Football

    IU Returns Home, Welcomes Akron on Saturday

    Go Hoosiers! Junior linebacker Geno Johnson registered a career-high 10 tackles at Western Michigan.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Junior linebacker Geno Johnson registered a career-high 10 tackles at Western Michigan.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Sept. 10, 2007

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    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Looking to improve to 3-0 for the second time in three seasons, the Indiana football team returns to Memorial Stadium to face Akron on Saturday. The Hoosiers (2-0) and Zips (1-1) will kickoff at noon EDT and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

    Roger Twibell will handle play-by-play duties, Mike Tomczak will serve as analyst and Rebecca Haarlow will be the sideline reporter. 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.

    Last Time Out
    Bill Lynch earned his first victory away from Bloomington and became the second straight Hoosier head coach to open his career 2-0, as Indiana dropped Western Michigan, 37-27, on Sept. 8. The IU defense forced five turnovers and recorded eight sacks - the team's highest total since Sept. 18, 1993 vs. Kentucky. Seven Hoosiers collected at least one sack, three recovered fumbles, and true freshman safety Mitchell Evans picked off two passes.

    The Hoosiers' balanced attack racked up 221 yards on the ground and through the air, as sophomore Kellen Lewis tossed three TD strikes and passed for all 221 yards. Junior Marcus Thigpen rushed for a team-high 81 yards followed by sophomore Demetrius McCray's 75 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Ray Fisher recorded career-bests with nine receptions for 77 yards.

     

     

    Junior kicker Austin Starr drilled a critical 48-yard field goal in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter - a career-long - to extend the Hoosier advantage to 37-21. Starr hit a career-high three field goals in four attempts.

    Under Pressure
    A major point of emphasis during preseason camp on the defensive side of the ball was to get to the quarterback. The Hoosier defense has responded in the first two games. After collecting only 14 sacks during the entire 2006 season, the Hoosiers compiled five against Indiana State and collected eight at Western Michigan. The eight sacks were the most in a game since the Hoosiers recorded eight in a 24-8 victory over Kentucky on Sept. 18, 1993.

    IU is tied for the top spot in the nation with Penn State with its 13 sacks. Sophomore defensive end Greg Middleton is leading the way up front, sharing the No. 1 spot in the league and ranking second nationally with three sacks. Ten different Hoosiers have recorded at least one sack and 11 of the 13 sacks have come from the defensive line. Indiana also is tied for sixth nationally with 10 tackles for loss per game.

    Middleton and defensive lineman Brian Zematis picked up the first sacks of their careers against Indiana State, while junior defensive end Ryan Marando (1.5), sophomore defensive lineman Emile Bass (1.0) and junior cornerback (1.0) secured their first-career sacks at WMU.

    Tightening The Screws
    After strong contributions in both Hoosier victories this season, the IU defense ranks fourth in the Big Ten in total defense (280 yards per game) and fourth in the league and tied for seventh nationally in rushing defense (38). Along with sharing the top spot nationally with 13 sacks, the Hoosiers sit atop the league and are tied for seventh nationally with a plus-5 turnover margin (4 fumbles and 4 interceptions). Indiana forced five turnovers at Western Michigan - the second time in their last three games (at Purdue - Nov. 18, 2006) the Hoosiers have forced five turnovers in a contest.

    IU's defense shut the door on Indiana State in the opener after the Sycamores cut the Hoosier lead in half at 14-7 with 4:18 remaining in the first quarter. IU would go on to score 41 unanswered points, and the defense held ISU to just 176 total yards of offense, including 130 through the air and 46 on the ground. The last time an Indiana defense held an opponent under 200 yards came on Oct. 9, 1999 against Northwestern (194), and the last time it held a team under 50 yards rushing came last season against Ball State (41, Sept. 9).

    Indiana also held Western Michigan under 50 yards rushing (30). The last time a Hoosier defense held back-to-back opponents under 50 yards came during the 2001-02 campaigns. IU held three straight foes - Purdue (-8, Nov. 24, 2001), Kentucky (16, Dec. 1, 2001) and William & Mary (-32, Aug. 31, 2002) below 50 yards.

    Fresh Pickings
    With starting strong safety Austin Thomas suffering an injury early on at Western Michigan, true freshman Mitchell Evans was inserted into the lineup. The West Milton, Ohio, native responded immediately with an interception at the goal line and added a second pick later in the same quarter. Evans became the first true freshman since Tracy Porter (Sept. 4, 2004 vs. Central Michigan) to record two interceptions in one game and the first Hoosier since Will Meyers (Nov. 18, 2006 at Purdue) to pick off a pair of passes in a game.

    Forcing Mistakes
    Forcing five turnovers at Western Michigan, the Indiana defense has eight takeaways (4 interceptions, 4 fumble recoveries) this season. IU leads the Big Ten in turnover margin (plus-5) and has forced a turnover in 15 of its last 16 ballgames.

    In Good Hands
    James Hardy, who was named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List, picked up right where he left off at the end of the 2006 season vs. Indiana State. The junior wideout torched the Sycamores for 153 yards on just three catches, including 58-yard and 79-yard scoring strikes. He followed that performance with two more touchdowns at Western Michigan.

    Hardy now has seven multi-score games in his career, second only to former Hoosier great Jade Butcher (1967-69). He holds sole possession of second place on IU's touchdown reception list with 24 scores, trailing only Butcher's 30, and sits in sixth on the all-time TD charts, one behind former running back Vaughn Dunbar (1990-91). Hardy also sits sixth on the school's receiving yardage list with 1,795 and is seventh with 118 career receptions.

    In addition, Hardy's 153 yards were the third-most of his career, his fourth 150-yard performance (most in school history) and marked his ninth career 100-yard game, which ranks second behind Ernie Jones' 10. His 79-yard TD catch was the second-longest of his career, behind an 83-yarder from Blake Powers on Oct. 1, 2005 against Wisconsin.

    In A Rush
    Throughout preseason camp head coach Bill Lynch emphasized the importance of a running game, and IU has responded with 217 rushing yards in their season-opening win over Indiana State and 221 at Western Michigan. Indiana is third in the Big Ten averaging 219 yards per contest. The 221-yard total marked Indiana's largest rushing output since corralling 305 yards on Sept. 17, 2005 vs. Kentucky and its third straight game over 200 yards (215 at Purdue, Nov. 18). Indiana last ran for 200-plus yards in three straight contests back in 2001, reaching the benchmark six consecutive times (Oct. 20-Dec. 1).

    Additionally, three Hoosiers tallied at least 50 yards for the third straight game at WMU. Junior Marcus Thigpen (81), sophomore Demetrius McCray (75) and sophomore Kellen Lewis (59) reached the benchmark. In the opener, Lewis totaled 59, sophomore Bryan Payton added a career-high 56 and redshirt freshman Trea Burgess netted 50 in his Hoosier debut. Lewis (103), McCray (60) and Thigpen (50) also reached 50 yards in the 2006 finale at Purdue.

    Dating back to Indiana's game against Wisconsin (Sept. 30) last season, when Kellen Lewis took over as the Hoosiers' quarterback, IU has rushed for over 100 yards in eight of its last 10 games, over 150 yards seven times and over 200 yards on three occasions. In the 10 games, Indiana has averaged 151.0 rushing yards per game.

    Put It On The Board
    The Hoosier offense has lit up the scoreboard the first two weeks of the season. Indiana ranks second in the Big Ten, averaging 46 points per game, and has totaled 92 points over a two-game stretch. The 92 points is the team's highest two-game total since a 93-point outburst in a 56-21 win vs. Northwestern (Nov. 3) and a 37-28 victory at Michigan State (Nov. 10) in 2001.

    Indiana ranks third in the league, averaging 260 passing yards and 219 rushing yards, while sitting fourth with 479 yards of total offense per game. Sophomore quarterback Kellen Lewis is second in the conference with six touchdown tosses, 253 passing yards per game and 312 total yards per contest. Junior wide receiver James Hardy leads the Big Ten with four TD receptions and sits fifth with an average of 90 yards each time out.

    IU has also put up 31 points in the opening stanza against Indiana State and at Western Michigan. The Hoosiers are averaging 264.5 total yards and 190 yards through the air in the first half this season.


       

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