We’ll know by the end of the season, of course, but the Coyotes may be playing an elite FCS team this week. Certainly the rankings say so, with Illinois State at No. 12.
The one thing the Redbirds have not done, unlike some of the other MVC-level heavyweights, is play a BCS kind of a program where you might get a more accurate reading as to how good they really are. Eastern Michigan is a bowl-eligible school, and the Redbirds slapped them around, but it’s not Pitt, which Youngstown State defeated earlier this year.
On the field, Illinois State has done nothing to make one doubt that the Redbirds could be there at the end of the season, however. Under Brock Spack, (I’ve always liked that name), they’ve improved steadily. This year they have a veteran quarterback in Matt Brown, who is 6-4, 235, and running back Darrelynn Dunn, who weighs 225 pounds.
Back in the 1990s when I started doing this stuff, I’d look at the weights of the linemen. A good NCC line had a couple guys who weighed around 300 pounds and a few guys who were 6-1 and 270. Now I rarely look at the size of the offensive linemen because they’re universally big. Not always good, but always big. The Redbirds’ left tackle is Josh Aladenoye , who is listed at 6-6, 335. That’s big within the world of big.
The Coyotes, who have done the best they could so far to disguise a lack of heft on the defensive line, will again be presented with physical challenges that will be difficult to overcome. The zone-read option, which appears to be the most popular offensive play in the history of college football these days judging from the play-calling of the teams USD faces, is a strength of Illinois State. The Redbirds would be running a lot of that stuff whether they’d seen the tapes of Coyote games or not.
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