Eastern Illinois 2015 FCS Football Playoff Capsule

Eastern Illinois Panthers
Ohio Valley


Eastern Illinois got off to a rough start. It was not just the fact that they were 0-3, but it was how they lost those games. In the season opener against Western Illinois, the Panthers lost 33-5. That was a game this team should have won. Against Northwestern the offense failed to do anything and was shutout. And then EIU hosted Illinois State and lost in overtime. That was a tough loss for Coach Kim Dameron since it left his team with very little margin for error. But the Panthers only lost one other game, against top ranked Jacksonville State, to finish the year 7-4 and make the playoffs.

2015 Record: 7-4, 7-1
Coach: Kim Dameron

Big Wins: 11/14 at UT Martin (3-24), 11/21 Eastern Kentucky (21-7)
Bad Losses: 9/3 at Western Illinois (5-33), 11/7 Jacksonville State (3-24)

It has been the defense that has really stepped up and given EIU the opportunity to win seven OVC games. The unit has not been completely dominant by any means, but they are solid. They have allowed between 16 points and 28 points against all OVC opponents until the season finale, when they held Eastern Kentucky to 7 points. The defense has a lot of talent on all levels. Dino Fanti is one of the best defensive tackles in the FCS and spends a lot of time in the backfield. So does linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill. Junior linebacker Seth McDonald is the team’s top tackler and a big-time hitter. Jourdan Wickliffe leads a talented group in the secondary. But keep an eye out for sophomore Bradley Dewberry. He has really stepped up his game and helped corners Dylan Chatman and Antonie Johnson have stellar seasons.

Not long ago, Eastern Illinois had one of the most potent offenses in the country. That seems like a long time ago now. Quarterback Jalen Whitlow has had some solid outings, but he has also thrown nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions on the year and has completed just 51.2 percent of his passes. His leading receiver in terms of receptions is also his running back, which is never a good sign. But Devin Church is a dangerous playmaker and has rushed for 708 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 26 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Shepard Little has had a bit of a disappointing senior season, but the running back is a tough player and is a nice change of pace back for Church. But there is not much explosiveness to this offense, especially against tougher competition.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Devin Church, RB, 708 yards
Passing: Jalen Whitlow, QB, 1,657 yards
Receiving: Isaiah Nelson, WR, 347 yards
Tackles: Seth McDonald, LB,104
Sacks: Dino Fanti, DT, 7.5
Interceptions: Jourdan Wickliffe, DB,5

2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 183.5 (38th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 162.7 (95, 8)
Total Offense: 346.2 (80, 6)
Scoring Offense: 24.5 (73, 7)
Rushing Defense: 173.4 (72, 4)
Pass Defense: 195.0 (34, 2)
Total Defense: 368.4 (47, 3)
Scoring Defense: 25.9 (58, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.20 (50, 5)
Sacks: 2.00 (58, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 0.90 (9, 2)

Recent Playoff Appearances:
2013    Second Round    Defeated Tennessee State
2013    Quarterfinals    Lost to Towson
2012    First Round    Lost to South Dakota State
2009    First Round     Lost to Southern Illinois
2007    First Round     Lost to Southern Illinois
2006    First Round     Lost to Illinois State
2005    First Round     Lost to Southern Illinois
2002    First Round     Lost to Western Illinois
2001    First Round     Lost to Northern Iowa
2000    First Round    Lost to Montana
1996    First Round    Lost to Northern Iowa
1995    First Round    Lost to Stephen F. Austin
1989    First Round    Defeated Idaho
1989    Quarterfinals    Lost to Montana
1986    First Round    Defeated Murray State
1986    Quarterfinals    Lost to Eastern Kentucky
1983    First Round    Lost to Indiana State
1982    First Round    Defeated Jackson State
1982    Quarterfinals    Lost to Tennessee State

*all team stats through 11/14


Playoff Central