Eastern Illinois FCS Football 2012 Playoff Capsule

Eastern Illinois Panthers
Ohio Valley


Last year Eastern Illinois went 2-9. This year they won the Ohio Valley Conference. And it is not like the OVC had a down year either. The Panthers beat out Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee-Martin, Tennessee State, Jacksonville State and Murray State for the conference’s automatic bid to the playoffs. Those are some good teams. Coach Dino Babers did have a lot of returning starters to work with during his first season in charge, but few expected such a dramatic turnaround.

2012 Record: 7-4, 6-1
Coach: Dino Babers

Big Wins: 8/30 Southern Illinois (49-28), 10/27 at Eastern Kentucky (24-7)
Bad Losses: 9/15 at Illinois State (51-54), 10/6 at Tennessee-Martin (37-51)

Coach Babers opened up the offense even more and the results have been impressive. EIU will throw the ball all over the field. Jimmy Garoppolo has a lot of experience and he clicked with the new offensive scheme. The 6-3 signal caller passed for 3,602 yards and 31 touchdowns during the regular season. Garoppolo does not always have all the time he needs, but he is a pretty elusive quarterback. Down the field he has plenty of quality targets too. Erik Lora came back strong following an injury that claimed his entire 2011 campaign. Lora leads the team with 124 catches for 1,531 yards and 12 touchdowns. Chris Wright is the big play receiver and Chavar Watkins and tight end Sam Hendricks are quality targets as well. The success of the passing game has led to plenty of room for running backs Jake Walker and Taylor Duncan. Walker will get a majority of the carries and Duncan, who used to be a quarterback, is more of a bruiser.

The Panthers defense greatly improved in the running game this season. Sophomore linebacker Robert Haynes stepped into a leadership role this year and is a big reason why it is so difficult to run against EIU. LeQuince McCall, who played at Baylor, is a solid run stuffer in the middle of the field. The defensive line, led by ends Artavious Dowdell and Greg Mahan, have been pretty productive getting to the quarterback. Meanwhile, Pat Wertz and Roosevelt Holliday have done an admirable job in the middle of the line. The pass defense has been a bit more susceptible to the big plays, but considering the passing attacks EIU has seen in the OVC, they have done as well as one could hope. The defense can create a few turnovers, but this is a team with a negative turnover margin. The offense has to take care of the ball and the defense needs to make a game changing play or two if this team hopes to win a playoff game for the first time since 1989.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Jake Walker, RB, 1,008 yards
Passing: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 3,602 yards
Receiving: Erik Lora, WR, 1,531 yards
Tackles: Robert Haynes, LB, 95
Sacks: Artavious Dowdell, DE, 7.5
Interceptions: Tavares Crawford, CB, 2; Robert Haynes, LB, 2; Jourdan Wickliffe, S, 2

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 141.80 (71st in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 357.00 (5, 2)
Total Offense: 498.80 (4, 1)
Scoring Offense: 39.80 (5, 1)
Rushing Defense: 149.70 (53, 2)
Pass Defense: 268.70 (112, 5)
Total Defense: 418.40 (97, 3)
Scoring Defense: 32.80 (99, 5)
Turnover Margin: -0.30 (78, 6)
Sacks: 2.10 (45, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 2.40 (78, 7)

Recent Playoff Appearances:
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 11/10


Playoff Central