Veteran IU offense wants to experiment


The confidence in Seth Littrell's voice is unmistakable.

Littrell, the offensive coordinator at Indiana, leads a group in 2013 that would make many of his Big Ten colleagues jealous. Make all your "it's Indiana" jokes if you want, but the Hoosiers bring back 10 starters from an offense that finished second in the league in yards (442 ypg) and fourth in scoring (30.8 ppg) last fall.

"We lost our center," Litrell said, referring to Will Matte. "That's really all we lost."

All the other key pieces are back from a unit that scored 49 points against Ohio State -- the most ever against the Buckeyes and the most Ohio State surrendered in a game since 1994 -- and 27 first-half points against Michigan State, which allowed no more than 28 in an entire game all season. The Hoosiers scored 24 points or more in 10 of 12 games and eclipsed 450 yards in seven contests.

In addition to four returning line starters, Littrell has arguably the Big Ten's top wide receiving corps, a talented tight end in Ted Bolser, an explosive running back in Stephen Houston and three quarterbacks -- Tre Roberson, Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld with significant experience. Head coach Kevin Wilson's up-tempo spread offense isn't new to the core players, and neither is Littrell, who enters his second year as the coordinator.

All the familiarity suggests Indiana will simply keep the same plan it executed in 2012. But Littrell wants to broaden the scheme.

"I think you can experiment a little bit more on offense," he told ESPN.com. "You can tweak some things, and they aren't hard. ... We're evolving, we're always growing in this sport. In this day in college football, if you're not growing, you're not going to be very successful. Everything seems like it gets a little more complex every year.

"It's a group that's a lot of fun to work with because they have some experience, they've been around each other, so you could probably play with some stuff a little easier than maybe you could in years past."

Indiana is still looking for a starting quarterback after Roberson, Coffman and Sudfeld competed this spring. But because all three men have experience, Littrell thinks he can broaden the playbook rather than condense it.

"I tell them, 'Don't be a mannequin. If you like some things as a quarterback, talk with each other, do something, go experiment,'" Littrell said. "[Summer is] the time where we used to go out and have fun and experiment, offense-defense competition. They've got to experiment on their own a little bit, too. Players who come back over the summer will say, 'Hey, coach, we've been working on this, we like this, take a look at it.'

"And most of the time, they're right."