AKRON: Three Days and Counting

Hoosier Nation continues its day-by-day preview of Saturday's contest between Indiana (2-0) and Akron (0-3). Today, we look at three of the game's biggest match-ups...

IU RB Darius Willis vs. Akron Front Seven – this could just as easily be the Indiana offensive line against the Akron front seven, but it's important that Willis have some success running the ball Saturday. After enjoying a 14-carry, 102-yard day in the season opener against Towson, Willis could get nothing going against Western Kentucky. Facing a defense that yielded a combined 495 rushing yards in its first two games, Willis managed only 30 yards on 13 carries. Ben Chappell made up for Indiana's struggles running the ball by throwing for a career-high 366 yards, but some semblance of balance is going to be important for the Hoosiers as they ready for the start of Big Ten play. With that in mind, expect to see the Hoosiers try to establish Willis early against the Zips. Michigan awaits next weekend, and the Wolverines were witnesses to one of Willis' best games a season ago. Indiana will be looking for a similar performance when the two teams meet Oct. 2, and it would undoubtedly like to have Willis coming into that game fresh off a big effort against Akron.

IU WRs Tandon Doss, Damarlo Belcher and Terrance Turner vs. Initial Akron defender – Akron has plenty of problems crop up during its 0-3 start, but one of the biggest has been missed tackles. That was especially apparent in the 47-10 loss to Kentucky last weekend, when some missed tackles on Akron's part led to a slew of big plays for Kentucky in its 47-10 win over the Zips. In Doss, Belcher and Turner, IU has three big receivers who don't go down immediately after the catch – all three have been reliable yards-after-the-catch receivers. IU QB Ben Chappell, meanwhile, likes to utilize the bubble screen and other short underneath routes that give the wideouts an opportunity to make a defender miss and turn a short pass into a big play. Akron figures to spend plenty of time this week trying to address Saturday's issue, but there's little question that IU's wideouts will get a chance to shed a tackle and produce a couple of big plays Saturday.

IU DE Adam Replogle vs. Akron LT Corey Woods – the Hoosiers are still trying to figure out the how and the who about their quarterback pressure. Through two games IU has registered only two quarterback sacks, with one of those coming as a result of a cornerback blitz from Matt Ernest. As Coach Bill Lynch's team heads into its final Big Ten tune-up, it will be looking to do a better job of applying pressure on Akron quarterback Patrick Nicely. The player who appears to have the best chance of being a reliable pass rushing threat is Replogle, who has been manning the right defensive end position and has been the player who's most consistently been disrupting things in the opposing team's backfield. On Saturday he'll be going up against Corey Woods, a fourth-year starter who earned third-team All-MAC accolades as a junior. Despite that experience Replogle and IU's defensive front should have an opportunity to take advantage of an Akron offensive line that has surrendered 11 sacks this season, including five last weekend against Kentucky.

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

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