With every game this season, AllHoosiers.com's Ben Faunce will take a look at an offensive and defensive player to keep an eye on that day for Indiana.
Here are the two players to watch Saturday against Indiana State.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Shane Wynn
After losing its two leading receivers from a year ago, Indiana will look for Shane Wynn to step into the lead role. This means that the 5-7 senior will be moved from the slot to being split out. Wynn has served as a dynamic threat from the slot the past three years and had a lot of success, his best season coming two years ago as a sophomore when he caught a team-high 68 receptions for 660 yards (second) and six touchdowns (tied for first).
Last year, as the third receiving option, Wynn still caught 46 passes for 633 yards and 11 touchdowns, two of those coming against the Sycamores. He will need to continue to grow from those stats, so watch for Wynn to step up and be the leader of a somewhat inexperienced six-man rotation, which includes three true freshmen.
Wynn is a threat every time he touches the ball, which he proved last season against Indiana State. Wynn caught only two passes in the game, but both went for a touchdown, one from three yards out and the other a 43-yard deep slant. Wynn also returned a thrilling 58-yard punt for a score, capping off the touchdown hat trick. He will be deep to catch punts again this Saturday, so look for Wynn to try to make more plays as a returner.
I expect Wynn to showcase his playmaking ability early in the game. The Hoosiers will need him to be the No. 1 target in the passing game this season, and he should prove on Saturday that will be the case. I predict another two-touchdown performance out of Wynn offensively to go along with six catches and over 100 all-purpose yards.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: FS Antonio Allen
Antonio Allen saw his successful freshman campaign cut short after tearing his ACL against Michigan last season. That game was Allen’s first start at safety, and he played very well, collecting nine total tackles, seven of them solo. He finished his season playing in all seven games he was active for, totaling 35 tackles, 24 solo, and a fumble recovery against Indiana State.
Allen is a hard-hitting free safety who is exciting to watch. During camp, he has been flying all over the field and making plays. Watch for Allen to make some big time stops, creating fear in the Indiana State receivers going down the middle of the field. He brings a lot of energy to the secondary and has the ability to jolt balls lose, make stops and create turnovers on any play. Allen is around the ball on every play, so grabbing another lose fumble is always a possibility. An early turnover by Allen could be a good start to the season for the Hoosier defense.
Last season Indiana’s defense allowed the Sycamores to gain 306 yards of offense, 131 of those yards coming on the ground. Indiana wants to shut down the Sycamores this time around, and Allen will be a major factor in that. As a free safety, he will be the last line of defense when a back breaks through, so another thing to watch is how Allen reacts to that type of situation coming off the knee injury.
I predict Allen will make a couple of big plays defensively on Saturday. Look for a forced turnover and two or three pass breakups from the ball-hawking safety. One thing you can expect is at least one big hit that will bring the crowd to its feet.