ISU running back Coprich has proven tough to stop
By Eric Peterson firstname.lastname@example.org FRISCO, Texas - North Dakota State defensive tackle Nate Tanguay needed only a few words to describe what he thought of Illinois State running back Marshaun Coprich. "He's awesome," said Tanguay, a 6-foot-...
By Eric Peterson
FRISCO, Texas – North Dakota State defensive tackle Nate Tanguay needed only a few words to describe what he thought of Illinois State running back Marshaun Coprich.
“He’s awesome,” said Tanguay, a 6-foot-4, 287-pound freshman from Mukwonago, Wis. “I think I’ve seen every clip of him running, and he’s just a great player.”
Coprich has rushed for 2,168 yards heading into today’s NCAA Division I FCS national championship game against the Bison at noon at Toyota Stadium. That rushing total is tops in the division.
“Any time he touches the ball, he has the opportunity to make a good play,” said Illinois State quarterback Tre Roberson.
A 5-foot-9, 205-pound running back from Victorville, Calif., Coprich tries to pattern his running style to a former Detroit Lions legend.
“I would like to try to be like Barry Sanders because we are both short, tough running backs and downhill runners,” Coprich said.
Coprich has rushed for more than 100 yards in 13 games this season, including a season-high 258 yards in a 59-46 victory at Eastern Washington in the national quarterfinals. His season-low total was in the semifinals, rushing for 79 yards on 24 attempts in a 21-18 victory against top-seeded New Hampshire.
“He’s a very slippery guy,” Bison safety Colten Heagle said. “He’s got to be up there with one of the best running backs we’ve seen all season.”
Coprich will be the second 2,000-yard rusher NDSU has played against this season. The Bison played two games against South Dakota State senior Zach Zenner, who finished the year with 2,019 yards.
Coprich wasn’t a highly recruited player coming out of Oak Hills High School. Illinois State head coach Brock Spack found out about Coprich while recruiting Coprich’s cousin, who ended up at the University of California.
Having to prove himself has fueled Coprich during his college career.
“People overlooking me, it means a lot,” Coprich said. “It makes me just want to work harder and try to be the best running back. I just want people to know about me, know who I am.”
Coprich rushed for 885 yards on 221 attempts last season. He’s carried the ball 354 times this season and has stayed healthy. Spack credited a strong offseason for that jump in production.
“Our strength staff is tremendous and Marshaun is a great kid,” Spack said. “He’s really worked hard in the weight room. … To still be alive and kicking this time of the year is a testament to our strength program.”
Pairing with Roberson has also made Coprich a more dangerous threat in the running game. Roberson has rushed for 868 yards on 160 carries, giving the Redbirds another running threat. Roberson has also completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,064 yards and 27 touchdown passes.
“They make each other go,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said. “It makes you not just defend the running part of the game. We’re going to have our hands full.”