EKU: Four Days and Counting

Bloomington - In our continuing day-by-day preview of Thursday's season opener against Eastern Kentucky, Hoosier Nation look at four names to know off the Colonels' roster...

Derek Hardman, LT – the strength of Indiana's defense is defensive ends Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton, but whomever is lined up opposite the 6'6", 300-pound Hardman will have his hands full. Hardman was an All-Ohio Valley Conference choice a year ago and has been tabbed as a preseason FCS (I-AA) All-American. He'll anchor an offensive line that returns four starters. Hardman isn't a first-round NFL Draft prospect, but NFL scouts have been to the Richmond, Ky., campus to scout Hardman and he's considered to be a player with pro possibilities. He combines excellent size with strength and good athleticism. No matter how big of a test EKU proves to be for the Hoosiers, Hardman will be a challenging match-up for Middleton and Kirlew.

Cody Watts, QB – A year ago, the 6'0", 177-pounder spent the majority of his time at receiver where he caught a team-high five touchdown passes and had 26 receptions and 386 receiving yards. This season, he'll be the player throwing the ball instead of catching it. He was originally recruited as a quarterback out of Powell, Tenn., but he switched to receiver in an effort to get him on the field. A gifted athlete, Watts likely would have stayed at wide receiver if it wasn't for the loss of two quarterbacks. Sophomore Trevor Hoskins left the team early in camp, seemingly because he was unhappy about his prospects of winning the starting job. Marshall transfer Chris Smith, meanwhile, injured his back during his first practice with the team and is also reportedly dealing with some personal issues that call into question whether or not he leaves the program as well. That's left Watts and redshirt freshman T.J. Pryor as the only two full-time QBs on the roster.

Chris Hall, DE – the 6'3", 246-pound senior won't overpower IU tackles Rodger Saffold and/or James Brewer, but he'll present some challenges in obvious passing situations due to his quickness. Hall led Eastern Kentucky in both sacks (6) and tackles for loss (13) a year ago and has been tabbed as a preseason all-OVC pick this year. He's one of only two starters back on the defensive front, and clearly the player who has the best chance of getting after IU quarterback Ben Chappell. Hall will be particularly interesting to watch when he's lined up opposite Brewer, who will be making his career start at offensive tackle. The 331- pound Brewer will outweigh Hall by 85 pounds, but the IU junior will have his work cut out for him in passing situations.

Shannon Davis, WR – the team's second-leading receiver a year ago with 36 receptions and 479 yards, Davis is the Colonels' deep threat. He won the OVC 400-meter dash in the spring, and the 5'11", 162-pounder figures to be matched up opposite Ray Fisher. For one on the only times this season Fisher figures to not give up much as far as size, but he'll have to be wary of allowing Davis to get behind him for a big play. Fisher has good recovery speed, but he'll be hard pressed to reel in Davis if he's able to get over to the top of him.

Coming Up
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Monday – Four Names to Know
On Tuesday – Three Big Concerns
On Wednesday – Two Key Match-Ups
On Thursday – One Bold Prediction

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