Sunday, September 9, 2012

Coffman Can Thrive as IU Quarterback

Cam Coffman is no Tre Roberson. Let’s make that clear. That doesn’t mean he can’t be effective as Indiana’s starting quarterback. That also is clear.

IU coach Kevin Wilson’s offense is quarterback friendly if that quarterback is accurate and smart and well prepared. Coffman needs to be living in the film room for the rest of the semester.

Yes, he has classes and, one assumes, a social life. Well, forget that. Now the sophomore and junior college transfer is a starting Big Ten quarterback. A lot goes into that, and that has to be his all-consuming passion.

If not, then it won’t go well.

But the, given Roberson’s season-ending broken leg suffered in Saturday’s blow-out win over Massachusetts, it already isn’t going well.

For the next couple of weeks, Coffman won’t face Big Ten competition, and that gives him a break, but not much of one. The Hoosiers have Ball State on Saturday, and if you pay attention to the record books, you’ll see the Cardinals have won the last two meetings.

This is the next-man-up process that is so much a part of sports. One person’s bad break (Roberson’s broken leg was very bad) is another’s opportunity.

Roberson was a dual-threat guy who had dramatically improved his accuracy and leadership skills. Coffman isn’t at that level, but he’s not a statue, either.

Last year, Coffman led Arizona Western Community College to the JUCO national title game. He threw for 2,444 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions while completing 61.4 percent of his passes. In the title game, he throw for 291 yards and four TDs.

As a high school senior in Missouri, Coffman threw for 3,300 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also rushed for 680 yards and 8 TDs.

There is a ton of athleticism in his family. His father, Paul, was a good tight end at Kansas State who later played for the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs. His brother, Chase, was a tight end at Missouri and then for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. Another brother, Carson, was a quarterback at Kansas State.

Then there’s true freshman Nate Sudfeld. He was looking at a redshirt season until Roberson’s injury. Then IU got him some fourth-quarter action against Massachusetts to help prepare him in case he moves to No. 1 on the depth chart.

The 6-5, 215-pound Sudfeld was an all-state performer in California last season. He threw for 2,332 yards and 31 TDs with just six interceptions. He was rated the No. 14 quarterback in the Class of 2012 and the No. 23 prospect in California overall.

What does that mean for college?

Basically, he has potential. Like Coffman, he has a lot of film study in his future.

Coffman played just over a half against Massachusetts and finished 16-for-22 for 159 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Sudfeld was 3-for-4 for 28 yards.

What does that mean going forward?

Not much. This was a really bad Massachusetts defense, and by the time Coffman and Sudfeld got in, the outcome was decided. The defenses they’ll face from now on will be much tougher.

As far as assessing Saturday’s performances of Coffman and Sudfeld, Wilson was non-committal.

“It was a bit tough (to determine0 because by that point in the game, the edge had been taken off the offense, there was a different style of play and the weather changed (rain moved in) and got us a bit.

“(Coffman) will get better. We might have redshirted Nate if the year were through, but now we will have to raise him back up.

“We will need both of these guys. There will not be a competition for starter. Coffman will be the starting guy and Sudfeld will be the backup. We will see how Coffman handles it going forward.”

Because Roberson played less than two games, he will be able to get a medical redshirt, meaning he will have three more years of college eligibility remaining. Wilson said he hopes to have Roberson back by the spring.

Coffman said he had prepared himself for this opportunity.

“The coaches were stressing that I need to be ready at any point. I have been putting just as much pressure on myself during the week as if I were the starter. I felt prepared. It’s an unfortunate situation with Tre going down. He is in our prayers, but we have to move forward and keep gong.”

Coffman said he understands he’s a work in progress.

“I felt comfortable out there. I wasn’t too nervous. I think it went pretty well, but there is a lot I can improve on.”

IU has three other quarterbacks on the roster. All are freshmen -- Corey Babb, Nate Boudreau and David Nelson.

Nothing against these guys, but you don’t want to see them on the field this season.

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