NORMAL — Brock Spack’s ideal Illinois State football schedule would feature three nonconference games and then a bye week before settling in for Missouri Valley Football Conference play.
The Redbird head coach is resigned to the fact that setup won’t happen often if at all.
“It’s so difficult now to schedule,” Spack said Tuesday. “It’s almost impossible to get it the way you want.”
This season’s schedule has the Redbirds, who manhandled Butler 45-0 in last Saturday’s season opener, off this Saturday with the next game Sept. 16 at Eastern Illinois.
“It’s better than having it the first week,” said Spack. “We’ll correct some things quickly and get back in game mode. They (players) would probably like to play this weekend, but it didn’t work out that way.”
Eastern Illinois opened with a 22-20 win at Indiana State and plays at Northern Illinois on Saturday.
“It’s unfortunate. It would be nice to get into a rhythm. We’ll have to try to keep that rhythm going at practice,” center Dean Helt said. “We get an extra week to prepare, and we’ve got to take advantage of it.”
High grades for line: Although all involved acknowledge the schedule will rapidly become more difficult, Spack was pleased with the performance of ISU’s young offensive line against Butler.
Ranked 15th and 18th in the two major FCS polls, the Redbirds rushed for 320 yards and did not surrender a sack.
“I thought they protected well,” said Spack. “They had some nasty little blitzes in there and some movements that were difficult. I thought we picked them up pretty well.”
Helt believes the Redbird blockers have little things such as communication and footwork that could be polished up.
“I thought we did pretty well for the first game,” he said. “It was definitely a step in the right direction.”
Kanugh, Galindo sit: Starting guard Chad Kanugh (neck) and second-string defensive tackle Austin Galindo (ankle) were on the sideline for Tuesday’s practice.
Spack classified both injuries as minor and expects both to be available to face Eastern Illinois.
Redbirds in the NFL: Of the nine former ISU players who were in NFL camps, six are either on the active roster or been signed to a practice squad.”
On 53-man active rosters are linebacker Nate Palmer (Tennessee), defensive lineman Shelby Harris (Denver) and tight end James O’Shaughnessy (Jacksonville).
Part of practice squads are offensive lineman Cameron Lee (Chicago), linebacker BJ Bello (Cleveland) and offensive lineman Mike Liedtke (Tampa Bay).
Wide receiver Cameron Meredith is on injured reserve for the Bears after suffering a season-ending knee injury, while center Mark Spelman (Tennessee) and cornerback Tre Roberson (Minnesota) were cut.