2021 FCS Season Preview: Western Illinois

CSJ Predicted Order of Finish: 10th

Coach: Jared Elliott (Fourth Season, 7-22 @ WIU & overall)

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Offensive Coordinator: David Rocco
Defensive Coordinator: Cam Clark
Stadium: Hanson Field (16,368 capacity)

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Location: Macomb, Illinois
2021 Spring Record: 1-5 (1-5 MVFC)

Western Illinois had no problems really on offense this past spring with QB Conner Sampson leading the team with two go-to receivers in Dennis Houston and Tony Tate being his prime targets.

Sampson was the team leader in receptions (43) and receiving yards (477). His 7.2 receptions per game and 79.5 receiving yards per game were both conference-bests. In those two statistical categories, Houston’s place also stood nationally in the top 25 among all Division I receivers. 

Tate led the MVFC in all-purpose yards per game (129), ranked seventh in receiving yards per game (64.8), fourth in total touchdowns (5), and third in yards per kick return (24.5). Tate’s 36 caught passes led to 389 yards while rushing an additional 58 yards on 13 attempts. 

Sampson led the conference in passing yards per game (290.7) and total offense (289.2). Additionally, he ranked fifth in the nation in completions per game (29.8) and ninth in passing yards (1744). In all, Sampson completed 179 passes for 1744 yards, eight touchdowns, and six interceptions.

WR Dennis Houston

The big reason why WIU won just one game thought last year was in their defense. The Leathernecks ranked 10th out of 10 MVFC teams this past spring in scoring defense, passing defense efficiency and total defense, ninth in rushing and passing defense, third down efficiency and red zone defense in the spring.

A few bright spots emerged in the spring with DLs Erik Preston and Hunter Mason, along with LBs Greg Benton Jr. and Herschel Blankenship. Those four will need to be the leaders this fall for the Leathernecks to improve their defense and overall the team’s win count.

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