Illinois State's gifted offense was relentless in dispatching Eastern Washington, 59-46, in the quarterfinals. But now the Redbirds are moving to the other side of the country, so it's
possible all the travel will have an effect on the Missouri Valley Football Conference co-champions.
Still, star running back Marshaun Coprich doesn't appear to be slowing down, having gone over 100 rushing yards in all 13 games. That includes 258 yards and four touchdowns against Eastern Washington, which gave him a national-high 2,089 yards this season. With New Hampshire playing a 4-2-5 defensive alignment, he should be able to get to the edge of the secondary, as he likes to do.
Of course, Illinois State has had a 1-2 offensive punch all season. Quarterback Tre Roberson, the Indiana transfer, has set the school record for total yards in a season (3,559) and accounted for 36 total touchdowns.
The Wildcats have to be error-free on offense, especially quarterback Sean Goldrich, who will mix in the run and pass. Coach Sean McDonnell, the Eddie Robinson Award winner, figures to be creative offensively, and the Wildcats want to let their top playmaker.
Running back Nico Steriti doesn't break long runs, but he's built strong and powers through defenses to eat up yards. Had he not been hurt during the regular season, he figured to have been at an All-CAA level. The playoffs are giving the senior a chance to make up for lost time.
The UNH defense can bend but can't break like Eastern Washington's did against Illinois State. Chattanooga had 566 yards against UNH in the quarterfinals, so the Wildcats were fortunate to pull out a 35-30 win.