News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Indiana State University

November 24, 2013

Sanford vows to get ISU football back on track

‘We will not be in this position again,’ coach says

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State football coach Mike Sanford said that the Sycamores’ just-concluded 1-11 season was a learning experience for everyone.

They hope it’s a lesson ISU won’t have to repeat in the future.

Sanford vowed that ISU’s struggles this season are a temporary situation that will be rectified.

“I learned a lot during the season. The players learned a lot and I learned a lot. There’s a lot of things I’m going to do differently and a lot of things I’m going to change and improve on. We will not be in this position again,” Sanford said.

What did Sanford learn? He didn’t have the time to explain it all.

“It would be ‘War and Peace’ if I went through it. I’ve been coaching for a long time. The great thing about this profession is that you always learn and you can always better. I need to get better, our coaching staff has to get better, our players need to get better,” Sanford said.

ISU center FN Lutz, whose career came to an end after Saturday’s 31-9 loss to Southern Illinois, hasn’t lost faith in the coaching staff.

“I’m excited to see what’s to come. Coach Sanford and the staff are great guys and when they say they’re going to be in the playoffs and in the national championship, they’ll get it done,” Lutz said.

ISU couldn’t catch its tail in some early close losses. Injuries had already taken a toll, particularly in the secondary, but ISU’s players had not yet adjusted to Sanford’s new offensive and defensive systems.

By mid-season, the injuries had piled up to the point where the Sycamores weren’t competitive at all. The steep drop coincided with a decline in ISU’s offense.

The loss of quarterback Mike Perish for two weeks mortally wounded the passing game — and he struggled in his return. Redshirt freshman Robert Tonyan Jr. struggled mightily. He completed just 34.3 percent of his passes for an average of 31.6 yards per game. The Oct. 22 dismissal of running back Shakir Bell left ISU short on running backs. The offensive line struggled all season long to protect passers and get consistent push up front. The result was predictable ... ISU ranked 114th in FCS in total offense, averaging 290 yards per game.

ISU’s defense struggled early — ISU only allowed fewer than 20 points to a Division I foe once through six games — but came into its own late in the year despite injuries. ISU finished with a respectable 44th place rank in FCS total defense.

“I have great pride and excitement about the defense going into next year because of how we ended the season,” Sanford said. “We kind of ran out of guys on offense and we’re not going to allow that to happen.”

Injuries completely morphed the season out of recognition. Of the 22 players who started against Indiana on Aug. 29, 12 missed at least one game due to injury. Several others were injured and played through them. No unit was left untouched.

Bad luck played a role — starting cornerback Calvin Burnett was lost for the year when he leaped at an opposing quarterback and landed awkwardly — but Sanford wants to see what can be done on his part to avoid another injury epidemic.

“Sometimes injuries just happen, but sometimes there’s things you can do to eliminate them and look at all of them,” Sanford said.

Sanford was quick to note that he doesn’t want to use injuries as an excuse to wash away the bad taste of a 1-11 season.

“I’m not going to be the victim in this deal. I’m not going to be the excuse-maker and act like the victim. The facts are the facts, but we’ve got to find solutions and answers moving forward,” Sanford said.

There are bright spots to build around. Defensive end Connor Underwood had an All-America-level season with nine sacks and 78 tackles. Freshman linebacker Jameer Thurman was outstanding as he led the team with 91 tackles. Safety Mark Sewall shook off early injury problems and played well late. Terre Haute native Tsali Lough ensured no dropoff when Sewall and Donovan Layne were hurt at safety.

Running back Buck Logan led the team with 609 rushing yards, a solid total given that ISU foes were stacking the box given the lack of a passing game.

Players injured early in the season — such as tight end Jamar Brown and safety Phil Wilson — also played well before injuries took their toll.

Sanford wants to focus on building around those players. Sanford doesn’t feel the 1-11 campaign will hurt recruiting. Running back Deionte Buckley and quarterback Patrick Coyne — both one-time Cincinnati Bearcats — are Sycamore-bound. Coyne played as a fullback at Cincinnati, but was recruited out of high school as a quarterback.

“I’m excited going into the future. We’re already recruiting, we’ve been recruiting hard. We’re going to have a great recruiting year. I don’t care about the record,” Sanford said.

Sanford also said he’s focused on the on-field product. ISU’s crowd totals dropped precipitously by November — natural given it was a one-win season — but disconcerting nonetheless.

“My deal right now is about players more than anything. I see great hope and great things ahead. To me, it’s all about the players,” Sanford said.

Sanford remains optimistic, even in the wake of ISU’s worst season since 2009.

“We’re going to win. There’s no way I’ve lost my vision for this program, which is to win a championship. It’s hard to say that from the ashes, fire and rubble that’s burning right now, but I believe that. I believe we’ll come out of it stronger than we were before,” Sanford said.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Indiana State University
  • SPT 041414 ERINN SUTTON2.jpg Driving to victory

    College golf, Indiana State coach Greg Towne indicated Monday afternoon, is all about the process.

    April 14, 2014 3 Photos

  • QFRGGNSQNGORIUF.jpg ISU losing Ragland to Bowling Green St.

    David Ragland was the first person Indiana State men’s basketball coach Greg Lansing hired to his staff when he became the Sycamores’ head coach in 2010.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thunder Pacers Basket_Tayl.jpg FROM THE PRESSBOX: In Lance the Pacers trust? Why not?

    The trials and tribulations of the Indiana Pacers are well documented.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT 041314 DELLACAMERA.jpg Sycamores just one shot behind in tourney on familiar turf

    Lack of experience in playing a collegiate women’s golf tournament in their own backyard may not be a hindrance for Indiana State, which finds itself one shot out of the lead — and with room to do better — after Sunday’s first round of the Indiana State Spring Invitational at the Country Club of Terre Haute.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • ISU pushes run across in 9th to beat SIU — again

    Indiana State scored in the ninth inning for a second game in a row Sunday, breaking a tie to defeat host Southern Illinois and win a closely contested Missouri Valley Conference baseball series.

    April 14, 2014

  • SPT040914ISUBB_kudrecki.jpg Indiana State falls to No. 23-ranked IU 8-4 in baseball

    Indiana State’s baseball team tried to walk a double tightrope this week.
    The degree of difficulty was cranked up significantly as the Sycamores played back-to-back games at Vanderbilt and Indiana, both top 25 teams.

    April 10, 2014 3 Photos

  • ISU baseball falls to Vanderbilt 6-2

    The seventh-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores took control early to defeat the Indiana State Sycamores 6-2

    April 9, 2014

  • SPT 040614 TONY ROSSELLI.jpg ISU baseball is deadly with two outs

    One of the many charms of baseball is that there are a thousand different debates about a thousand different topics one can embroil themselves in. One of the most passionate is whether clutch hitting exists.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT 040614 ROSELLI HOMER.jpg ISU dusts off its broom

    Wichita State’s baseball program has been the bellwether of the Missouri Valley Conference for more than a quarter-century. And 2014 is no different. When a team has success against the Shockers, picked to win the league in the preseason coaches’ poll, it still has cachet.

    April 6, 2014 3 Photos

  • Grant Prusator …nd jones 0.jpg Prusator gives ISU a shooter for 2015

    Grant Prusator, a native of Rochelle, Ill., has made a verbal commitment to play basketball for Indiana State starting in the 2014-15 season. He will have three years of eligibility with the Sycamores as he played just one year for Highland Community College.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Metro sports: Locks of Love tournament today at Memorial Stadium

    The Indiana State Women’s Soccer team will host its annual Locks of Love tournament today. The 4th annual event will begin at 9 a.m. at Memorial Stadium.

    April 4, 2014

  • SPT012714ISUWBB laramie.jpg Laramie to transfer from ISU women's basketball program

    Indiana State forward Marina Laramie averaged 9.9 points and started all 32 games as a sophomore for the Sycamores.
    But the 6-foot-2 women’s basketball player will continue her career elsewhere.

    April 3, 2014 2 Photos

  • Metro sports: ISU blanks Austin Peay in 6-plus innings

    Indiana State’s baseball team posted another mid-week victory Wednesday night as four pitchers combined to throw a three-hit shutout and lead a 3-0 victory over Austin Peay State at Bob Warn Field.

    April 2, 2014

  • 20140401_145857.jpg Chicago guard commits to ISU women's basketball

    The Indiana State women’s basketball team picked up a verbal commitment from Chicago guard Kiera Brooks on Tuesday.
    The 5-foot-7 junior for North Lawndale College Prep visited ISU’s campus for the first time, met the team and chose her college home. Brooks averaged 18.7 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals for coach Corey Morgan’s 15-11 squad.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Metro sports: ISU’s Stone, Riemenschneider honored by MVC

    Indiana State junior Megan Stone and freshman Brooke Riemenschneider each earned Missouri Valley Conference Athlete of the Week honors, according to an announcement from the league office Monday.

    March 31, 2014

  • SPT 033014 A.J. McELDERRY.jpg Bad day for Sycamores

    Indiana State’s baseball team has had more good days than bad so far this season.
    Sunday, however, was bad in every way.

    March 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT032814 ISUBB hayes.jpg Going the distance: Redbirds ace Savas allows just five hits while shutting down Sycamores

    Indiana State’s pitchers weren’t their best in Friday’s series opener against Illinois State, but it seemed the Sycamores might get away with it. Through seven innings, ISU had issued six walks, gave up six hits and hit a batter, but still trailed by just a run. But ISU’s luck with its generosity would give out in the eighth, and even if it hadn’t, Illinois State standout starter Dan Savas had the Sycamores’ bats in a deep freeze anyway. The Redbirds defeated the Sycamores 5-2 at Bob Warn Field.

    March 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT032614 ISU BB curry.jpg ‘A full night’: Leadoff hitter Curry leads 16-hit attack as Sycamores pound Hoosiers

    Lead-off man Landon Curry had four of Indiana State’s 16 hits Wednesday afternoon, and cleanup hitter Mike Fitzgerald reached for the 17th straight game to lead the Sycamores to a 12-8 victory.

    March 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • ISU committed to making Tonyan a key contributor

    Indiana State’s 1-11 2013 football season was nightmarish in many ways, but one player who had to endure it with eyes more wide open than most was Robert Tonyan Jr.
    Thrust into a much larger role than anticipated at quarterback when Mike Perish was injured in early October, and with injuries occurring all around him as well, the then-redshirt freshman struggled behind center.

    March 26, 2014

  • SPT 032414 ISU FOOTBALL.jpg Fresh start: ISU football team springs into action for coach Sanford’s second season

    Many things change from year one to year two in someone’s coaching regime, but when it comes to football, few things change more dramatically in that span than spring football practice.

    March 24, 2014 4 Photos

  • Aces ride leadoff success to series win over ISU

    The leadoff bullets were flying around at Evansville’s Charles Braun Stadium as Indiana State and Evansville locked up in a Missouri Valley Conference baseball series decider on Sunday.

    March 23, 2014

  • SPT 032314 MEGAN STONE DIVE.jpg ISU stretching to improve softball program

    Some are from as far away as California, or Arizona or Iowa. Some played their high school games a little closer to Terre Haute, such as at North Central or Clay City.

    March 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • ISU loses 63-61 to Marquette in WNIT

    After a Jasmine Grier 3-pointer with four seconds on the clock cut Marquette’s lead to two points, a crazy March ending appeared possible as Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir came up with a steal with just more than a second to go Thursday in Hulman Center
    Abdul-Qaadir had momentum going toward the bucket after her steal but couldn’t get the layup off in time as the Sycamores fell in the first round of the Women’s NIT to the Big East squad, 63-61.

    March 20, 2014

  • SPT 031514 LARAMIE SCORE.jpg Second shot: ISU women seeking better shooting, defense against Marquette in WNIT opener

    Defensive continuity, defensive rebounding and better outside shooting are among the keys for Indiana State in a first-round WNIT basketball game against Marquette tonight in Hulman Center.

    March 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • NIT Indiana St Arkan.jpg Sycamores no match for Hogs

    In the wake of Indiana State’s 91-71 Tuesday loss to Arkansas in the National Invitation Tournament, it was obvious to everyone why ISU coach Greg Lansing feared the matchup against the Razorbacks. They just had too much for the Sycamores to handle.

    March 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT031914 ISUSB stone.jpg Metro sports: Alvarez helps ISU softball gain home sweep

    Junior Yvette Alvarez pitched a complete-game win in the opener and hit her first career home run in the second game to lead the Indiana State softball team to a doubleheader sweep in its home opener Wednesday at Price Field.

    March 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • ISU2.jpg Sycamores eliminated from NIT by Razorbacks

    Arkansas ended ISU’s men’s basketball season with a 91-71 victory in the National Invitation Tournament.

    March 19, 2014 2 Photos 1 Link

  • ISU women's basketball team upbeat getting ready for Marquette

    The disposition of the Indiana State women’s basketball team was upbeat Tuesday as the Sycamores prepare for a WNIT showdown with Marquette on Thursday in Hulman Center.
    Two days off after returning from St. Charles, Mo., where top-seeded ISU was upset by fifth-seeded Drake, ISU coach Teri Moren prepared her team to get a postseason victory.

    March 19, 2014

  • SPT031714odum run.jpg A rapid pace: Arkansas style presents challenge for Sycamores

    Jake Odum has started at point guard for four years at Indiana State. He can claim as much as any Sycamore — past or present — that he’s seen it all. But even Odum hasn’t seen a team attack the game and attack their opponent quite like Arkansas does.

    March 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • ISU women to host Marquette on Thursday in WNIT

    Indiana State’s women’s basketball team will host Marquette on Thursday in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, the Sycamores learned late Monday night.

    March 18, 2014

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Today in History for April 18th Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show
NDN Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010