance’ a hell-raiser?

    I like Wilson. I hope this is isolated. I always had a gut feeling that he was a straight shooter; a man comfortable and confident enough in his own skin to not stoop to easy manipulations an audience to gain cheap support.

  8. Tswhoa! Dude. Let me break it down for you.

    There are many IU football fans who think Wilson should not use religion when he speaks as IU football coach. He (Wilson) is representing them and the school when he mixes religion with football. If the fans complain then Wilson is speaking on their behalf (as coach) against their will (since they are complaining). If the school complains he (Wilson) will soon stop using religion in his speeches.

    You know, I actually doubt you can understand this. You always seem to think you’re speaking for the entire blog, universe, blogosphere, IU football fans, etc. so you it’s hard for you to get your head out of that deeply rooted one-sided way of thinking.

  9. Wow. I sign on each day wanting to read about IU sports and I get Freedom of Expression, religion, etc. Like the great philosopher Rodney King once said, “Can’t we all just get along?” I think some of you have way too thin skin. Life is difficult. I love the fact that in the USA CKW can say what he wants. My son’s have plenty of professors at IU railing against a myriad of solid Midwest, family, or dare I say, christian values and I don’t hear much uproar over that. My sons endure it. I suggest you do the same. This political correctness is killing the country. I’d rather find a QB who can lead IU for FOUR quarters, move the ball and get to the end zone. I’d like to see a good mix of run and pass to accomplish that. If the QB has to check off at the line of scrimmage, audible, or chuck the ball out of bounds I’m all for it. I don’t expect to hear that the QB chose to abort the play and then we have a whole new discussion.

  10. I really do not give a damn who he could have offended. I was interested and willing to also hear about the Christian Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Aunts and Uncles. This wearing your feelings instead of standing for sound principles is a weakness. I don’t care if he stated they were martians. These people who faint hurt need to grow a pair(or cut of a pair so as to match their demeanor)or learn to live in weakness with their whimpering. I’ll never join, support or grieve that legion of wimps.

  11. I’m always amazed how many have found the great “principle” of a specific religion to shout to the heavens they abide, but yet are completely void in the “principle” of wearing deodorant when they want to spread the armpit of their beliefs in your face.

    I also don’t care what religion our football players practice. Then again, it’s nice to know they’re ‘practicing’ something. When you give up 700 yards, it takes up a lot of time for three dozen confessionals such an unholy, wimpy, sackless(?) effort uttered under the crack of preacher Wilson’s locker room door these studs with all the values a 2 x 4. It seems like a high-principled turkey fart from my Grandma could blow them over in forgiveness. Maybe our linebackers are just too busy practicing to become nuns. How many arms did they get on Northwestern backs?…None. Amen.

  12. HEY EVERYONE! How about we stop reading so deep into coach Wilson’s words? If you agree with what he said good, if not, it’s also good. I doubt a simple statement is going to affect your life. You can live your life however you want to. Let’s focus on the real reason Wilson is at IU, and that is to coach a program in need of leadership and work ethic.

  13. hoosierfan12, if you think it is bad now, wait until bball season and Crean starts talking about his religion. Of course, he may get a pass if the team is as successful as they are supposed to be. See what I did there, I called some of the posters here hypocrites without saying it.

  14. It truly is a shame…If there was one thing that unified all Hoosiers together(regardless economic status, race, gender, ethnicity, north, south, liberal, conservative, young, old, happy, sad, short, tall, cute, ugly, brilliant, not-so-brilliant, devout, doubt, small town cornfed, to city slicker) it was the singular faith that basketball was our ‘religion.’

    History is all the evidence one needs to witness how easily claims a supreme faith divide. For the love of God, can’t we just play our favorite game without the infusion of lofty proclamations our devotions that make us better than other inhabitants the same earth not attesting to the same belief? Such thievery to steal what makes us happy because few men so insecure their purpose in life within our religion – a love for something wholesome and real as a humble game that brought us ALL together.

  15. Yup, Tsao is right. That’s why they call if freedom.

    Hmm? I enjoy giving YouTube gifts…Here’s one for Chet(DoubleDown is next on the list).

  16. The video (for Chet) is very funny! Robin Williams is just brilliant; wish we all had whatever spirit he has that would allow us to laugh at ourselves.

    By the way, Dustin’s piece on Wilson’s take of the QB competition between Coffman and Sudfeld, particularly the first 7-8 paragraphs, is not only a brilliant piece of reporting and writing, but also shows the quality and ‘feel’ that will make KW successful here(in my opinion). DD’s introduction is a Classic journalism professors should reproduce.

  17. Sorry DD, once again we disagree. Those first 7-8 graphs certainly were. The rest good, but the first part a jewel.

  18. Like that Reggie kid. He was really into the religion thing and tried to force it on all of us though. I guess you guys pissed him off too much and he left the blog.

  19. Loved the video. Hilarious. Haven’t posted as I’m out and about to nondescript places. Won’t go into details.

  20. My reaction to KW’s comment about our QBs coming from Christian families was “Who cares? Can we recruit some Bhuddists who can play defense, for cryin’ out loud?”

    My reaction to anyone who thinks KW was speaking on behalf of IU (or anyone else) was “Huh? Touchy, aren’t we?”

  21. See the deep threat.

    Be the deep threat.

    Be the tackle.

    Be one with the open field tackle.

    Yada, yada, yada.

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