BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — Indiana quarterback Zander Diamont is growing up.
He's added eight pounds of weight. He's worked on his mechanics. And in the second half of the Hoosiers' spring game, he even rallied his team.
After throwing one touchdown pass in six starts last season, the rising sophomore threw two TD passes in the final two quarters Saturday — the second coming with 4 seconds left to give the Crimson its only lead of the game and a 13-10 victory over the Cream.
Diamont was supposed to redshirt last season. But when starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld and backup Chris Covington sustained season-ending injuries in the same game last October, Diamont became the Hoosiers' only real option. It was a mighty struggle for the true freshman, who finished the season 64 of 132 for 515 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions.
Now, he'll head into fall camp as the top contender to Sudfeld, the incumbent.
"Zander is competing to be the No. 1 guy," coach Kevin Wilson said. "If he is No. 2, because he's already had game action, we could get his (redshirt) year back and then if we needed him, we could always bring him back."
Diamont certainly looked like a different player after switching sides at halftime. As Sudfeld's backup in the first half, he was 1 of 3 for 18 yards. He started the second half by leading the Crimson team immediately down the field for a touchdown to make it 10-7.
And when the Crimson got one last gasp in the last two minutes, Diamont capped a drive of about 90 yards with a perfect throw to Damon Graham on the sideline to win it.
Sudfeld went 17 of 24 for 187 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Here some things we learned from spring practice:
QUARTERBACK PLAY: The best news for Indiana fans is that Sudfeld looked like he was already in midseason form. He completed his first three passes and although he was sacked five times, the only real mistake came on a throw that Darius Latham picked off with one hand. Sudfeld then tried to tackle the 305-pound defensive lineman — a decision he quickly regretted.
INJURY NEWS: Even controlled environments can't prevent injuries. Tevin Coleman's projected replacement, Jordan Howard, missed much of spring practice with a hyperextended elbow. Starting linebacker T.J. Simmons watched the game on crutches as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery. Defensive back Chase Dutra (right knee) and tight end Anthony Corsaro (left shoulder) were injured Saturday, though neither sounded serious.
RB DEPTH CHART: Howard, a transfer from UAB, is Indiana's best hope of replacing Coleman, an All-American. With Howard out, the Hoosiers used a variety of small, slashing backs Saturday. But none of them are as complete a package Coleman or presumably as the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Howard who ran for 1,587 yards and 13 touchdowns in 12 games last season.
DEFENSIVE STRUGGLES: The defense remains a work in progress. Even though they allowed three touchdowns and came up with 10 sacks, they were working against an offense that has not been at full strength. The first real test for Brian Knorr's unit won't come until next fall.
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