1,929 – Combined receiving yards for the Bronco's top pass catchers a year ago, wide receiver Greg Jennings and tight end Tony Scheffler. A second-round NFL draft pick by Green Bay, Jennings was the MAC's Player of the Year last season, catching an NCAA-best 98 balls for 1,259 yards and 14 touchdowns. Scheffler, meanwhile, was also a second-round NFL pick by Denver and added 57 catches for 670 yards and nine scores. While WMU returns seven starters on offense, replacing this outstanding pass catching duo is an extremely tall order.
303.1 – Passing yards/game Western Michigan surrendered last season, ranking 116th out of 117 Division I programs. The Broncos and defensive coordinator Scott Shafer – who was an IU grad assistant from 1991-92- have shuffled things to try to shore up its pass defense this season, turning to sophomores E.J. Biggers and Londen Fryar to play corner this fall. Both saw some action a year ago, but the 6-0, 165-pound Biggers and the 5-11, 185-pound Fryar will be hard pressed to match up with 6-7 James Hardy, 6-2 James Bailey and 6-1 Jahkeen Gilmore. If the IU offensive line gives Blake Powers time to throw, the Hoosiers could be in for a huge day through the air Saturday.
20 – Tackles for loss for Western Michigan senior outside linebacker Ameer Ismail, a total that ranked sixth in the NCAA in '05. Ismail added 93 tackles, eight sacks, and three fumble recoveries, making him one of the most productive defenders in college football a season ago. A preseason All-American by The Sporting News and Street and Smith's in '06, Ismail is a player Bronco Coach Bill Cubit will move around on defense, and he'll create headaches for the IU offense. He'll he an especially tall order for IU's young running backs, who will likely have to pick up the 6-2, 225-pounder in pass protection on numerous occasions. Western Michigan didn't have much luck slowing down team's aerial attack's a season ago, but when they did it was due to a conference-best 31 sacks. Ismail is a big part of that.
3 – Injuries that are a big concern to Western Michigan entering the IU game. Ismail has been slowed by a hamstring injury during fall camp and it's unclear if he'll be 100 percent Saturday. Starting strong safety Louis Delmas – who ranked third on the team a year ago with 82 tackles and had a team-high eight passes broken up – is battling a hip flexor. Like Ismail he's expected to play, but his practice time was limited during camp and Cubit said over the weekend he'll limit his snaps against IU. That's a concern since he made the move from cornerback to strong safety in the off-season. On offense, freshman Jordan White – who many thought would replace Greg Jennings as the team's No. 1 wide receiver – was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
4 – Straight seasons Indiana has won its home-opener. In 2002 IU defeated William & Mary 25-17; in 2003 it knocked off Indiana State 33-3; in 2004 IU defeated Central Michigan 41-10; and in Terry Hoeppner's debut game at Memorial Stadium a year ago IU escaped with a 35-31 win over Nicholls State. Utah was the last team to hand IU a loss in the Hoosiers' home opener, knocking off Indiana 28-26 in 2001. Ultimately, that loss likely cost Indiana a shot at a bowl game after Coach Cam Cameron's squad finished strong to wind up 5-6 on the season.
What's coming up:
On Tuesday - Four Key Matchups
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Things IU Must Do to Win
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
Five Days and Counting...
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