Sitting in the crowd at Memorial Stadium watching Indiana during last Saturday's apathetic loss to Penn State I turned to the kid next to me and asked, "Do you have a fast forward button"?
"Gunner?", he replied.
"Gunner", I said solemnly.
It's the thought that runs through the head of nearly everyone who dons a cream and crimson shirt every Saturday. This is a team that is supposed to be better and supposed to look more disciplined. So far their ability to move the ball and generate some offense has looked mediocre at best. They rank 90th overall in the NCAA in points scored per game at 24. One can attribute this unsatisfactory performance to different variables such as penalties, questionable playcalling, or lack of execution. I attribute it to a basic lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball.
Enter Gunner, the leader of the Columbus East Olympians. The nephew of former Notre Dame and NFL quarterback Blair Kiel, this 6-4 protege has the ability to make any throw seemingly effortless. In the eyes of many scouts and fans the Columbus, Indiana native was the top ranked high school quarterback in the nation. In his junior year he threw for 36 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions, a telling sign of a quick decision maker the Hoosiers so desperately need. He can't land a foot on campus soon enough.
All in all 2011 may be a lost season for the Hoosiers already. Early season losses to Ball State and North Texas wiped away any faint bowl aspirations Kevin Wilson's squad had. But after landing a local product who turned down offers from annual powers Alabama, Oklahoma, USC and Tennessee among others to come to Bloomington, the future may have never looked brighter. He has a chance to be the starter on Opening Weekend in 2012 and he should be afforded the chance to win the job.
It will be his job to throw the ball around often in this offense. And who better to trust with that task as a quarterback than a kid named Gunner?