TERRE HAUTE —
The yin and yang of a football bye week is ever-present. Is it good for a team or bad?
Indiana State is idle this Saturday and the good-or-bad question is as relevant as ever.
Is it bad for the Sycamores, considering it comes after a dominant 70-7 victory over Quincy in which its offense performed at a high level, even considering the lower level of competition?
Or is it good, considering that ISU has several contributors (Shakir Bell, Calvin Burnett, T.J. Tuuu) it needs to get healthy?
For ISU, there doesn’t seem to be any wrangling over the pros and cons of a bye. Both players and coach expressed that it’s good for the Sycamores if they can maintain the practice focus they’ve had since the 73-35 loss at Indiana on Aug. 29.
“I think the bye week will benefit us. As we’ve shown over the last two weeks, we’ve improved in practice,” ISU quarterback Mike Perish said. “If we just keep that work ethic up with two weeks of practice, as long as we focus, it will just multiply our improvement.”
ISU coach Mike Sanford tends to err on the bright side of things and his take on the bye week is no different.
“A bye week at this time can be a blessing or a curse, but it’s a blessing for us. We see it really positively. We can improve and use it as a week to get better. We can get some people healthy,” Sanford said.
Sanford mentioned Bell specifically, saying that when the clock hit “:00.0” that he was “back.”
In past seasons, when ISU’s bye week was later and in the midst of the Missouri Valley Football Conference campaign, the Sycamores would sometimes take multiple days off to rest up and re-charge batteries.
The only off-day outside of routine this week was on Monday. ISU will practice normally for the remainder of the week.
“We’re going to approach the bye week like a game week. The only difference is we’ll have some guys coming back from injury. We’re going to go hard, whether it be physically or mentally,” ISU linebacker George Stone said.
n ISU awaiting word on injuries — Reached on Monday, Sanford said ISU was still awaiting the verdict on its two most significant injuries, cornerback Calvin Burnett’s knee and wide receiver DeSean Prentice’s shoulder.
Magnetic resonance imaging tests were scheduled for both players, but Sanford did not have information as of Monday.
n Perish improvement — Perish followed up a solid 29-of-45, 256-yard passing performance against Purdue on Sept. 7 with an even better 23-of-26, 379-yard, four-touchdown effort against Quincy last Saturday.
By almost any standard, they were the best back-to-back performances of Perish’s ISU career. It’s the first time he’s completed 20 or more passes in consecutive games as a Sycamore. He set the school record for completion percentage in a game at 88.4 percent.
For his efforts, he was named co-Offensive Player of the Week by the MVFC on Sunday. So why has Perish honed his craft so well in his last two contests?
“I think it’s a combination … [offensive coordinator] Brian Sheppard is doing a good job of preparing him. Mike has confidence and I think we’re also doing things that Mike does well,” Sanford said.
“There’s some nuances and things we do. Some he does well, some he doesn’t do well. We’re trying to find the things he knows well and executes well. That’s where we’re at and I feel good about that,” he added.
n Logan gets long look — The blowout against Quincy allowed several Sycamores to get extended look in a game situation and one who stood out was junior college transfer running back Buck Logan.
Logan had 10 carries, tying George Cheeseborough for the team high, and ran for 85 yards, which was a game high.
Logan also did a fine job on a 24-yard touchdown catch from Perish. Logan was Perish’s check-off in the flat, but the former Sacramento City College back weaved his way through Quincy’s defense and powered home for a touchdown.
Logan, whose given name is Lanier, gives ISU a bigger option and a different look in its backfield. He’s listed at 5-foot-9, 215 pounds, a comparative load when diminutive runners Bell, Cheeseborough and Taje High are taken into account.
“I was very pleased with Buck. It was good to see him play like that. He gained some confidence and it was good to see,” Sanford said.