Penn State Spells Trouble S-U-D-F-I-E-L-D
No football coach in Indiana’s 125-year history has ever accumulated an overall winning record by the time they ended their tenure with the Hoosiers.
Head coach Kevin Wilson, who was one of the first coaches in the nation to embrace the spread offense, may change that with his offensive ingenuity and a quarterback with an arm that has torn apart three of the first four defenses they’ve faced this season.
His name is Nate Sudfield.
Never heard of him, huh?
He has completed more than 65 percent of his passes this season for more than 1,100 yards, 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
OK, he has had his lapses. In a loss to Missouri last week, he threw three interceptions.
The Tigers got to the quarterback, not via a consistent pass rush, but by the defensive line timing his passes, getting their hands up and forcing Sudfield to throw at awkward angles to avoid swatted balls.
In fact, a leaping defensive end, Kony Ealy, caught the first interception, which led to a touchdown and the downfall of Indiana’s hopes.
No, really, go to the 0:55 mark and watch as Ealy plucks Sudfield’s pass out of the sky and trots into the end zone.
While Sudfield will learn from his mistakes against Missouri — he is only a sophomore — he has an arm that may be Penn State’s kryptonite. He was tied for the NCAA lead in passes of more than 20 yards through three weeks with 19, though he only threw one such pass last week.
While they didn’t allow a deep completion against Kent State in awful weather conditions, the deep ball could be an issue for Penn State’s undisciplined secondary.
Every Nittany Lions safety — Malcolm Willis, Adrian Amos, Ryan Keiser and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong — is aggressive to a fault, and Penn State’s starting corners routinely sit on routes under 10 yards, only to get burned.
The only quarterback Penn State has faced with a strong arm, Central Florida’s Blake Bortles, threw six passes of 20 yards or more in week three.
Two weeks of preparation could help Penn State’s defensive backs find solutions, but Sudfield has two weeks find their weakness.
While Sudfield has been biggest Indiana's surprise this season, the Hoosiers have Tre Roberson, a more experienced but unaccomplished quarterback. Wilson put the ball back in Roberson's hands last week after Sudfield could not solve Missouri's defense, and Roberson led the offense to a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
That has resurrected the once put-to-bed quarterback controversy in Indiana.
However, any chance that the more elusive Roberson has of playing against Penn State likely would stem from Sudfield struggling.