A Closer Look: Indiana Hoosiers

The first true road test of the 2009 season is up next on the docket for the No. 9 Ohio State football team. After a four-year absence from Bloomington, the Buckeyes travel to meet a 3-1 Indiana team on Saturday night. Take a closer look at the Hoosiers, including team facts and lineups, in this game preview.

Indiana (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
Saturday, Oct. 3
7 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Memorial Stadium; Bloomington, Ind.

The Hoosiers
Head coach: Bill Lynch, 13-16 at Indiana, third year (94-83-3 overall)
2008 record: 3-9 (1-7 Big Ten)
Series mark: Ohio State leads 65-12-5
School location: Bloomington, Ind.
Enrollment: 40,354
Colors: Crimson and Cream
Stadium: Memorial Stadium (52,692)
Fight songs: "Indiana, Our Indiana"

Indiana Players To Watch
QB Ben Chappell: A 6-3, 235-pound junior who started three games last year while splitting time with 2007 second-team All-Big Ten QB Kellen Lewis, Chappell has taken the starting role at IU in stride. So far, he's proved competent, completing 84 of 130 passes (64.6 percent) for 944 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. Not much of a threat to run, Chappell is a pocket passer who's most adept at keeping the chains moving. He's topped 200 yards passing in three of his four starts this year.

RB Darius Willis: The Hoosier coaches have talked about Willis as a possible feature back since he arrived on campus last year, but the 219-pound power runner was held out last year for a redshirt and then became banged up early this season. He showed he was healthy against Michigan on Sept. 26, running for nearly 10 yards per carry. He's quickly becoming the bell cow the coaches had envisioned during his recruitment, and for the first time, he's listed as the starting running back on the week's depth chart.

"Darius played great," Chappell said after the Michigan game. "He played the way we knew he could. Now we're going to expect him to do that every week."

DE Jammie Kirlew: The leaner, speedier option of Indiana's two All-Big Ten defensive ends along with Greg Middleton, Kirlew excels at making stops behind the line of scrimmage. He has 45½ career tackles for loss and 19 sacks, and the gap between those two numbers shows he can make plays in the run game as well. He already has 8½ stops behind the line this year, good for sixth in the country and tops in the league.

Sept. 3, Eastern Kentucky, W 19-13
Sept. 12, Western Michigan, W 23-19
Sept. 19, at Akron, W 38-21
Sept. 26, at Michigan, L 36-33

Projected Starters
QB 4 Ben Chappell, 6-3, 235
RB 28 Darius Willis, 6-0, 219
WR 88 Damarlo Belcher, 6-5, 214
WR 1 Terrance Turner, 6-3, 208
WR 2 Tandon Doss, 6-3, 199
TE 41 Max Dedmond, 6-5, 247
LT 76 Rodger Saffold, 6-5, 318
LG 70 Justin Pagán, 6-5, 311
C 60 Will Matte, 6-2, 285
RG 64 Pete Saxon, 6-6, 293
RT 73 James Brewer, 6-8, 331

LE 92 Greg Middleton, 6-3, 284
DT 98 Adam Replogle, 6-3, 282
DT 97 Larry Black Jr., 6-2, 306
RE 57 Jammie Kirlew, 6-3, 259
WLB 34 Will Patterson, 6-1, 237
MLB 43 Matt Mayberry, 6-2, 237
SLB 46 Tyler Replogle, 6-2, 236
CB 7 Ray Fisher, 5-9, 185
FS 8 Nick Polk, 6-0, 219
SS 20 Austin Thomas, 6-2, 220
CB 6 Richard Council, 6-1, 197

K 99 Nick Freeland, 5-11, 195
P 12 Chris Hagerup, 6-5, 211
KR 7 Ray Fisher, 5-9, 185/2 Tandon Doss, 6-3, 199
PR 7 Ray Fisher, 5-9, 185

Five Fast Facts
1. Sixteen Hoosiers are from Ohio, including starters Black (Cincinnati Wyoming), Fisher (Cleveland Glenville), the Replogle Brothers (Centerville), Saffold (Bedford) and Saxon (Plain City Jonathan Alder) as well as backup WR and wildcat quarterback Mitchell Evans (West Milton Milton-Union). In addition, the Replogle brothers are the first to start at IU since corner Curtis and quarterback Antwaan Randle El in 1998-99.

2. The Hoosiers are the second most penalized team in the league just ahead of Illinois. Indiana has averaged 7.8 penalties and 61.0 yards marked off through four games. Lynch has been prompted to bring referees to practice after early struggles with laundry on the field.

3. After finishing last in the Big Ten a season ago in time of possession, holding the ball for just 26:50 minutes per game, Indiana is third in the league with average of 31:29 of possession this year.

4. The duo of ends Middleton and Kirlew is one of the best in the nation and IU history. The pair's 42 career sacks are the most of two teammates in the country. Middleton is third in IU history with 23 sacks, while Kirlew is fifth with 19. In addition, Kirlew's 45.5 sacks are good for second in school history. Adewale Ogunleye (1996-99) holds both the career sack (34.5) and TFL (64) records. Since the start of 2007 season, Indiana's 84 sacks are second in the league behind Penn State's 91.

5. Indiana has the best kickoff return unit in the Big Ten, averaging 28.3 yards per return. Ray Fisher leads the league with a kick return average of 35.8 yards and already has a touchdown, having taken the opening kick against Akron to the house. That accomplishment was the first time in Indiana's 125 years of football that a Hoosier took the opening kick for a touchdown.

Offensive Scouting Report
Indiana is coming off of a 467-yard performance against Michigan, a showing that was tempered only by the Hoosiers' inability to push a few more touchdowns across the line. IU kicked four field goals of less than 40 yards and Nick Freeland missed another from 42, and the final margin against the Wolverines was three points.

The Hoosiers had their best day of the year on the ground, rushing only 33 times for 197 yards and three touchdowns, though 85 of those yards came on one play when Darius Willis outran the Michigan defense down the left sideline for a fourth-quarter touchdown.

That's the kind of rushing performance Indiana hoped for when the Hoosiers moved away from using the spread as the base offense as they did the past few years. The result is a varied system of numerous formations.

The pistol, in which the quarterback lines up four yards behind the line of scrimmage with a back four yards behind him, has gained the most notoriety. Indiana isn't in the pistol on every play but does use it quite a bit, and the formation allows the Hoosiers to throw quick passes and run downhill even without a fullback.

"The pistol is something that you have to be aware of because sometimes you can forget about that back as a linebacker," OSU captain Doug Worthington said. "Just talking to (Austin Spitler), it's just hard for him to read some of the plays because sometimes they pull the center instead of the guard. You have to prepare for it a little bit more and make sure you look a little bit harder at a play."

Indiana also will use the wildcat every so often with wideout Mitchell Evans, a converted quarterback. The Hoosiers have run a variety of plays out of the wildcat, including the triple option (on which they scored a touchdown against U-M), the quarterback draw and even some passing plays because of Evans' arm.

On the year, Evans has rushed nine times for 36 yards and completed 2 of 3 passes for 12 yards.

Indiana can still go to the spread when it needs to and also will put quarterback Ben Chappell under center with tight end Max Dedmond operating essentially as a fullback for rushing plays.

The Buckeyes' task will be to stop that variety of formations as well as Chappell, who has proven adequate in his first year as the unquestioned starter. He's helped move the ball down the field, throwing for 236.0 yards per game while completing 64.6 percent (84 of 130) of his passes for three touchdowns and four picks.

"He's a great quarterback," Worthington said. "He's very poised. He's back there behind that big O-line and he has time and he does the job well. He doesn't make too many mistakes."

From all appearances, that Hoosier line has played well. Indiana returned seven starters from last year's line – a whole bushel of players got starting experience last year because of numerous injuries – that had a combined 84 starts coming into the year, and that experienced group has given up just two sacks in four games while blocking for a running game that has averaged 4.5 yards per carry and 159.2 per game.

"They have a huge offensive line," Worthington said. "They move well and do a lot of protection schemes that confuse a lot of defenses."

Left tackle Rodger Saffold and right guard Pete Saxon have both started more than 30 games in their career.

Indiana has four running backs it has faith in, three of whom in Willis, Demetrius McCray and Trea Burgess have more than 30 carries on the year. Willis has just moved into the starting lineup on the strength of his 16-carry, 152-yard performance against Michigan. He's been hyped for a full year by the Hoosier coaching staff, which must be pleased by Willis' showing the past week. On the year he has 221 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries in three games.

McCray has 43 carries for 229 yards, while Burgess is a short-yardage back with 31 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns.

Indiana's top four receivers are solid, starting with Tandon Doss, a 6-3 target with speed who has led IU in each of the first four games in receiving. On the year, Doss has 26 catches for 374 yards, an average of 14.4 yards per catch.

His complement on the other side is Damarlo Belcher, who has caught 19 passes for 222 yards and a score. Third target Terrance Turner has 14 grabs for 135 yards, while Evans has 10 catches and a score.

Tight end Max Dedmond has eight catches for 60 yards and a touchdown, Indiana's first for a TE since 2005.

Defensive Scouting Report
Indiana had the worst defense in the Big Ten last year, sitting in last in yards and points allowed by healthy margins.

This year, the Hoosiers have improved in all areas and are currently slotted second in rushing defense (94.2 yards), fourth in scoring defense (22.2 points) and fourth in total defense (327.2 yards). In addition, Indiana is third in turnover margin at plus-4 and second in both sacks and tackles for loss in the league.

Still, the Hoosiers will have to be wary of Ohio State given that Michigan piled up 36 points and the earlier better performances came against the likes of Eastern Kentucky, Western Michigan and an Akron team starting its backup quarterback.

The unquestioned strength of the Indiana defense is the end position, where Greg Middleton and Jammie Kirlew combine to form perhaps the best duo in the conference. Kirlew is the speedier, craftier player, while Middleton has the chance to make big plays against any opponent with his strength.

Middleton had two sacks against Michigan to get to three on the year with 15 tackles and a forced fumble, while Kirlew forced and recovered a fumble against U-M to boost both totals to two. In addition, Kirlew has 18 tackles, including 8.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks.

As strong as those two seniors are on the edge, Indiana is as young in the middle where four of the five tackles who play are freshmen. Larry Black Jr. is leading the way with 10 tackles, including five for loss, while true freshman Adam Replogle has nine stops.

Indiana's three linebackers lead the team in tackles. Senior middle man Matt Mayberry leads the way with 26 tackles, 3.5 TFL and 1.5 sacks, while classmate Will Patterson is a former captain with 22 stops and a sack. Tyler Replogle, Adam's brother, has 24 tackles and an interception.

"I think the strength of their defense is their defensive line, but I'm not saying they're lacing any talent at linebacker," Buckeye tight end Jake Ballard said. "They move side to side well and they cover well."

The Indiana cornerbacks have been banged up, but five have played on the year in converted wideout Ray Fisher, starter Richard Council, part-time safety Chris Adkins, banged up potential starter Donnell Jones and Andre LaGrone. Only LaGrone has an interception.

Finally, the safety position is in the hands of two seniors in Nick Polk, who has 19 tackles, and Austin Thomas, who picked off two passes vs. Akron.

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