ANN ARBOR, Mich. — For the first time since Sept. 1, 2012, redshirt sophomore quarterback Tre Roberson led the Hoosiers in passing yards.
On Saturday at Michigan, he replaced sophomore Nate Sudfeld, who has started the past five games for IU, after the Wolverines took an early lead.
Roberson threw for a career-high 288 yards in a losing effort as the Wolverines escaped the Hoosiers’ second half push to win 63-47.
With heavy rain pouring down on Ann Arbor for most of the day, IU Coach Kevin Wilson said the weather may have hindered Sudfeld’s effectiveness against Michigan.
Sudfeld played the entire first quarter, completing five of nine passes for 85 yards.
IU scored first when Sudfeld found junior wide receiver Cody Latimer for a 59-yard touchdown.
“These last couple games, it’s just kind of been if we need a shot in the arm,” Wilson said about Roberson replacing Sudfeld this season.
Sudfeld said the ball may have slipped a few times, but he said he felt IU’s offense was doing all right with him in the game.
However, Sudfeld and Wilson said the weather presented a better opportunity for
Roberson, who has more of a running threat, to be successful.
Roberson played almost the entire second and third quarters.
Sudfeld’s only two plays in the third quarter were when Roberson’s helmet was knocked off by a Michigan defender and, by rule, Roberson was forced to go to the sideline for at least one play.
In the middle two quarters, Roberson was 12 of 18 for 232 yards and three touchdowns.
Trailing 49-47 with eight minutes 34 seconds remaining in the game, IU got a stop on its own goal line when Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner fumbled a snap and IU linebacker David Cooper pounced on the loose ball.
When IU took over after the turnover, Roberson was injured on the Hoosiers’ first play on the ensuing drive.
Roberson said his hand will occasionally cramp, and before second down, he felt his hand was “stuck.”
“I couldn’t open it up, so I had to go out,” he said.
Wilson said the coaching staff initially thought Roberson broke his hand on the play.
“His thumb was pointed cockeyed,” Wilson said.
Sudfeld, who hadn’t played since IU’s first drive of the second half, replaced Roberson but threw an interception on his first pass attempt.
“We’re always taught to stay ready,” Roberson said. “He was ready, so he gave it a good shot, and they just made a good play on the ball.”
On first-and-10 from IU’s 14-yard line, Sudfeld saw that Latimer had a few steps on the cornerback defending him and threw a 20-yard pass down the sideline.
Michigan safety Thomas Gordon was providing defensive support over top and leaped in front of Latimer for the interception.
“I mean, that one stinks because you want to come in and lead the drive,” Sudfeld said. “(I was) just trying to do too much, but I got to be ready at all times. That’s my fault … just a bad mistake on my part.”
Roberson had a trainer rub his hand while he was on the sideline, and he returned to the field for the Hoosiers’ next possession.
He engineered a nine-play, 45-yard drive, but was picked off at Michigan’s 6-yard line after a miscommunication with junior wide receiver Nick Stoner.
“It was a bad decision by me,” Roberson said. “I thought he was doing something different, and I threw the pass, which I really shouldn’t have, and it was all on me.”
Roberson finished 16-23 on pass attempts for 288 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
He also added 50 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. The quarterback tandem combined for 24 of 42 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns.
Despite the Hoosiers’ air attack, IU’s pair of interceptions ended critical fourth quarter drives, and the turnovers thwarted potential comeback attempts.
Senior wide receiver Kofi Hughes said the offense’s first priority is to take care of the ball.
“Our defense created turnovers today,” he said, “but when we turn the ball over it’s like it never happened, so, as an offense, we can’t turn the ball over.”
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