Austin Peay (0-3) vs. Illinois State (2-0)
September 27th, 2014 | 6:30pm CT
Normal, IL | Hancock Stadium
Clarksville, TN – Coming off its first below-.500 season in five years, Illinois State has opened 2014 with a vengeance.
The Redbirds began the season with a 62-0 win against Mississippi Valley but more impressively they came back the next week to manhandle Eastern Illinois, 34-15. That is the same Eastern Illinois team APSU lost to last weekend in Charleston, 63-7.
In other words, the Govs face a tall order when it steps away from OVC play to face Missouri Valley Football Conference member Illinois State, 6:30pm, Saturday, in Hancock Stadium. With its 2-0 start, the Redbirds are now ranked No. 22 in the most recent FCS Coaches poll.
Despite not making the playoffs a year ago, the Redbirds were 5-0 at home and have started 2-0 at home this season. They are 24-6 at home under sixth-season head coach Brock Spack, who is 35-24 overall as the Redbirds leader.
Defense has been the Redbirds’ calling card this season. They are allowing just 7.5 points per game and 283 yards in total offense.
Junior linebacker Pat Meehan was named the national player of the week by The Sports Network and College Sporting News, following a career-best performance in the Redbirds’ 34-15 win against Eastern Illinois, September 13th. Meehan led the team with 11 tackles against EIU, including two sacks and four total tackles for loss.
The Redbird offense also has been no slouch to say the least. Running back Marshaun Coprich is averaging 137 yards rushing per game while scoring four TDs. As a result, quarterback Tre Roberson has thrown sparingly, connecting on 16 of 27 passes for 363 yards. His favorite receiver has been Lechein Neblett, who is averaging 26.4 yards per catch on eight receptions, including a trio of TD catches.
As a result, the Redbirds will be a strong test for APSU’s defense. The Governors, after a stop on EIU’s first possession, watched the Panthers convert more than 50 percent of their third-down situations the game’s remainder. With so many plays ending in the APSU secondary, cornerback Montez Carlton led the Govs with 11 stops.
In addition, defensive tackle Malcolm Goines was credited with an almost unheard of nine stops from the interior, including a tackle for loss.
Offensively, the Govs again will look for improvement from their two freshmen quarterbacks, Darrien Boone and Mickey Marcius, a pair of Illinois natives returning to the Prairie State for a second straight week. The former struggled in the first quarter-plus against Eastern Illinois and was replaced by Macius, who previously was strongly considered for a redshirt prior to last Saturday.
As a result, the Govs were just 2-of-15 in third-down conversions, leading to 10 punts for the third straight week by senior punter Ben Campbell.
Radio – Governors Sports Network
Play-by-Play: David Loos
Analyst: Van Stokes