#28 Indiana State FCS Football 2013 Preview

Indiana State Sycamores

Overall Rank: #28
#6 Missouri Valley

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Trent Miles left Indiana State to usher Georgia State into the FBS. The Sycamores went out and hired former Utah State assistant head coach Mike Sanford. Coach Sanford was largely responsible for the balanced and dynamic offense the Aggies have had over the recent years. It will take some time, but the Indiana State offense will be more dangerous at some point than the unit that ranked 100th in the FCS in total offense.

2012 Record: 7-4, 5-3
2012 Postseason: None
Coach: Mike Sanford (0-0 at Indiana State, 16-43 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Sheppard
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Cabral

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Shakir Bell, RB, 1,475 yards
Passing: Mike Perish, QB, 1,615 yards
Receiving: Demory Lawshe, WR, 393 yards
Tackles: Calvin Burnett, CB, 60
Sacks: Connor Underwood, LB, 6.0
Interceptions: Calvin Burnett, CB, 4

Other Key Returnees: DT Tyler Boyd, DT Jordan Bright, S Larry King, OL FN Lutz, S Donovan Layne, OL Adam Masters, WR Tanner Riley, CB Mark Sewall, WR Donald Spencer

Key Losses: LB Aaron Archie, TE Michael Mardis, DE Ben Obaseki, LB Dillon Painter, OL Casey Paswater, CB Johnny Towalid, LB Jacolby Washington

The Sycamores were in just about every game thanks to the defense. The team never allowed more than 27 points and the schedule included a game at Indiana, which boasts a very impressive offense. The strength is in the back where three starters return. Safeties Larry King and Donovan Layne were a huge reason why the Sycamores consistently won the turnover battle. King picked off three passes, while Layne intercepted two. Cornerback Calvin Burnett is an experienced senior who broke-up eight passes and had four interceptions. Replacing Johnny Towalid at the other corner spot sounds like a problem on paper. However, Mark Sewall had a superb freshman campaign and is ready to step into a starting role. On offense the obvious strength is running back Shakir Bell. Two years ago Bell rushed for 1,670 yards and 14 touchdowns. Last year his numbers dipped a bit to 1,475 yards and 11 scores on the ground. Bell has a decent line to run behind and he will once again be one of the top backs in the nation.

The thing that can keep Bell’s numbers down is the lack of a passing threat. Much of the time the opposing defense was able to take their chances moving extra players into the box and force quarterback Mike Perish to beat them. It often worked. Perish has a nice arm, but he needs to make better decisions and move his completion percentage up and his interceptions down. With a year of starting experience, that should happen. Yet, without tight end Michael Mardis and wide receiver Tanner Riley, Perish will have to work without two of his top targets. Demory Lawshe and Donald Spencer, a former Spartan of Michigan State, will be the top wide outs. Replacing Mardis at the tight end spot may prove to be difficult. The hope is senior Garrick Dikos is capable of becoming a bigger pass catching threat. The defense will reload, yet there are key players to replace in the front seven. Gone are the team’s top two tacklers from a year ago, linebackers Aaron Archie and Jacolby Washington. Connor Underwood is coming off of a very promising freshman campaign in which he led the team with 6.0 sacks. The linebacker can do plenty when it comes to getting into the backfield, although Indiana State needs to find a couple reliable linebackers who can help replace the combined 236 tackles tallied by Archie and Washington last year.

The Bottom Line:
Underwood will spend a lot of time in the backfield, but the front four needs to help him out. The Sycamores posted only 16 sacks as a team last season and six of those were by Underwood. The secondary still made some amazing plays, yet they could be even better with consistent pressure in the backfield. Rarely does a team tally the same amount of interceptions as sacks, but that is what this group did a year ago. If the sacks go up, the interceptions will too and Indiana State can win any game on the schedule as long as they can win the turnover battle.

Projected Postseason: None

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 158.82 (51st in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 149.09 (106, 9)
Total Offense: 307.91 (100, 7)
Scoring Offense: 23.09 (79, 6)
Rushing Defense: 129.00 (29, 6)
Pass Defense: 167.36 (14, 3)
Total Defense: 296.36 (5, 2)
Scoring Defense: 14.27 (3, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.45 (27, 4)
Sacks: 1.45 (88, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 2.09 (62, 7)

Madness 2013 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#60 Sampson Levingston
#74 Jameer Thurman
#86 Chris Davis


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