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posted: 9/15/2012 6:19 AM

Hoosiers ready to see new quarterback vs. Ball St.

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  • Backup Indiana quarterback Cameron Coffman looks downfield for a receiver as Massachusetts defensive lineman Charles Thompson converges last Saturday in Foxborough, Mass. Coffman replaced the injured Tre Roberson and will start today against Ball State.

    Backup Indiana quarterback Cameron Coffman looks downfield for a receiver as Massachusetts defensive lineman Charles Thompson converges last Saturday in Foxborough, Mass. Coffman replaced the injured Tre Roberson and will start today against Ball State.
    Associated Press

Associated Press

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Cameron Coffman is getting the first crack to be Indiana's new starting quarterback.

Keeping the job for the rest of this season might take some work.

The junior college transfer with the NFL pedigree played well enough last weekend in relief of the injured Tre Roberson to convince coach Kevin Wilson that he should start today against Ball State.

"He's a very calm kid, a very smart kid, I don't know if he has the biggest cannon," Wilson said Tuesday. "He's got a little more pep in his step this week, and he won't get rattled. I think he handled that situation (last Saturday) very well, and in two days of practice this week, he's looked the best he has all camp."

That's good news for a team that is chasing a third straight win and could match the school's longest winning streak since 2000. Indiana (2-0) also opened the 2005, 2009 and 2010 seasons at 3-0.

But the other part of the equation is causing consternation in Bloomington.

Roberson, Indiana's 2010 Mr. Football, broke his lower left leg during the first half of last Saturday's 45-6 win over Massachusetts. The sophomore had surgery to insert a titanium rod in the leg Sunday, and a full recovery is expected to take five to six months. So Wilson plans to redshirt Roberson.

The official announcement about Roberson's replacement came as no surprise.

Coffman, who had been listed No. 2 on the depth chart each of the first two weeks, finished last week's game 16 of 22 for 159 yards with one touchdown in a rainstorm. And until freshman Nate Sudfeld closed things out, Coffman was the only Hoosiers quarterback with a pass at the college level.

Last season, Coffman led Arizona Western to the National Junior College Athletic Association national title game. East Mississippi ended the Arizona Western's perfect season with a 55-47 victory.

"It is (the plan)," Wilson said in naming Coffman the starter. "But it was going to be (Tevin) Coleman (at running back) till Thursday of the first week and then he tiptoed a little bit at practice, so you never know."

D'Angelo Roberts replaced Coleman in the lineup in the season opener.

Another concern is depth. Roberson, Coffman and Sudfeld are the only scholarship quarterbacks on Indiana's roster, and Wilson declined to name an emergency third quarterback Tuesday.

If Coffman stays healthy and can prove he deserves the job, it won't matter.

Teammates and coaches are convinced the transition from the versatile Roberson to the steady arm of Coffman will go smoothly.

"Tre is a good guy and one of our main players, but we have to rally `round Cam," defensive tackle Larry Black Jr. said. "The only real difference is just that wiggle. Tre is a lot better runner, but really that's the only difference between them."

Wilson did not allow Coffman or Sudfeld to speak with reporters this week.

Coffman's previous experience should help him prepare for his first Football Bowl Subdivision start.

His father, Paul, was an NFL tight end with the Packers and Chiefs. His brother Chase spent two years as a tight end with the Bengals. Another brother, Carson, played quarterback at Kansas State.

And Cameron Coffman threw for 2,244 yards and 21 touchdowns and led Arizona Western to a school-record 11 wins last season.

Plus, Coffman knows the Hoosiers' offense. He's been working out with the Hoosiers since enrolling in school in January and battled Roberson for the starting job throughout the spring and summer.

"We feel very comfortable and confident with Cam and if Nate goes out there, we feel comfortable with him, too," assistant offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kevin Johns said. "He (Coffman) is smart, he throws the ball very accurately and he's only grown and gotten better and stronger since he's been here."

Now comes the hard part: Putting his knowledge to work against a Ball State team that stunned the Hoosiers in the 2011 season opener and is sure to test the Hoosiers' new quarterback today.

"I think you try to at least create confusion with disguises and try to put the game in his hand, try to put the pressure on him," co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory said when asked how aggressive he would be calling plays against a first-time starter.

But the Hoosiers believe Coffman can get the job done. And not just this weekend.

"I think he's a great quarterback, I think he could have given Tre a run for his money to start," cornerback Greg Heban said. "He's just like Tre, and he might read coverages better than Tre, though Tre has that second dimension -- speed."

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