November 6, 2009

Five things to watch: Indiana

MADISON - Though Indiana is sporting a below .500 average in the standings, it does not speak to the effort the Hoosiers have put forth this season. In fact, had the ball bounced its way, IU could easily be a team near the top of the league standings.

When Wisconsin heads to Bloomington to play a desperate Hoosiers team, it will need to play sound and mechanical football if it hopes to keep the pursuit of a new years day bowl alive.

Before Saturday's kickoff, issues five things to watch during the game.

1.) Special teams:

The fact that Indiana's explosive kick returner Ray Fisher will be out of Saturday's line up can not lure the Badgers into a sense of complacency. While Fisher is one of the nations best and will be a big loss for IU, the fact remains that others on the Hoosier roster can be just as capable.

On paper, the Badgers should be able to match up really well with Indiana and could get out of Bloomington with a win. But should the Hoosiers gain momentum, particularly early in the game, via special teams, this game could turn into a tight contest.

2.) Can Clay keep it rolling:

John Clay finished last week with 123 yards and three touchdowns. On Saturday, he will be lining up against an Indiana defense that gives up 145.6 yards on the ground. It would be a wise bet for UW to get Clay going early and really pound the Hoosier front seven.

As the game wears on, and if UW establishes the run, the Badgers won't have to pass that much which will keep the IU standout defensive ends at bay. Look for Clay to have another big day.

3.) The end around:

Last season, UW wide receiver David Gilreath rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns, including a long of 90 yards. The play is a staple for the Badgers. Prior to the snap, the wide receiver, or in last week's case, tight end, come in motion toward the quarterback. Then, in a fluid motion, the ball is snapped and handed off to the motioning player.

UW has had great success with the play because it gives so much for opposing defenses to think about. Last week, Lance Kendricks rushed for 91 yards on only four carries with the play. A lot of success this weekend will be related to the success of that play.

4.) UW's defense riding a hot streak:

Last week, the Badgers defense shut out a Purdue offense that scored enough points to upset Ohio State a couple weeks prior. This week, it gets a chance to stay hot against Indiana, but that should be no easy task.

The Hoosiers scored 24 points against the same Iowa team that held UW to 10 before collapsing down the stretch. In total, IU averages nearly 24 points per game. Though the ranking isn't good (ninth in the Big Ten), Indiana has proven it is capable of scoring.

And, considering they have wide receivers that have been around for a while and this offense will really be a test for the Badger defense.

5.) Containing IU's defensive ends:

Indiana's defensive end duo of Greg Middleton[/db[ and [db]Jammie Kirlew will present a stiff challenge for the UW offensive line. Through nine games for IU, the two ends have combined for 80 tackles and 21 tackles-for-loss. Clearly, they have a knack for making a play.

For UW to avoid letting them disrupt the passing game, the run game will need to be fully functional. Should Indiana jump out to a bit of a lead and force UW to pass, both Middleton and particularly Kirlew, can, and probably will, play a major role in the game.

For the Badgers, Josh Oglesby and Gabe Carimi will need to play at a high level throughout.

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