No. 9 Redbirds Welcome in Salukis for Homecoming 2012
The game will be the first of three-straight for the Redbirds at Hancock Stadium.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Illinois State senior quarterback Matt Brown led the Redbirds to a dramatic 34-31 road win at South Dakota Saturday and for his efforts, he was named the MVFC Offensive Player of the Week. The Marion, Ill., native became ISU's all-time leader in career passing yards (8,587) and attempts (1,186) and tied the school record with his 62nd career touchdown pass in the victory over the Coyotes. Brown finished the game with 336 yards passing, including a season-long 79-yard touchdown strike to Donovan Harden that broke a 24-24 tie in the fourth quarter.
Illinois State (5-0, 2-0 MVFC) returns to the friendly confines of Hancock Stadium for the first of three-straight home games, when the No. 9 ranked Redbirds welcome in-state rival Southern Illinois (2-3, 1-1 MVFC) to campus for Homecoming 2012.
Illinois State and Southern Illinois will meet for the 75th time on the gridiron Saturday. The Salukis lead the all-time series 38-33-3, which dates back to 1929. Illinois State snapped a four-game losing streak to Southern Illinois last season, but SIU has won six out of the last nine meetings overall.
The Last Meeting
October 29, 2011
Illinois State: Brock Spack (Purdue, 1983) is in his fourth season as the head coach of the Illinois State Redbirds (24-14). In his three seasons at the helm of the program, the Redbirds have amassed a 16-3 record at home and put together three-straight winning seasons for the first time since 1998-2000.
Southern Illinois: Dale Lennon (North Dakota, 1983) is in his fifth season as the head coach at Southern Illinois (31-21) and his 16th as a collegiate head coach (133-54). He guided the Salukis to back-to-back MVFC titles in 2008 and 2009 and was tabbed as the MVFC and AFCA Region IV Coach of the Year in both seasons.
- Illinois State was home to the Missouri Valley Football Conference's Defensive Player of the Year each season from 2002-06.
- The Redbirds had at least one player selected in the NFL Draft each year from 2005-07.
- Illinois State was the most improved team in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a multi-year rate APR of 943 following the 2010-11 academic year.
- In each of the past six years, ISU student-athletes have contributed more than 2,000 hours of community service to the Bloomington-Normal area, including a school-record 3,500 hours in 2011-12.
- Redbird student-athletes matched a record with a department-wide 3.15 grade-point average during the fall 2011 semester and spring of 2012, while posting a 3.0 mark in six of the last seven semesters.
THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT
- Southern Illinois University is located in Carbondale, Ill., and has an enrollment of 19,817 students. The Salukis are members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference and play their home games at Saluki Stadium (10,000).
- The Salukis return 14 starters and 39 letterwinners from last year's team that finished with a 4-7 overall record and a 2-6 mark (7th) in Missouri Valley Football Conference play.
- SIU is off to a 2-3 start in 2012 and is coming off a 24-3 defeat at home at the hand of Indiana State last Saturday at Saluki Stadium.
- An early defensive struggle turned into a lopsided affair, as the Sycamores scored 17 fourth-quarter points to defeat the Salukis. Two key interceptions for the Sycamores resulted in 10 points scored and control of the momentum in the fourth quarter.
- With 137 yards on Saturday against Indiana State, Kory Faulkner surpassed 2,500 yards for his career. He now has 2,549, which ranks 13th in school history. Faulkner has started the last 12 games behind center for the Salukis and leads the team on offense with 1,064 passing yards and six touchdown passes.
- The SIU defense is led by outside linebacker Jayson DiManche, who has recorded 27 tackles and four sacks this season for the Salukis. He now has 29.5 career tackles for loss, placing him ninth in school history, moving him ahead of Bart Scott on the list.
TIES WITH THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT
- Southern Illinois offensive line coach Phil Meyer earned his bachelor's degree (1979) and master's (1980) from Illinois State, where he played for three seasons. Meyer served as the offensive line coach at ISU in 1994, and he was also a student assistant (1978) and graduate assistant (1979-80) for the Redbirds.
- ISU quarterback Matt Brown and Southern Illinois' Matthew Griffith were high school teammates at Marion High School in Marion, Ill.
- Illinois State's Teddy Corwin and SIU's Chris Adams and Ray Agnew were high school teammates at DeSmet Jesuit High School in suburban St. Louis.
- ISU reserve linebacker Brandon Westphal and freshman linebacker Andre Allen and Southern Illinois' David Boatright and Kenneth Boatright were teammates at Bolingbrook in Bollingbrook, Ill.
- ISU starting cornerback Mike Banks and SIU offensive lineman Tanner Crum were high school teammates at Mt. Carmel High School in Mt. Carmel, Ill.
- Redbird tight end James O'Shaughnessy and Saluki offensive lineman David Meyerhoff were high school teammates at Naperville North High School in Naperville, Ill.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?
In his four years as the starting quarterback for the Redbirds, senior Matt Brown has proven he can do just about anything on the football field behind center. With a strong performance against South Dakota (Sept. 29), Brown cemented his name atop most of Illinois State's career passing records. Brown's name now appears on top of the ISU career charts in pass attempts (1,186), completions (764), yards (8,587) and completion percentage (64.4). Brown also tied Kevin Glenn for first on the career passing touchdowns list with 62, with his 79-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Harden against the Coyotes in the fourth quarter. For his efforts, Brown was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
Illinois State needed a special effort on special teams against South Dakota (Sept. 29) to come away with a tough 34-31 road victory. The Redbirds blocked two punts, punted well and made two big field goals against the Coyotes. Safety Dontae McCoy blocked two punts in the second quarter, one of which led to a touchdown three plays later, to give him three punt blocks for the year. Punter Patrick Wright also had a great day, as he averaged 41 yards per punt and pinned the Coyotes inside their own 20 yard line four times. Capping off the special effort was kicker Nick Aussieker, who made a pair of field goals, including a career-long 42 yarder in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference in the game.
AIRING IT OUT
Redbird quarterback Matt Brown posted his second game with over 300 yards passing this season, with his 336 yards against the South Dakota (Sept. 29). Most of those yards fell into the hands of Donovan Harden and Tyrone Walker, who each had over 100 yards receiving in the Redbird victory. Harden led all receivers with a career-high 139 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown pass from Brown in the fourth quarter that gave the Redbirds the lead for good. Walker had five catches for 110 yards, marking his 11th career game with over 100 yards receiving at Illinois State. Harden and Walker became the second Redbird receiving duo to each record 100 yards in the same game this season, matching the effort of Walker and Lechein Neblett against Eastern Illinois.
BIRDS FLYING HIGH IN POLLS
The Illinois State football team has set up shop in the national polls recently and has little plans of moving out. After heading into the season ranked in both The Sports Network and FCS Coaches Polls in 2012, ISU was ranked No. 9 in The Sports Network Top 25 Poll and No. 11 in the FCS Coaches Poll following its 34-31 road victory at South Dakota (Sept. 29). The Redbirds have now been ranked for 12-straight weeks dating back to last season and have cracked the top-10 for the first time since 2007.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
The friendly confines of Hancock Stadium have treated Illinois State extremely well over the past four seasons with head coach Brock Spack at the helm of the program. With ISU's 55-51 double overtime win over Eastern Illinois (Sept. 15), the Redbirds improved to 16-3 at Hancock Stadium under Spack and have won nine out of their last 10 games at home, dating back to 2010. The `Birds have also been victorious in their home-opener the past four seasons.
WALKER MOVING UP THE CHARTS
Tyrone Walker is approaching some serious career milestones at Illinois State along with teammate Matt Brown. The Indianapolis, Ind., native needs two receptions to take over the top spot on the ISU all-time list from current Jacksonville Jaguar Laurént Robinson (192). Walker also trails Robinson (29) in career touchdown receptions in second place with 24 and is just 29 yards away from taking over second place on the career receiving yardage list from Rickey Garrett (2,719).
The Redbirds will welcome back thousands of alumni and friends back to campus this weekend for Homecoming 2012, and if recent history repeats itself they will be treated to a great football game. Since 1998, the Redbirds have gone 10-4 in their Homecoming contests and they have won the last three in a row under head coach Brock Spack. The Redbirds and the Salukis have faced each other 15 times on Homcoming at ISU, with the series knotted at 7-7-1. The last time the two teams met on Homecoming was in 2006, when the No. 5 ranked Redbirds defeated the No. 7 ranked Salukis by a score of 37-10 in front of the sixth-largest crowd to watch a game at Hancock Stadium (17,237).
With the team's 34-31 road victory at South Dakota, ISU head coach Brock Spack recorded his 24th victory with the Redbirds and moved into a tie with Todd Berry for eighth place on the Illinois State career wins list. Spack is 24-14 (.631) as the Redbirds' mentor and could potentially move past Gerry Hart (26) with more wins down the stretch. Berry finished his four-year career with a 24-24 overall record, which included a 19-7 record over his final two seasons.
REDBIRDS ON A ROLL
Off to its first 5-0 record since 1967, the Illinois State football team has been on a hot streak of late and is in the midst of the most successful run in school history. Dating back to last season, the Redbirds have won 10 out of their last 11 games, marking the best run over an 11-game span in the history of the Redbird football program. ISU won five straight from Oct. 8 to Nov. 5 in 2011, before dropping the season finale in double overtime to Northern Iowa to snap the win streak. Add in the five-straight wins to open 2012, and the Redbirds have been on quite a roll.
RACKING UP TACKLES
With his 13 tackles in a 34-31 win over South Dakota (Sept. 29), ISU middle linebacker Mike Zimmer posted his third-straight double-digit tackling effort of the season. Zimmer became the first Redbird to post a double-digit tackling efforts on the season, after he set a career-best with 15 stops in the double-overtime win against Eastern Illinois (Sept. 15). Zimmer now leads the Redbirds with 48 stops on the season, with 3.5 sacks and four tackles-for-loss.
Darrelynn Dunn has embraced his role as the starting running back and has put up a four impressive performances in the first five games for the Redbirds. Dunn had a career day in the 56-14 season-opening win over the Dayton Flyers (Sept. 1), when he set career-highs in carries (25), yards (127) and touchdowns (3) against the Flyers to pace a Redbird rushing attack that amassed 318 yards on the ground on the day. The Bloomington, Ill., native followed that up by rushing for a career-high 129 yards against Eastern Michigan (Sept. 8), and he scored two more touchdowns. After a tough game against Eastern Illinois (Sept. 15), Dunn rebounded with 114 yards and two more rushing touchdowns in the 23-3 victory at Western Illinois (Sept. 22). He capped off the run with 107 yards and two more touchdowns on the ground at South Dakota (Sept. 29). Overall, Dunn leads the team with 533 yards and nine touchdowns on the season.