Allen Langford- There's plenty of attention these days on a certain guard from Indianapolis who pledged to Illinois but is now considering the Hoosiers. But a similar – yet not nearly as well publicized – event occurred a couple of years back with Langford. The Detroit native originally verballed to the Hoosiers and Coach Gerry DiNardo in the fall before re-considering that commitment and instead opting to accept a scholarship offer from Barry Alvarez.
While the 5-11, 191-pound Langford wasn't a big recruiting name that season, he has developed into a very good cornerback for the Badgers. A sophomore, Langford has five career interceptions, including a pair of picks in last week's loss to Michigan. He started nine games as redshirt freshman in '05, and has emerged as the Badgers' No. 1 corner. He'll be tested this weekend by an IU wide receiving corps that will return its No. 1 wideout from a year ago, James Hardy. Langford and the Badger secondary, meanwhile, will present a big test for IU as well. The Badgers are surrendering only 140.2 yards/game through the air, with Michigan being the only team to throw for 200 yards against them (211 yards).
P.J. Hill- Barry Alvarez might be gone, but his approach to the game isn't. Wisconsin remains a run-oriented offense, and that means the Hoosiers will see plenty of P.J. Hill until they show they can keep the 5-11, 242-pound redshirt freshman from running roughshod over the IU defense.
Hill ranks tenth nationally with 117.2 yards/game on the ground, having carried 90 times for 469 yards and five touchdowns in the Badgers' first four games. Michigan was the only Badger foe to keep him from reaching 100 yards, as Hill totaled just 54 yards on 20 carries last weekend. Not surprisingly, the Wolverines were also the only team knock off the 3-1 Badgers as well. Indiana likely won't be able to shut down Hill the way Michigan did, but it has to keep him from running at will against an IU defense that has given up a combined 501 yards on the ground in the last two weeks.
Hill can also be a weapon in the passing game, evidenced by his team-high 11 receptions for 104 yards. He was particularly effective against Michigan, catching five passes for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Joe Thomas - The Badgers' 6-8, 313-pound left tackle is among the premier offensive linemen in the nation. He's just the latest in a long line of huge, homegrown Wisconsin products who have developed into NFL caliber offensive linemen during their stays in Madison. A preseason All-American by just about every preseason publication, Thomas is projected by a handful of NFL draft experts to be among the top five selections in the 2007 NFL Draft.
When the Badgers run look for them to run behind Thomas and the left side of the Badgers' line. And when they pass, he'll prove to be a daunting challenge for Hoosier defensive end Kenny Kendal and whoever else might be lined up at end with the goal of getting to UW quarterback John Stocco's backside.
DT Nick Hayden- The Hoosiers had their hands full with a pair of talented defensive tackles in last week's 14-7 loss to Connecticut, and they'll be presented with that same sort of challenge this weekend when the interior of the IU offensive linemen tangles with Hayden and Jason Chapman.
The 6-5, 311-pound Hayden is on the preseason Lombardi Watch list, coming off a sophomore season when he led all Wisconsin defensive linemen with 56 tackles. He also had a team-best 5 ½ sacks last season to go along with nine tackles for loss and three fumble recoveries. This season, he's totaled nine tackles and a pair of tackles for loss in Wisconsin's first four games, and he'll prove to be a big test for IU left guard Kyle Thomas as well as centers Chris Mangiero and Ben Wyss.
What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Key Matchups
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Things IU Must Do to Win
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
Four Days and Counting...
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