#26 Indiana State FCS Football 2012 Preview

Indiana State Sycamores

Overall Rank: #26
#5 Missouri Valley
Indiana State FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Indiana State Team Page


Indiana State was so close to reaching the playoffs last season, but a tough home loss to Southern Illinois kept them out of the equation. But the 2011 campaign was still a big stepping stone for Coach Trent Miles and the Sycamores. There is a lot of talent to replace and this may not be the year Indiana State reaches the playoffs, but they can rebuild and stay competitive. With Shakir Bell leading the way, Indiana State can beat anybody on any given Saturday. Bell led the FCS, averaging 151.82 rushing yards per game. He added 14 rushing touchdowns and the Sycamores can ride their workhorse all season long.

2011 Record: (6-5, 4-4)
2011 Postseason: None
Coach: Trent Miles (13-32 at Indiana State, 13-32 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Harold Etheridge
Defensive Coordinator: Jesse Minter

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Shakir Bell, RB, 1,670 yards
Passing: None
Receiving: Donald Spencer, WR, 459 yards
Tackles: Aaron Archie, LB, 122
Sacks: Ben Obaseki, DE, 7.5
Interceptions: Calvin Burnett, CB, 2; Johnny Towalid, DB, 2

Other Key Returnees: S Larry King, C FN Lutz, DT Garrison McElroy, OT Casey Paswater, LB Jacolby Washington, OT Justin Wood

Key Losses: CB Larry Carter, QB Ronnie Fouch, G Ben Geffert, DT Rod Hardy, WR Justin Hilton, WR Alex Jones, LB Ryan Roberts, S Alex Sewall, G Mike Smith

The Indiana State defense was not spectacular last year, but there is reason for hope. While there are key holes to fill, the Sycamores have some leaders back who should be ready to step up and take control of the defense. Defensive end Ben Obaseki tallied 14.5 tackles-for-loss, 7.5 sacks and nine quarterback hurries last year. The other two spots on the front line will need new starters, but look for players like sophomore Garrison McElroy to pick up the slack. The return of Aaron Archie and Jacolby Washington will give the entire defense a steadiness in the middle. Those two combined for 242 tackles in 2011 and will be the leaders of the defense. Ryan Roberts and his versatility from the outside linebacker spot will be missed, but Zakee Bashir has some starting experience and can help fill the void. The secondary lost its leader in Alex Sewall, but the Sycamores do have a solid base to build around. Calvin Burnett is a fine corner and Johnny Towalid made some big plays. Larry King is a returning starter at safety and Donovan Layne is another one of those many sophomores who saw some playing time in 2011 and will need to step up his game in 2012.

At times the Indiana State offense was pretty stagnant. And that should not happen when you have the nation’s top rusher in the backfield. The offense seemed to hand it off to Bell or throw it deep. The result was a boom or bust passing attack. Making matters worse, quarterback Ronnie Fouch is gone and so are the top two receivers. Despite the critics of the passing attack, Fouch did throw 18 touchdown passes and the Sycamores often found it easier to punch the ball into the end zone through the air. With a new quarterback and some new receivers, that may not work as well. The quarterback battle will likely come down to freshman Trent Lancaster and Western Michigan transfer Mike Perish. Every returning quarterback on the roster is gone, so this is an issue that could last well into the fall. Donald Spencer will be the new go-to-receiver for whoever ends up under center. Spencer is a big 6-2 receiver who caught six touchdown passes in 2011. He is not a deep threat, like the departed Justin Hilton and Alex Jones, but having your best receiver able to run short routes is not a bad thing. Some younger, speedier receivers will emerge for the deep balls. The offensive line does return tackles Casey Paswater and Justin Wood, but an injury to center FN Lutz could be a huge problem. Lutz was injured in the spring and could be out for the season. Evan Borchers was a starter a couple years ago before missing last season and a few transfers will be in the mix as well, but changes on the offensive line could spell trouble for the offense if they take too long to come together and help Bell reach for another record breaking season.

The Bottom Line:
There should be plenty of quality depth on this team, but they are just unproven. Coach Miles has had some good recruiting classes and picked up some solid transfers over the last couple of years. Those players are generally inexperienced, but there are enough of them that the holes should be filled relatively easily. The biggest problem on defense will be at the tackle spot, but there are options like McElroy and a handful of ends who could make the move to the middle. If the newcomers are ready to at least fill in off of the bench and last year’s freshmen are ready to take the step from roleplayers to starters, this is an Indiana State team that can again be on the cusp of a playoff berth.

Projected Postseason: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 181.91 (31st in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 187.64 (67, 5)
Total Offense: 369.55 (53, 5)
Scoring Offense: 28.64 (39, 3)
Rushing Defense: 168.91 (82, 6)
Pass Defense: 204.36 (57, 5)
Total Defense: 373.27 (72, 6)
Scoring Defense: 27.27 (69, 6)
Turnover Margin: -.64 (92, 7)
Sacks: 2.00 (56, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 2.09 (64, 6)

Madness 2012 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#152 Beau Shields