The game will be the first of three-straight at the newly-renovated Hancock Stadium for the Redbirds.
Oct. 16, 2013
PLAYER TO WATCH
Sophomore running back Marshaun Coprich recorded his second-straight 100-plus rushing yard performance last Saturday at Youngstown State. The Victorville, Calif., native rushed for 110 yards on 14 carries, averaged 7.9 yards per carry and scored the final touchdown of the game from 23 yards out early in the fourth quarter, which put him over 100 yards rushing on the day. Coprich has now rushed for 395 yards and four touchdowns this season.
Illinois State (2-4, 1-2 MVFC) returns home for the start of a three-game home stand Saturday, when the Redbirds welcome in Indiana State (1-5, 0-2) on CommUniversity Day at ISU. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3, as part of the Missouri Valley Football Conference package.
The Redbirds and the Sycamores will meet for the 65th time on the gridiron Saturday. The Redbirds have been dominant in the series as of late, winning 13 out of the last 15 games in the series overall, including the last seven games against the Sycamores played at Hancock Stadium.
Illinois State: Brock Spack (Purdue, 1983) is in his fifth season as the head coach at Illinois State (30-22). Spack led the Redbirds to their first playoff victory since 2006, just the third nine-win season in school history and was a finalist for the 2012 Eddie Robinson Award.
Indiana State: Mike Sanford (USC, 1978) is in his first season as the head coach at Indiana State (1-5). Sanford came to Indiana State from Utah State, where he spent the 2012 season as the assistant head coach, running backs and tight ends coach. He also served as the head coach at UNLV from 2005-09.
THE #REDBIRDFOOTBALL PROGRAM
- Four FCS playoff appearances (1998, 1999, 2006, 2012)
- Three-time FCS quarterfinalists (1999, 2006, 2012)
- Four-straight winning seasons for the first time since the 1940's
- The team is 19-6 at home under Spack's guidance.
- ISU was 6-1 on the road last year, with a perfect 5-0 finish in the regular season.
- The team set a program-record cumulative GPA in the Spring 2013 semester.
THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT
- Indiana State University is located in Terre Haute, Ind., and has an enrollment of 12,448 students. The Sycamores are members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference and play their home games at Memorial Stadium (12,764).
- The Sycamores finished the 2012 season with a 7-4 overall record and a 5-3 mark in MVFC play, with two losses in the final two games of the season to Illinois State and Youngstown State costing Indiana State a spot in the FCS playoffs after a great season.
- INS is off to a 1-5 start in 2013 and opened the season with back-to-back games against Big Ten Conference and in-state foes Indiana and Purdue. The Sycamores are off to an 0-2 start in Valley Football play, with losses to Youngstown State and South Dakota.
- The Indiana State passing offense is tops in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with 271 yards passing per game through six contests. The Sycamore offensive unit also ranks third in scoring with 32.3 points per game and is fourth in total offense with 417 yards per game.
- The Sycamores are led by senior running back and 2013 Walter Payton Award Watch List member Shakir Bell, who has rushed for 411 yards and a touchdown on the season.
- Junior quarterback Mike Perish has been one of the league's top passers in 2013, with 1,481 yards passing and 14 touchdowns for the Sycamores. He leads the league in passing yards per game (246.8), ranks third in passing touchdowns (14) and fourth in passing yards (1,481).
- On defense, the Sycamores are led by a player with a familiar last name to Redbird fans. Sophomore defensive lineman Connor Underwood, the younger brother of Illinois State senior All-American Colton Underwood, leads the team with six sacks and nine tackles-for-loss to go along with 25 tackles. He has also added an interception and three pass breakups on the season.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS VS. INDIANA STATE
- Nov. 10, 1973 at Indiana State
Larry Spinks took the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdowns and two interceptions from Ray Underwood helped preserve a 21-17 win on the road for the Redbirds.
- Oct. 1, 1983 at Illinois State
Mike Prior returned a punt 71 yards for a touchdown in front of a regional television audience watching on CBS, as the Redbirds picked up a 37-20 win over the Sycamores on Parents Day at ISU.
- Nov. 3, 1990 at Indiana State
Larry Dickinson hauled in the game-winning touchdown pass with 10 seconds left in the game to give the Redbirds a last-second, come-from-behind 28-24 victory over the Sycamores.
- Nov. 11, 1995 at Illinois State
Chris Stevens recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass, as ISU logged just its sixth shutout in Gateway history over No. 14-ranked Indiana State by a score of 25-0.
- Nov. 12, 2005 at Illinois State
Laurent Robinson hauled in a school-record 14 catches for 292 yards and three touchdowns, while Luke Drone accounted for six touchdowns after he passed for 440 yards and five TDs, while rushing for another, in a 70-28 defeat of the Sycamores.
- Oct. 13, 2007 at Illinois State
On Homecoming, a trio of running backs rushed for over 100 yards each for the first time in school history, as the Redbirds scored a total of 10 TDs in a 69-17 victory against the Sycamores. Rafael Rice (182), Geno Blow (122) and Cortes Rice (110) each eclipsed the century mark for ISU.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET (NOV. 3, 2012)
The Last Meeting
November 3, 2012
Terre Haute, Ind.
No. 15 Illinois State jumped out to a 17-0 lead and held off a late Indiana State (7-3, 5-2 surge, as the Redbirds topped the No. 14 ranked Sycamores, 17-10. The victory secured a perfect road record for Illinois State, which finished the regular season 5-0 away from Hancock Stadium. The Illinois State defense forced multiple takeaways, as Ben Ericksen and Shelby Harris each recorded an interception, and senior quarterback Matt Brown paced the Illinois State offense, completing 12-of-23 passes for 179 yards and one touchdown to fellow senior Tyrone Walker.
TOPPING THE CENTURY MARK AGAIN
Illinois State did not have a running back rush for over 100 yards in the first four games of the season, but Marshaun Coprich has ended that streak with back-to-back 100-plus yard rushing performances in the last two games for the Redbirds. Coprich rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns last week in a win over Western Illinois (Oct. 5) and followed that up with 110 yards and a touchdown last against Youngstown State (Oct. 12). Thanks to his back-to-back games over the century mark, Coprich has rushed for 395 yards and four touchdowns this season.
With a touchdown on their opening drive of the game at Youngstown State (Oct. 12), the Redbirds have scored on their opening possession of the game four times this season. ISU scored touchdowns on its opening drives in the first three games of the season, but did not in the ensuing two games. Blake Winkler put that to an end by leading a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a two-yard run by Collin Keoshian against the Penguins. Unfortunately, the early leads have not led to wins for the Redbirds, who are 1-3 in games when they score on the opening drive.
73 FOR THE TD
When quarterback Blake Winkler found wide receiver Cameron Meredith for a 73-yard touchdown in the second quarter against Youngstown State (Oct. 12), it marked the longest play of the season for the Redbirds from scrimmage and the longest of each player's career at Illinois State. Winkler topped his previous career-long of 48 yards with the completion, and Meredith doubled his previous long of 38 yards.
SHORT YARD SPECIALIST
When Collin Keoshian was brought in during the offseason as a transfer, he was expected to help in short yardage situations and give the Redbirds a big, power back to complement the rest of the running back stable. Through six games, Keoshian has been extremely valuable in short-yardage situations and has scored six touchdowns on the ground. Each of those touchdowns has been scored from 10 yards or less, with five from under three yards or less, including a two-yard touchdown run at Youngstown State (Oct. 12).
STRENGTH UP THE MIDDLE
Junior defensive tackle Bradon Prate was tough for Western Illinois to block in Illinois State's 35-21 victory (Oct. 5). The Wauconda, Ill., native finished with a half sack, two tackles-for-loss and a pass break up against the Leathernecks. Prate was also credited with a pair of quarterback hurries and was instrumental in the Redbirds allowing just 72 yards on the ground and 211 yards of total offense to the Leathernecks.
Illinois State and Western Illinois met for the 95th time on the gridiron in the long rivalry between the two in-state foes on Oct. 5. Western Illinois has a 50-42-3 advantage in the all-time series and long winning streaks for either school have been hard to come by. With ISU's 35-21 victory over WIU, the Redbirds have now won three games in a row in the series, something the Redbirds haven't done against the Leathernecks since winning three straight from 1946-48.
POUND THE ROCK
Illinois State head coach Brock Spack emphasized the importance of pounding the rock and having a strong rushing attack all week heading into the team's game against Western Illinois (Oct. 5). One look at the final stats and it looks like his message was received, as the Redbirds posted a season-high 185 rushing yards on the ground in the win against the Leathernecks. Sophomore running back Marshaun Coprich led the charge and rushed for 124 yards, becoming the first Redbird back to eclipse the century mark in a game this season, and rushed for a career-high three touchdowns.
BOUNCE BACK EFFORT
Redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Winkler bounced back from a disappointing performance in Illinois State's conference opener at Missouri State (Sept. 28) with a career day against Western Illinois (Oct. 5). The Frankfort, Ill., native completed a career-high 20 passes on 29 attempts and threw for a career-best 234 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Redbirds to a 35-21 victory over their in-state rivals. Winkler got the Redbirds on scoreboard first in the second quarter with a four-yard touchdown pass to Chick Chatham and broke a 21-21 tie in the fourth quarter when he found Milton Colbert on a fade route to the corner for 14 yards and his second touchdown of the game.
JUST TWO YEARS AGO ...
The Redbirds were 2-3 to start the 2011 season and rallied to win five of their last six games of the season to finish with a 7-4 record. Had it not been for a double-overtime loss to nationally-ranked UNI in the season finale, the Redbirds would have been one of the hottest teams heading into the FCS playoffs. The 2013 team would like to put a win streak together like that as well, and the team's win over Western Illinois (Oct. 5) to improve its record to 2-3 may have just kicked off another strong finish to a season for ISU.
DEFENSE STIFFENS AGAINST THE LEATHERNECKS
Illinois State had to replace six starters on defense from a year ago, including all three linebackers, with young, talented but inexperienced players. That youth showed a bit early in the season, but the group may have put it together against Western Illinois (Oct. 5). The Redbird defense allowed just 72 yards on the ground and 139 yards through the air for a total of 211 yards of total offense. The Leathernecks were held scoreless for the first 30 minutes of the game and had amassed just 36 yards of total offense at halftime.
CONTROLLING THE CLOCK
Thanks to a strong rushing attack and just one turnover, Illinois State was able to dominate the time of possession battle in its 35-21 win over Western Illinois (Oct. 5). The Redbirds doubled up the Leathernecks in time of possession, with 40:13 to just 19:47 for WIU. It marked the highest TOP of the season for the Redbirds, but was over three minutes short of the school record of 43:26 set in 1987 against Maine.
Illinois State alumni flocked back to Bloomington-Normal for Homecoming 2013, to remember their fond times at the University and re-live their college experience. They also watched their beloved Redbirds earn a victory, with a 35-21 defeat over Western Illinois. ISU has recorded a winning 47-41-6 record in Homecoming games all-time. Since 1998, the 'Birds are 11-5 in Homecoming contests and have picked up victories in five of the last seven contests overall.
Former Redbird defensive back Sam Young can be found atop several lists in the ISU record books for his outstanding play during his career at ISU. Young added his name to another prestigious list when he was inducted into the Percy Family Illinois State Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2013. Young was named the NCAA FCS Defensive Player of the Year and a First-Team All-America selection by the Football Gazette in 1999 and led the league that year in passes broken up with 21. He ended his illustrious career at ISU as the all-time leader in passes broken up in a single game (6), single season (21) and career (46), before going on to play professionally in the NFL and CFL.
BANK ON IT
Junior cornerback Mike Banks is playing at the highest level of his career through five games for the Redbirds. Banks ranks fifth on the team with 23 tackles and leads all players in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with eight passes defended on the season. The University Park, Ill., native has broken up seven passes, including a career-best three against Western Illinois (Oct. 5), and intercepted his first pass of the season and fourth of his career against the Leathernecks.
'BIRDS COME HOME
After playing three of its first four games away from home, Illinois State began a stretch of four games in five weeks at home when the Redbirds defeated Western Illinois (Oct. 5). The Redbirds have enjoyed their home nest, posting a 19-6 record at Hancock Stadium in the last five seasons under head coach Brock Spack, including a 31-17 win over Abilene Christian in the 2013 home opener (Sept. 21) and the 35-21 victory over the Leathernecks to move to 2-0 at home this season in the newly-renovated Hancock Stadium.
Illinois State headed into the game at Missouri State with just two takeaways through the first three games of the season on defense. However, that number doubled in the game against the Bears as the Redbirds recorded a pair of turnovers. Tevin Allen got credit for both of them, when he registered his first-career interception early in the game, marking Illinois State's first interception of the season. Later in the half, Allen also recovered a fumble forced by Brandon Westphal, which led to an Illinois State score.
First-year Redbird punter CJ Laros has made an immediate impact for ISU and had a career day against Missouri State (Sept. 28). Laros finished with seven punts for 344 total yards, averaging a career-best 49.1 yards-per-punt. The Canberra, Australia, native tallied a career-long 63-yard punt in the first half, launched three balls more than 50 yards, dropped five punts inside the 20 yard line and pinned two punts inside the Missouri State 10 yard line. Laros transferred to Illinois State from Citrus College in California, and was raised playing soccer, rugby and cricket in Australia.