WKU PREVIEW: Three Days and Counting

Hoosier Nation continues its day-by-day preview of Saturday's Western Kentucky-Indiana football contest. Today, we look at three of the key match-ups between the Hilltoppers and the Hoosiers...

WKU QB Kawaun Jakes vs. Indiana Defensive Front – There's no question that Hilltopper tailback Bobby Rainey is WKU's most dangerous offensive weapon – after all, he's ranked fourth nationally in rushing and has gone over 150 yards against Nebraska and Kentucky. But WKU has lost 22 straight dating back to the 2008 season, and thus isn't a real threat to pull off an upset, no matter how many yards Rainey rushes for Saturday afternoon. Instead, the real question is if IU makes some steps defensively as it readies itself for the Oct. 2 Big Ten opener against Michigan and their ultra-athletic QB, Denard Robinson. So with that in mind, the thing IU fans should keep an eye on is how well the IU defensive front is able to contain Jakes and keep him from doing damage with his legs. While Jakes has only rushed 10 times for two yards in the first two games, he's a dual threat quarterback who ran the ball at least ten times in six of his nine starts a season ago. Considering the issues IU had with Towson's Chris Hart (16 carries, 123 yards), Bill Lynch's team needs to show improvement in slowing down mobile quarterbacks. Watch to see if IU's defensive front can keep Jakes in the pocket and if they can get a hand on him to slow him down so help can arrive. Those are things IU will have to do when Michigan arrives in town in two weeks, and they'll get a chance to practice on Saturday against Jakes.

IU RBs Trea Burgess, Nick Turner and Antonio Banks vs. one another – There's still some sorting out to do at IU's back-up running back position. While Darius Willis is the clear-cut No. 1 tailback on Bill Lynch's roster, there's little doubt that another running back will see significant action this fall. In an effort to keep Willis healthy, it's a good bet that he'll rarely exceed 15-18 carries in a game, freeing up some opportunities for someone else to carry the ball 8-10 times. Who that player will be is still very much up in the air. In this week's two-deep, fifth-year senior Trea Burgess is listed as the No. 2, followed by redshirt freshman Nick Turner as the No. 3. Banks, meanwhile, is a true freshman who played in the Towson opener, so he figures to get some opportunities against WKU as well. No one separated themselves against Towson, and each figures to get a handful of carries this weekend. Burgess is the most proven commodity, a reliable between the tackles runner who is good in short yardage situations. Turner is the big play threat, but finished with -4 yards on three carries against Towson. Banks is somewhere in the middle of the two and has been impressive enough that the IU staff wasted no time in deciding to play him as a true freshman. A couple of big efforts by any one of these three during the next two weeks could catapult them into a prominent role with the IU offense this fall.

IU WR/KOR Duwyce Wilson vs. WKU Secondary/Special Teams – While Indiana is loaded at wide receiver with the return of Tandon Doss plus Damarlo Belcher and Terrance Turner, there's little doubt that IU would like to get Wilson more involved than he was in the season opener against Towson. In that contest Wilson caught only one pass for five yards to go along with a 46-yard kickoff return. Expect to see the Columbus product more involved this weekend, and don't be surprised if he makes a big play against a WKU team that has already given up six plays of at least 40 yards in its first two games. Wilson has the speed to get deep, and as the team's fourth wide receiver there's little doubt he'll find himself in man coverage when he's on the field. A big return on special teams is also a possibility for Wilson, who will line up next to Nick Turner on kickoffs.

Coming Up
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday – Four Names to Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Key Match-Ups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction

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