Hoosiers Ready to Show Off Memorial Stadium Against Eastern Kentucky
Aug. 30, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana kicks off its 125th year of football and debuts the new Memorial Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 3, as the Hoosiers welcome the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky to Bloomington. The first Big Ten contest of the season will kick at 8:02 p.m. EDT and the game is the first of three primetime showdowns to be televised on the Big Ten Network for the Hoosiers this season. It also marks the first Thursday evening game in Memorial Stadium history, the first-ever meeting between the two teams and the first contest for EKU against a Big Ten opponent.
Ari Wolfe will handle play-by-play duties and he will be joined by analyst Charles Davis and sideline reporter Larra Overton. The game can also be heard on the statewide IU Radio Network with Don Fischer (play-by-play), Pete Compise (analyst) and Joe Smith (pre-game, halftime and post-game) on the call.
After two years of construction, the North End Zone Student-Athlete Development Center is complete. The 138,000-square-foot facility opened in August for football and administrative personnel. At the heart of the new structure is the largest strength and conditioning center in the country. The 25,000-square-foot area is located at field level and provides student-athletes in every varsity sport with access to brand new weight training and cardio equipment.
The Hoosier Football program enjoys spacious new offices, position and staff meeting rooms and a team auditorium, all equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Indiana's Henke Hall of Champions celebrates Hoosier greats from all sports and is located on the top level of the North End Zone Student-Athlete Development Center. It features museum-quality displays and a large banquet area where Hoosier fans can gather to celebrate the past, present and future of IU Athletics.
In the seating bowl directly in front of the Henke Hall of Champions, the 425-seat club section is sold out for the 2009 season. Fans can enjoy the chairback seating and food, beverage and all the amenities the Henke Hall of Champions offers.
Scouting Eastern Kentucky
The Colonels return 37 letterwinners and 12 starters for head coach Dean Hood, who is entering his second season in Richmond, Ky. Eastern Kentucky runs a spread offense and employs a 4-3 defensive formation.
Cody Watts is listed as the Colonels' starting quarterback. The junior played wide receiver in 2008 and racked up 386 yards. He'll be throwing to junior Shannon Davis, who finished second on the team with 36 receptions and 479 yards last year. On the ground, senior C.J. Walker paced the Colonels with 706 yards and eight touchdowns one year ago. Left tackle Derek Hardman is a four-year starter and an All-America candidate.
Senior defensive end Chris Hall led EKU with six sacks and 13 tackles for loss in 2008. He will be joined on the line by tackle and all-conference candidate Andrew Soucy, who finished with 9.5 TFLs his sophomore season. Sophomore cornerback Jeremy Caldwell picked off three passes and tied for the team lead with six pass break-ups last year.
New Season, New Leadership
Coupled with the 18 scholarship juniors, the Hoosiers have their most experienced team since 2001 (36). The upperclassmen made it a point to keep the players around this summer, as nearly the entire team stayed in Bloomington. That attitude carried over into camp, as observers and coaching staff alike have noted a different feel around this team. The extra work and perseverance continued with the most physical camp during their IU tenures.
Both players appear on the Watch List for the 2009 Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award. Kirlew, one of six finalists for the honor in 2008, and Middleton, one of eight finalists for the award in 2007, are two of 30 preseason candidates. The two are one of only a pair of teammates from the same university on the list, joining Oklahoma ends Jeremy Beal and Auston English.
Kirlew was selected to the Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List in addition to being named first team All-Big Ten by Lindy's preseason magazine and Sporting News and preseason All-Big Ten by Athlon Sports. Lindy's also rated him the eighth-best defensive end in the country.
The Orlando native earned first team All-Big Ten from the conference media and second team by the league's coaches and collected honorable mention SI.com All-American honors last season. He also secured second team Rivals.com All-Big Ten and received the team's Anthony Thompson MVP Award, outstanding defensive lineman award and defensive player of the year honors.
Kirlew finished the 2008 campaign with 10.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss, both ranked fourth on Indiana's single-season list. Additionally, he was second in the Big Ten and tied for 14th nationally in sacks and third in the league and sixth nationally in tackles for loss.
Middleton ranks fourth in school history with 20 career sacks. He ended 2008 third on the team with four sacks and fifth with five tackles for loss. Middleton also shared the team lead with two fumble recoveries (tied for third in league games only and fifth overall), forced one fumble and broke up one pass.
The 2007 All-American became the first IU defensive lineman since Adewale Ogunleye in 1997 to earn first team All-Big Ten honors. He set a new single-season school record with 16 sacks, which also led the nation.
In The Trenches
The most experienced duo in the group is left tackle Rodger Saffold (29 starts) and right guard Pete Saxon (28). Starters since their true freshman seasons, the two enter their senior campaigns as the undisputed leaders on the offensive line.
In 2008, Saffold started 10 games at left tackle, while Saxon started five games at left guard before moving to center and starting five times. Saffold has started 29 of the team's last 33 games and has appeared in 30 games in his career, and Saxon has started 28 of IU's last 31 games and appeared in 32 games in his career.
Joining Saffold and Saxon are Justin Pagán (5), Will Matte and James Brewer, at left guard, center and right tackle, respectively. Pagán had his redshirt lifted and started the last five games of 2008 and played in seven games overall. The Chicago native, who was one of three true freshmen to see playing time, made two starts at left tackle, two at left guard and one at right tackle, and he played four of the five positions on the offensive line (center). In his five starts, the team averaged 144.4 rushing yards per game.
Mike Stark, started 11 games and played in all 12 contests at right tackle, but his career was cut short due to a back injury and he is now serving as a student assistant. Brewer received the first chance to take his place in the spring and responded by turning in what was arguably the Hoosiers' most valuable performance the entire spring. The 6-8, 331-pounder has battled foot and ankle injuries throughout his career, but has shown he is a dominant force when he is on the football field.
Talented redshirt freshman Will Matte, who was named the team's 2008 co-offensive scout player of the year, started most of the spring at center and the entire preseason camp at center. The Wheaton, Ill., native is a smart and athletic athlete with good size (6-2, 285).
Going To The Chappell
He completed 52.3 percent of his passes (80-of-153) and carded a 111.95 efficiency rating while recording starts at Illinois and against Northwestern and Wisconsin. In the team's victory over No. 22 (BCS) Northwestern, the Bloomington South graduate threw a 43-yard touchdown, rushed for another and went 21-of-34 (61.8) for a career-high 219 yards.
An accounting major with a 3.7 grade point average, Chappell carries those smarts onto the field. Head coach Bill Lynch believes Chappell is the perfect man to lead the offense and feels he has demonstrated he is one of the team leaders.
Lock And Load
In the Hoosier Pistol offense, the quarterback lines up four yards behind the center and the running back lines up three-to-four yards behind the quarterback. The running back receives the ball deeper in the backfield, enabling him to run "downhill" and allowing the offense to use more play-action pass.
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