Indiana QB thrust into game with little warning

Adam Fink

It’s just like practice. It’s just like practice. It’s just like practice.

Those are the words Indiana quarterback Graeme McFarland uttered prior to taking the field for the Hoosiers’ football team Saturday.

McFarland, a freshman from Birmingham, Ala., played the entire game against Minnesota after starter Matt LoVecchio was scratched from the lineup less than three hours before kickoff.

The strange turn of events started Friday night when Indiana coach Gerry DiNardo was told by his medical staff that LoVecchio was still suffering some effects of a mild concussion from the previous week’s game against Ohio State.

The transfer from Notre Dame was hurt against the Buckeyes last week, forcing McFarland into the game in the fourth quarter.

In his first action of the season, McFarland went 6-for-6 and a touchdown against the Buckeyes, leading to optimism about his start Saturday.

“I felt ready,” said McFarland, who made his first collegiate start. “Matt told me he wished they would have known sooner. It would have given me more time to prepare.”

LoVecchio practiced most of the week and was expected to play against the Gophers.

“We will never put a player at risk regardless of the game plan,” DiNardo said. “He’s like our child. I am not going to put my child at risk.”

DiNardo didn’t tell LoVecchio until around 9:10 a.m. Saturday that he wasn’t playing.

McFarland went to the team breakfast around 10:30 a.m. and received word he was the starter.

Outback representatives

The Gophers offensive output was on display for more than just the fans.

Two Outback Bowl representatives were in attendance, and this much is certain: Next week’s game against Wisconsin is pivotal to Minnesota’s chances of making the trip to Tampa, Fla.

The Outback Bowl features Big Ten’s No. 3 team versus an SEC opponent Jan. 1.

Nick Maneri, a member of the Outback Bowl selection committee, said the committee heard Minnesota’s defense wasn’t strong.

“We knew they could score points,” Maneri said. “(But) the one knock we heard about Minnesota was its defense. The defense looked fine (Saturday). Next week will be crucial.”

Minnesota sits in fifth place in the conference.

Punts

ï Minnesota receiver Jared Ellerson finished the day with three carries for 49 yards and a touchdown, all on reverses.

ï Minnesota field goal kicker and punter Rhys Lloyd missed his second extra point of the season after the team’s first touchdown.

Including a field goal miss later in the game, Lloyd has now missed as many field goals as extra points (two) this season.