Mikel Leshoure, RB - Admittedly, Indiana's defense is allowing less than 100 rushing yards/game in its last two outings. But the early season struggles defending the run still make the opposing tailback IU's No. 1 concern. That's the case again this weekend as IU prepares for 6'0", 230-pound Mikel Leshoure. Leshoure started only three games last season, but still ranked sixth in the Big Ten in rushing. He's taken a big step forward this fall, ranking third in the Big Ten in rushing with 127 carries for 680 yards (113.3/game) and three scores. He's eclipsed the 100-yard mark four times this season and rushed for at least 80 yards in every game as the main cog in Illinois' run-heavy offense. If Indiana is unable to slow Leshoure, it will be unable to secure an elusive Big Ten road victory.
Martez Wilson, LB – one of Illinois' elite national caliber recruits during the early stages of Ron Zook's tenure, Wilson is finally living up to the hype as a senior. He ranks fourth in the Big Ten in tackles (52), and is already closing in on his career-high in total stops for a season (69 in 2008). He had one of his best games of his career a couple of weeks ago in Illinois' upset win at Penn State, totaling 12 tackles and one pass broken up, and has had three double-digit tackle performances this season. Wilson has returned to the field after some tough times in 2009. The victim of a stabbing outside a Champaign, Ill., bar in December of 2008, Wilson recovered from that only to have his '09 season derailed last September due to a herniated disc in his neck.
A.J. Jenkins, WR – The Illinois passing attack has been the Big Ten's least productive thus far, but Jenkins is still a player for the Hoosiers to be concerned about. He leads the Illini in receptions (24), receiving yards (346) and receiving touchdowns (3), and he's had big games against both Penn State (7 catches, 76 yards, 1 TD) and Southern Illinois (5 catches, 104 yards, 1 TD). This 6'0", 185-pound Jacksonville, Fla., product has also had some big games against Indiana during his career. Back in 2008 he ran a kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown against the Hoosiers, and last season he caught four passes for 77 yards and a touchdown in last season's 27-14 Indiana win.
Eddie McGee, WR – Earlier in his career, McGee was expected to be a dynamic playmaker under center for the Illini, seeing extended action as the Illini quarterback in both 2007 and 2009 as the back-up for Juice Williams. But McGee's career quarterbacking stats (59-of-114, 816 yards, 3 TDs and 8 INTs) didn't suggest he was a long-term solution at quarterback, so he was moved to wide receiver a season ago and is now a starter for Ron Zook's offense. He's been relatively quiet to date this season with five catches for 41 yards, but his presence on the field does create some dilemmas for the Indiana defense. At 6'4" and 210 pounds he's a big target for quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase and he can be elusive in the open field.
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday – Four Names to Know
On Wednesday – Three Key Match-Ups
On Thursday – Two Big Concerns
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
ILLINOIS: Four Days and Counting
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