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Eyeing IU

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IU offense takes blame, seeks improvement

Much of the focus after Indiana's 41-35 loss to Navy fell on the IU defense, which gave up 444 rushing yards to the Midshipmen and couldn't force a punt or turnover the entire game.

Offensive coordinator Seth Litrell saw things differently.

Yes, the defense needed to improve. But the offense started just as poorly.

"As an offense, we need to do a better job of starting and making more plays early on in the game," he said. "There's not any excuses. We just got to get better."

Despite the 481 yards of total offense and a career-best 363 yards, four touchdowns and 31 completions on 42 throws from sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld, IU left points on the field, coach Kevin Wilson said.

That stuck with him just as much as the horrendous performance by the Hoosiers on defense.

"We've had two passing turnovers that have led to potentially 14 points," in the past two weeks, Wilson said. "We had a pick-six in the first game. We had a pick in the last game that took points off the board. I'm expecting us to bounce back. We need a great week of prep, and also as we move forward we need to keep this thing moving in a positive way."

IU started redshirt sophomore quarterback Tre Roberson against the Midshipmen, and the offense was flat. It was no fault of Roberson's, Wilson said, and both he and Sudfeld are in contention for the start Saturday against Bowling Green.

"It was just play calling and execution of them, linemen breaking down or missing a shot a little bit," Wilson said. "We just didn't get in rhythm early, and it wasn't his fault.

"Tre's passing efficiency is higher than Sudfeld's. The guy that you guys think is pretty good, he had a pick that he should have been throwing to the other side for a touchdown because he made the wrong read and he threw a ball he shouldn't have threw, tried to get greedy and fit one in there, he threw it to the other side, there's seven points."

Seven points that could have decided the game. It might be a good sign that the Hoosiers, after a big offensive day, still point fingers at the problems on that side of the ball.

IU will win on its offense this year. The defense is better, but not good enough to carry the team.

So whether the Hoosiers put up seven points or 70, the IU offense will always look back at itself and what it could have done better.

Sudfeld did just that after the best game of his career.

"I just tried to make a little bit too much happen," he said of his first drive, when Sudfeld threw an interception in the red zone. "We really dug ourselves in a hole. We really didn't give our defense any chance. We were playing catch-up the whole time."

Littrell focused on the run game, which was nearly nonexistent in the loss. Sudfeld led all rushers with 35 yards, which is a bad sign on a team that has options like sophomore running back Tevin Coleman and senior running back Stephen Houston.

"We've wanted to do a better job in the run game, and we've committed a lot of time in the off-season and throughout camp to getting better in the run game, but at the same time, you can only force the issue so much," Littrell said. "Sometimes you got to get what the defense gives you. … But if you get one-dimensional, ... those guys start teeing off on your O-line."

That line will have to do better, as will the backs, quarterbacks and wide receivers, even after a spectacular effort against Navy.

Bowling Green presents new challenges, and as Wilson said, the production against the Midshipmen still left something to be desired.

"Bowling Green is a quality team. They're coming in 2-0. They're an eight-win bowl team from a year ago. They've got 19 starters back, and that doesn't count their kicker and punter, so 21 of their 24 are back off a quality team," he said. "I'm expecting us to bounce back."

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