Western Illinois 2015 FCS Football Playoff Capsule

Western Illinois Leathernecks
Missouri Valley


2015 Record: 6-5, 5-3
Coach: Bob Nielson

Big Wins: 10/17 at Northern Iowa (24-19), 11/21 South Dakota State (30-24)
Bad Losses: 10/31 Youngstown State (21-23), 11/7 at North Dakota State (7-59)

The recent success has come with quarterback Sean McGuire under center. He had some mop-up duty earlier, but started the last two games of the season when Trenton Norvell was out following surgery for appendicitis. Norvell threw for 2,110 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year, while McGuire threw for 332 yards against Indiana State and 282 yards against South Dakota State. On top of his three passing touchdowns in those two games, he also ran for a couple scores. Norvell is not nearly as dangerous of a threat with his feet, but WIU must feel good about both of their quarterbacks right now. They also should be feeling good about running back Nikko Watson, who has come on strong the last two games while Norvell was sidelined.

With the schedule this team has played, it is understandable the defensive numbers are not all that good. But they have had some solid outings too, like holding Northern Iowa to 19 points and South Dakota State to 24 points in two overtimes. Brett Taylor is a ball hawk and seems to always be around the ball and Aaron Diggs and Timothy Smith have made some big plays in the secondary. But it is tough for the secondary to do too much when the front line has trouble getting to the quarterback. Western Illinois ranks 115th in the FCS and averages less than a sack per game. No player on the team has more than 2.5 sacks on the season and that could turn into a big problem once WIU runs into a team that can pick apart the secondary given all of that time.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Nikko Watson, RB, 1,003 yards
Passing: Trenton Norvell, QB, 2,110 yards
Receiving: Lance Lenoir, WR, 994 yards
Tackles: Brett Taylor, LB, 123
Sacks: Khalen Saunders, DL, 2.5
Interceptions: Timothy Smith, DB, 3

2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 134.2 (82nd in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 248.2 (35, 3)
Total Offense: 382.4 (59, 7)
Scoring Offense: 25.4 (65, 8)
Rushing Defense: 186.1 (80, 7)
Pass Defense: 214.4 (60, 6)
Total Defense: 400.5 (75, 7)
Scoring Defense: 31.9 (83, 7)
Turnover Margin: 0.30 (38, 4)
Sacks: 0.90 (115, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 1.10 (21, 2)

Recent Playoff Appearances:
2010    First Round    Defeated Coastal Carolina
2010    Second Round    Lost to Appalachian State
2003    First Round    Defeated Montana
2003    Quarterfinals    Lost to Colgate
2002    First Round    Defeated Eastern Illinois
2002    Quarterfinals    Lost to Western Kentucky
2000    First Round    Lost to Lehigh
1998    First Round    Defeated Montana
1998    Quarterfinals    Defeated Florida A&M
1998    Semifinals    Lost to Georgia Southern
1997    First Round    Defeated Jackson State
1997    Quarterfinals    Lost to McNeese State
1996    First Round    Lost to Murray State
1991    First Round    Lost to Marshall
1988    First Round    Lost to Western Kentucky

*all team stats through 11/14


Playoff Central