Rants & Raves: Illinois State

Saturday was a beautiful November day for college football in Brookings.  It is hard to ask for much better weather.  This may not have been the best the Jacks have played this season but I think this was certainly the best opponent that we have faced in The Dana.  Illinois State's defense was big, fast, and physical.  Yes, the Jackrabbit offense shot itself in the foot a time or two but the length, physicality, and speed that the defense possessed had a lot to do with it.  I'm excited that the Jacks found a way to win.

3 Matchups to Watch Revisited

1. The Lawfirm (Brown, Johnson, Lewis, and Anderson) vs.  Willie Edwards and DraShane Glass
Anderson didn't play so we will include Alex Wilde.  Combing Brown, Johnson, Lewis, and Wilde's stats shows 5 receptions for 57 yards.  Not a great stat line.  However, Brady Mengarelli had a large role in the passing attack catching 4 passes for 21 yards and Skyler Cavanaugh and Isaac Wallace pitched in with a reception each.  In the end, I'd say that the Redbirds won this matchup.

2. Jackrabbit offensive line vs. Illinois State front 7
The Jackrabbit offensive line didn't have their best day against the physical and talented Illinois State front 7.  Taryn was sacked twice and both of his interceptions were tipped at the line of scrimmage.  He was also consistently hit as he released his passes and ended up running for 110 yards (84 on one play).  The #605Hogs only paved the way for 79 rushing yards outside of Taryn.  The interior of the line did hold Dalton Keene without a tackle or sack which is a huge accomplishment.  However, the Redbirds won this matchup.

3. Jackrabbit run defense vs. Illinois State run game
The Redbirds tried to surprise the Jackrabbits by starting running quarterback Malachi Broadnax.  This added an extra wrinkle to the Redbird offense.  James Robinson was their leading rusher and he ran for 83 yards, Markel Smith had 63, and Broadnax finished with 63.  The Redbirds ran for 215 yards net so it wasn't a great day.  However, the Jacks did hold them below the 231 ypg amoun that they had averaged in their 6 victories.  This one goes down as a draw as the Jackrabbit defense limited the explosive runs that the Redbirds rely on to win games.

Rants & Raves
Rave: Chase Vinatieri is clutch.  This year he is smashing the ball on kickoffs and field goal attempts.  Outside of a small case of the yips on extra points, he has been outstanding. Way to step up and deliver when the team needed you the most!

Rant: Disappointed in the crowd size.  Yes, there were lots of other things going on.  However, it was a beautiful day against one of the best opponents in the MVFC.  Jackrabbit fans need to learn that their are games after Hobo Day other than NDSU or USD.  The Jackrabbit seniors deserved a better sendoff than what Jackrabbit fans delivered on Saturday.

Rave: Each week I have grown more and more impressed with Ryan Earith.  This week he registered 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 5 total tackles.  The coaches said in fall camp that he was going to be a difference maker now that he is healthy.  I think Ryan is delivering on that promise.

Rant: Was anyone else frustrated by the officials on Saturday?  They really let the cornerbacks play a physical physical game on Saturday, the miss-spotted the ball a number of times (for both teams), and they deliberated for a long time on some calls.  Again, the head referee did not seem confident in the calls he was announcing over the microphone.  I hope we don't see this crew again.

Rave: On a day when the Redbird coverage was tight on the Jackrabbit receivers, Taryn Christion had to use his legs a little more than we have seen this season.  His 84 yard touchdown run was pure effort.  I don't know if we have seen Taryn hit that speed since his freshmen year but that was an impressive piece of determination and effort.

Rant: The #605Hogs did not perform to their potential on Saturday.  Sure, they only gave up two sacks but they didn't really provide a clean pocket for Taryn.  Yes, Ill St blitzed ALOT and were very good upfront but they can do better.  I didn't like the look of Taryn picking him self up off the ground after a lot of his throws.  Also, untimely holding penalties derailed promising Jackrabbit drives for the second week in a row.  This group has played really well at times this season and I know they can do better than they did against Illinois State. 

Rave: I thought Marquise Lewis did a phenomenal job on punt return on Saturday.  He made very secure catches, made the right decisions whether or not to catch it or let it bounce, and had a great return that temporarily reset the field position.

Rant: The kick return for touchdown was incredibly frustrating.  Much like the Missouri State punt return for touchdown, multiple Jackrabbit defenders could have made the tackle.  They were there, just  have to make the play.  The Jacks have to improve the consistency of the kick coverage as NDSU also had a couple of long returns.  At this time of year their are a lot of injured players so the special teams units often take a hit as well as players are shifted in and out of lineups.  Credit the Illinois State returner for his incredible effort on the run.

Rave: I love the big running package that the Jacks bring into the game on short yardage.  Luke Sellers, Kal Hart, and Mikey Daniels are a powerful trio and I love the job they do.

Rave: After Anthony Washington went down early with an injury, I thought the combination of Zy Mosley and Marshon Harris continued their strong play.  I would have loved for Marshon to make the interception in the end zone at the end of the first half but otherwise I thought they played very well.

Rave: I thought the Jacks responded well to adversity.  The two flukey interceptions, the Ill St QB throwing up a prayer for a first down, the weird enforcement on the defensive holding, the kick return, and the Jacob Brown touchdown that wasn't could have derailed this team.  However, they showed tremendous grit and belief in one another and got the job done.  Bravo on earning the victory against a dangerous team that was playing for their playoff lives.

Games Balls
Offense: Taryn Christion (17-36, 172 yards, 1 TD passing, 110 yards and 1 TD rushing)
This may not have been his best day passing, but Taryn used his athleticism to keep plays alive.  There were multiple times when the pocket caved in around him and Taryn got outside the pocket and gave his team a chance. 

Defense: Chris Balster (8 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss)
This stat line says it all.  8 solo tackles.  Balster sacrificed his body and made great open field tackles throughout the day.  He was injured twice in the game but came back both times to help his team.  Balster is a great tackler and really matched the Illinois State physicality on Saturday.

Go Jacks!


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