Went to the NIU game

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The Odum Level
My wife (an NIU grad) and I went to the game today and stayed through the third quarter. I thought I'd share my thoughts since it's the first ISU game I've seen in a while in person or on TV.

Best moment of the game for ISU was before it even started. NIU was having a moment of silence for those lost in the tragedy last February right as the Sycamores were coming onto the field. It could have been an embarrassing situation since our guys were gathering in the endzone and getting pumped for the game. Fortunately, they caught on quick and took their helmets off and bowed with the crowd. Every player from what I could see. It was especially touching given that it took the NIU student section another half minute to quiet down (the NIU PA system could be better). Made me proud of the class our guys showed. Proved we have some winners regardless of the final score.

The defense didn't look bad early, but mostly because NIU didn't throw and no longer had Wolf running the ball. Still, they looked sharp (better than I expected). Take away some missed tackles and we would have had more three and outs.

Dowdell looked awful! Patrick beat his man and got deep early in the game, easy TD of about 70 yards, but Dowdell under threw him by a good 10 yards. Later we had moved the ball out to the 50 and he throws it right to the defender for six with two other players wide open. In the third he fumbled on a 10 yard run where no one even touched him. He just wasn't holding the ball tight and it slipped out of his hands.

We had no running game and their defensive line pretty well owned us in the trenches. Both Dowdell and Schmitke were running for their lives most of the game. Most of our throws were screens.

Our kick returns were horrible, but our punt coverage looked solid.

I wouldn't get too excited about the FG since it was a gift from NIU on the muffed punt return, but at least we made it. Martinez did have a good leg in warm ups, I thought.

Over all the team didn't look as bad as I feared it might and it feels weird saying that. At times they looked like a respectable, albeit over matched team. It was the silly blunders that made things worse. I really feel like we could have some better showings if we weren't playing such a brutal schedule.

As frustrated as I was at various points of the game they did enough to keep me wanting more. It almost has me ready to make the four-and-a-half hour drive to Terre Haute next weekend. Not likely, but tempting.


The Odum Level
bent, does ISU have ANY chance to compete with SEMO next week? It's the battle of 2 of the worst teams in ALL of college football, at all levels.


The Odum Level
I don't feel like an authority on the team based on one game, but I see no reason why they shouldn't be able to compete with them. For ISU it really is all about reducing the number of bonehead mistakes. They still wouldn't be winning these games, but they'd score more and probably not give up as much. We had more passing yards than NIU and converted 11 first downs to their 15.

The D looked pretty good to me. We got caught off guard when they did pass, but the run D wasn't bad early on. I think they picked up the bulk of their yardage late in the game. Better tackling would help, but the guys didn't give up on plays even when they had to chase somebody down.

I'd like to see Schmitdke start. He had a stronger arm than Dowdell from what I could see and his passes were on the money, although a few were dropped. We ran plays out of the shotgun a lot more than I expected, although most of the passes were short screens and slants.

The run game has to improve and I assume it will against a lesser opponent.

Probably the one thing that concerned me most was the visible attitude of the players and coaches. Obviously, they have a long way to go and they know that, but I'd like to see more fire out of them. When they made mistakes they walked off the field as if that was expected. I guess that will come with time, but at some point this team has to start looking for wins instead of small improvements.

We better score some touchdowns against SEMO.


The Captain Level
We CAN compete with SEMO for sure. NIU would abuse SEMO as well. We were better than SEMO last year, although we lost 13-10 (we missed two 30 yard field goals).

The Defense is a lot closer than the offense. Look at the stats on www.gosycamores.com. Pay close attention to the starting position of NIU's possesions. They started in our territory more than they started in their territory. Starting with good field position really puts the defense in a bad spot. Just like the EIU game, I would credit 24 of NIU's points to our offense.

I once counted 10 ISU freshmen on the field for a kick return.

There was an offensive drive where we had 9 freshmen on the field. Schmidtke (QB), Alex Jones (TE), Koby Kraemer (WR), Brock Lough (RB), Evan Borchers (OL), Josh Jellison (OL), Nate White (WR), Reece Craig (RB), and Mike Smith (OL). ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Think about what these kids are going to turn into? WOW! That excites me a lot.

I also noticed a defensive posession in which we had 4 down defensive lineman that were freshmen. Freshman CJ Cook and Alex Sewall were also on the field in the defensive backfield. I guess we did have some upperclassmen out there too! Sophomores Russell Dedeaux and Justin Collins.

We are rediculously young. I love watching these young kids. 18-19 year olds playing against 22 year old 5 yr seniors.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that there may have NEVER been a college football team that put 9 or 10 freshmen on the field at the same time, NEVER.

One last note, Freshman Safety Alex Sewall may be the best "skill" position player on the team. BELIEVE THAT! The kid is legit. He is one of the smartest DB's that I have seen play here in a long time. He knows where to be and he makes tackles. I have seen a lot of MVC (Gateway) football, he is one of the best Safety's in the conference. Illinois State's Tom Nelson is the best, in my opinion. Sewall would start for many Big Ten schools this year.