Diamont comes through in season finale for IU

The kid came through when Indiana needed him most.

Then he celebrated.

In his final opportunity of the season, IU freshman quarterback Zander Diamont engineered an eight-play, 65-yard game-winning drive that ended when he high-stepped into the end zone from a yard out with 27 seconds remaining in Saturday’s 23-16 win over Purdue.

“It was so surreal,” Diamont said. “Those last 20 seconds they had the ball, I had my eyes closed the whole time. I was just ready to celebrate with my teammates. With everything we’ve been through this season, it means the world.”

IU quarterback Zander Diamont poses with the Old Oaken Bucket after Saturday's win over Purdue. (Photo taken from Diamont's Instagram page)
IU quarterback Zander Diamont poses with the Old Oaken Bucket after Saturday’s win over Purdue. (Photo taken from Diamont’s Instagram page)

This was the kind of ending that Diamont envisioned in the week leading into his first Old Oaken Bucket game and he made it come to fruition with a big finish. The true freshman came through in crunch time, completing five of his final seven passes in the fourth quarter for 40 yards.

Diamont, who started the final six games of the season after Nate Sudfeld and Chris Covington both went down with season-ending injuries, is not quite at the level of an optimal Big Ten starting quarterback, but his progression over the second half of the season bodes well for his future.

And that’s exactly what he’s trying not to worry about, with Sudfeld’s impending return for his final season of eligibility next fall.

“I’ve pushed those thoughts out of my head, for sure,” Diamont said. “The focus has been this year. The guys have come together and we’ve rallied around that thought. It’d be pointless to worry about next season. That’ll be tomorrow.”

Diamont finishes his first season of college football having completed 64 of his 132 passes for 515 yards, with one touchdown and four interceptions. He was at his best over his last three games, when he combined for 412 yards through the air against Rutgers, Ohio State and Purdue.

That development sends him into the offseason with a taste of what it takes to compete in the Big Ten, and Diamont said it’s been invaluable experience.

“What it’s done for my future here — and my career — it’s priceless,” Diamont said. “Getting thrown into the fire, overcoming adversity and dealing with aspects of being a starter when I maybe was supposed to redshirt or sit out. To have this moment with my teammates, with everything we’ve been through, it’s special. It mean’s a lot”

23 comments

  1. Knee brace? check.
    Good looks? check.
    Big smile? check.
    Chick magnet? check.
    Come on? check.
    Asks dates if they’d like to have Big 10 experience explained? check.

    Give this “kid” thirty more pounds, a couple more inches, a fur coat, a pair of white cleats, coolness in the pocket, and a bazooka for an arm….and I’d swear he’s the next coming of “Broadway Joe.”

  2. Harvard wants the kid to have a couple more inches.

    Hmmm. I thought you said he was already explaining having a “Big 10 experience” to his dates!

    Sorry…couldn’t resist. Too funny …. and probably also too obvious…

  3. There needs to be an Old Bucket poem….This is hurried, so please forgive.

    They play it for me
    They play it for you
    In the stands, the seats
    There’s barely a few

    No Knute Rockne
    No hullabaloo
    No big bowl games
    To share between the two

    Some call this a rivalry
    On gridiron winners prove their colors true
    Finally an opponent feeble enough
    Four quarters honored this day through?

    The pride runs deep to bottom of oaken barrel
    A Boiler can teach Shakespeare to Will Ferrel
    A Hoosier can cut down a Buckeye and drive to Pasadena too!
    That’s the year all of OSU caught the Asian flu.

    Old Oaken Bucket poem…?
    Purdue and IU..? Are they of the same football glue?
    Can you bring me out from the decades of gridiron blue?
    It’s wait ’til next year and as always no need to ask
    At the bottom of this deep Big 10 cask , I shall always love you.

  4. Prefer one line change..if it’s o.k.

    Can you bring me out from the decades of gridiron [pigskin] blue?

    I had already said “gridiron”….

  5. Nice job by the young man when the chips were down against a team that – hard to believe – was decidedly inferior. Don’t let a Bucket victory delude anyone from the many problems IU has, starting with its head coach. A possible 6-6 season next year should not be acceptable. Demand more.

  6. Chaz, I am weary of the tireless artillery barrage from your fortress of self regard. Whatever IU football does next year, we will doubtless be regaled with epic poetry in honor of your genius over the rest of Hoosier sports fans.

    I shudder at the almost incomprehensible depth of your analytical observations. At no point have you ever offered a plan or an alternative besides, “FRIE cOach Wilson!” Firing someone is not a plan.

    I’m just as disappointing with the season this year, but if you’re going to get in our faces about it, have an alternative and “find a better coach” is not a plan.

    I’m all ears, sugar.

  7. It may not have been pretty but a win is a win and we’ll take it! Congratulations to the guys, coaches and staff who battled through a tough season. Zander, you did yourself proud. I continue to be excited at how far along our defense has come over the course of the season. If we can return these guys next year, I think six wins is well within reach.

  8. Diamont has courage and determination, and I’m really happy that he scored the winning touchdown in the bucket game. He’ll have that memory for the remainder of his life. You’ve got to love the way he kept battling this year through a situation that was downright unfair to him. This very young man got thrust into that starting spot without any practice reps. But he handled himself well and worked really hard to get better every week. Good for him.

  9. What has happened to attendance at IU/Purdue games? I remember lots of bad (in fact far worse) IU teams that still drew more fans into Memorial Stadium for the bucket game than what we had on Saturday. Doyel, of the Indy Star suggested their were fewer than 25,000 fans in the seats! That’s just terrible. That’s embarrassing. I know both teams were down this year, but come on, this is supposed to be a rivalry game.

    Before anyone continues calling for IU to fire the head coach, I want to know if they went to Saturday’s game. In fact, I want to know if they’ve ever offered any type of support for IU football? Ever donated money to the Athletic department? Bought any IU-logoed clothing or gear recently? As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not willing to go to the games or support the program in a myriad of other ways, you haven’t earned the right to demand changes be made.

    A great many more IU fans need to understand that they have a role to play in IU becoming a competitive football program.

  10. Good for you Double Down. Whatever the performance of the teams over the last 20 years, they were struggling and fighting to break away for the history of losing…followers like Chaz erroneously see something positive in adding their own negativity to the situation and, as you point out, never, never offer a concrete ste3p towards winning. They dread the day we fight for, the justification of their empty lives will be lost that day.

  11. Podunker, our concern is very valid. Most of us here agree that while the results have been disappointing, the program is improving in quality and competitiveness. However, we need much greater emphasis and investment in promotion and PR. Yes, the facebook stuff is cute and I guess the new helmets are ok, but what we need is campaign to excite and elicit commitment from the student body alums and fan base.

  12. This year’s win over Purdue was all I needed to conclude that Wilson deserves more time. Anyone paying attention this year must conclude that if Sudfeld had not been injured, IU would have won six games and gone to a bowl game. In spite of this year’s W-L record, IU has shown signs of significant improvement.

    As for a plan, I’d say Glass needs to give Wilson a coaching budget that reduces the likelihood of his assistants jumping ship. Undesired turnover of valued assistants, especially those who leave for a lateral transfers (similar job for more money at a different school) affects the momentum of the team’s development, relationships essential for improved recruiting, and sustains the negative image/reputation of IU football. How about spending more money on the people who are assigned the responsibility of transforming this football program and less on erecting big flags and paved parking lots! How about expanding Wilson’s recruiting budget (staff) so that he can cast a wider net covering greater geography.

    I’m looking forward to reading about the various ways Glass will empower Wilson to build on the improvements already made in the coming year and to seeing IU break through in 2015.

  13. Podunker…agree! Staff compensation is yet another aspect of the program that has suffered from systemic underinvestment for decades. I’m still not entirely convinced that IU is institutionally fully committed to building this program. I have the sense that the approach is “OK, we’ll fund this and see if it produces and if it does, we’ll sign off on more.” That won’t work (hasn’t worked). At this point, either IU is “all in” and committed to invest what it takes or should perhaps look at other options for the program. Valued assistants leaving for better compensation is yet another obstacle for a program that cannot afford to create its own hurdles.

  14. iufan23, when I read, on several occasions, comments from Fred Glass saying, in affect, “we offered to match (or increase) the offer he (the resigning assistant coach) received, but he was determined to take the job at (UNC, USC, Texas A&M, etc). We have the money, but he wanted to move on;” my head almost exploded. If I’d have been Glass’s boss, I’d have given him a severe reprimand for a) making such a lame and impotent comment in the press, and b) for being reactive instead of proactive. It made him sound as if he (and IU) was helpless and out of touch. As an executive of an organization, don’t wait until your most valued employees resign before attempting to compensate them what they’re worth in the market. That’s penny wise and pound foolish. You should know what their market value is (continuously) and pay them that or slightly above that. And if they’re not worth that amount, they should not be on your staff in the first place. Once a marketable employee has gone through the psychological and emotional process of interviewing, negotiating a compensation package from a competitor, and then accepting the competitor’s offer, it’s almost always too late to retain him by matching his/her offer. As a graduate of IU’s Kelley School of Business, Glass should know that. If anything, IU football coaches should receive above average compensation, in order to offset the many negatives associated with being on the staff of a losing program. It’s obvious that several talented coaches have seen IU as a stepping stone but did not have the financial incentive necessary to justify staying with a chronic loser. Glass and IU’s trustees should understand this and create a compensation plan that reduces the risk of undesired and premature turnover. Glass should know that in order to turn IU football into a winning program, it will take an exceptional group of talented and dedicated leaders to do it. And it will take stability, continuity, not a revolving door. Offering below-average compensation to the people you ask to accomplish a very difficult task is profoundly stupid, and suggests incompetence or insincerity about the stated objective, or both. IU needs to put its money where its mouth is and give Wilson the power to recruit and retain the coaches he wants, and fire those that no longer compliment his efforts to convert IU football into a winner.

  15. I find it interesting to read and feel the vibe on here of fans wanting to keep Coach Wilson but fire Coach Crean.

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