“I don't know,” coach Kevin Wilson said when asked if Tre Roberson, who started in Thursday night's blowout win over Indiana State, had earned the No. 1 job. “I don't know if we've got starters.”
Could that be right? Could Wilson have watched his Hoosiers put on an offensive display for the ages (73 points, 632 yards of total offense) and not have a clue on who will start against Navy next Saturday?
What? You don't like a little drama with your football?
Here's one thing we do know. Wilson took a coaching staff vote to decide on the Indiana State starter. Roberson won over Nate Sudfeld and Cam Coffman even though he didn't get Wilson's vote.
“I voted for someone else, but I got vetoed.”
“We have a democracy.”
Democracy or not, Wilson declined to say who he voted for.
So intrigue continues. Roberson only played a quarter because of a rib bruise, throwing for 71 yards and two touchdowns, rushing for 19 yards. Nate Sudfeld played the most and took advantage with 219 passing yards and four touchdowns. Cam Coffman rotated in the final three quarters and didn't overwhelm with his passing (2-for-7 for 29 yards and an interception), but that might have had more to do with the situations than his play.
Roberson, who said he could have returned to action if needed, said he's fine with continuing the competition.
“That's what I want,” he said. “We're pushing each other. It will make us better.”
Ditto, said Sudfeld.
“It's the same situation as before. We knew before Indiana State we had a good chance of playing. They told us (Thursday morning) that Tre was going to go out first. Cam and I didn't sulk. We knew we'd still have an opportunity, and even if not, we're still team players.
“We're used to this. We're ready to play whenever they ask us to. We'll be ready for Navy.”
Rotating two quarterbacks can be a challenge. Rotating three seems asking for trouble. Not so, Sudfeld said.
“(Wilson is) not just going to pull us out for one mistake. We're all human. That's how it is. Football is not a perfect game. After I threw the interception (Indiana State's Conner Underwood returned it for a third-quarter touchdown), I'm glad Coach gave me the opportunity to keep playing.”
Why did Roberson start Thursday night? In part, Wilson said, to help make up for last year, when Roberson was the starter, but was sidelined for the final 10 games because of a broken leg.
“Their battle was about dead even, but the way we practice — we don't get preseason games, we scrimmage, but you never tackle the quarterback,” Wilson said. “We even thought about that. Should we tackle the quarterback? As soon as you do that, heaven forbid, you get a cheap injury.
“We even had a discussion, should we just go live on the quarterbacks because I think that plays sometimes into Tre's hands when he starts running around.
“The thought was, since it was dead even and Tre's kind of playing maybe with his hands tied, maybe it wasn't dead even if we're playing for real, so let's go with Tre. And the other thing was, it was a little bit of sentiment. He was the guy that got hurt, fought hard to come back, let's let him roll."
To be fair to his quarterbacks, Wilson asked Coffman and Sudfeld if one of them wanted to be redshirted this year to create some separation between the three quarterbacks. Roberson redshirted last year because of his injury, so that option wasn't available for him.
“They said, 'I want to play.' I said, 'Good, that helps me. But what if you play 12 plays as the year goes? What if you play the first game, you didn't get hot and somebody else did? I don't know what's going to happen.' They said, 'We prefer to play.'
“I've got to look at those kids. My question to them was, 'I don't know what's going to happen, but if you play a little, are you going to be mad and think your career got screwed, or do you want to go play?' They said, 'We want to win and we want to play.' I said, 'God bless. Let's go.'"
And so they have.
Up nextKickoff: Navy at Indiana, 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7
Online: For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio