Inside The Illinois Game

    Go Hoosiers! Junior wideout Ray Fisher and the Hoosiers face Illinois in a primetime road showdown.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Junior wideout Ray Fisher and the Hoosiers face Illinois in a primetime road showdown.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Oct. 17, 2008

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - As the Indiana football team prepares for Saturday's game at Illinois, takes a look inside the numbers. The Hoosiers (2-4, 0-3 Big Ten) and Fighting Illini (3-3, 1-2) will kick off in primetime at 7 p.m. CDT/8 p.m. EDT Saturday in Champaign, Ill., and the game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

    Wayne Larrivee will handle play-by-play duties and he will be joined by analyst Charles Davis and sideline reporter Charissa Thompson. 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.

    The Illinois Series
    Indiana has won two of the previous three meetings and three of the previous five against Illinois. However, U of I leads the overall series 42-21-2. The Hoosiers earned a 34-32 victory on their last trip to Champaign in 2006, while the Fighting Illini scored a 27-14 victory in Bloomington one year ago.

    Illinois Connection
    Nine Hoosiers hail from the state of Illinois. Marc Damisch (Arlington Heights/Buffalo Grove), Matt Kurz (Glenview/Glenbrook South), Will Matte (Wheaton/Warrenville South), Matt Mayberry (Darien/Hinsdale South), Justin Pagán (Chicago/St. Patrick), Alex Perry (Morris/Morris Community), Jeff Sanders (Springfield/Sacred Heart-Griffin), Teddy Schell (Barrington/Barrington) and Troy Wagner (O'Fallon/O'Fallon Township) all arrived in Bloomington from the Land of Lincoln.



    Additionally, Curt Mallory is the Fighting Illini's co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach. 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. Curt was also on Bill Lynch's staff at Ball State (1995-00) as linebackers coach (1995-99) as well as secondary coach (2000).

    M*A*S*H Unit
    Dealing with several injuries on the offensive line, several Hoosiers received opportunities at new positions against Iowa. Junior Pete Saxon entered the Iowa game with 23 starts in 24 games at left guard, but he moved to center for the first time in his career to fill in for Alex Perry. Perry, who was limited with an ankle injury, did see time at right guard.

    Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Andrew McDonald filled in for Saxon at left guard and earned the first start of his career. Justin Pagán became the third true freshman to hit the field this year, playing at both left and right tackle, and junior Mike Reiter received his first action of 2008 at left guard.

    Hang Time
    One of the team's biggest question marks heading into the season following the graduation of Michael Hines was the punting game. Redshirt freshman Chris Hagerup has turned those doubts into one of the Hoosiers' strengths.

    Hagerup is second in the Big Ten and 20th in the nation averaging 43.1 yards per punt. On the heels of a 50.0 average (three punts) vs. Ball State, he blasted six punts against Michigan State for an average of 51.5 yards (the fifth-highest single-game total in IU history) with one downed inside the 20, four over 50 yards and a long of 67 yards, which is the longest punt by a Hoosier since Tyson Beattie's 71-yarder vs. UConn on Sept. 23, 2006. His 67-yarder is also tied for the longest punt in the Big Ten this year.

    On the season, the Whitefish Bay, Wis., native has 10 50-plus yarders and four have landed inside the 20-yard line. After averaging just 37.0 yards on his first six punts of the season (games one and two), Hagerup is averaging 44.8 yards on his last 22 punts with eight of those traveling over 50 yards and three falling inside the 20.

    Instant Impact
    Offensive tackle Justin Pagán became the third true freshman to hit the field this season with extensive action against Iowa. The Hoosiers played one true freshman in the season opener against Western Kentucky and he made an instant impact. Damarlo Belcher opened his career with a five-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. It marked the first catch of his career. The Fort Wayne, Ind., native became the first freshman to catch a touchdown pass in a season opener since Andrew Means in 2006. He also became the first true freshman to collect a TD reception since Brandon Walker-Roby grabbed one at Michigan on Nov. 12, 2005.

    Belcher followed his week one effort with three catches for 37 yards against Murray State and Tandon Doss became the second true freshman to receive playing time in the same ballgame. Doss recorded three receptions for 33 yards vs. the Racers and has four catches for 51 yards overall this season.

    Following a four-catch, 73-yard performance against Michigan State and a 58-yard effort at Minnesota, Belcher is fourth on the team with 173 yards, second with 17.3 yards per catch and fourth with 10 receptions.


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