Coming off a surging victory against Eastern Kentucky, the Sycamores are starting to piece together the essentials they need for a successful season. They’re gearing up to face off with Eastern Illinois. It is going to be military day and parent’s day so it’ll give everyone a great opportunity to go out on Saturday and honor the troops who served us. Moreover, the Trees are really shaping up to be a formidable opponent, judging by their last game. They are going against a challenging opponent in the EIU Panthers, who the Sycamores have a long history against. In the 87-meeting rivalry dating back to 1901, the Sycamores and Panthers have battled 96 times with the Panthers leading the Sycamores 55-41.
ISU’s offensive attacking has been very prevalent since the season opener. Peterson Kerlegrand rushed 100-plus yards for the second consecutive game. He finished last week with an impressive 132 yards and one touchdown to help take down the Eastern Kentucky Colonels. However, that does not overshadow the improvements ISU has made on the defensive end with an absolutely perfect game coming from Inoke Moala.
Moala earned the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week award for his incredible defensive efforts on last Saturday. Moala finished the game with eight tackles, two sacks, and two forced fumbles as the game was winding down. But the entirety of the defense did their job also holding EKU to 0-for-3 on third down and 1-for-3 on fourth down. This really highlights the defensive emphasis that the Sycamores are trying to establish this season.
The Trees have been showing a ton of grit this season in the face of adversity considering they started the season 0-2. Since both losses were close games it helps motivate the team to continue to add pressure even as the game is closing.
Jonas Griffith is coming off a 16-tackle night and joins the 300-tackle club and also joining historical ranks of only 18 other players who achieved that as a Sycamore. Griffith is planning to achieve 100 plus tackles for the third season in the row which would make him the seventh player to achieve that mark as a Sycamore. Not to mention Jerry Nunez has been on fire since he got to the program but after breaking the school record for career PAT’s.
Overall the Sycamores have shown a steady increases in improvement over the course of the last three weeks. They’ve been consistent in offensive production by establishing a dominant run game. The Sycamores have already gained 719 yards going into the fourth week.
The Panthers are not anyone to brush off however. Even though this contest is not a conference opponent they Sycamores can definitely prove themselves in the Missouri Valley Conference and move into the top five by seasons end. Considering the top team which is Northern Illinois with a record of 1-1, the Sycamores can leave this game with a record of 2-2 and set themselves well as a contender come playoffs.