Inside The Illinois Game

    Go Hoosiers! Junior James Hardy has recorded five touchdowns in three games this season.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Junior James Hardy has recorded five touchdowns in three games this season.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Sept. 21, 2007

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - As the Indiana football team prepares for Saturday's game against Illinois, 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.

    Scouting Illinois
    Illinois enters Saturday with a 2-1 mark after pounding Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, 41-20. The Illini also whitewashed Western Illinois, 21-0, on Sept. 8 following a season-opening 40-34 defeat to Missouri in Saint Louis the previous week.

    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
    Indiana has won the last two meetings and three of the last four against Illinois. However, Illinois leads the overall series 41-21-2 and holds a 13-12-1 advantage in Bloomington. The Hoosiers have won four of the last five contests on their home turf.

    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.

    Illinois Connection
    Seven Hoosiers hail from the state of Illinois. Matt Kurz (Glenview/Glenbrook South), Leslie Majors (South Holland/Thornwood), Matt Mayberry (Darien/Hinsdale South), Alex Perry (Morris/Morris Community), Jeff Sanders (Springfield/Sacred Heart-Griffin), Teddy Schell (Barrington/Barrington) and Troy Wagner (O'Fallon/O'Fallon) all arrived in Bloomington from the Land of Lincoln.

    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
    The Hoosiers have limited the big play on the ground this season, holding its first three opponents without a rush over 20 yards. Akron accounted for the longest run from scrimmage by an opponent with a 19-yard scamper.

    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
    Junior kicker Austin Starr continues to show Hoosier fans the kicking game is on good footing. He hit his first two field goals of the 2007 season against Indiana State, connecting from 34 and 41 yards. He then hit 3-of-4 at Western Michigan, including a momentum-changing and career-long 48-yarder in the fourth quarter. With WMU running off 14 unanswered points and cutting the Hoosier lead to 34-21, Starr hit the 48-yarder to move to 3-for-3 from 40-plus yards in his career. The Logansport, Ind., native then hit his only two opportunities against Akron.

    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
    Sophomore Ray Fisher leads the Hoosiers with 16 receptions through three games this season. Fisher is second on the team with 111 yards and picked up the first touchdown of his career against Akron - a 24-yarder from Kellen Lewis with 1:20 left in the opening half.

    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.

    Quick Starts
    Indiana has jumped out to a 3-0 start for the second time in three seasons. Bill Lynch is also the second consecutive head coach to kick off his Hoosier tenure 3-0. The late Terry Hoeppner opened up his inaugural campaign with a 3-0 mark back in 2005.


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