Monday, September 24, 2012

Saturday Thoughts

YSU's Kurt Hess powered through the rain as
threw for 290 yards and 4 TD's against UNI
(Photo: YSUSports.com)
Youngstown State affirmed its power on Saturday as they continued to knock down opponents as they come; on Saturday it was Northern Iowa who took one on the chin. I don't want to take anything away from Northern Iowa, they played great--on offense. However, Youngstown State also played great--on offense. Defensively, Youngstown State made a couple of key plays that sealed the win.

For Northern Iowa, the schedule continues to be tough and they can not afford to lose any more games. Unfortunately next weekend they face North Dakota State which will be another insanely tough game for the Panthers--this time, however, they will finally be able to host one of these tough teams. The home-field-dome advantage might play a factor in how the game is played out, but I feel that North Dakota State has so many weapons that it will be tough for Northern Iowa to keep up. Also, what separates the Panthers and the Bison are their defenses, North Dakota State has allowed 14 points through three games. On the other hand, North Dakota State hasn't seen an offense like Northern Iowa's yet this year. We'll see how these two teams match up on Saturday; it should be a good game.

The other big win over the weekend was South Dakota State over Indiana State. The Jackrabbits haven't been an overpowering team since 2009 when they made it to the playoffs. After two years of underachieving (5-6 both years), South Dakota State looks to be a fairly potent opponent for any team. The difference between this years team and last years team has been the defense and the offensive line/running back. Last Winter, Offensive Coordinator and O-Line coach Luke Meadows took a job with Florida Atlantic which left a void for an O-Line and O-Coordinator. Eric Eidsness--also the quarterbacks coach--took over the O-Coordinator position and the O-Line position was filled by John Flynn--who was a former offensive lineman and later a GA for Oklahoma. During his time as a GA at Oklahoma he worked with NFL Draftees, Trent Williams, Phil Loadholt, and Duke Robinson. It seems this coaching change has made a significant impact considering these lineman are the same from last year's SDSU team.

SDSU RB, Zach Zenner breaks through the Sycamore defense.
Zanner ran for over 200 yards, again.
(Photo: Matt Kryger/Indy Star)
Indiana State came on the losing end of that South Dakota State game and that loss certainly revealed Indiana State's weaknesses. First, the run game--ah hem, Shakir Bell-- was stopped in his tracks. After the run game was stymied, the Sycamores turned to their passing game, which showed promise, but was ultimately inconsistent and not enough to keep moving the chains. With the passing game came the pressure from the Jackrabbit defensive lineman. Indiana State quarterback Mike Perish was sacked six times in the loss to the Jackrabbits. Indiana State will need to prove themselves against Southern Illinois next weekend in order to redeem themselves as a contender. However, the loss the South Dakota State hurts them significantly. In addition to beating all the bottom half of the MVFC teams, the Sycamores will also need to win two of three games against the following teams: Youngstown State, North Dakota State, and Illinois State. Luckily, the Sycamores avoid Northern Iowa this year in unbalanced scheduling.

Team on the rise: Southern Illinois. Southern Illinois has played fairly well the past two weeks. The most significant improvement that I've seen with the Salukis is their ability to create turnovers and not turn the ball over themselves. This past weekend they were significantly out-gained in offensive production by Missouri State, however, Missouri State turned the ball over three times. This--and 100 yards of penalties by the Bears-- allowed Southern Illinois to come out of Springfield victorious. Missouri State is struggling to say the least. They started out the season playing two ranked FBS teams pretty tough, and now they've lost two straight against okay--but not formidable--FCS competition. Next week the Bears will have a chance to show what they've got against South Dakota State in Brookings.

Illinois State is a team that is 4-0 and has the ability to control games. Of course, they've played Eastern Michigan (FBS, but still...), Dayton, Eastern Illinois (I think they're a pretty decent OVC team), and Western Illinois. We'll see what this Redbird team has when they face off against Youngstown State in a few weeks. However, I think Illinois State's schedule is built to their favor. The Redbirds have a very real chance of being 6-0 when they enter that game against Youngstown State. This weekend the Redbirds will travel to Vermillion, South Dakota to take on the Coyotes. I don't think this Coyote team is as bad as many are preaching. Yet, I don't think that South Dakota has the firepower to hang with Illinois State.
Conference Standings Through Week 4

Last on my list here is Western Illinois. Not to say here other than they played well and hung closer with Illinois State than many people predicted. I think Western Illinois has talent--mostly on defense and at the running back position. However, I think that the O-line, quarterbacks, and wide-receivers need some work in order for Western Illinois to compete. The Leathernecks will enjoy a much-needed weekend off before they square off with South Dakota on October 9th.

3 comments:

  1. Pretty spot-on assessment of my Leathernecks. The defense did well against what had been a pretty solid Redbird offense. With a halfway-decent offense, we would have easily made this a close one, but you can't win games if your offense doesn't score any points.

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  2. Tough to say what Western will do against South Dakota in a couple weeks. That will be a game that I'll have my eye on. Also, does WIU always wear white uniforms for homecoming?

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