Thursday, April 14, 2011

Will Spring Game Solve IU QB Mystery? Zeller and Etherington Make It

Do you love a good football mystery that doesn’t involve whether NFL owners and players will ever work out their labor differences?

Sure you do. It’s part of America’s social DNA these days. At Indiana most of the intrigue centers on the quarterback situation. Nobody knows who is going to replace Ben Chappell as the starter. Of, if somebody does know, he’s keeping it confessional quiet.

Here’s what we know. Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker are the leading contenders, although both showed little last season as redshirt freshman. Much of that was because they got few chances to show what they could do with Chappell handling most of the plays.

Both have good arms. Both are mobile. Both could handle more of a spread attack than Chappell, who was smart and accurate, but not much on running, which is why the Hoosiers went to a pistol attack the past two years.

Also in the mix are Adam Follett and Teddy Schell, who basically have no chance of starting unless a major rash of injuries hits.

Perhaps the most intriguing prospect is Tre Roberson, last year’s Indiana Mr. Football out of Lawrence Central High School. He’s an outstanding athlete who is a threat running and throwing, but he’ll be just a freshman and quarterback is usually too demanding a position for a true freshman to handle.

However, if Roberson can learn IU’s uptempo offense, read defenses and command respect in the huddle, he has a chance to make significant impact. Why? Because coach Kevin Wilson is fine with freshmen playing right away if they can handle their positions.

Still, playing quarterback is perhaps the most unique and demanding job in sports. What is Wilson looking for?

Glad you asked.

“The quarterback is a critical position,” Wilson said. “He has to earn the respect of the team,” he said. “You can’t give that to him. It’s not a political vote or a media deal. That’s one of the reasons why practices are closed. A guy can statistically look bad at quarterback and it’s not his fault. Then you read in the paper that this guy looks better than that guy. Does he? The guy that looked good went wrong three times and got lucky.”

You might think leadership is a huge attribute for a quarterback. It is, of course, and Wilson wants to see it in action and not by speech.

“It’s not like he’s Bart Starr giving that speech in the huddle. We’re a no-huddle team so it’s not like he has time to talk a lot in the huddle. He’s the guy calling the plays, running the offense. He has to be the guy chasing down players and getting them here for voluntary workouts. The players have to do that. The coaches can’t. Good teams have great attendance over the summer. Players make players come. They get guys to follow them and practice with them. We’ll see how it goes this summer.”

First we’ll see how it goes with Saturday’s Cream vs. Crimson Spring Game. Gates at Memorial Stadium will open at 8:30 a.m.

The Big Ten Network will stream that game and show it as a televised replay at 7 p.m. on Sunday. Don Fischer and Buck Suhr will call the action.


In case you missed it, Cody Zeller and Austin Etherington made the Indiana All-Star squad. Both are signed IU players set to come to campus this summer. For now they'll join Marquis Teague, Dee Davis and Branden Dawson on the Indiana squad that will face a group of Kentucky All-Stars.

The Indiana All-Stars will play a couple of exhibition games against the junior All-Stars that features 2012 IU commits Yogi Ferrell, Ron Patterson, Jeremy Hollowell and Hanner Perea. The June 6 exhibition is set for Washington. Two days later, the All-Stars will play in Kokomo.

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