5 Burning Questions for Illinois State in 2018

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Virginia Redbird
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Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:40 pm

I found this article on the Prarie State Pigskin website. Many of these topics have been discussed in various threads on this forum but I thought it was a pretty interesting article and would share it here.

http://www.chicagonow.com/prairie-state ... e-in-2018/

1. What will the offense will look like in 2018? I expect much of that will depend on who wins the starting QB job and what kind of talent there is at WR. Starting QB is talked about in #2 so I will delay that. Running back is stacked, the O Line depending on who the coach is I think will be pretty good. I think the O line definitely under performed in 2016 and was erratic in 2017. There is some good returning talent, some solid recruits and what appears to be a quality transfer in fold already. O Line I expect to be very solid in 2018. WR is an unknown right now I think. Schnell returns and some good tight ends but past that the position is an unknown entity. Hopefully some transfers or someone steps up.
2. Starting QB. Kolbe may flourish under Beathard. He regressed last year I thought. Broadnax is a solid running threat but his passing is suspect at best. Again maybe Beathard brings out the best in him. I personally would not be surprised to see Hatfield make a real run at the starting QB spot. Spring ball is going to be very interesting.
3. Losses to the Defense. No question that the Birds lost some exceptional talent on the defense. I think the biggest loss may be Nowinski though. There are some good players on the roster and Coach Spack is a defensive mind. I am comfortable he will find a solid D Coordinator and while likely not as dominant as last year, I think the defense will still be very good next year. My main concerns are in the backfield with Harris and Kocour gone.
4. Does that schedule look good for an FCS playoff spot? A win at Colorado State would certainly not hurt but the MVC is just a tough conference and there is always the chance to stumble. Road games at NDSU and UNI with a home match with SDSU in between is a tough guantlet but not as tough as the end of the season schedule in 2017. The St Xavier game does nothing to help even with a big win but the Birds have to win the games they should win and not fall apart like they did with SIU this past season. Yes, they certainly can make the playoffs.
5. What position group makes the biggest step forward in 2018? I think it may well be the O Line as the article says. Second I am thinking will be the QBs. I believe the QBs and offense reqressed under Dicken and Clark and the addition of Beathard to the coaching staff will be a big factor in the QB position greatly improving in 2018.

Everybody has an opinion...what is yours? :D
“When you have great players, playing great, well that’s great football!”
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fourthandshort
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Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:01 pm

Item 3. I predict Spack will retake the DC reins and find his next DC project to groom ... just like he did with Nowinsky in 2011. Recall 2010 under DC Elmassian, when our defense got steamrolled most games an finished bottom in FCS. Spack fired his Purdue buddy Elmassian and took over DC job himself, then started grooming then DL Coach Nowinsky .. and in one year, we went from bottom 10 to top 10.

So that kind of worked ok last time .. let's just do that.

p.s. need some people to step up big time at DT and DB. LB is stacked, along with DE.
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JHBird
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Thu Dec 14, 2017 2:57 pm

What have you guys been hearing about Hatfield? Seems like some people have some high hopes for him. I've heard nothing about him. Does he have more upside than Broadnax?

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Virginia Redbird
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Fri Dec 15, 2017 6:32 am

Hatfield has good size and appears to be a very intelligent kid, read his bio on the website regarding his academic performance. His HS resume is pretty impressive but it is hard to really tell from High School to FCS how that translates. Still his senior year he passed for 2,458 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,045 yards and 9 touchdowns. It appears he can toss the ball and run very effectively. He had a couple comments in articles during fall camp that he had some success but this was a learning year for him. It looks like he has a bunch of tools but we have not seen him on the turf yet against an MVC team. We have seen both Kolbe and Broadnax in that situation.
I don't think any of the QBs on the roster were in the best circumstances to develop over the past two seasons. With the return of Coach Beathard I would expect that environment to change for the better and the offensive philosophy and game planning take a turn for the better as well. I think the best coaches adapt the system they want to run to the talent they have on the roster. Kolbe was a Redbird when Beathard was the O-Coordinator before so they know each other. The rest of the QBs on the roster are younger guys with less time at ISU. Who knows what type of talent ISU may try to bring in as a transfer like they did with Trey.
I just think with the overall youth at QB, Beathard's return as O Coordinator and a shaky couple of seasons on the offensive side of the ball the past two years the QB position is wide open for competition. I don't think anyone, including Kolbe, has a lock on the starting QB spot. That is why I think spring training will be so interesting to watch at QB and with the overall offense. On defense we will see some new faces and maybe a new wrinkle or two with a new D Coordinator but I would not expect a major change from what we have seen in the past. Coach Spack is a defensive guy and his foot print will be all over the defense.
“When you have great players, playing great, well that’s great football!”
John Madden

Seeing Red
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Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:44 pm

Spack will be the d coordinator, book it.

fourthandshort
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Sat Dec 16, 2017 8:17 am

Seeing Red wrote:
Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:44 pm
Spack will be the d coordinator, book it.
yep, I can't imagine there is any way he brings in a guy with all his own ideas. He's going to groom someone to turn it over to. The only question is who will be his Asst DC in training.
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Sanantoniobird
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Mon Dec 18, 2017 7:29 am

Virginia Redbird wrote:
Fri Dec 15, 2017 6:32 am
Hatfield has good size and appears to be a very intelligent kid, read his bio on the website regarding his academic performance. His HS resume is pretty impressive but it is hard to really tell from High School to FCS how that translates. Still his senior year he passed for 2,458 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,045 yards and 9 touchdowns. It appears he can toss the ball and run very effectively. He had a couple comments in articles during fall camp that he had some success but this was a learning year for him. It looks like he has a bunch of tools but we have not seen him on the turf yet against an MVC team. We have seen both Kolbe and Broadnax in that situation.
I don't think any of the QBs on the roster were in the best circumstances to develop over the past two seasons. With the return of Coach Beathard I would expect that environment to change for the better and the offensive philosophy and game planning take a turn for the better as well. I think the best coaches adapt the system they want to run to the talent they have on the roster. Kolbe was a Redbird when Beathard was the O-Coordinator before so they know each other. The rest of the QBs on the roster are younger guys with less time at ISU. Who knows what type of talent ISU may try to bring in as a transfer like they did with Trey.
I just think with the overall youth at QB, Beathard's return as O Coordinator and a shaky couple of seasons on the offensive side of the ball the past two years the QB position is wide open for competition. I don't think anyone, including Kolbe, has a lock on the starting QB spot. That is why I think spring training will be so interesting to watch at QB and with the overall offense. On defense we will see some new faces and maybe a new wrinkle or two with a new D Coordinator but I would not expect a major change from what we have seen in the past. Coach Spack is a defensive guy and his foot print will be all over the defense.
I've said this before and kind of got criticism for it; Kolbe is a great kid, and glad he's in the program, but not sure he's the answer. Admittedly, he didn't have much help in the route running dept, but I guess time will tell. I think even coach had to step back and realize as high as he was on Kolbe arriving on campus and during his redshirt year, we had to try something else to get some offense this year. Neither really worked well. Anyone who locked down the running game and put Schnell in double coverage, pretty much had our number.

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Virginia Redbird
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Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:57 pm

Seeing Red wrote:
Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:44 pm
Spack will be the d coordinator, book it.
Maybe so, I have no idea if he will or not but it seems that a few on this board are convinced that Spack with take over as D Coordinator. The only question I would ask is why not announce it now? If Coach Spack has decided to take the reins, and I cant see anybody objecting to that, why not just say so now? Why pretend like this very important coaching position is still in play? I don't see anything to be gained by not making the announcement now?
“When you have great players, playing great, well that’s great football!”
John Madden

fourthandshort
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Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:13 pm

Virginia Redbird wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:57 pm
Seeing Red wrote:
Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:44 pm
Spack will be the d coordinator, book it.
Maybe so, I have no idea if he will or not but it seems that a few on this board are convinced that Spack with take over as D Coordinator. The only question I would ask is why not announce it now? If Coach Spack has decided to take the reins, and I cant see anybody objecting to that, why not just say so now? Why pretend like this very important coaching position is still in play? I don't see anything to be gained by not making the announcement now?
maybe doesn't want to scare anyone away who might be well qualified and a good fit. My prediction s solely based on assumption he might find a lower paid "up and comer" position coach like Nowinsky who he wants to groom. But given Spack defensive reputation, he might find a good one with experience and doesn't want to scare him away by already assuming DC title.
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MadBird
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Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:32 pm

fourthandshort wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:13 pm
Virginia Redbird wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:57 pm
Seeing Red wrote:
Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:44 pm
Spack will be the d coordinator, book it.
Maybe so, I have no idea if he will or not but it seems that a few on this board are convinced that Spack with take over as D Coordinator. The only question I would ask is why not announce it now? If Coach Spack has decided to take the reins, and I cant see anybody objecting to that, why not just say so now? Why pretend like this very important coaching position is still in play? I don't see anything to be gained by not making the announcement now?
maybe doesn't want to scare anyone away who might be well qualified and a good fit. My prediction s solely based on assumption he might find a lower paid "up and comer" position coach like Nowinsky who he wants to groom. But given Spack defensive reputation, he might find a good one with experience and doesn't want to scare him away by already assuming DC title.
I'm thinking basically the same. There's a couple spots still open, both sides of the ball. Have to spread the money around. Someone "solid and experienced" wants to join up, either side, would be nice to have the salary space to make it work. Then you go from there. I would say tho, I thought we'd be screwed not to have the spots filled by early signing day. Doesn't look like that was an issue. You would think now that DII and most FCS teams are finished, things would start to firm up tho. Please??!! :lol: The suspense is killing me/us!

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Virginia Redbird
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Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:00 am

MadBird wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:32 pm
fourthandshort wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:13 pm
Virginia Redbird wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:57 pm


Maybe so, I have no idea if he will or not but it seems that a few on this board are convinced that Spack with take over as D Coordinator. The only question I would ask is why not announce it now? If Coach Spack has decided to take the reins, and I cant see anybody objecting to that, why not just say so now? Why pretend like this very important coaching position is still in play? I don't see anything to be gained by not making the announcement now?
maybe doesn't want to scare anyone away who might be well qualified and a good fit. My prediction s solely based on assumption he might find a lower paid "up and comer" position coach like Nowinsky who he wants to groom. But given Spack defensive reputation, he might find a good one with experience and doesn't want to scare him away by already assuming DC title.
I'm thinking basically the same. There's a couple spots still open, both sides of the ball. Have to spread the money around. Someone "solid and experienced" wants to join up, either side, would be nice to have the salary space to make it work. Then you go from there. I would say tho, I thought we'd be screwed not to have the spots filled by early signing day. Doesn't look like that was an issue. You would think now that DII and most FCS teams are finished, things would start to firm up tho. Please??!! :lol: The suspense is killing me/us!
You both may be correct...but I agree...the suspense of who the coaches will be is killing me! I thought it may impact on recruiting efforts with so many coaching spots open. It did not appear to have had a negative effect. I am so curious who will fill out the coaching staff...the players/recruits must be too!
“When you have great players, playing great, well that’s great football!”
John Madden

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Virginia Redbird
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Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:31 am

This article is a few days old but it indicates that Coach Spack's preference is to hire a D Coordinator rather than take that job on himself. He said he has a candidate lined up and hope to have a deal by the end of the Christmas break. He kept is option to take over the job himself open but stated he would prefer to have a D Coordinator on staff if he could get the right one. Looks as if the search for assistant coaches is moving along and we will be hearing something in the near future. Spack said they have their O Line coach but not making an announcement now.

http://www.pantagraph.com/sports/colleg ... 5b94a.html
“When you have great players, playing great, well that’s great football!”
John Madden

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