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Indiana's Sudfeld 'cool' with running, but …

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For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Bye week will help build passing game

Monday, September 1, 2014 - 12:01 am

BLOOMINGTON -- Nate Sudfeld is not about to confuse himself with Tre Roberson, Antwaan Randle El, or any other running Indiana quarterback you can think of.

He understands his arm is his future. So does coach Kevin Wilson.

Besides, the lack of backup quarterback depth is well documented.

In other words, don't expect the junior to repeat the 10 carries he had during Saturday's 28-10 win over Indiana State.

But if victory depends on it, well …

“I like throwing more than I did (Saturday), but I'm cool with running as long as we win. I'm open to it. I have to keep working on that athleticism part.”

Work on it is fine, but if you were at Memorial Stadium, where fan terror hit Chernobyl levels whenever Sudfeld ran, just keep it far away from game situations.

“Sometimes when you drop back, it's not there,” Wilson said by way of an explanation.

“We have to look at our plan. It wasn't a lot of designed (quarterback run) stuff.”

Added Sudfeld: “Our O-line was giving me so much time, I was running around back there looking for somewhere to throw, but they dropped eight guys into coverage, covering it all. Sometimes I should just eat it and take what I could and sometimes I should have thrown it away instead of taking a sack.”

Indiana opened the game with 12 straight running plays. Given Wilson's passing nature, this was like Eminem beginning a concert with 12 straight Dolly Parton songs.

Trust us.

Anyway, the Hoosiers figured -- correctly -- they could handle Indiana State with a limited offensive package. Bland worked, although it didn't do much for Sudfeld's passing numbers. Indiana State compounded the problem by dropping eight defenders into coverage. Add a bunch of young receivers (three got their first college action, including former Homestead standout Isaac Griffith), and you get one of Sudfeld's poorer passing efforts.

He was 11-for-18 for 111 yards, no touchdowns and one interception that was returned 60 yards and led to a third-quarter Indiana State touchdown.

“It was nice to see him protect himself, protect the ball,” Wilson said. “He made one poor decision (on the interception), but other than that, I think he had a hard time (seeing open receivers). I don't think we did a good job of game planning for him. We've got to do a better job for him, and he'll be fine.”

A strong running game helps. IU ran for 455 yards, with tailback Tevin Coleman setting a career high with 247 yards on 23 carries.

“We planned that all in camp that we were going to run the ball a lot,”Coleman said.

That's fine with Sudfeld.

“I didn't get tired of handing off. It's fun watching those guys run.

“This year I'm less worried about myself as I am about getting a nice team win. So it sounds bad, but swallow my pride and hand things off and not force things. I took a few too many sacks (two), should have thrown it away on that interception, but our offense did well. The O-line gave me all day to throw.”

Still, Shane Wynn rates as one of the nation's top receivers, but only caught two passes for eight yards.

"It was a little frustrating," Sudfeld said. "You want to get the ball in the playmakers' hands. I was trying to take what (Indiana State was) giving me, which was the run half the time because those are run-pass options. I'd see it, hand it off and let the guys run. That worked pretty well, but we need to find a little more balance.”

The Hoosiers (1-0) have a bye week to find it before hitting preparations for the Sept. 13 game at Bowling Green (0-1), which just got clobbered by Western Kentucky.

“It's hard to be upset when you have a nice win,” Sudfeld said, “but I want to play better against Bowling Green.”