Illinois State FCS Football 2012 Playoff Capsule

Illinois State Redbirds
Missouri Valley


Illinois State had a very good season in the always tough Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Redbirds have the potential to equal their great playoff run of 1999 when they reached the semifinals before bowing out to Georgia Southern. Illinois State has only reached the playoffs one other time since 1999. But that is life in the MVFC and Coach Brock Spack has the tools to make a lot of noise 2012.

2012 Record: 8-3, 5-3
Coach: Brock Spack

Big Wins: 9/8 at Eastern Michigan (31-14), 11/3 at Indiana State (17-10)
Bad Losses: 10/6 Southern Illinois (0-17), 10/20 Missouri State (17-24)

This is a team that led the conference in passing and total offense. Quarterback Matt Brown is an experienced senior who can make the big throws. Brown threw for 2,676 yards and 20 touchdowns in the 11 regular season games. He has three very good wide receivers to work with. Tyrone Walker is the biggest receiving threat after catching 71 passes for 995 yards and six touchdowns. But while the opposition focuses on Walker, Donovan Harden and Lechein Neblett will find a way to get open. The passing attack is not just effective because of the experienced quarterback and the talented wideouts. The offensive line deserves a ton of credit. Brown is deceptively elusive, but Illinois State allows less than a sack a game. That is an amazing number for a team that throws as much as the Redbirds. The line was an issue heading into the 2012 campaign, but they have done a superb job. The run blocking has been pretty good too. Darrelynn Dunn may not put up huge numbers week in and week out, but he is talented enough to keep the opposing defense off balance.

The defense is not dominating, but they will help Illinois State win the turnover battle. Free safety Ben Eriksen has a nose for interceptions and the front four does a great job getting pressure on the quarterback. Colton Underwood and Nate Palmer seem to always be in the quarterbacks face. The consistent pressure helps the relatively inexperienced cornerbacks immensely, but Illinois State can struggle against potent passing offenses that have a big, tough offensive line. However, it is usually not the defense that causes Illinois State to lose games. Their losses this season have generally come when the offense has struggled. The Redbirds can win a low scoring contest, but two of their lowest scoring outputs resulted in low scoring losses. The defense did their job holding teams like Southern Illinois and Missouri State to 17 and 24 points, respectively, but the offense could not put up their usual scoring totals. For the Redbirds to make a playoff run like the one in 1999, they will need the offense and the defense to be at their best.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Darrelynn Dunn, RB, 850 yards
Passing: Matt Brown, QB, 2,676 yards
Receiving: Tyrone Walker, WR, 995 yards
Tackles: Mike Zimmer, LB, 109
Sacks: Colton Underwood, DE, 9.5
Interceptions: Ben Ericksen, S, 7

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 138.80 (74th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 251.40 (26, 1)
Total Offense: 390.20 (47, 1)
Scoring Offense: 30.00 (36, 2)
Rushing Defense: 123.30 (22, 5)
Pass Defense: 184.00 (30, 7)
Total Defense: 307.30 (13, 4)
Scoring Defense: 21.30 (28, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.90 (10, 1)
Sacks: 3.30 (4, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 0.70 (5, 1)

Recent Playoff Appearances:
2006    First Round     Defeated Eastern Illinois
2006    Quarterfinals    Lost to Youngstown State
1999    First Round    Defeated Colgate
1999    Quarterfinals    Defeated Hofstra
1999    Semifinals    Lost to Georgia Southern
1998    First Round    Lost to Northwestern State

*all team stats through 11/10


Playoff Central