Indiana co-offensive coordinator Seth Littrell said something Monday that should be concerning to the remaining teams on IU's football schedule.
Call it coach speak if you want, but Littrell said IU still has a long way to go to be the offense he hopes it will become.Indiana's offense has been pretty good to this point. The Hoosiers ranked sixth in the nation in average points per game at 50, eighth in the nation in total offense at 571.3 yards per game and 11th in the nation in passing yards at 339.0 per game. In all three of those categories, IU is No. 1 in the Big Ten.
But Littrell said the Hoosiers can still get better. Speaking specifically about the play of sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld, Littrell said he's done some good things but he still has a lot of room to grow.
"I think going into the week he understands our game plan and what we're trying to get accomplished,'' Littrell said of Sudfeld. "He has been successful out there at times with where he has gotten the ball moving, and moving up and down the field. But there have been other times when we've had some mistakes. And not only at that position but at every position. Because I still feel like we're a long way away from where we need to be.
"I feel like there are a lot of improvements that we need to try to take advantage of this week in order for us to win this football game. "
Speaking at IU's weekly Monday press conference, Littrell talked about the challenges of facing a good defense like the Hoosiers will see this week from Missouri.
"The first thing we look at is that they're very athletic up front, very aggressive,'' Littrell said. "They're athletic and quick off the ball. Defensively, they're very comfortable in their scheme. It's not like they do a ton of stuff but they do enough to the point where they can change some looks up on you. And their players are very comfortable in that scheme. The staff has been there a long time.
"Members of our staff have played against them. We're very familiar with them and they're very familiar with us. We're going to continue to look and evaluate and see what we'll have to do to give ourselves an opportunity to win the game.''
Littrell used the word ‘relentless' to describe Missouri's defense.
"They rely on their talent and they rely on their players to understand what they're trying to accomplish,'' Littrell said. "They play relentless to the football. Their D-line gets after people up front and that's where it all starts. When you're quick and relentless to the ball, it makes everything a little bit easier.''
As good as Missouri is on the defensive side of the ball, Littrell admitted that a primary focus for the Hoosiers will continue to be on themselves and what they do best.
"We need to focus more on what we believe and what we've got to accomplish as a team more than what they're doing,'' Littrell said. "I think sometimes we get caught up too much on schemes and not focus on our guys, and we make it too confusing. We're familiar with what they do and it's about going out and competing and playing hard, playing fast and making enough plays to win the game.''
Looking back at the Bowling Green game, Littrell pointed at the IU rushing attack as being a big reason for the Hoosiers' offensive success. IU gained 266 yards on the ground on 48 carries.
"We ran the ball very effectively and I think as a whole that's why we were successful offensively,'' LIttrell said. "We established some balance in getting that run game going. Our guys kept running hard, they kept running physical. The line opened up some seams. We spent a lot of time last week talking about how we were going to attack those guys and I think that paid off. Once we were comfortable seeing that what we were seeing was the same thing they had seen in practice, I felt like we got more comfortable as the game went on.''
Littrell was asked to evaluate the quarterbacks beginning with Sudfeld.
"He has been good off the bench, good when he starts and he's a confident guy,'' Littrell said of Sudfeld. "He believes in himself and his teammates believe in him. I thought he has done a great job of being poised out there. And again, he has got to continue to grow and develop. He still has a lot of work to do but he has done some really good things.
"As for Tre, we did some different things with him throughout the game and I felt like we could create some different things with him. Sometimes it worked out. Sometimes it didn't. But again, both of those guys have been awesome. They're going to continue to get better and we make sure we push them to get better each and every day for us to build the program, build the offense and become a complete team.''
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch