How will Chris Hagerup (and Brandon Bugg) perform in his first game? – Truth be told, the IU coaching staff is hoping it doesn't have to see the redshirt freshman on the field at all Saturday. They'd be more than happy to see the offense march up and down the field and keep Hagerup from having to see action. While the offense figures to be able to put points on the board against a team that is in the process of making the transition from I-AA to I-A, Hagerup will get his chance to show off his big leg in front of 35,000 plus Saturday afternoon. He's made huge strides during his one year with the Hoosiers, changing from a three-step to a two-step approach and developing a degree of consistency that was lacking 12 months ago. When he gets hold of one his hang time is excellent and he gives IU's coverage teams plenty of time to get downfield and force fair catches. But he still has bouts with inconsistency at times, particularly if he's forced to field an errant snap or faced with heavy pressure. The long snapping has been good this fall, but not as good as it was a year ago when Tim Bugg was handling the job and put the ball on the mark just about every time. That job has now been passed down to Tim's younger brother, Brandon, and he's got some big shoes to fill. It will be worth watching to see if Bugg can be target with his snaps and how Hagerup performs in his first college contest.
Will a member of IU's wide receiving corps show the ability to stretch the field – Indiana has plenty of quality receivers returning, but is there one who will prove adept at stretching the field? Ray Fisher is the top returning receiver, but he does most of his damage with underneath routes where he then makes big plays after the catch. Andrew Means is back as well, but he's been known more for his ability to make tough catches over the middle or in third down situations to move the chains. The other starting "outside" wide receiver is Terrance Turner, and he's really getting his first opportunity to make a significant contribution after missing most of the '07 campaign with a serious knee injury. One player to watch Saturday – assuming he plays – is freshman Demarlo Belcher. He was a late addition to the IU class and didn't even play football in '07 (he graduated from high school in '06), but he's gone from a certain redshirt two weeks ago to a likely contributor with his play as of late. He's a big wide receiver at 6'5" and 203 pounds, and he's made as many big plays as any of the wideouts lately in practice. He heads into the week not even listed on the two-deep, but I suspect he'll get in the game and have a chance to do something special.
What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday – Four Players to Know
On Wednesday – Three Key Match-Ups
On Thursday – Two Big Concerns
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
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