Player Spotlight: Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld
The Nittany Lions (3-1) head into week five, with an away matchup against the Indiana Hoosiers (2-2). The Hoosiers high-powered offense is led by sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who is actually the younger brother of NFL tight end, Zach Sudfeld. The younger Sudfeld started out the year very strong, before having an underwhelming performance against Missouri two weeks ago.
The sophomore currently has 1,146 yards passing, with an exceptional 65% completion rate. Sudfeld has 11 touchdowns coupled with five interceptions, three of which came in Indiana’s last game against Missouri.
The Hoosiers run a system that requires a smart, quick-thinking quarterback, and it seems that they may have found their long-term starter. The most impressive part about Sudfeld so far, is his touch on the deep ball. The sophomore quarterback has averaged an impressive 9.2 yards per attempt. In comparison Penn State’s own Christian Hackenberg, who averages eight yards per attempt.
The Hoosiers’ receivers average 14.8 yards per catch. Not only is Sudfeld getting the ball downfield, but he is putting the ball in great spots for receivers to run after the catch.
Prior to last week against Missouri, Sudfeld was being talked about as one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten, and may still fit within that category. In Indiana’s games against Navy and Bowling Green, Sudfeld threw for a combined 698 yards. He also completed nearly 70 percent of his passes against both of these teams.
Maybe it was because Indiana was playing Bowling Green and Navy, but completing 70 percent of your passes against anybody cannot be overlooked. Some quarterbacks cannot complete 70 percent of their passes against the air, let alone two Division I football teams. Sudfeld has been incredibly efficient with a high volume of passes.
Indiana’s offensive system definitely contributes to Sudfeld’s success but he is still required to make plays on game day. The Hoosiers also have some exceptional skill players that pad stats with their ability to run after the catch.
“They have what I like to call space players, players that are really good in space,” said O’Brien during his weekly press conference.
The Hoosier’s offensive system helps everyone on the team, not just the quarterback. But for any system to work one needs a great playmaker at the helm. The Patriots offense would not work this well without Tom Brady, Mike Dantoni’s “seven seconds or less” era would not have existed without Steve Nash, and the Broncos would not have everyone drooling about their offense without Peyton Manning.
The quarterback has proven to be the most important position of any team, and Sudfeld should actually get better with experience.
“Well they (Indiana) do it fast and they have a really good quarterback that throws it accurately,” said O’Brien. “Their passing game is predicated upon having a really good quarterback, a really good play caller, and a fast tempo offense.”
Tim Alvarez is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.