TB Arkee Whitlock - Southern Illinois will run more often than not, and the one who will be handling the majority of the workload is 5-10, 195-pound senior tailback Arkee Whitlock.
A native of Rock Hill, S.C., Whitlock is one of the best tailbacks in I-AA, earning preseason All-America honors after totaling 1,454 yards last season. He has 2,547 yards during his two-plus seasons at SIU, a total that ranks fourth in school history. He also had at least 100 yards in eight of SIU's 13 games last season, and SIU as a team has had a running back run for at least 100 yards 29 times in their last 38 games. SIU, meanwhile, is 30-8 in those contests.
Whitlock will present problems because he has plenty of speed, but his best attribute is likely his ability to make the initial tackler miss. He'll put IU's 19th-ranked rushing defense (55.0 yards/game) to the test this weekend.
QB Nick Hill - The 6-3, 205-pound junior is in his first season as the Salukis' starter, taking over for one of the best quarterbacks in school history, Joel Sambrusky.
A left-hander, Hill will create as many problems with his ability to run as he will throwing the ball. In his starting debut against Lock Haven, Hill ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries while completing 10-of-19 passes for 85 yards through the air.
A product of Duquoin, Ill., Hill is a very good athlete, evidenced by the fact he began his collegiate career at Western Kentucky where he played basketball, not football. As a high school prep, Hill threw for nearly 1,500 yards and led his football team to a 12-2 mark and a runner-up finish in state, and in basketball he averaged 22.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists while finishing eighth in the state's Mr. Basketball voting.
DE Lorenzo Wims - A transfer from Ball State, Wims was a preseason All-Gateway Conference pick and the most productive defensive lineman on the SIU roster. The 6-2, 260-pounder is originally from Ft. Wayne Snider H.S., where he was an All-State pick in 2002.
Wims spent two years at Ball State, where he started nine games in 2004 as a sophomore and totaled 22 tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks. He departed the Muncie campus for SIU last summer and was a back-up a year ago for SIU, but still managed to lead the team with seven sacks, earning him All-Newcomer honors in the Gateway Conference.
As was the case in IU's match-up with Ball State last weekend, Wims is likely a player who feels he has something to prove to IU, a program that didn't recruit him out of high school. It will fall to Hoosier left tackle Justin Frye to keep Wims from making a statement Saturday.
CB Brandon Bruner - The 6-0, 180-pound cornerback earned honorable mention All-Gateway Conference accolades two years ago, but was suspended for the entire 2005 season after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge. He's back on the field now and has since emerged as one of the Salukis' team leaders, and he's expected to draw the challenging assignment of slowing down Hoosier wideout James Hardy, among others.
Bruner does have the season-opener under his belt, but Lock Haven attempted only 12 passes in the 49-0 SIU win, completing six. That's nothing like what he'll see when the Hoosier QB tandem of Blake Powers and Kellen Lewis drop back in the pocket Saturday. Bruner will be tested early and often by the Hoosiers' deep and talented group of wide receivers.
What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Players to Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Key Match-Ups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
On Saturday – Hoosier Gameday
Four Days and Counting...
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