Ex-Gopher Phil Archer has strong season at WIU

Former Gopher Phil Archer finished second in tackles for Western Illinois, which finished their regular season 8-3 and ranked 11th in the country in the Division I-AA football Poll. Archer started 10 games as a sophomore for Minnesota and made 113 tackles on the season (average of 11.3 per game) to rank fifth in the Big Ten before losing his starting job last season. He transferred to Western Illinois and since the Leathernecks are a Division I-AA team, he was eligible without having to sit out.

Phil Archer had a team-high 90 tackles for the Leathernecks. He had 29 assisted tackles for a total of 119 tackles (10.8 per game). That total was second to Lee Russell's 123. He had 13 tackles for loss, totaling 26 yards. Archer broke up six passes, forced three fumbles and recovered two fumbles


Phil Archer had three forced fumbles in 2001 for the Gophers, ranking in a tie for fifth in the conference and he added two sacks. He had a career-high 20 tackles and forced a fumble at Illinois and recorded 16 tackles, including 11 solo tackles against Purdue and Michigan.


Archer saw playing time in 10 games as a redshirt freshman, playing mostly on special teams.


Archer was a graduate of St. Paul (MN) Cretin-Derham Hall and was a two-time all-state selection. He had 121 tackles, including 92 solos, as a senior in '98. Archer also had 19 tackles-for-loss and two interceptions and was a SuperPrep All-Midwest Team choice. He had 15 tackles in the Raiders' 7-6 loss to Champlin Park in the '98 Class 5A semifinals. Archer was a three-year letter winner who finished with 203 career tackles, including 156 solo tackles. He also played defensive end, defensive tackle and fullback at one time or another for the Raiders.


Archer and the Leathernecks will find out where and when they play next when the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs are announced on Sunday, November 23 at 12:00 p.m. (CDT) on ESPNews.


The Leathernecks return five all-Americans from a squad that went 11-2 and finished among the nation's top five teams last season, and placed a league-high 10 players on the 2003 Gateway Preseason All-Conference Team. They have won four of the last six Gateway Conference titles. The Leathernecks return seven starters on the offensive and defensive side of the field.


Western Illinois University was picked No. 1 in the Football Gazette's National I-AA Preseason Top 40 Poll. Western Illinois was chosen among the top four in both The Sports Network and ESPN/USA Today I-AA Preseason Top 25 polls, placing third and fourth in the media and coaches' polls, respectively. The No. 3 ranking by The Sports Network marks the highest preseason rank in Leatherneck history, and just the second time that a Western Illinois squad has been placed in the preseason top 10 (No. 8 in 1997). Last season Western Illinois was ranked 40th in the preseason poll and climbed to No. 2, matching the highest regular season ranking in school history.


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