Illinois State Redbirds postseason capsule
today at 6:15 am
Head Coach: Brock Spack
Overall Record: 4-7
Missouri Valley Conference Record: 2-6
Biggest Win: Defense, a Spack staple, delivered in a 17-10 overtime triumph against No. 13 ranked Northern Iowa. The Redbirds racked up nine tackles-for-loss and ran an interception back for a touchdown in front of the Hancock Stadium crowd.
Most Frustrating Loss: There are plenty to choose from here, but ISU’s loss to in-state rival Western Illinois takes the prize. The Redbirds built a two separate 15-point leads only to squander them in a 38-31 loss in Macomb.
Telling stat: ISU’s four-win season was the program’s worst since going 3-8 in Denver Johnson’s final season (2008).
Returning strengths for 2022: The Redbirds continue to produce on defense. Junior-to-be Clayton Isbell returns after starting nine games at safety and ranking fourth on the team in tackles with 62. The St. Charles product tied for the team lead with three interceptions and earned all-conference second team honors.
Emerging Star: Cole Mueller became the first freshman to lead the Redbirds in rushing since 1993. Mueller, who missed the spring season with an injury, averaged 5.2 yards per game in a 977-yard season.
Biggest Shoes to Fill: Questions continue to arise with Redbird quarterbacks and receivers. Injury-riddled QB Bryce Jefferson has opted for the transfer portal and ISU seeks consistency from its receiving corps.
New Year’s Wish List: Improved offensive play that would go a long way to returning the Redbirds to the playoff hunt.
Next Up: Barry Bottino explores Five Burning Questions that face ISU football for 2022.