Hoosiers need Tre Roberson to be an ace

Tre Roberson showed a lot of promise while starting as a true freshman quarterback for Indiana in the second half of last season.

But Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson has made it known that the time for promise is over. If IU is going to improve on its dismal 1-11 record from a year ago, it will have to start under center.

"We're not going to be a good team in the Big Ten with average quarterback play," Wilson said at Big Ten media days last month. "That is a fact. We'd better be on of the better quarterbacks in the league and we'd better play at a high end if we expect to win and start playing quality Big Ten football."

That's not just something Wilson tells reporters for a good sound byte. Roberson said he's heard that message just about every day this offseason. As Wilson tells it, the quarterback isn't just responsible for the offense but also the defense, as the Hoosiers can't expect to score 18.4 points per game in league play like they did last year and outscore many opponents.

That's a lot of pressure on a sophomore who's started all of five college games. But Roberson understands his responsibility.

"That just makes me want to work harder and play to the expectations he has," Roberson told ESPN.com.

So if average quarterback play won't cut it, what does good quarterback performance entail? Roberson said it's "being efficient in the passing game, being efficient in the running game, scoring points and not turning the ball over." Wilson has also told his quarterback that he needs to complete two out of every three passes, though Roberson aims higher than that.

"Completing 70 percent or over is my goal," he said.

That's awfully ambitious, considering only eight FBS quarterbacks who attempted at least 15 passes per game last year finished the season with a 70 percent or better completion rate. Roberson connected on 57 percent of his throws last season while tossing three touchdowns and six interceptions.

But he was also thrust into the starting job with a half season of preparation. Now, he's had an entire offseason and spring practice to get used to the college game and Wilson's expectations, even though he has a new offensive coordinator in Seth Littrell.

"I've made a lot of gains this summer," he said. "It's been really valuable for me, being more comfortable with what's going on and and adjusting with the receivers with their speed and ability."

Roberson was pushed this spring by junior college transfer Cameron Coffman, and well-regarded recruit Nate Sudfeld is in Bloomington for fall practice. Given Indiana's status, few players can take comfort in their starting roles. Wilson said there won't be a quarterback controversy, but he plans on putting a lot of stress on all three of the potential starters.

"It's a competition," Roberson said. "Cam's a real good quarterback, and he has all the ability to be the starter. Coming into camp, you always expect for it to be a competition so everybody can work hard and get better.

"At the same time, I try to carry myself as the No. 1 guy, by watching extra film and doing things on the field so I can try to be a leader."

The Hoosiers need Roberson to be a leader this season in just about every way if they're going to inch toward respectability.