Trey Roberson offers hope.
Now that the freshman quarterback has shown he can handle the job -– and, boy, did he do that at Iowa -– it’s time to let him grow.
No more rotation. No talk about you’ve got quarterback No. 1 and No. 1A and No. 1AA. No hints that Kofi Hughes will get more quarterback work.
Yes, you still might use Hughes for the Wildcat formation option, but Roberson is the man. He needs as much experience as he can get, which means as many snaps as he can get. Edward Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel are backups from this point forward, playing only if there is an injury.
Quarterback is, by far, the most critical position in football. It might be the most critical position in any sport. If you have a good one, you have a chance. If you don’t, it’s grim.
IU spent the first seven games showing how grim it can be.
Roberson was 16-for-24 for 196 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He rushed 15 times for 82 yards. He drived five drives of 70 or more yards.
No other quarterback has done that this season. No other quarterback has been close to doing that.
Yes, it was a huge blow to lose Gunner Kiel, the Columbus East High School senior rated as the nation’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback. He reopened his recruiting last week and might have been on hand to watch Notre Dame botch its chances to beat USC with, among other things, a mind-boggling quarterback turnover.
There’s speculation that IU coaches started Roberson once it was obvious that Gunner Kiel was no longer in the picture. In fact, it’s possible it was the opposite. Roberson reportedly was told he would start last Monday. When word of that reached Gunner Kiel, that might have been the last straw in what was obviously not an etched-in-stone commitment because of indications that Roberson would be switched to receiver. To be clear, it wouldn't have been because Kiel was worried about the competition.
Hey, don’t you love rumor and behind-the-scenes drama?
It doesn’t matter. When you’re an elite quarterback with NFL aspirations, which Gunner Kiel is, you have to do what’s best for you. That means a program such as Notre Dame or Michigan or Alabama or, perhaps, Ohio State. Those guys sure could use quarterback.
Anyway, back to the Hoosiers. The defense is a disaster. IU lost 45-24 which seems like the 100th straight game it's given up at least 40. The Hoosiers have gone with youth, especially in the secondary, and it shows. Maybe today's experience becomes tomorrow's sound play.
Coach Kevin Wilson can’t emphasize that enough in recruiting. Defensive players and offensive linemen are an absolute priority.
Roberson offers hope in the way Antwaan Randle El did. If IU had had ANY kind of defense under Cam Cameron, it would have gone to a couple of bowl games.
Roberson has that kind of potential offensive impact. He has to grow. He needs more skill players around him.
It’s time to maximize that. It starts, and certainly doesn’t end, by playing him.
Quick question -- when was the last time IU had a USBWA-sponsored Wayman Tisdale Award winner, which goes to the nation’s top freshman.
Quick answer –- never.
The award started in 1989 with LSU’s Chris Jackson, included Michigan’s Chris Webber in 1992 and honored Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger last year.
Now IU’s Cody Zeller gets his shot. He’s one of 12 preseason candidates. He’s also the only Big Ten player on the list.
Tom Crean has this thing about basketball and Halloween, and because he does, the Hoosiers offer another edition of the Haunted Hall of Hoops. No, it’s not about scary basketball, but a chance for kids (and adults who remain kids at heart) to dress up and parade around Assembly Hall.
Oh, yes. Also get to watch a basketball scrimmage involving this year’s Hoosier team.
It’s set for next Saturday shortly after the Homecoming football game with Northwestern, which has a noon kickoff.
The scrimmage is set to start around 4:15 p.m., with the parade about 45 minutes later and then a chance to get a group photo with IU players. The players also will pass out bags of treats.
“This event has grown each year,” Crean said in a university release, “and it is something our players and coaches enjoy being a part of. Anytime we can play in front of a crowd this time of year, we want to do it to help prepare us for down the road. This really serves as a second public exhibition game for our fans.”