Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
It had been almost 11 months since the Hoosiers' senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld had taken a live snap against someone in a different colored jersey. Admittedly Sudfeld had a "little nerves to start the game", but added that he "didn't feel very rusty and (he) felt like (he) was really in the flow of the game." Sudfeld led the high-powered IU offense to 48 points and 595 total yards. And boy, did the Hoosiers need every single one of those points as they held on to a 48-47 win over FCS member Southern Illinois.
After a slow start, by IU standards, the Hoosiers found their rhythm and may have found a new three-headed monster in Nate Sudfeld, wide receiver Ricky Jones, and running back Jordan Howard.
In his first game back Sudfeld was very solid completing 19 of 32 passes for 349 yards and a touchdown and added a career-high 46 yards rushing. More importantly he did not throw any interceptions, although there were one or two passes that could have been picked off by the defense but were dropped. With his big day, Sudfeld climbed the ranks in the IU record book. He moved into seventh place for career completions (365), seventh in career passing yards (4,655), eighth in career total offense (4,772 yards), second in 300-yard games (5), and sixth in 200-yard games (11). By the end of the season Sudfeld should be at or near the top of every major passing category in IU history.
Sudfeld's favorite target yesterday is nicknamed 'Grandpa' by his teammates. He is listed in the media guid as Ricky Jones. Jones's career at IU up until this point had been rather disappointing and frustrating as the wide out from Florida just could not stay on the field due to injuries.
Saturday was his break out game putting up a career-high with six receptions for 186 yards and a touchdown. His 57-yard reception off a beautiful throw from Nate Sudfeld right out of the locker room at halftime got the Hoosiers back in the game. He also set up the Hoosiers' winning score with a 71-yard catch-and-run where he battled down to the 1-yard line. "I was trying to score. It was a crazy play. I am just glad I caught the ball. I wanted to score a touchdown, but hey, it worked in our favor." Jones said of the play.
Jones added after the game that he has "been waiting on this field for a long time, so I took the opportunity I had and I feel that I converted on it."
One of the bigger questions facing IU coming into the season was how they were going to replace to production of Tevin Coleman, who left for the NFL after his record setting 2014 season. The question has appeared to be answered, as UAB transfer Jordan Howard was stellar in his Hoosier debut. He rand for 145 yards on 20 carries and scored three touchdowns. While he lacks the breakaway speed Coleman possessed, the Hoosiers will take his bruising running style. Howard bulldozed and dragged defenders for extra yards all afternoon. Even more impress was the fact he did not have a negative run all game. That alone should give the Hoosiers offense a better chance to be more consistent.
The Hoosiers offense was back in 2013 form and this trio of players will be called upon to lead this team down the road.