Inside The Illinois Game
Sept. 21, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - As the Indiana football team prepares for Saturday's game against Illinois, IUHoosiers.com takes a look inside the numbers. The Hoosiers (3-0) and Fighting Illini (2-1) will kick off at noon EDT Saturday at Memorial Stadium and the game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.
Mark Neely will handle play-by-play duties and he will be joined by analysts Glen Mason and Charles Davis in addition to sideline reporter Rick Pizzo. 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.
Former Hoosier running back and 2007 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Anthony Thompson will be recognized during the game as will the 1987 Peach Bowl team on its 20th anniversary.
The Fighting Illini rank eighth nationally, right behind the Hoosiers, with 258 rushing yards per contest, in addition to 189.7 yards through the air. Illinois is outscoring its opponents by a 32-20 margin and hold a 447.7-289 yard advantage in total offense.
Sophomore quarterback "Juice" Williams is a dual threat. He has completed 60.8 percent of his passes with one touchdown while averaging 93 yards per game. On the ground, Williams has two scores and averages 39 yards per contest.
Junior Rashard Mendenhall leads the Illini with six rushing touchdowns and 322 yards (107.3 per game). Mendenhall is averaging 6.4 yards per rush. True freshman Arrelious Benn is the team's leading receiver with 50.7 yards per game and 11.7 yards per reception.
A first team All-Big Ten selection last season, senior linebacker J Leman has picked up where he left off last year. The Champaign, Ill., native holds the top spot on the defense with 39 tackles (20 solo), 4.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He also has a forced fumble, one pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.
Head coach Ron Zook is in his third year in Champaign after spending three seasons at Florida. Zook holds a 29-34 overall record and a 6-20 mark at Illinois.
The Illinois Series
Last season, Austin Starr hit a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give Indiana its first conference road victory since 2001. Marcus Thigpen finished with 311 all-purpose yards (197 kickoff return, 91 rushing, 23 receiving) and raced the second-half's opening kickoff back 98 yards in the team's 34-32 victory. The Hoosiers erased a 25-7 second-quarter deficit.
Additionally, Illinois interim co-defensive coordinator and defensive secondary coach Curt Mallory makes his return to Bloomington. The son of Indiana's all-time winningest coach, Bill Mallory, Curt served as the Hoosiers' secondary coach from 2002-04 and as a graduate assistant during the 1993-94 campaigns.
The Big Play
On the flip side, Indiana has nine rushes over 20 yards. Compare that number to last season, where the Hoosiers only had 12 runs of 20-plus yards in 12 ballgames. In addition, IU already has seven touchdowns of at least 20 yards compared to a total of 11 from last season.
On The Right Foot
Starr is 19-for-23 (82.6 percent) in his career and 12-for-14 (85.7 percent) from 30-plus yards. He also hit all six of his extra point attempts against Indiana State, setting a new career-high, and is 15-for-15 in the PAT department this season.
Big Play Ray
At Western Michigan the previous weekend, Fisher set career-highs with nine receptions and 77 yards. The Cleveland native caught 24 passes for 215 yards as a true freshman in 2006.
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