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.
‘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.
- Indiana State University
Ramblin’ On: Sycamores use defensive stops to reach Missouri Valley semifinals
It sounds counter-intuitive, but to go forward in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament you must first get stops. In Friday’s MVC Tournament quarterfinal against Loyola, ISU followed that bit of zen to a tee. The Sycamores never let the Ramblers get comfortable offensively and put a hammer-lock on Loyola standout Milton Doyle. ISU rode its defense to an easy 75-62 victory at Scottrade Center.
ISU baseball looking to carry success home
Indiana State had pitching questions coming into the season, having lost its entire starting staff from a year ago.
So far anyway, those questions have been answered. The Sycamores are 9-1 going into their home opener today against Western Illinois.
Metro sports: Rose-Hulman picks up baseball win
A late run in the eighth-inning broke a 4-all tie and proved to be the game winner for Rockford College in a 5-4 decision over the Rose-Hulman baseball team Friday at the Chain of Lakes Complex.
Sycamores rejuvenated heading into MVC Tournament quarterfinals
Indiana State point guard Jake Odum is sick-and-tired of being sick and tired.
He’s tired of hearing about the team’s three-game losing streak. He’s tired of the Sycamores playing below par. He’s tired of the team not fulfilling its potential.
He plans to do something about it this weekend. Second-seeded ISU begins its Missouri Valley Conference Tournament trek at 7:05 p.m. tonight against either No. 10 Loyola.
ISU women seek top MVC seed
Defense and rebounding are the staples of Teri Moren’s fourth Indiana State team, a squad that hits the road trying to defend and rebound its way to a regular-season conference title. The Sycamores women’s basketball can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference with wins tonight against Drake and Saturday against Northern Iowa.
ISU reserve Smith earns two MVC honors
Indiana State sophomore Khristian Smith has been named to the Missouri Valley Conference’s All-Bench and Most Improved Teams, according to an announcement by the league office Wednesday.
Two Sycamores with Scott during Saturday incident
A Vigo County’s Sheriff’s case report of Brenton Scott’s arrest last Saturday indicated that Scott, an Indiana State basketball player, tried to pass himself off as his twin brother and that two of his teammates were with him at the time of the incident.
Metro Sports: Sycamores to be represented at NCAA indoors
Three members of the Indiana State track and field team will compete in the 2014 NCAA indoor championships March 14-15 at Albuquerque, N.M. Senior Greggmar Swift will represent the men, while sophomore Katie Wise and senior Mary Theisen will represent the women.
Odum, Smith, Arop recognized by MVC
Indiana State point guard Jake Odum doesn’t play baseball, but he did go 4-for-4 in his Sycamore career.
His 4-for-4 performance came in regards to his All-Missouri Valley Conference selections. Odum has been named to the all-MVC team in each of his four seasons, and for the second time in a year, Odum was named to the MVC’s first team.
Teammate Khristian Smith also received a major individual honor. Smith, a sophomore, earned the MVC’s Sixth Man Award. Senior Manny Arop also was named as an All-MVC honorable-mention selection.
ISU’s Odum earns first-team All-MVC honors
ST. LOUIS —Indiana State guard Jake Odum earned a spot on the 2014 All-Missouri Valley Conference first team, which was announced today as the Sycamores prepare for this week’s MVC men’s basketball tournament.
Metro: No ISU baseball today; home opener now Friday
Indiana State’s baseball home opener that was to be played today has been pushed back, according to Sycamore head coach Mitch Hannahs.
ISU's Scott booked for OWI, possession
Indiana State men's basketball player Brenton Scott was booked into the Vigo County Jail on Saturday for operating while intoxicated, possession of marijuana/hash, possession of paraphenalia and false reporting/informing.
Senior Day Success
Indiana State shot just 35 percent from the field Sunday in Hulman Center compared with 46 percent for the visiting Bradley women, but that was almost a good thing.
ISU teams sweep titles in indoor track
Indiana State’s track teams swept the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships on Sunday at Northern Iowa, the men leading all the way and the women surviving a three-way battle.
Odum can't get roll on game-winning attempt on Senior Day
The storybook was ready to be opened at Hulman Center on Saturday.
Down two with 4.5 seconds to go, Indiana State rebounded a free throw miss by Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle. ISU senior point guard Odum timed his dash perfectly up the floor. He released his shot from just behind the 3-point line at just the right second. The shot was true and online.
TODD GOLDEN: Lansing's belief in his team has not wavered
In the wake of Indiana State’s 71-69 loss to Northern Iowa on Saturday, and the three-game losing streak that comes with it, ISU coach Greg Lansing wanted to get one point across crystal clear in his postgame press conference.
Red-hot ISU baseball wins eighth straight game
Indiana State broke away from a tight ballgame with four runs in the fifth inning and went on to post their eighth-straight victory of the 2014 campaign with a 10-3 triumph over New Orleans Saturday.
David Stagg (3-0) was the winning pitcher for the Sycamores as he went seven innings. He allowed two runs, scattered nine hits and struck out eight.
ISU men’s track leading in MVC indoor championships
Indiana State’s men’s track and field team took the lead Saturday after the first day of the Missouri Valley Conference indoor championships Saturday at Northern Iowa, while the Sycamore women were second.
Seeking their second straight championship, the Sycamore men have 64 points to 37 for Illinois State. Indiana State’s women are just two points behind Southern Illinois, 50-48.
Rolling along: Third straight victory helps Sycamores tie for second in MVC
Aside from Teri Moren sticking with her pink Chuck Taylor shoes on the sideline for superstitious reasons, Indiana State’s three-game winning streak can be explained by strong play in nearly every aspect of the game.
Sycamores stay positive in face of adversity
After Indiana State’s 77-59 loss at Illinois State on Wednesday, ISU players had an idea of how the tone of Thursday and Friday’s practices would be prior to today’s regular-season finale against Northern Iowa.
Metro: ISU softball win streak reaches 6
Indiana State improved its college softball winning streak to six games Friday by beating Wright State 4-3 and IUPUI 3-2 on the opening day of the Holiday Inn Hilltopper Classic.
Odum's final chapter is here; how will he author the ending?
If you compare a college basketball career to a book, Indiana State point guard Jake Odum has been a page-turner from day one.
Odum has dazzled ISU fans from the time he became a starter during the first weekend of his first season in 2010. The Sycamores have not had a losing season during the Odum era, a run of success unprecedented in ISU’s Division I history.
VIDEO: Indiana State women looking to add to winning streak at home
Indiana State looks to put a three-game winning streak together tonight against Loyola, who topped the Sycamores behind 30 points by senior forward Troy Hambric for one of the Ramblers’ nine wins this season.
The Sycamores’ women’s basketball team stifled Missouri State last Friday and knocked off first-place Wichita State on Sunday for a pair of road wins last weekend. They'll look to build upon that momentum tonight at home.
Mayor Bennett takes students’ questions
Mayor Duke Bennett fielded some tough, thoughtful questions on topics that included potholes, neighborhood safety, abandoned homes and railroads Thursday.
Metro roundup: ISU track ready for MVC indoors
The Indiana State track and field teams will head to Cedar Falls, Iowa, this weekend for the Missouri Valley Conference indoor championships.
The men are defending champions and the women were runners-up a year ago.
Redbirds dominate Sycamores 77-59
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is running out of answers for its recent woes ... and it’s running out of time to fix them. The slumping Sycamores added defensive problems to their offensive slump on Wednesday at Illinois State. The Redbirds made the Sycamores pay dearly for their poor all-around effort out of the gate as the Sycamores fell 77-59.
Metro roundup: Hutson awarded USA Track and Field grant
Terre Haute native and 2016 Olympic hopeful Kylie Hutson was awarded a $7,000 grant from the USA Track and Field Foundation.
Moren praises Jasmine Grier for helping ISU women pull out wins
Indiana State coach Teri Moren has preached to her women’s basketball team that consistent quality results at the defensive end will translate to the offensive end.
For junior Jasmine Grier and the Sycamores, their coach’s message was infallible last weekend.
Sycamores basketball set for Illinois State
It’s no secret that Indiana State’s basketball team hasn’t shot the ball lately. It’s also no secret that tonight’s opponent — Illinois State — uses a 2-3 zone as its base defense and 2-3s have been to the Sycamores as silver bullets are to werewolves.
Even though the Sycamores have struggled to get shots to fall, they’ve also kept teams from making theirs too. Defense has long been the characteristic coach Greg Lansing has wanted his Sycamores to define themselves by, and lately, they’ve been living up to it.
Metro: MVC honors Lockwood, Abdul-Qaadir; national award for A.J.
Indiana State sophomore Taylor Lockwood was named Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week on Monday after pitching one of two ISU softball shutouts Sunday and earning Most Valuable Player honors at Tennessee State’s Tiger Classic.
- More Indiana State University Headlines
- Ramblin’ On: Sycamores use defensive stops to reach Missouri Valley semifinals