With backup QB, Indiana went to draw-in-the-dirt plan

David Woods
The Indianapolis Star
Oct 11, 2014; Iowa City, IA, USA; Indiana Hoosiers quarterback Chris Covington (2) passes against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium.

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Indiana's football season is dependent on the separated left shoulder of Nate Sudfeld, not the piston legs of Tevin Coleman.

Regrettable, really. Coleman appears destined to share the fate of so many other Hoosiers. Anthony Thompson, Vaughn Dunbar and Antwaan Randle-El all burned brightly in otherwise dark, losing seasons.

In the aftermath of Saturday's 45-29 loss to Iowa, the Hoosiers need Sudfeld to be a fast healer. With backup Chris Covington trying to compete against the Hawkeyes, coach Kevin Wilson conceded the Indiana offense became "a little drawn up in the dirt."

The Hoosiers could only hand the ball to Coleman and hope for the best, and three times he delivered: touchdowns of 83 (career long), 45 and 69 yards. Against a defense allowing 93.2 rushing yards a game, he carried 15 times for 219 yards, reaching 1,060 in a half-season and reclaiming the national lead. He became the fastest Hoosier ever to 1,000.

Iowa head head coach Kirk Ferentz, left, talks with Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson before an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, in Iowa City, Iowa.

The major college record (minimum of 215 attempts) for per-carry average is 7.81, set by Nebraska's Mike Rozier in 1983. Coleman, with 120 attempts at the midpoint, is averaging 8.83.

Covington has the courage and athleticism of a college quarterback, but not the readiness nor accuracy. The freshman from Chicago was recruited as an athlete and switched from linebacker during preseason.

Sudfeld landed hard midway through the second quarter and was seen afterward with that non-throwing arm in a sling. The Hoosiers trailed 28-14 when he went out, although that soon became 28-21 on Coleman's second touchdown.

"Chris came in and did a great job of trying to manage the game in a bad situation," center Collin Rahrig said. "We were down quite a few points."

Coach Kevin Wilson insisted Covington was "hands down" the best backup, declining to insert freshman Zander Diamont or walk-on Nate Boudreau. Sudfeld could be sidelined for one week to six weeks, Wilson said.

Covington was 3-of-12 for 31 yards and two interceptions — close to a passer rating of zero.