UConn TB Terry Caulley vs. IU Front Seven - After last week's 244-yard rushing effort by Southern Illinois, the Hoosiers are back to step one on the defensive side of the ball – trying to figure out a way to stop the run before worrying about much else.
They'll have their hands full with Caulley, the 5-7 193-pound senior who is the Huskies' all-time leading rusher. Caulley is averaging 88.0 yards/game and 6.5 yards/carry in UConn's first two contests, and he'll be looking for his second 100-yard effort of the season – and a school-record 12th of his career - against the Hoosiers. Caulley was forced to leave last week's Wake Forest game with abdominal pain, but he was back at practice Sunday and is expected to start against the Hoosiers. Figuring out a way to keep him from putting up big numbers is priority one for the Hoosier defense.
The Hoosiers will need big games from linebackers Adam McClurg, Geno Johnson and Will Patterson in that pursuit, and they'll need to be better at wrapping ball carriers up than they were a week ago. Against Southern Illinois, Saluki ball carriers bounced off IU defenders time and time again for additional yards, and the Hoosiers can ill-afford to let that happen again. Safeties Will Meyers and Austin Thomas, meanwhile, will also play big roles in keeping the Husky ground game in check.
Defensive tackles Greg Brown and Joe Kremer could also give the rush defense a lift with some penetration into the backfield. They'll be aided in that endeavor by the absence of UConn center Keith Gray, who went down with a shoulder injury in the first quarter of the Wake Forest game last week. Gray has been lost for the season, and will be replaced in the starting lineup by redshirt freshman Alex LaMagdelaine.
IU WRs vs. UConn Secondary - Indiana will play a second straight game without receiver James Hardy, who was suspended for two weeks for unspecified personal reasons after IU's win at Ball State. In his absence, a very deep IU pool of wide receivers must play well against a talented Husky secondary for the Hoosiers to be successful.
UConn ranked fourth in the nation a year ago in pass defense, surrendering only 158.5 yards/game through the air. The unit has been even better this season, yielding only 102.5 yards/game in the season's first two weeks. UConn foes have completed only 14-of-34 passes thus far (41.2 percent), and they've been picked off twice.
The team did suffer a blow Wednesday when UConn Coach Randy Edsall suspended starting safety Marvin Taylor indefinitely pending a legal resolution to a larceny charge. But his absence shouldn't be a crippling one, since UConn entered the season with seven different players on the roster who had started at least six games in the secondary during their careers. They have good size at corner with 5-11, 183-pound Darius Butler and 6-0, 199-pound Tyvon Branch, and there's plenty of experience at safety as well.
Indiana, meanwhile, will need a much better effort out of the likes of Jahkeen Gilmore, James Bailey, Nick Polk and Brandon Walker-Roby than it got a week ago. Kellen Lewis completed only 20-of-40 passes against SIU, but was a victim of a handful of drops by the IU wideouts. IU will get a lift with the return of redshirt freshman Andrew Means - arguably the team's most physical wide receiver who missed last week's game due to a concussion. True freshman Ray Fisher, meanwhile, figures to become an even bigger part of the gameplan as well as the season goes along.
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
Two Days and Counting...
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