Indiana's leading tackler from last year – linebacker John Kerr – is now wearing scarlet and gray. Kerr led the Hoosiers, and all freshmen nationally, with 114 tackles. His transfer to Ohio State was obviously a big loss for IU.
The undersized Hoosiers have five returning starters from last year.
The defensive line is led by tackle Jodie Clemons (6-2, 275, Jr.). He has five sacks thus far.
The rest of the D-line includes: DE Victor Adeyanju (6-4, 259, So.), DT Martin Lapostolle (6-1, 270, Jr.) and DE Kenny Kendal (6-2, 243, Fr.). Clemons and Adeyanju are the returning starters in that group.
The linebacking corps is led by OLB Josh Moore (6-1, 210, Jr.) and MLB Kyle Killion (6-0, 223, So.). They lead the team with 60 tackles each. Moore is a JUCO transfer and Killion started four games on the outside last year.
The other starting linebacker is Kevin Smith (6-2, 232, Jr.).
"They do a good job of holding up double teams," OSU center Nick Mangold said. "They play real fast; their linebackers are real quick. So, it should give us the challenge of picking up linebackers to be able to spring guys into the open field."
Ohio State guard Alex Stepanovich is concerned about Indiana's team speed and its ability to cause turnovers.
"Their front seven isn't big, but they're quick," he said. "They fly to the ball real well and they do a good job of forcing turnovers. I think they forced Michigan into four and did a good job against some other teams. We really have to control that and make sure we don't allow any turnovers."
Indiana's secondary is led by strong safety Herana-Daze Jones (5-11, 205, Jr.). The returning starter is third on the team with 53 tackles. Jones started five games at outside linebacker in 2001. Last year, he was second on the team in tackles with 108.
Free safety Joe Gonzalez (6-0, 209, Sr.) is the brother of OSU freshman receiver Tony Gonzalez. The elder Gonzalez took a medical redshirt last year after undergoing hernia surgery three weeks into the season. He was named honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2001.
The cornerbacks are Duane Jones (5-8, 182, Sr.) and Leonard Bryant (5-9, 180, So.). Jones started three games last year and Bryant came off the bench.
Overall, Ohio State knows that Indiana is going to come into the game with some surprises up its sleeve. Whatever the Hoosiers have done defensively so far, they will not do against the Buckeyes.
"We know they are going to give us something different than what we've seen on film and we have to be prepared to adjust to what they give us," Stepanovich said. "They had their bye week this past week, so they're going to give us some wrinkles that we have to be prepared for."
Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel expects Indiana to crowd the box and force the Buckeyes to throw (sound familiar?). But the Hoosiers have been burned with the long ball this year.
"I think from a defensive standpoint, scheme-wise, they always find a way to get eight people up around the line of scrimmage," Tressel said. "I think if you look at their statistics, you'd find that they've had some big plays happen against them. That has been their downfall. We talk constantly to our defensive guys. If we can play consistent and allow no big ones out, we have a chance to make them punt eventually. They're not going to be able to move the ball down the field forever if they're only getting three and four and five. When you let one get out for 38, you have a problem.
"So, I'm sure they were over there during their open week saying, ‘We've got to find a way to not allow big plays to happen,' because from a scheme standpoint, there aren't that many different ways to line up in this world. And they line up and they find ways to get an extra helmet up into the box when you're running the ball and find ways to double the receiver they need to double or keep this guy out of the scheme that they need to keep out. I mean, they're sound in everything that they do, but they've given up some big plays."
Quarterbacks/receivers coach Joe Daniels also thinks the Hoosiers' defense isn't as bad as the statistics indicate. He thinks they are definitely better than last year.
"One, they're a faster team. Two, they can do more things coverage wise," Daniels said. "They rotate their safeties and actually use nickel concepts to get an extra one in the game. They've done a nice job with that.
"Their up front people, like their linebackers, really run well. They're not that big, but boy they run. So, if you add that to the secondary people as a defense, they run well."