Cats face 'physical' Indiana

September 15, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - If there was one thing Rich Brooks probably did not want to see when he evaluated Indiana, it would have been physical play.

The Kentucky coach felt one reason Louisville beat his team 28-0 to open the season was because the Cardinals were far more physical than the Wildcats.

"One thing that jumped off the film is how physical Indiana is," said Brooks. "They run the ball well and get the quarterback on the perimeter. They are feeling good about themselves and playing very physical on both sides of the ball. This is a much better Indiana team this year."

The Hoosiers proved that Saturday when they won 30-24 at then-No. 24 Oregon by helping force seven turnovers by the home team. That let Indiana open the season 2-0 for the first time since 1996 going into Saturday night's game at Kentucky.


"They have proven themselves in hostile territory," Kentucky receiver Gerad Parker said Monday. "Their fan base will be a lot bigger here. We have to respect them."

Indiana returns 17 starters

Indiana returns 17 starters from the team that lost 34-17 to visiting UK behind 147 yards passing by Jared Lorenzen and 46 yards rushing by Arliss Beach. Linebacker Dustin Williams, who is expected to miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury, had 20 tackles in that win for UK.

"This is a much better Indiana team," Brooks said. "They jumped on Oregon 23-0 with most of the points derived from turnovers deep in Oregon territory. But Oregon got back within 30-24 and you had the sense Oregon would win and Indiana would lose. But Indiana's defense made a stand only to have the offense fumble."

However, safety Herana-Daze Jones picked off an Oregon pass to give the Hoosiers the win.

"They made a play in a clutch situation to win," Brooks said. "That can do a lot for a team."

Running back Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis has rushed for 188 yards and two touchdowns for Indiana while quarterback Matt LoVecchio, a Notre Dame transfer in 2002, is 15-for-32 passing for 192 yards and two scores.

Last year he was 17-for-32 passing for 266 yards and a touchdown against Kentucky.

Indiana's top receiver is Courtney Roby, who has nine catches for 102 yards and one score. He has 117 career receptions and has been Indiana's top receiver the last two years.

"We've just made gradual improvement the last few years," Indiana coach Gerry DiNardo said. "We're not doing anything uniquely different."

DiNardo says increased depth, especially at linebacker, has helped his defense. Brooks calls Indiana middle linebacker Kyle Killion, who has 19 tackles in the wins over Central Michigan and Oregon, a "heat-seeking missile who will blow you up." He has three quarterback sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery in two games.

Brooks said while Oregon mishandled two punts, Indiana's defense helped force the other five turnovers.

"They've got difference-makers on defense," Brooks said. "They have people swarming to the ball. They are just flying to the ball and putting the hurt on ball carriers."

Louisville's defense did the same thing to Kentucky. The Wildcats had just 238 total yards and most came in the fourth quarter long after the outcome had been settled.

Several changes in starting lineup are possible

Brooks indicated he could make several changes in the starting lineup Saturday. Freshmen running backs Tony Dixon and Rafael Little could both play and freshman Micah Jones moved into a No. 1 spot in the offensive line last week during practice.

Receiver-kick returner Keenan Burton has a hairline fracture in his wrist. "It's just a matter of pain tolerance as to how much he can play," Brooks said.

"We'll protect him in practice with a cast and he'll probably play in a splint. We'll X-ray it every week to see if the crack gets bigger, but we don't anticipate that happening."

Brooks also gave backup quarterback Andre Woodson extensive playing time in practice last week after not letting him play against Louisville when starter Shane Boyd was only 14-for-34 passing for 172 yards with two interceptions.

"We have to take care of the football, protect up front and throw the ball down the field to make some plays to help Shane," said Parker, who cut his leg in practice Tuesday and may now miss Saturday's game.

"We've got to give him more help than we did against Louisville if we want to win."

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