Written by: TJ Inman
What: IU vs. Western Kentucky
When: Saturday, September 19 at 4:00 PM
Where: Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, IN
How to Watch: The game will be broadcast on ESPNews and the WatchESPN app. You can also listen on the IU Radio Network.
Gameday Events: The Marching Hundred will host and perform with nearly 2,500 area high school band members during the annual High School Band Day festivities. It is also Freshmen Family Weekend as freshmen families are invited to a special pregame tailgate party at Hoosier Village. Hoosier Village opens three hours prior to kickoff and Summertime Band will be playing live music on the Main Stage.
A Few Things to Look For:
1. How will the Hilltoppers adjust to the loss of Leon Allen?
Leon Allen is an elite running back that hurt opponents in multiple ways. Last Thursday night against Louisiana Tech, Allen suffered a season-ending injury that will significantly impact the Western Kentucky offense. Redshirt freshman D’Andre Ferby is listed as the new number one back. Former Indiana Hoosier Anthony Davis and junior Darmontre Warr are the back-ups. Will Western Kentucky place an even greater burden on quarterback Brandon Doughty? Will they attempt to pound the ball in between the tackles with Ferby (240 pounds)? Anthony Davis was mostly a scout team player at IU but he had a run of 28 yards last week against Louisiana Tech so he might be able to hurt his former squad with a big run or two.
2. Can IU's Defense Continue to Improve?
The Hoosiers defense was lit up by Southern Illinois quarterback Mark Iannotti in week one. However, the Hoosiers welcomed back multiple suspended players and delivered a much better performance against Florida International. This week, IU goes against one of the better quarterbacks in the country as Brandon Doughty leads the high-powered Hilltoppers into Memorial Stadium. Doughty threw for 4,830 yards in 2014 and entered 2015 with high expectations. The offense struggled a bit in their opener at Vanderbilt as Doughty was sacked five times and threw for only 209 yards. However, he rebounded in a big way against Louisiana Tech, slicing up the Bulldogs defense for 441 yards and a touchdown as the Hilltoppers put up 41 points. This week, the Hoosiers will welcome their top linebacker, Tegray Scales, back to the lineup (and possibly safety Chase Dutra). The Hoosiers young secondary is going to be tested mightily by the WKU scheme, their talented wideouts and their future NFL quarterback. If IU can keep this offense to a merely mediocre day, it should be considered another step forward for the Hoosiers D. Doughty isn’t mobile and the WKU offensive line struggled against Vanderbilt so getting some pressure on him should be possible. If IU lets him sit back in a protected pocket, their young corners and safeties will be extremely hard-pressed to keep WKU from racking up a ton of yards and points.
3. The Running Game
Thus far, Jordan Howard and the IU running game have been extremely impressive. Howard has run the ball with power and the offensive line is opening up some very nice holes. Western Kentucky surrendered 223 rushing yards (7.2 yards per carry) to Louisiana Tech and 168 rushing yards to Vanderbilt. It seems logical that the Hoosiers would attempt to run the ball on Western Kentucky’s defense and grind them down, use up clock by controlling the ball and keep Brandon Doughty and the high-powered offense off the field. It’s not often that the Hoosiers try to slow a game down but this could be a case where that’s what gives IU the best chance to move to 3-0.