Littrell, Wilson melding styles easily

A big part of the reason Indiana coach Kevin Wilson hired Seth Littrell — and a big part of the reason Littrell decided to take the job — as his offensive coordinator was that he didn’t expect that working together would be much of a transition.

Wilson and Littrell had crossed paths briefly when Wilson was hired as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma and Littrell was still a student assistant there, and Littrell spent much of his early coaching career working under Wilson’s predecessors at the position — Mike Leach and Mark Mangino — before developing his own system as co-offensive coordinator at Arizona.

As a result, Wilson said, there are only subtle differences between the way they coach offense, with their systems operating like “distant cousins.” After his second practice, and in his first meeting with the media since his hiring, Littrell agreed.

“It’s not as different as you would think it is,” said Littrell, who was a running back at Oklahoma before becoming a student assistant. “He came into the system I was playing in. I kept the system that Coach Leach taught us at Texas Tech and Oklahoma. I had tweaks. He had his different tweaks. A lot of it just tweaks here and there based upon personnel and personality. It’s a lot of similar stuff. My biggest philosophy — and that’s what I love about him — is getting the best 11 players on the field and being good at what they’re good at. Repping it over and over and becoming great at it.”

By that rationale, Littrell said, the Hoosiers aren’t necessarily looking to abandon some of the things they did at the end of last season. Wilson said part of the reason he hired Littrell — whose offense at Arizona ranked third in the Football Bowl Subdivision last season in passing offense — and recruited two dropback quarterbacks in junior college transfer Cameron Coffman and California high schooler Nathan Sudfeld is that he wants the Hoosiers to be a better passing team. Littrell said he thinks that is possible without altering much of what is already in Indiana’s playbook.

However, Wilson and Littrell have both made it clear that doesn’t mean the Hoosiers are trying to bump dual-threat incumbent Tre Roberson out of his spot. Even though Litrell has worked mostly with pocket passers, he’s not opposed to having a runner.

“If that’s what we’re good at, than we’ll see a lot of it,” Littrell said. “It’s very simple to me. I want to be great at what we do. If that’s running the quarterback, it’s running the quarterback. I don’t have anything against running the quarterback. Obviously you don’t want to get him hurt, but at the same time, what’s most important is winning football games.”

Littrell said he is a fan of what he’s seeing from Roberson so far. The Lawrence Central graduate and 2010 Indiana Mr. Football battled with and eventually won the starting job from then redshirt sophomores Edward Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel, taking the position for the last five games. He threw for 937 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 426 yards and two scores and is the only returning quarterback in spring practice.

“You have to grow up fast and I definitely think he’s beyond his years as of right now,” Littrell said. “The thing about Tre is he’s very competitive and he goes out there each and every play and he doesn’t back down from anything. That’s what you love to see from a quarterback and from a leader.”

Littrell said he sees similar things out of Coffman, and he’s obviously also a fan of Sudfeld, who will enroll in the fall. Sudfeld was committed to Arizona before coach Mike Stoops was fired, which was the reason Littrell was on the market.

Littrell’s addition has induced a significant shake-up in coaching responsibilities, however. Littrell’s position assignments at past jobs always included either running backs or fullbacks and tight ends, Rod Smith, the co-offensive coordinator Littrell replaced, had been in charge of quarterbacks, but Wilson said Littrell wasn’t quite comfortable taking on quarterbacks because he had never handled them before.

That will lead to something of a by-committee situation with the offensive skill positions. Kevin Johns has given up his co-coordinator role, but he will be in charge of both wide receivers and quarterbacks. Littrell will coach tight ends and fullbacks, which Wilson handled himself last year.

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson

AUDIO: Doug Mallory

AUDIO: Seth Littrell

2 comments

  1. I didn’t think out offense was all that bad last year. I looked up the national rankings for last season and discovered we finished ahead of Illinois, PSU, OSU and Minnesota in total offense. There is definitely room for improvement, but that will likely come about if our defense improves (we were ranked 30 spots lower than the next closest conference team in total defense).

    More defensive stops will mean more opportunities for the offense, but until our defense can actually get off the field on third down I don’t see us getting to many more W’s.

    I don’t think the hiring of Littrell is going to add much more to our offense than what we saw last year after Roberson and Houston became starters. I would have been more excited if Wilson hired a top defensive coach.

  2. KW already has 1 more coach on the D side of the ball than is the norm for college. Plus the addition of Jon Fabris makes his defensive staff damn good. What is not real good is the material they have to work with. The recruitment of so many D JUCOS for 2012 is an obvious indication the staff understands that. No doubt the defensive side of the ball has the farthest to go in improving just to be average but the O side can improve the fastest because they have good talent at skill positions. With the scoring of just 3 more(1 per game) TD’s last year their record would have been 4-7 and those games were early on before TR took over the QB job. The O needs the least massaging to improve the record. I think Coach Wilson has chosen his staff personnel so the chemistry is just about right to make the desired results happen.

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