Illinois State Closes Out 2013 on the Road Against Southern Illinois
Colton Underwood

Colton Underwood

Nov. 13, 2013

 Illinois State (5-5, 4-3 MVFC) at Southern Illinois (5-5, 3-3 MVFC)
 Date  Saturday, Nov. 16
 Location
 Carbondale, Ill.
 Kickoff
 2:00 p.m. CT
 Stadium
 Saluki Stadium
 Stadium Capacity
 15,000
 Radio  WJBC/Country Financial Illinois State Radio Network (Dick Luedke & Ted Schmitz)
 Watch  CSN Chicago (Kurt Pegler & Boomer Grigsby)
 Live Stats  GameTracker
 Game Notes  Illinois State | Southern Illinois | Missouri Valley Football Conference

PLAYER TO WATCH
Senior defensive end Colton Underwood will be playing in his final game with the Redbirds Saturday at SIU. The 2013 Buck Buchanan Award Watch List selection has had a lot of success in his career against the Salukis, with 16 tackles, 4.0 tackles-for-loss and a 53 yard fumble recovery for a touchdown the last time the Redbirds played in Carbondale during the 2011 season.

THE GAME
Illinois State (5-5, 4-3 MVFC) will wrap up the regular season and look for its first road win of the season, when it travels to Carbondale, Ill., for a Saturday match up with in-state rival Southern Illinois (5-5, 3-3 MVFC) at Saluki Stadium on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

THE SERIES
The Redbirds and the Salukis will meet for the 76th time on the gridiron Saturday, with the Salukis holding a 39-33-3 advantage in the all-time series between the schools that dates back to 1929. SIU has won five of the last six meetings overall, but the Redbirds picked up a 38-30 win in their last trip to Saluki Stadium on Oct. 29, 2011.

THE COACHES
Illinois State: Brock Spack (Purdue, 1983) is in his fifth season as the head coach at Illinois State (33-23). 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 Eddie Robinson Award during the 2012 season.

Southern Illinois: Dale Lennon (North Dakota, 1983) is in his sixth season as the head coach at Southern Illinois (40-28). Lennon guided the Salukis to back-to-back Missouri Valley Football Conference titles in 2008 and 2009 and was tabbed as the MVFC and AFCA Region IV Coach of the Year in both seasons.

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 22-6 at home under Spack's guidance.
  • ISU finished the 2013 regular season undefeated at home (5-0), the first perfect home record for the Redbirds since 1999.
  • The team set a program-record cumulative GPA in the Spring 2013 semester.

THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT

  • Southern Illinois University is located in Carbondale, Ill., and has an enrollment of 18,817 students. The Salukis are members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference and play their home games at Saluki Stadium (15,000).
  • The Salukis finished the 2012 season with a 6-5 record, including a 5-3 record in MVFC play which tied the Salukis for third place in the conference standings.
  • SIU dropped a couple of tough games at Illinois and against No. 14 Eastern Illinois to start the season, before picking up wins over Charleston and Southeast Missouri State (played at Busch Stadium in St. Louis).
  • The Salukis started MVFC play with four-straight games against ranked opponents. SIU dropped a one-point game to No. 25 Youngstown State before defeating No. 7 South Dakota State and No. 4 Northern Iowa in back-to-back road games. They ended the tough streak with a loss at home to No. 1 North Dakota State on Oct. 19.
  • SIU built a 14-0 first quarter advantage last week against Missouri State, before the Bears took a 21-17 lead in the final five minutes of the first half and held on the rest of the way for a 37-27 victory to drop the Salukis to 5-5 on the season.
  • Offensively, the Salukis are led by tight end MyCole Pruitt. Pruitt leads the team with 48 catches for 601 yards and is tied for the team lead with five touchdown receptions. John Lantz combines with Pruitt to make a dangerous receiving combo, as he has caught 42 passes for a team-leading 773 yards and five touchdowns.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS VS. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS

  • Oct. 24, 1992 at Illinois State
    In a 35-11 win against the Salukis, senior running back Toby Davis ran for 248 yards, which ranks third in ISU history, on a school-record 48 carries.
  • Oct. 19, 2002 at Illinois State
    The Redbirds shut down nation's No. 1 scoring offense and quarterback Mike Souza threw for 275 yards and rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the 35-14 win over the Salukis.
  • Oct. 15, 2005 at Southern Illinois
    Illinois State scored 21 points in the first quarter on the way to a 61-35 defeat of the No. 1 ranked Salukis at McAndrew Stadium. Running back Brian Thompson rushed for 165 yards and four touchdowns on the ground and quarterback Luke Drone threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns, 180 yards of which fell into the arms of Laurent Robinson.
  • Oct. 14, 2006 at Illinois State
    In front of the sixth-largest crowd in Hancock Stadium history (17,237), the No. 5 ranked Redbirds scored 30 unanswered points, while limiting the No. 7 Salukis, who possessed the league's top offense, to just 10 points on Homecoming. Pierre Rembert rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown in the win and Pierre Jackson (131) and Jason Horton (120) each recorded over 100 yards receiving in the 37-10 win.

The Last Meeting
Southern Illinois (Homecoming)17
Illinois State0
October 6, 2012
Normal, Ill.
No. 9 Redbirds Suffer First Loss of 2012, Fall to SIU 17-0
Despite a strong defensive effort, No. 9 Illinois State (5-1, 2-1 MVFC) struggled on offense and Southern Illinois (3-3, 1-1 MVFC) tallied four interceptions in handing the Redbirds a 17-0 defeat Saturday, in front of a sold-out crowd of 8,000 fans on Homecoming at Hancock Stadium.



THE LAST TIME THEY MET (OCT. 6, 2012)

Despite a strong defensive effort, No. 9 Illinois State struggled on offense and Southern Illinois tallied four interceptions in handing the Redbirds a 17-0 defeat in front of a sold-out crowd of 8,000 fans on Homecoming at Hancock Stadium. The shutout was the first for the Redbirds since Nov. 20, 2004, when they were blanked 28-0 at Florida Atlantic, and the first shutout at home since Sept. 23, 1995, against Hofstra (27-0).

WINNING SEASON ON THE LINE
After its loss at North Dakota State (Nov. 9), Illinois State dropped to 5-5 on the season with one game remaining today at Southern Illinois. If the Redbirds can come away with a victory in Carbondale, it will mark the fifth-straight winning campaign for the Redbirds under the leadership of head coach Brock Spack. The last Redbird teams to post five or more winning seasons in a row were led by Edwin Struck in the late 1940's.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES
One look at the breakdown of Illinois State's wins and losses and one thing is clear: the Redbirds like playing at home. ISU is 5-5 on the season, with all five wins coming at home and all five losses on the road. The trend is much different from the 2012 season, when the Redbirds won all their road games in the regular season but struggled to a 3-3 record at home at Hancock Stadium.

LATE SEASON TURNAROUND
During the first four games of the season, Illinois State amassed a 1-3 record and had trouble finding consistency in the running game. However, due to the emergence of sophomore running back Marshaun Coprich leading to a more balanced offensive attack, the Redbirds have gone 4-2 over the last six games to even their record at 5-5. Coprich averaged 3.4 yards per carry and 40 yards per game on the ground through the first four contests and did not find the end zone. Over the past six games, Coprich is up to 4.4 yards per carry and 105 yards per game on the ground and has scored all nine of his touchdowns.

THE REAL McCOY
Junior safety Dontae McCoy posted a career-best 12 tackles in Illinois State's defeat at North Dakota State (Nov. 9). The Palos Heights, Ill., native topped his previous career best of seven tackles with a career-high 12 against the Bison. McCoy also added a tackle for loss in the game on a safety blitz. His performance continued a strong three-game stretch, over which he's averaged eight tackles per game, forced a fumble and recorded two tackles for loss from his safety position.

PERFECT AT HOME
Last season, Illinois State finished the regular season with a perfect 5-0 record in road games on way to an appearance in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs. The 2013 team set a goal to be perfect at home inside the newly-renovated Hancock Stadium, and the team secured a perfect 5-0 regular season home record with a hard-fought 13-3 victory over UNI (Nov. 2). The unblemished record at home is the first for the Redbirds since 1999, when that team finished 5-0 during the regular season and added a home playoff win to finish 6-0.

GETTING DEFENSIVE
Over the past four seasons, the Redbird defense had scored seven touchdowns, but had not found the end zone in 2013 until its game with UNI (Nov. 2). Late in the first quarter, safety Tevin Allen scooped up a dropped lateral attempt and returned it 17 yards for a score. It marked the first defensive touchdown for Illinois State since Alex Donnelly returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown last season versus Eastern Illinois. With the touchdown, Illinois State has scored at least one defensive touchdown each year under Brock Spack.

WINNING UGLY
There was nothing pretty happening on the field offensively for either team in ISU's 13-3 win over UNI (Nov. 2). The Redbirds amassed just 198 yards of total offense in the win, marking the first time in over 20 years ISU won a game without gaining over 200 yards. The last time ISU won without gaining over 200 yards was Sept. 9, 1989, vs. Central State at Hancock Stadium, when the Redbirds had 94 total yards on 41 plays in a 10-9 win. It also marked the first win for the Redbirds without scoring an offensive touchdown since a 6-3 victory over Indiana State on Oct. 5, 1991, at Hancock Stadium.

ALLEN TAKES HOME WEEKLY HONORS
Illinois State junior defensive back Tevin Allen was selected as one of five College Sporting News All-Stars, for his performance in the team's 13-3 win over UNI (Nov. 2).The national honor is the first for Allen in his career at ISU and the first for a Redbird player this season. Allen was also previously named the MVFC co-Defensive Player of the Week, sharing the weekly honor with Missouri State's Jeremy Springer. In his first career start at safety, the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native finished the game with a career-high eight solo tackles, a tackle-for-loss, his second interception of the season and returned a fumble 17 yards for a touchdown.

THAT WAS QUICK
Late in the first quarter against UNI (Nov. 2), Illinois State needed just eight seconds to score 10 points and jump out to an early lead against the Panthers. Placekicker Nick Aussieker nailed a 24-yard field goal with 3:40 left in the first quarter to put the Redbirds up 3-0. After a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, safety Tevin Allen scooped up a dropped lateral and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown eight seconds later to put ISU up by 10 points.

ELIMINATING THE BIG PLAY
In Illinois State's losses to nationally-ranked Eastern Illinois and Youngstown State, the Redbird defense allowed a total of 24 plays of over 20 yards or more and the two teams scored a total of nine touchdowns over 20 yards. However, during the team's three-game winning streak from Oct. 19-Nov. 2, the defense solidified and cracked down on big-play opportunities. Indiana State, South Dakota and Northern Iowa combined to record just 10 plays of over 20 yards or more and scored just one touchdown on a big play over that time.

AUSSIEKER OUT-SCORES UNI
Junior placekicker Nick Aussieker booted a pair of field goals for Illinois State and converted an extra point attempt to score seven of ISU's points in the team's hard-fought 13-3 victory over UNI (Nov. 2) at Hancock Stadium. The Wildwood, Mo., native put the Redbirds on the scoreboard first with a 24-yard make in the first quarter and put a cap on the scoring with a 28 yard field goal in the fourth quarter to seal the ISU victory. Aussieker tied a career-best with the two field goal makes and continues to show why the Fred Mitchell Award recognized him among 35 placekickers for their excellence on the football field and in the community during the month of October.

FINDING THE END ZONE
A total of eight ISU players have caught touchdown passes this year, including senior Corey Shandrick and Scott Kuehn who each hauled in their first touchdown catch of the season vs. South Dakota (Oct. 26). Shandrick opened the scoring with a career-long 33-yard touchdown catch from Winkler in the first quarter, just his eighth reception of the season and second touchdown of his career. Kuehn's first career touchdown came on a 35-yard pass from Winkler in the second quarter and was just his third career catch in three seasons.

MAKE THAT FOUR IN A ROW
Illinois State did not have a running back rush for over 100 yards in the first four games of the season, but Marshaun Coprich ended that streak with four-consecutive 100-plus yard rushing performances for the Redbirds in each game they played in the month of October. Against South Dakota (Oct. 26), he made it four in a row when he rushed for 108 yards on a career-high 34 carries to become the first Redbird with four-straight games rushing over the century mark since 2007. Coprich started the streak by rushing for 124 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Western Illinois (Oct. 5) and followed that up with 110 yards and a touchdown against Youngstown State (Oct. 12). Then, against Indiana State (Oct. 19), the Victorville, Calif., native rushed for a career-high 137 yards on 18 carries and tied a career-best with three touchdowns against the Sycamores.

PRATE WAS GREAT
After helping Illinois State to a 28-14 victory over South Dakota (Oct. 26), junior defensive tackle Bradon Prate was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Week by the league office (Oct. 27). Prate did it all for the Redbirds on defense against the Coyotes. The Wauconda, Ill., native recorded three tackles, a sack, broke up three passes at the line of scrimmage and intercepted his first career pass. Prate recorded three of ISU's 10 pass deflections in the game and his final of the day fell back into his arms for an interception, which he returned 43 yards to the South Dakota 21-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

NINE IS FINE
With just nine pass completions, it would be hard for any Redbird quarterback to lead his team to victory. However, that's exactly what Blake Winkler did against South Dakota (Oct. 26), as he threw a career-high three touchdown passes on just nine completions to lead the Redbirds to a 28-14 victory. As interesting as that stat may look, it is not all that uncommon for a Redbird quarterback because Matt Brown was 9-for-21 in a 31-17 win over Western Illinois just two years ago on Nov. 5, 2011.

AMMONS LEADS THE WAY
The Illinois State offensive line has led the way for a 100-yard rusher the past four weeks and one of its members was recognized for that accomplishment, when right guard Rocco Ammons was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week by the league office (Oct. 28). Ammons had a stellar day in helping Illinois State improve to 4-0 at Hancock Stadium with a win over South Dakota (Oct. 26). The Warrenville, Ill., native graded out at 95 percent and led the way for running back Marshaun Coprich, who rushed for 108 yards on a career-high 34 carries against the Coyotes. Ammons also helped protect redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Winkler, who led the Redbirds to a win with a career-best three touchdown passes, despite completing just nine passes on the day.

WE ONLY NEED ONE
On two separate occasions in Illinois State's 28-14 victory over South Dakota (Oct. 26), the Redbirds need just one play to score. In the first quarter, Blake Winkler found Corey Shandrick for a 33-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter for a one-play drive. Later, in the third quarter, Marshaun Coprich took the first carry of the Redbird drive for 27 yards to the end zone for the score to give the Redbirds a pair of one-play scoring drives. The one-play scoring drives were the second and third of the season respectively, adding to the one-play, 12-yard drive that lasted just six seconds against Indiana State (Oct. 19).