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Game Thread Game Eight: #1 Ohio State 44, Indiana 3 (10/21/06)

Tony Gerdeman's Indiana preview from the Ozone.

While I like Tony's humorous style, I would imagine he forgot about the tumor removed from Hoeppner's temple last December when he penned the 'looking forward to your lobotomy' line under the 'Something They Do Well' topic.


Big Ten Countdown - No. 11, Indiana
By Tony Gerdeman

Predicted Finish 4-8 (0-8)

Two Cent Overview Last season, the system moved the ball. This year, there's a little more skill and experience to help out the system. Blake Powers is entering his second season as the Hoosier starter after setting a school record with 22 touchdown passes in 2005. Those numbers should go up a bit this season. The defense loses its top two linebackers but returns the number two tackler in safety Will Meyers. The cornerback trio of Leslie Majors, Tracy Porter and Chris Phillips also return. Each of the three has started in the past, giving the Hoosiers one of the more experienced set of corners in the conference. Much of the defensive line returns, but it's a defensive line that gave up 408 yards rushing to Nicholls State.

Sept. 2 Western Michigan (W)
Sept. 9 at Ball State (W)
Sept. 16 Southern Illinois (W)
Sept. 23 Connecticut (W)
Sept. 30 Wisconsin (L)
Oct. 7 at Illinois (L)
Oct. 14 Iowa (L)
Oct. 21 at Ohio State (L)
Oct. 28 Michigan State (L)
Nov. 4 at Minnesota (L)
Nov. 11 Michigan (L)
Nov. 18 at Purdue (L)

Two conference wins. That would most likely put the Hoosiers into a bowl game. Go ahead and check the schedule and let me know if you see two conference wins this season, because I sure don't.

Five Questions Looking For Answers
1. Will wide receiver James Hardy be able to play?
2. Who's running the ball?
3. Who's tackling the ball?
4. Can this offense score in the Big Ten?
5. Got limestone?

Something To Look For
A receiver last season, Marcus Thigpen has moved to running back. The sophomore is small (5'8" 182), but fast. He finished seventh in the 60m and sixth in the 200m at the Big Ten indoor meet and finished seventh in the 100m with a time of 10.75 seconds at the outdoor meet.

Returning Starters
Seven on offense, seven on defense and the punter.

Best Player
Wide Receiver James Hardy. Hardy is dealing with some domestic issues, but head coach Terry Hoeppner is expecting Hardy to be available for the season. As a redshirt freshman last season, Hardy had 61 receptions for 893 yards and ten touchdowns. In the second year of this offense, and with an extra non-conference game, look for his numbers to go up.

Second Best Player
Quarterback Blake Powers. Powers performed admirably last season as a sophomore in a new system. He opened the season with eighteen touchdowns in his first five games. If you were paying attention above, however, you'd notice that he only threw four more touchdowns the rest of the season. If the Hoosiers are going to be playing in December, Powers needs to step it up in October.

Best Chance For a Big Loss
At Ohio State. Even though Jim Tressel doesn't like to throw down the hammer on teams, he may not have much choice in this one. The Hoosiers stop the run about as well their athletic department hires basketball coaches who aren't being penalized by the NCAA.

Most Important Game
Wisconsin. It's the fifth game of the season, but it's their first conference game. The Hoosiers should come into this game 4-0 and if they can defend The Rock (and all that that entails) against the Badgers, then they would be 5-0 in September and one improbable win away from a bowl game.

Best Road Game To Pack Up The Family Truckster And Travel To
At Ohio State. Who wouldn't want to travel to the world's greatest piece of architecture? It would be a chance to show your kids that perfection can be attained and that they shouldn't be satisfied with their position in life, because they're a far cry from being as great as Ohio Stadium. For emphasis, you could shake a finger at them while you're telling them this.

Best Reason They Won't Be Undefeated
Talent, basically. That and schedule. And speed. Oh, and size. And you can't forget athleticism.

Best Reason They Will Be Undefeated
Conference-wide food poisoning?

Game They Shouldn't Lose But Could
Connecticut. The Huskies are 13-10 over the last two seasons, including a bowl win. Still, they're just a Big East team and Indiana can't let them come in and win in Bloomington.

Player People Are Expecting Too Much From
Wide receiver James Hardy. Hardy disappeared at times last season and also battled injuries. His numbers should improve, if for no other reason than he only played in ten games last season. People, however, are expecting huge numbers, and perhaps on a better team, he could meet those expectations.

Player People Will Be Pleasantly Surprised By
Linebacker Geno Johnson. Johnson played in all eleven games last season as a true freshman, starting three. He only finished with 22 tackles in those eleven games, but much more is expected of him this season. While not very big (6’0” 210), he is fast (4.59) and aggressive, which is exactly what Terry Hoeppner is looking for.

Game On The Schedule That Glen Mason Is Jealous That He Didn't Schedule
Southern Illinois. Even though the Salukis are somewhat of a I-AA (if I can still use that term) powerhouse, they're still I-AA. A team like Southern Illinois has the same effect on Glen Mason that a chocolate cake has on an office full of women.

Something They Do Well
Talk a good game. Coach Hoeppner talks like he's excited about his team, and he may very well be. But how excited can you get with the prospects of an 0-8 conference record staring you in the face? That’s like looking forward to your lobotomy because you’re “tired of remembering”.

Something They Don't Do So Well
Stop the run. Last season the Hoosiers ranked 110th in the nation in stopping the run. They gave up 215 yards rushing per game. They lose their two best linebackers in John Pannozzo and Kyle Killion, and four of their top five TFL guys. You expect everybody to be a year better, but what does that get you here?

What's Improved?
Speed. "The motto for the winter at IU was `If you can run, then you can play.' That was our theme. And if you can't run, then you're going to be standing beside me watching. But we are going to be a much faster football team." That was Terry Hoeppner’s assertion at the Big Ten media day. If you look at his first season, you just might believe him. The Hoosiers had several two-year starters that were relegated to back up duty upon Hoeppner’s arrival. As he continues to bring in the speed he wants, he will start to be able to mold this team into something he can use.

What's Gotten Worse?
The schedule. I may have said this before, but part of the downfall of being Indiana is that you don’t get Indiana as one of your conference games. Last season the Hoosiers had Illinois, Ohio State, Minnesota and Purdue at home. This season they have Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State and Michigan. Wisconsin is their only shot for a win, and I don’t think it’s a good one. And Indiana won’t see a conference road win for probably a couple of more years.

Three Things Gleaned From The Media Guide
1. The average low temperature in Bloomington in October is 43 degrees.
2. Dick Enberg went to Indiana. Oh my!
3. In 1893, the Hoosiers had something called "Ferbert & Huddleston" as the head coach. I think they may have also been a Vaudeville act.

Targets for Ridicule in Upcoming Tip Sheets
They found a giant rock in the woods and built it into a phenomenon. What more could you want?

80's TV Show That This Team Reminds Me Of
Highway To Heaven. Terry Hoeppner has come to Bloomington like an unknown drifter, come to right wrongs that have happened to various people, i.e. everybody associated with the program. After that wrong has been righted, Coach Hoeppner will then get on the road and head to the next city that unknowingly needs his help. Wait, that's not Highway To Heaven, that's the Incredible Hulk.
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IU?s Hardy likely to miss next 2 games

Staff and news reports

<!-- begin body-content --> The announcement that Indiana football coach Terry Hoeppner would undergo surgery Wednesday to remove a suspected tumor in his brain was certainly the most distressing news of the day, but the second-year coach made another statement that will affect the Hoosiers over the next two games.
Sophomore receiver James Hardy of Fort Wayne will not play in Saturday?s game when the Hoosiers, 2-0, face 1-0 Southern Illinois at Memorial Stadium, or the following Saturday when IU faces Connecticut.
?We?ll be short a wide receiver for the next two weeks,? Hoeppner said late Tuesday. ?James Hardy won?t play for the next two weeks. It?s personal issues that has nothing to do with the incident he was involved in in May. But he won?t play for the next two weeks. Hopefully the issue will be resolved with him, and he?ll be back soon after that.?
Hardy, who was arrested this spring on a charge of domestic assault, will have the charges dismissed if he completes a six-month pretrial diversion program.
The 6-foot-7 former Elmhurst standout was IU?s leading receiver last year with 61 catches for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns. A second-team all Big Ten media selection last year, Hardy has 112 yards receiving this season, including a third-quarter touchdown reception against Ball State last Saturday.
Hardy could not be reached for comment, and Indiana officials did not elaborate on Hardy?s two-game ineligibility.
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Hoosiers' QB job unsettled again
Lynch says decision to come at week's end By Michael Marot
Associated Press

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. ? Blake Powers has a record-setting season and five wins on his resume at Indiana University.

Kellen Lewis rescued the Hoosiers at Ball State, let a near-certain win over Southern Illinois slip away and possesses mobility that rekindles memories of Antwaan Randle El.

Now interim coach Bill Lynch must decide, again, whether to go with experience or potential when determining this week's starting quarterback.
"I think Blake is getting back (physically) to where you have to be to play football at this level," Lynch said yesterday. "Both he and Kellen will get a lot of reps with the ones this week. We'll make that decision at the end of the week."
It's the second straight week the IU quarterback question has been in the spotlight.
Powers, a junior from Meade County High School, has missed the last two games with an undisclosed leg injury that forced him to leave the season opener in the third quarter. Coach Terry Hoeppner twice said Powers' X-rays were negative, but IU officials don't release injury details, citing a federal privacy law.
He certainly didn't appear injured last week. Powers split time with Lewis at practice, and unlike the Hoosiers' other quarterbacks, did not wear a headset or signal plays to Lewis against Southern Illinois. Instead, he stood on the sideline with his helmet on.
Yet Lynch acknowledged he started Lewis over the incumbent, in part, because Powers was not 100 percent.
The result was a performance more reminiscent of a redshirt freshman making his first college start. Lewis led IU to touchdowns on the first two drives Saturday against Southern Illinois but finished 20for40 for 238 yards and one touchdown, with one interception and a costly fumble deep in Indiana territory.
It's not an easy call.
"Blake has made good strides, and he's getting healthier and healthier," Lynch said. "We'll find out a lot more today and tomorrow."
Receiver Lance Bennett, one of the Hoosiers' four elected captains, isn't worried about the debate. He said the receivers work regularly at practice with both QBs and said the difference between Lewis and Powers is minimal.
"They're about the same," he said. But Lynch's choice may be as critical as any early-season decision can be.
The Hoosiers face Connecticut (1-1), a budding NCAA Division I-A program, and desperately need a victory. Another loss not only would send the Hoosiers into the conference season on a two-game skid but also would force them to win four Big Ten games to be bowl eligible.
With three top-15 teams still on the schedule, a 4-4 conference record seems implausible.
Plus, they must prove they can recover from Saturday's emotional letdown, which came four days after Hoeppner left the team to have his second brain surgery in less than nine months.
Last week Hoeppner's surprise announcement overshadowed the debate about who should start at quarterback.
That won't be the case now.
It's also the second straight week Indiana will play without its top player, receiver James Hardy, who drew a two-game suspension after the Ball State game.
Facility proposal
Athletic director Rick Greenspan is expected to present plans for a multipurpose athletic building at Memorial Stadium and the renovation or replacement of Assembly Hall at today's board of trustees meeting.
Greenspan declined to outline the proposals or say how much they would cost, but the trustees are expected to view architectural renderings today.
"We know many of our athletic facilities are not even remotely competitive to what you'll find at Ohio State, Louisville, Kentucky, Texas Tech or Oklahoma," said trustee Patrick Shoulders of Evansville. "We don't even have a basketball practice facility."
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Up next: Indiana

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Indiana is on a roll as the Hoosiers head to Columbus next week, with consecutive comeback wins over Illinois and Iowa. Freshman Kellen Lewis, making his fifth start, connected with receiver James Hardy for three touchdowns in Saturday's 31-28 victory over the No. 15 Hawkeyes.
Hardy, a 6-7 former basketball player who served a two-game suspension earlier this season, might be as difficult a matchup as the Ohio State secondary has seen this season. Lewis has thrown for 494 yards in the past two wins.
The 4-3 Hoosiers have come a long way since losing three straight games to Southern Illinois, Connecticut and Wisconsin. Indiana did it Saturday despite losing leading rusher Marcus Thigpen for most of the second half with an injury.
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