Hoosiers Kick Off 2007 Season Against Sycamores

    Go Hoosiers! Marcus Thigpen and the Hoosiers will kick off the 2007 regular season on Saturday night.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Marcus Thigpen and the Hoosiers will kick off the 2007 regular season on Saturday night.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Sept. 1, 2007

    Complete Release in PDF Format

    The 119th season of Indiana football gets underway on Saturday, Sept. 1, as the Hoosiers welcome the Sycamores of Indiana State to Bloomington for their 2007 season opener. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. EDT at Memorial Stadium (52,354) and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

    Indiana head coach Bill Lynch begins his first season in Bloomington and his 15th year overall as a head coach. He takes over a Hoosier squad that concluded the 2006 campaign at 5-7 and shared sixth place in the Big Ten at 3-5. IU picked up three Big Ten wins for the first time since 2001, claimed its first conference road win since that same season and defeated a top-15 team for the first time since 1987, all while fielding the Big Ten's youngest team with 72 underclassmen and 49 true or redshirt freshmen.

    Lynch owns an 81-67-3 (.546) career record after stops at Butler (1985-89), Ball State (1995-02) and DePauw (2004). He guided Ball State to the 1996 Las Vegas Bowl and has won or shared seven conference or divisional titles in his 14 seasons.

    Lou West enters his third season at Indiana State with a 1-21 overall record after going 1-10 with a 1-6 mark in the Gateway Conference in 2006. The Sycamores earned their lone victory over Missouri State, 28-22, on Oct. 21.

    ISU returns 12 starters, including six on offense, five on defense and one on special teams. Running the spread offense and 3-3-5 defense, Indiana State brings back 45 letterwinners overall.

    Senior quarterback Reilly Murphy was a selection to the Gateway's All-Newcomer team a year ago, passing for eight touchdowns, 1,770 yards and 196.7 yards per game. The Sycamores averaged 21.5 points per game and 362.4 yards per contest.



    The defense surrendered 44.8 points and allowed 503.5 yards of total offense last season. Opponents rushed for 301.4 yards and passed for 202.1 yards per game.

    Indiana and Indiana State are facing off for just the third time. The Hoosiers have won the previous two meetings, including a 33-3 victory over the Sycamores at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 13, 2003. The two teams also squared off in Bloomington back in 1925, with IU earning a 31-0 shutout victory.

    The Hoosiers are 31-16 in home openers at Memorial Stadium and have won their last five season kickoffs at "The Rock." In fact, Indiana has won 22 of its last 25 home starters. IU has also won its last three season openers and four of its last five.

    Indiana compiled 4,031 yards of total offense and all but quarterback Graeme McFarland's 48 yards return this season (98.8 percent). Breaking it down even further, the Hoosiers actually gain 10 yards of rushing offense (McFarland, -10) and return 2,226 of their 2,665 receiving yards (83.5 percent). Wide receivers Jahkeen Gilmore (419 yards) and Lance Bennett (20 yards) both graduated last season.

    The 2006 Hoosiers opened the season 5-4 and were one game away from bowl eligibility. Despite dropping their final three games, Indiana had one of its most successful seasons in recent memory. Consider the following:
    • Indiana picked up three Big Ten wins for the first time since 2001.
    • The Hoosiers' five victories matched their highest total since 2001.
    • With their 31-28 victory over No. 13 Iowa on Oct. 14, the Hoosiers knocked off a top-15 team for the first time since 1987 (31-10 over No. 9 Ohio State).
    • Indiana claimed its first Big Ten road win since Nov. 10, 2001, knocking off Illinois, 34-32, on Oct. 7.
    • The Hoosiers dominated Michigan State, 46-21, on Oct. 28 to bring the Old Brass Spittoon back to Bloomington for the first time since 2001.

    Throughout preseason camp, head coach Bill Lynch has emphasized the importance of a running game. It's apparent why when you look back to last season. In its five victories last season, Indiana averaged 142.0 rushing yards, going over the century mark in four of those games. In their five defeats, the Hoosiers averaged 93.7 yards and failed to rush for 100 yards in four of those games and posted fewer than 30 yards on three occasions.

    Cornerback Tracy Porter and wide receiver James Hardy earned All-Big Ten honors for 2006. The duo collected second team accolades from the conference media and honorable mention from the conference head coaches.

    Hardy, a second team honoree by the media in 2005, turned in one of the most prolific seasons for a receiver in school history. As he did in 2005, Hardy recorded 10 touchdowns, which ranks second on IU's single-season charts, and his 20 career touchdowns (in 20 career games) put him behind only Ernie Jones (1984-87) on the all-time list. The Fort Wayne, Ind., native led the team with 51 receptions, 722 yards and the 10 TD tallies. He also recorded three 100-yard games to give him eight in his career, which is tied for second on the IU charts.

    Additionally, Hardy joined Jade Butcher (1967-69) as the only Hoosiers in history to have more than one game with three receiving touchdowns in a career. Hardy had three touchdowns against Iowa on Oct. 14 and followed that with a school-record four touchdowns against Michigan State on Oct. 28.

    Porter finished the season second on the club with four interceptions and 51 solo stops (59 total - third). He also led the team with eight pass breakups, recovered one fumble, forced a fumble and blocked a field goal.

    The Port Allen, La., native pushed his career interception total to 10, which is tied for fifth in school history. Porter returned a punt 86 yards for a score as IU earned a victory in its season opener against Western Michigan on Sept. 2. In his best performance of the season, Porter notched his second-career multi-interception game with a pair of picks against Connecticut on Sept. 23 in addition to blocking a field goal and making three tackles. He tied for fourth in the Big Ten with 0.33 interceptions per contest and 1.00 passes defended per game.

    Junior Marcus Thigpen enters the season where he left off last year, recognized by most national publications as the nation's top kick returner. The team's fastest man - 4.27 speed in the 40-yard dash - was named to the Pro Football Weekly and the 2006 All-America teams in addition to the, and All-America first teams. He averaged 30.1 yards per kickoff return and ran three kicks back for touchdowns. His 723 kick return yards ranked third in IU single-season history.

    Thigpen led the nation in yards per kickoff return and his three touchdowns were tops in the country. He recorded his third TD sprint of the season at Illinois on Oct. 7, matching a Big Ten single-season record held by Purdue's Stan Brown (1970) and Michigan State's DeAndra Cobb (2003) and putting him atop the Indiana career touchdown return list.

    In his top performance of the season, Thigpen racked up a school-record 197 return yards on four kickoffs (49.3 average) in the Hoosiers' thrilling 34-32 victory over the Fighting Illini. Additionally, Thigpen gained a career-high 91 yards on the ground, including a career-long 44-yard rush, and had 23 receiving yards. His 311 all-purpose yards marked the fourth-best single-game effort in Indiana history.

    The Detroit native also ran kicks back the distance vs. Connecticut (88 yards) and at Ball State (100 yards). He became the third player in IU history to return a kick 100 yards for a score, joining Derin Graham (Wisconsin, 10/3/98) and Freal McIntosh (Washington & Lee, 1915). He holds the longest and second-longest (98-yarder at Illinois) kick returns in school history.

    Quarterback Kellen Lewis finished the season with two of the top all-around efforts in school history in the team's final three games. He set a career high with 321 yards through the air at Minnesota on Nov. 4, making him the Hoosiers' first 300-yard passer since Blake Powers tossed for 360 yards at Iowa on Oct. 15, 2005. Lewis also rushed for 75 yards, giving him 396 total yards of offense, which ranks fifth in IU history and is the most in a game since Antwaan Randle El netted 422 yards against Illinois on Oct. 2, 1999. He accounted for nearly 80 percent of the team's offense, as the Hoosiers rolled up 500 yards - the first time an IU offense reached 500 yards since a 531-yard effort against Northwestern on Oct. 11, 2003.

    In the season finale against Purdue, Lewis passed for 290 yards and collected the first 100-yard rushing game of his career. The 393 yards ranks sixth in IU lore and also accounted for nearly 80 percent of the team's 505 yards.

    Lewis, who was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and as a freshman All-American by the Sporting News and, ranked seventh on the school's all-time single-season list with 19 total touchdowns. He also finished third on IU's single-season list with 14 TD passes, fifth with 346 attempts, sixth with 190 completions and ninth with a .549 completion percentage - all IU freshman records.

    Over his final seven games, Lewis threw for 12 scores, rushed for four, averaged 225.6 yards through the air, 44.0 yards on the ground and threw only five interceptions. Lewis finished the season ranked third in the Big Ten (21st nationally) averaging 242.0 yards of total offense per game in his 11 contests.

    Several players on the Hoosier two-deep have found new positions this season. After catching 32 balls for 326 yards a year ago, sophomore Nick Polk has moved from wide receiver to safety, a position he played at Vincent High School in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, running back Justin Carrington switched over to linebacker in the spring, while linebacker Ryan Marando made the move to defensive end.

    In addition, four players switched sides of the ball last season. Starting right tackle Charlie Emerson moved from defensive line to offensive line during the 2006 preseason, while back-up defensive end Brian Faires made the switch from tight end. Kyle Thomas spent time on the defensive line before serving as a back-up offensive lineman, and defensive back Joe Kleinsmith switched over from kicker.

    Quarterback Kellen Lewis and wide receiver James Hardy teamed up to smash the record books in Indiana's 46-21 Homecoming win over Michigan State. Hardy became the first wide receiver in Indiana history to pick up four TD receptions in a single game and is only the 11th receiver in Big Ten history to have four or more TD catches in a game.

    Lewis was just as impressive in the contest, accounting for all six Indiana touchdowns in the game. He became just the fourth Hoosier in history to account for six scores in a single game, joining Bob Hoernschemeyer (Nebraska, 1943), Antwaan Randle El (Western Michigan, 9/12/98) and Levron Williams (Wisconsin, 10/6/01). His five passing touchdowns were the second-most in school history, tying Jay Rodgers (Ball State, 9/13/97) and Tim Clifford (Colorado, 9/27/80). Hoernschemeyer threw for six scores against Nebraska in 1943.

    Hardy also became only the second Hoosier in history to have more than one game with three receiving touchdowns in his career, joining Butcher in that elite club. Hardy had three touchdowns against Iowa on Oct. 14.

    In 2006, 72 players on the 105-man roster (69 percent) were underclassmen and 49 (47 percent) were true or redshirt freshmen. The 2007 roster is a little more seasoned, but not by much. Seventy (67 percent) of the players are underclassmen and 39 are true or redshirt freshmen (37 percent). The difference this season is the Hoosiers have more playing experience, bringing eight starters back on offense and nine starters back on defense.

    On the offensive side of the depth chart, only fifth-year senior center Ben Wyss has not started a game. On the defensive side, sophomore defensive end Greg Middleton and sophomore safety Nick Polk will make their first starts at their respective positions against ISU. Meanwhile, junior kicker Austin Starr returns for his second season as a starter, while fifth-year senior Michael Hines get his first shot with punting duties.

    Here is a breakdown by class of the 2007 Hoosiers:
    • Seniors - 16
    • Juniors - 19
    • Sophomores - 30
    • Redshirt Freshmen - 15
    • True Freshmen - 25

    Seven of Indiana's 24 true freshmen from 2006 resided on the offensive line, and former head coach Terry Hoeppner referred to them as "The Seven Blocks of Limestone." Limestone is the Indiana state stone and primary building block of all the buildings on campus, including Memorial Stadium. Two of the "Blocks" made an immediate impact last season, as Rodger Saffold became the first to see action, playing at left tackle against Connecticut and starting the next four games, while Pete Saxon earned his first career start against Iowa and has not been replaced since.

    The remaining five - James Brewer, Cody Faulkner, Alex Perry, Jarrod Smith and Mike Stark - have contributed to the Hoosiers' depth on the offensive line. Perry is the team's No. 2 center, Faulkner is the back-up right guard, and Stark is behind Charlie Emerson at right tackle. Brewer was listed as the No. 2 left tackle before suffering an injury that forced him to miss preseason camp.

    Junior running back Marcus Thigpen and sophomore Andrew Means' success is not limited to the gridiron. Thigpen is a standout track athlete, while Means is an All-Big Ten performer for the Hoosier baseball team.

    Thigpen led the Hoosiers with a 2007 season-best time of 10.67 in the 100-meter dash, which he clocked at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, good for sixth place. He also ran the first leg of IU's 4x100-meter relay team that clocked 40.13, which is the third fastest time in IU history, at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championship.

    Means is the starting center fielder on the diamond, and he earned second team All-Big Ten honors in 2007. He led the Hoosiers with a .369 average and 29 steals.

    Cornerback Tracy Porter and fullback Josiah Sears will serve as team captains in 2007. The seniors were voted into the position by their teammates.

    After Ray Fisher started at wide receiver against No. 2 Michigan, he became the 13th true or redshirt freshman to start for the Hoosiers in 2006. He joined redshirt freshmen Keith Burrus (defensive end), Demetrius McCray (running back), Todd Newman (defensive tackle), Josh Bailey (buck), Austin Thomas (safety), Kellen Lewis (quarterback), Nick Polk (wide receiver), Andrew Means (wide receiver) and Jammie Kirlew (defensive end) and true freshmen Will Patterson (buck), Rodger Saffold (left tackle) and Pete Saxon (left guard).

    Eleven Hoosiers (9 return) caught passes and seven (all return) recorded carries in 2006. Six of the 11 receivers caught at least 20 passes and reached the 200-yard plateau, while Marcus Thigpen finished just off the pace with 18 catches for 180 yards. James Hardy led the group with 51 receptions, 722 yards and nine touchdowns, while departed senior Jahkeen Gilmore (419), James Bailey (401) and Nick Polk (326) surpassed the 300-yard mark.

    In the backfield, Josiah Sears, Thigpen, Bryan Payton and Demetrius McCray recorded carries in multiple games. Justin Carrington received the first three carries of his career at Minnesota, while Polk and Fisher each posted one carry.

    Averaging 22.2 yards per kick return and 12.6 yards per punt return, Indiana nearly became the first team since Michigan in 1990 to lead the league in both categories. The Hoosiers led the conference in punt return yardage and finished just behind Minnesota (23.0) in kick return yardage. IU posted five touchdowns thanks to its special teams play - the most in school history. Along with sophomore Marcus Thigpen's three kick returns, junior Tracy Porter had a punt return and senior Troy Grosfield returned a fumbled kickoff return.

    In his first season in Bloomington, head coach Terry Hoeppner installed several new traditions that will return for the third straight season. The team will continue "The Walk" to "The Rock," where the team buses stop along Woodlawn Ave., and head coach Bill Lynch and the team depart to Memorial Stadium. "The Walk" will begin two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff in 2007.

    The Hoosiers will march towards the west entrance of Assembly Hall, where the IU Marching Hundred and Cheerleading Squads await their arrival. The Marching Hundred will perform "Indiana, Our Indiana," "Indiana, Fight" and "R-O-C-K in the USA," and fans will line the pathway of "The Walk" to show their support for the Hoosiers as they head towards the crimson gates of Memorial Stadium.

    "The Rock" is the symbol representing Memorial Stadium. Although it has moved from its familiar place beyond the north end zone due to construction this season, a three-ton piece of limestone sits atop a two-ton limestone base. Prior to each game, Coach Lynch and the players will still march out and touch "The Rock" before hitting the field.

    In addition, the players will join the fans and band in the singing of "Indiana, Our Indiana" following each home victory.

    Kellen Lewis was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 30, marking the second time the redshirt freshman was recognized by the conference in 2006. Lewis, who went 15-of-26 for 261 yards and a career-best five TDs through the air and ran for 75 yards and a score against Michigan State, was also named Player of the Week on Oct. 16. He became the first Hoosier since Levron Williams in 2001 to be honored by the conference twice in one season. Lewis also set the record for most touchdown throws by a freshman in IU history with his 14.

    Lewis secured co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week laurels following his performance against Iowa, becoming the first Hoosier since Gibran Hamdan on Oct. 14, 2002, to earn the honor and the second Hoosier in as many weeks to claim Big Ten accolades. Lewis also earned recognition on the national scene. Along with being selected as one of four finalists for the All-America Player of the Week, Lewis was named USA Today Player of the Week and National Freshman of the Week.

    The redshirt freshman threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns while completing 76 percent of his passes (19-of-25) vs. Iowa. He also added a 2-yard touchdown run. In addition, Lewis and the Hoosiers were named the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week.

    Sophomore Marcus Thigpen gained Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors on Oct. 9, giving the Hoosiers back-to-back winners for the first time since 2001. During that season, Antwaan Randle El (Nov. 5) and Levron Williams (Nov. 12) claimed the accolades in consecutive weeks.

    Indiana enjoyed great success in the red zone last season. The Hoosiers ranked fourth in the Big Ten at 83.8 percent (31-of-37) when entering the red zone. IU is 15-for-18 in its last six games in red zone situations. Indiana crossed the goal line 21 times (12 rush, 9 pass) and kicked 10 field goals.


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