Hirsch, ISU O-line secure Homecoming win

The Illinois State Redbirds did not disappoint their alumni during Homecoming weekend with a 51-3 win over the Salukis Saturday, October 13.

The 1-4 Southern Illinois Salukis could not handle the 12th ranked ISU team and standout running back James Robinson. Robinson ran for 202 yards on 25 carries and had a touchdown to show for the effort. Quarterback Brady Davis also had a fantastic game for the ‘birds; he was 10/15 passing with four touchdowns.

Robinson’s success was brought on by the impressive play of the ISU offensive linemen. ISU’s line has lead the way for to an average of 5.7 yards per carry this year, tying the team’s best running average in the last decade. 

The last time that the Redbirds put up these kinds of running numbers was in 2015 with Marshaun Coprich in the backfield. Coprich, who was a preseason member of the New York Giants, holds the Illinois State record in rushing yards (5,195), rushing attempts (926), and touchdowns (59). Coprich owns every ISU single-season rushing record as well and ranks second in MVFC history with 5,195 rushing yards and 59 rushing touchdowns behind Zach Zenner of South Dakota State.

James Robinson has played well in a Redbird uniform, but a running back can’t run without an offensive line. His success looks to be linked to the ‘birds strong offensive line play.

Behind that line, QB Davis looked poised and calm in the pocket all game long. His one pick over the course of the game was the result of a poor pass. The interception was uncommon for Davis, his 3rd of the season. The pass landed into the hands of SIU linebacker Luke Giegling, which was his first interception of the 2018 season.

“He just kind of has that ‘it’ factor,”  Garrett Hirsch, ISU’s starting center, said on what separates Brady Davis from other quarterbacks. “In college, there is kind of that ‘it’ factor in quarterbacks, and just good athletes in general. There is just something about him. He stays calm, and when he’s calm he can see the whole field, and he’s an incredible player and it’s a privilege for him to be my quarterback.”

Hirsch, who played football for Normal Community before graduating in 2016, is aware of the work it takes to develop such talented offensive line play: “a job, it’s really like having a full-time job along with school.”

Hirsch cautious in his decision to choose ISU and college sports in general, a move that looks to be paying off for him and the Redbirds. “I waited until the last second to commit,” Hirsch said. “You’ve got to make sure you are wholeheartedly ready to play collegiate sports.”

It looks like Hirsch and the rest of the ISU have wholeheartedly committed to the game.

ISU is ranked 8th in the FCS after losing to the undefeated North Dakota State 28-14 on October 20. They ranked as high as 7th in the FCS after their Homecoming game win and currently have a 5-2 record.

Hirsch has no regrets on his decision of ISU, saying, “it has been the been the greatest part of my college career so far.”