November 6, 2009

Behind enemy lines: Indiana

Just one week after one of its more complete performances in a decade, the Wisconsin football team is set to take its game on the road as the Badgers head to Indiana. On the surface, the Hoosiers look like a team that has struggled. But, as UW players and coaches would tell you, IU will present a stiff challenge to UW.

Looking to find out more about the Indiana, went straight to the source, writer Matt Weaver, who provided some insights from behind enemy lines.

Read Weaver's thought about the Hoosiers here…

1.) Obviously Indiana has had some terribly difficult losses this season. Immediately, Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa come to mind. What has been the biggest problem for Indiana in regards to closing out wins?

Weaver: The biggest issue for Indiana in closing out games is not making plays. In each of those games they were the better team for two-to-three quarters, but they did not make the plays late that they were making earlier in the game.

Indiana is also a team and program that is trying to learn how to win and it seems like when things are going well for them they are not sure what to do or how to handle it. Many of their breakdowns in the games you mentioned were more mental than physical.

2.) Kind of going off question No. 1, obviously the team would have rather won those games, but what is the optimism surrounding this team like? They have been right there against some pretty good teams this year. You would have to think that the program as a whole is on the way up.

Weaver: The mood of the team appears to be pretty good despite this stretch where they have missed opportunities to get a few more wins. The mood of the fans on the other hand is not as positive. Many fans have adopted the same old, same old mentality because they are frustrated with the team's inability to win games they had in hand.

With basketball season underway many of the fans have turned their attention to the hardwood. I don't think there is any question the program has made strides this year and is getting better, but in today's world of what have you done lately, that is not good enough. Patience and fans don't often come up in the same sentence, even when you are talking about Indiana football.

3.) The Badgers have been pretty shaky with kickoff return coverage this year. With Ray Fisher injured, who is next in line to return kicks and what does he bring to the table in this department?

Weaver: With Fisher out it looks like running back Demetrius McCray will be on kick returns with wide receiver Tandon Doss. There is really no way to sugarcoat it, losing Fisher on kick returns is a huge loss.

McCray has done it before, but he is not the explosive athlete that Fisher is and even if he gets a seam, chances are he won't take it the distance. Fisher is probably the fastest guy on the team and if he got a hole he was gone. Doss is a very explosive athlete so I am guessing IU will do everything they can to have him return kicks.

4.) Last season, Wisconsin came down to Indiana and really worked the Hoosiers on the ground, specifically with the end around the Badgers like to run. This season, what are the Hoosiers focusing in on most in regards to slowing the Badgers down offensively?

Weaver: Well, I think stopping the end around, or the 'Jet Sweep,' as the IU coaches call it is one of their top priorities. Obviously the key for IU is to slow down the running game so that Wisconsin is forced to throw which will allow IU to use their standout defensive ends to get after the quarterback.

If the Hoosiers can do that they have a chance to cause the Badgers a lot of problems with their pressure, but that is much easier said than done.

5.) Finally, how do you see the game going down? Indiana has proven it can play with anybody. What are you expecting to see on Saturday?

Weaver: I think it will be a good game that will be close into the fourth quarter. The issue for Indiana is whether they can physically withstand the beating the Wisconsin offensive line is going to deliver.

It is crucial that IU jumps out to a lead and force Wisconsin to play catch-up. If the Badgers get a lead then they can control the tempo and flow of the game and Indiana will have little to no shot of winning. I look for the Hoosiers to be in the game late in the second half, but in the end, I think Wisconsin will wear them down and pull away for the victory.

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