T.J. Williams, WR- The 6-3, 177-pound true freshman has replaced the injured Matt Trannon in the starting lineup the last two weeks, and he gives quarterback Drew Stanton a big target to throw to. Williams had five catches in Saturday's dramatic come-from-behind win at Northwestern, including a nine-yard score in the closing minutes that tied the game at 38-38. The 6-6, 235-pound Trannon, meanwhile, has been nursing an ankle injury that kept him out of the Ohio State and Northwestern contests. He did begin running in practice Sunday, but his availability for Indiana remains questionable. Regardless of Trannon's status, Williams appears to have worked his way onto the field and will be a frequent target of Stanton this weekend.
A.J. Jimmerson, TB- Since the Spartans lost Javon Ringer for the season in week four with a knee injury they've been unable to recapture his big-play capabilities in the running game. Instead, they've leaned on 6-0, 260-pound Jehuu Caulcrick to handle most of the carries. Caulcrick has responded with 88 carries for 373 yards and six touchdowns, but he doesn't have the same sort of breakaway speed Ringer offered. But indications are the Spartans are beginning to feel more comfortable with redshirt freshman tailback A.J. Jimmerson, who had five carries for 22 yards against Northwestern. A tailback with 4.37 speed in the 40, Jimmerson has been limited this year because of some struggles in helping out in pass protection. But the MSU staff believes he's made strides in that area, and have put him back on the field. Don't be surprised to see IU blitz when Jimmerson is on the field to test him in that area.
Demond Williams, CB - The 5-9, 174-pound senior had a huge impact on last year's game with the Hoosiers in East Lansing, returning the game's opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. Williams is once again handling the Spartans kickoff returns and is averaging a modest 20.2 yards/return on 20 opportunities, but the IU coaching staff is well aware of what he did a year ago and want to make sure a similar event doesn't unfold. Besides special teams, though, Williams will also be starting at cornerback as well against the Hoosiers. He leads the Spartans with seven passes broken up and a pair of interceptions, but Indiana's wideouts will have a decided size advantage over him. Williams and the rest of the Spartan secondary have had their struggles this season, giving up more than 220 passing yards/game to go along with a Big Ten-worst 21 passing touchdowns.
Clifton Ryan, DT - The Spartans don't do much when it comes to getting after the quarterback – they have a Big Ten-worst eight sacks in eight games – but when they do, that pressure is usually coming from the 6-2, 302-pound Ryan. Ryan leads the team with three sacks and 4 ½ tackles for loss, and he's also bee credited with 13 quarterback hurries. Originally a defensive end, Ryan made the move to the interior of the Spartan defensive line to provide more athleticism to John L. Smith's front four. He'll be the biggest concern in passing situations for guards Pete Saxon and Johnathon Sandberg as well as center Justin Frye.
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 Matchups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
Four Days and Counting...
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