The Indiana Hoosiers have one of the most explosive offense in the Big Ten, ranking second in both scoring and total offense in 2013. Despite that explosion, however, the team finished just 5-7, once again missing out on the postseason. The Hoosiers figure to have a similarly explosive offense in 2014 as they try to get over the hump and become bowl eligible. Their chances of getting there should be helped by the return of quarterback Nate Sudfeld who should lead the Big Ten in passing this season as the sole starter under center.
As a team, Indiana actually led the Big Ten in passing last season, averaging 306.7 yards per game through the air. Sudfeld accounted for a good chunk of that, throwing for 2,523 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season. He had to split time, however, with dual-threat quarterback Tre Roberson, who threw for 1,128 yards himself with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions. Roberson added another dimension to the offense with his legs as well, rushing for 423 yards and five touchdowns.
Roberson has left the team this season, transferring to FCS Illinois State, in order to become a full-time starter in his own right, clearing the way for Sudfeld to lead Indiana on his own. The lack of competition for playing will help boost Sudfeld’s stats but he will also be helped by his lack of mobility. With Roberson in the game, the quarterback was a legitimate running option in the Hoosier spread offense. Sudfeld lacks that same mobility, though the running game won’t hurt thanks to the presence of Tevin Coleman, and so he can focus on doing what he does best: Throwing the football.
He will face some struggles, of course, as the Hoosiers face major turnover at receiver. Cody Latimer left early for the NFL after leading the team in receiving last year with 72 receptions for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns. In addition to Latimer, the team will be without Kofi Hughes and tight end Ted Bolser who ran out of eligibility after finishing second and fourth on the team in receiving respectively. But the Hoosiers do get back Shane Wynn who had a team-high 11 touchdown receptions in 2013 and a young, talented group of pass catchers who are hungry to prove themselves.
Getting the No. 1 quarterback job all to his own will provide a major boost in opportunity for Nate Sudfeld to show what he can do. With his big arm and a wide open offensive attack, look for the junior quarterback to lead the Big Ten in passing as he tries to carry Indiana into the postseason in 2014.