The Indiana football team isn’t known as a powerhouse, but its quarterback is one of its few bright spots. Senior Nate Sudfeld, a fringe NFL Draft prospect, is third in the Big Ten with 2,229 passing yards and 15 touchdowns, and he leads the conference with 8.5 yards per passing attempt. Despite his offense’s best efforts, the Hoosiers’ defense has once again proven to be the cause of their demise in 2015.
The Daily spoke with the leader of the pass-happy offense in August during Big Ten Media Days in Chicago about building credibility, trying to be Aaron Rodgers, his service trips and not getting recruited by Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.
The Michigan Daily: Most people tend to ignore Indiana football in favor of the basketball team. Do you feel pressure to try and establish credibility for your team?
Nate Sudfeld: As a younger player it used to drive me nuts. It was just like ‘C’mon, you guys should care, this is football.’ But it’s not even that they don’t care, it’s just that people will care, the stands will fill out when we start winning games. We can only control what we can control, so when we do that, who won’t want to watch one of the top teams in the nation next year when we’re winning a bunch of games and beating some good teams? The school cares about the football, they just haven’t had much to cheer for the last few years as they deserve.
TMD: Indiana has made a name for itself through a fast and effective offense, but has lost a lot of high-scoring games. A few people have come out and said the fast offense doesn’t give the defense enough time to rest. Does that factor into your gameplan at all?
NS: Our mindset going into each game is to score 70 points. We want to score every time we get the ball, as fast as we can. Whether you take time off the clock or not, you’re putting points on the board. Obviously winning comes first, but we’re only trying to control what we can control, and that’s putting points on the board.
TMD: Off the field, a lot has been made of your service trips, and you were even asked to give a speech at Big Ten Media Days. Obviously there is the human benefit of giving back, but do you find it helps you on the field?
NS: I think it does. First of all, it gives you perspective, after a loss, ‘Hey, there’s more to life than what happened on this field.’ It doesn’t make you feel better after a loss, but it reminds you that football isn’t the entire world. Football is a very important part of my life, but serving when I can gives me a good perspective and also gives you an appreciation to see other people and other societies that don’t have nearly the opportunities we have here.
TMD: With a chance to make an impression on NFL scouts this season, is there anyone in the pros that you model your own game on?
NS: I really like Aaron Rodgers. I like the swag that he has out there, the command. I love how he can rip the ball like no one else. I also love that it’s 3rd-and-5, and he can get the first down with his legs. He’s not a runner by any means, but he can run when he has to. But I also study Andrew Luck, Peyton (Manning), Tom (Brady) a lot. There are so many different quarterbacks to learn from, but I like Rodgers. … He’s got Olivia Munn too, so he’s doing all right for himself.
TMD: I noticed you picked up a drawl. What has the adjustment been like from the coasts of California to the tighter-knit Midwest?
NS: It was definitely a bit of a culture change. But being from California, people think I’m from LA or straight Hollywood, but I’m from Northern California and kind of the Central Valley. There are plenty of wholesome, good people up there, but at the same time I never said ‘Y’all’ ever before I got to Indiana. At first I thought it was weird, but I kind of found myself saying it.
Things like that and lingo are part of it, but I’ve really enjoyed being a part of it and being adopted into the Hoosier family and the state as well.
TMD: Jim Harbaugh — you might have heard of him — has made a lot of waves in college football since his hiring in December. He had a satellite camp in Indiana and is even picking up recruits from right near you. What do you think of his presence?
NS: I think it’s awesome. I think it’s awesome for the Big Ten, for college football. I think he’s one of the best coaches that there (is). He did a phenomenal job at Stanford. I was wanting to go there for a little while, but he didn’t want to recruit me.
The tenacity, the passion for coaching — I think it’s only going to do great things for the conference and for Michigan. It’s always been a huge game for us when we play Michigan, so we’re looking forward to having them over for Senior Day and looking forward to playing that one.