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Posted on Thu. Sep. 04, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Early bye no big deal for Hoosiers

IU uses extra time to learn, prepare

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BLOOMINGTON -- Nate Sudfeld ain't sweating it. Why should he? Indiana's junor quarterback is a pawn in the game of college football scheduling life. He plays when and where he's supposed to play, and if there is a glitch or a quirk, well, embrace it.

“We don't make the schedule,” Sudfeld says, “so we just take what's given to us.”

What's given to IU is a bye week. They must wait two weeks after beating Indiana State in their season opener before playing again, this time at Bowling Green, a potentially dangerous opponent with two major issues:

1) The Falcons have lost starting quarterback Matt Johnson for the season with a hip injury. He threw 25 touchdowns against seven interceptions last season, and was considered a major contender for Mid-American Conference player of the year.

2) Can Bowling Green (0-1) bounce back from last Saturday's stunning 59-31 loss at Western Kentucky to become the MAC favorite everyone expected?

The Hoosiers (1-0) aren't focused on that as much as on improving from last Saturday's run-heavy Indiana State win, and boosting a surprisingly weak pass attack (111 passing yards, no touchdowns, one interception).

“We have a lot of things to learn from,” Sudfeld says.

Playing accelerates learning, which is among the reasons why sitting out on Saturday is the last thing safety Antonio Allen wants to do.

“I wish we were playing. The bye is good and bad. It gives us more time to prepare for (Bowling Green) and more time to work on things.”

A pause.

“But I want to play.”

For coach Kevin Wilson, there's benefit in a double bye. IU has another on Oct. 25, which means it has segments of six and five games rather than an 11-straight-week blitz.

“It gives us a really good opportunity,” Wilson says. “We didn't over-practice in the preseason. We want to take last week's game as part of our building in a positive way.”

Wilson says IU treated the Indiana State game as part of its preseason preparation. The main emphasis starts with Bowling Green. The Hoosiers also play at Missouri and at Iowa, plus host Maryland, North Texas and Michigan State, before their next bye.

All of those teams played in bowls last season

“We didn't want to peak, and then sit for a week and relax,” Wilson says. “Our deal was to take (the Indiana State game) as a learning opportunity and have the mindset that we're ready for a really good six-game stretch and to play the best we can.

“There are a lot of things we want to polish, eliminate, grow. A lot of things we need to gain on.”

One of those things continues to be developing a solid No. 2 quarterback. That quest has Wilson moving freshman linebacker Chris Covington to quarterback. Why? Because Covington looked good throwing during a team picnic and because he had played quarterback in high school.

Oh, yes. Because redshirt sophomore Nate Boudreau and true freshman Zander Diamont haven't won the job, which creates enough uncertainty for Wilson to joke that, if Sudfeld has to come out for a play or two, the Hoosiers will “play 10” or “take a knee.”

“We get three timeouts,” he says. “So there are three calls right there.”

Hoosier coaches are force-feeding Covington as much information as they can as fast as they can without overwhelming him. Because he's getting over a knee injury, he hasn't been full go in practice, although he did play at the end of the Indiana State game.

“We're trying to figure it out,” Wilson says. “He has a tremendous arm. During practice he stands beside a coach so it's like, what's the signal; call the snap count; call the play.

“He's a big guy. He has a live arm. He can move a little bit. He can do some run stuff.”

Added offensive coordinator Kevin Johns: "Coach Wilson has been working with him a lot. We'll see what can he do and how much can he handle. He’s done very well. He's a very athletic kid. We’ll see what he can bring for us."

Wilson says he and his staff will use the rest of the week to hit recruiting hard, especially with in-state players.

“We'll recruit a lot in our backyard. We want to do well at home, and in the Midwest. We'll start locally and as the season moves on, we'll spread out.”

IU has 12 commitments for the Class of 2015 (four from the state of Indiana) and is well along in its Class of 2016 recruiting.

pdiprimio@news-sentinel.com


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